Recently a friend of mine tore her Achilles tendon playing netball and had to spend the night in hospital while waiting to get it fixed and put into cast. She sent me a text the next day saying "I spent the night in the trauma ward with several ladies with dementia - they were shouting so much my blood pressure went up". Katie Hopkins, the lady who we all know is always willing to speak her mind, has been condemned in the press, the media, in the tittering groups of people in their coffee break outs, because of her 'outrageous, shocking, appalling' comments describing people with dementia in hospital as 'bed blockers'. On her Twitter account she wrote "1 in 4 hospital beds is taken up by someone with dementia. The National Hotel Service. #NHS". So while people are busy demonizing her, I am going to ask a different question; is Katie Hopkins just saying what many of us are thinking?
The answer sometimes is, well, yes. Katie Hopkins could learn to be a little more diplomatic with her language, but generally the public appear to agree with her on many of the issues she raises. Take for instance her view on employing people who are obese. She said "Would I employ you if you were obese? No I would not. You would give the wrong impression to the clients of my business. I need people to look energetic, professional and efficient. If you are obese you look lazy." It would appear that 45% of the population would agree with her, according to the Express Newspaper. And you know what? With regards obese people, most people I know agree with her. In fact, during my Army days when writing soldiers reports, fitness was a standard to be marked on. A colleague and I would consistently discuss the many fat and lazy Majors who waddled around for 20 years taking up pay and places better Officers could have filled, or those soldiers of ours who repeatedly failed fitness assessments. Those who were unfit were usually the worst at their jobs, and the connection between physical fitness and intellectual fitness have forever been entwined in my mind. And it is proven that physical activity improves productivity at work.
Katie Hopkins isn't the only one willing to put her head up and risk taking shots; Nigel Farage at the leader debates has been widely condemned for his statement that immigrants shouldn't come here for HIV treatment, which is expensive to the tax payer. While he was heavily criticized, Farage has been vindicated by the British public with a YouGov poll that says 50% of people agree with him. That's HALF OF ALL PEOPLE. The Tories or Labour would do anything for a 50% consensus on a policy. Now, you didn't hear anyone cheering and clapping him when he said it on the show, but secretly many in the audience did agree with him (and I suspect more people than admitted did so). While Nicola Sturgeon was cheered when she said she preferred to treat people as people, she failed to deal with the issue that Farage raised; that in doing so, British taxes have to be spent treating people and the NHS is already stretched and under resourced.
And this is why we shouldn't immediately become defensive or aggressive when someone argues something a bit risky, or challenging. Katie Hopkins, if you listen to her discussion with Robbie Savage (whose father tragically suffered from dementia), isn't mean, or nasty on the subject, she is simply logical and challenging the manner in which we treat dementia. Take my friend's experience; do you think it is right to be in a trauma ward and you have to share with dementia sufferers shouting all night until your blood pressure goes up? Is that effective treatment? No. Savage however acts only as the victim, emotional and too closely connected to the issue.
You need people like Katie Hopkins and Nigel Farage. They challenge the status quo, speak their mind and aren't afraid to say what many of us thinking but are afraid to say. I challenge many of you to read and listen to some of their stuff and say too yourself "do I agree?". I'll give you an example; how many of you would want to be treated on a hospital ward with 1 in 4 there for dementia, shouting the night away? I bet not a single person would say yes. In which case, Katie Hopkins has an undiplomatic but pertinent point about the NHS. The dementia charities, instead of getting on their high horse, should be saying "we need to treat dementia sufferers differently and with dignity". What about Tony Nicklinson, the man with locked-in syndrome who fought for the right to legally end his life whose only choice to end his suffering was to starve himself to death? Katie Hopkins says we treat animals better, is she wrong?
Maybe we should stop being such victims and start challenging the status quo?