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The Campaign for Anne’s Law

Campbell Duke

How swift and sure they were that day
They locked and barred the door
Then they took the cold and cruel key
And forged one hundred more.
Still glowing hot from the fires of hell
They cast them through the land
Till every little Wormtongue clutched
A key within their hand.
Quite soon the anguished cry arose
As sad souls did implore
On bended knees, “Have pity please!
This burden is too sore.
We can no longer linger
In such wretched isolation
Our Love is spent! Our Hearts are rent!
In fearsome desolation.”
But The Lords and Ladies of The Keys
Would NOT unbolt the door,
“One key may lock the way, but yet
To open takes one hundred more.”

On the 14th of March 2020 my Wife Anne (62) was in a care home with late stage Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. I arrived for my usual visit only to find Locked Doors and to be told bluntly I was BANNED! And thus we tumbled down the Lockdown Rabbit-hole.

Soon, inspired by a Petition raised by our Daughter Natasha Hamilton in June 2020, we began to Campaign for “Anne’s Law”, seeking to guarantee the right of Care Home Residents to have at least one nominated relative/friend with them in times of a Pandemic. No more Cruel Isolation for those least suited to cope.

The experience has been a searingly painful lesson in human nature and the clusterbourach that can be civic Scotland. Recently at the Covid Inquiry we heard straight from the care home regional manager’s mouth, that he Locked Down early because he didn’t like what he saw on the Telly from Italy!
He Locked Down on a Whim and in advance of Government Orders. Thereafter, he spent the Entirety of Lockdown enforcing callous regulations because “he was following Government Orders!”

Anne died behind Locked Doors in November 2021. We continued to Campaign in her memory, and became entangled in a Growth Industry of Meetings – more Meetings – Inquiries – Learned Reports – and Ubiquitous Experts! And STILL they have not passed Anne’s Law!

A magnificently styled “Expert Legislative Advisory Group” was summoned by the Health Minister to “advise” on the National Care Service Bill and on what should be done next. On the 30th of May they deliberated on Section 40 of the Bill i.e. “Anne’s Law”.

We watch as our MSPs meet and reconvene in Endless Committee, to ponder scholarly reports that reiterate the “bleeding obvious”! Elsewhere we witness the horrors revealed from the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry, and are stunned at the ability we have to inflict evil upon our fellow citizens. As we seek catharsis – even justice – from the Covid Inquiry, we might pause our blood-lust for a scapegoat and instead ask of our ‘terrifyingly normal’ selves – WHY? We all knew the Care Home Lockdown was happening! Some agonised! Some complained! Some campaigned and like Father Ted we carried signs proclaiming “Down With This Sort Of Thing!”

In his lecture ‘Faith In The Public Square’ (16 Feb 2011) Gordon Brown said.
“….in what terms can a political leader or any public figure today make reference to shared moral values? ….For are we not impoverished as a society if the public square is emptied of such a discourse that insists on a generosity of spirit and our mutual obligations for each other’s welfare?”

We ALL have a Moral Compass informed by love, poetry, book-learning, scripture, or just plain common sense! We ALL exist in the public square and need to stand up for “doing the right thing” and having the courage to say “gonnae no dae that!” But precious few did.

It’s a sair fecht and those of us campaigning would probably garner more sympathy and respect if we were instead to fund raise by uni-cycling the North Coast 500 in a pink tutu with a fridge strapped to our backs. That way we wouldn’t trouble the system. We would know our place. But what would really change?

I fear we are being played by the system and the political class. It is their stock in trade. Is that why they invite some in to their cozy consensual world of cross-party Endless Committees with free coffee and hob nobs? To turn campaigning poachers into establishment gamekeepers? Do they intend for the anxious little band of concerned citizens to ultimately run out of energy and willpower, and that soon there will be in any case NO resident in any care home who was actually “there during the Pandemic”.

Speaking of Scotland in 2014 Alasdair Gray made famous the phrase, “Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation!” But this does not feel much like the Early Days of that so-called Better Nation! Our experience has been that Holyrood seems little better than Westminster. I half expect that were it within Holyrood’s competence, an Anne’s Law Royal Commission would be established. All the better to defer a Decision.

Four years since Covid blighted the planet! Four years since Anne was  cruelly incarcerated behind Locked Doors! Four years since the Anne’s Law Petition was begun! Over two years since Anne died! Two years since the National Care Service Bill was published, and STILL Anne’s Law remains a distant prospect! Or, is it in truth just naked good old-fashioned Age and Health Discrimination?
Something has to CHANGE!
We need Anne’s Law.

Campbell Duke is the widow of Anne Duke, for whom Anne’s Law is named.

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