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Opinion

Liam Gallagher’s hips and the politicians who won’t be here now

Stanford’s New Map of Life is looking ahead to the life quality of the next generation. Meanwhile, our politicians can’t even look after this one.

Liam Gallagher needs new hips. Arthritis has left the greatest rock’n’roll frontman of his generation in constant pain. Only herbal sleeping tablets bring him night-time solace. “They’ve saved my life,” said Liam. “One of them, seven hours out, no pain, nothing.” 

Liam Gallagher will be 50 in a few months. An ageing Liam, with arthritic hips, touches a particular nerve. For a number of years, nearly 30 years ago, he was the embodiment of youth. The imprimatur of cool, in a buttoned-up, oversized anorak and great hair, there was nothing that his force of nature couldn’t conquer. He’d live forever. And now, here he is slathering himself in Deep Heat and searching out a sauna to relieve his  creaking bones.  

Everybody gets old, if they’re lucky. And while Liam sounds a warning bell that despite changes in science, age happens, he still has an interesting third act ahead. He’s about to headline stadiums this summer. He’s sold out two nights at Knebworth. It’s not just ageing fans hoovering up tickets. Front rows will be filled with the children of those who loved Oasis first time around. Crocked hips or not, Liam represents the pinnacle of something for a new generation. 

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Which, according to increasing studies, is the best way ahead. Not, necessarily, being the new figurehead for a new generation, but finding a way to be part of a world in which people will live longer, and that living is with interest and purpose.

The Stanford Center on Longevity have set themselves to this task. They estimate that almost half of five-year-olds in the US will live to be 100 – a profound change for humanity. And with this in mind, they have set up a new organisation called The New Map Of Life, looking at proper ways ahead – like investing early in young children to help nurture future health, investing in public health and adapting it for people at different ages, and also looking at the world of work.

If, as they estimate, the newborn of today will have to work for 60 years, that can’t all be 40-hour weeks. There needs to be adaptation over a lifetime, between full and part-time work, better lifelong learning chances, and much more flexibility. There is also much consideration to building what they call longevity-ready communities, where physical activity and social interaction is developed. It’s a fascinating box they are opening. 

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But, of course, such thinking doesn’t necessarily help those moving into advanced years now. Though, if you’re a more senior politician, you may find that age brings fewer inhibitions.

Take Theresa May. Last week she stood up in parliament and gently savaged Priti Patel’s inhuman plan to send refugees on a one-way ticket to Rwanda. It was a proper intervention from a political heavyweight.

However, there is a lingering thought – given that she once held the top office in the land, she could have done more to properly help during that period. Instead, she happily pushed the hostile environment agenda, which you could argue helped legitimise the current administration’s searing antipathy towards people arriving from abroad.  

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It’s not uncommon for senior politicians to find a new, strong voice when they leave office. Why wait? Why express l’esprit d’escalier when you’re way out the door. Imagine doing the right thing for the right reason when in office. Imagine using all those powers for good. 

The growing disquiet at Boris Johnson and his government is real – every serious pollster in Britain can illustrate it. There is an open goal for somebody to illustrate how they would serve people properly, rather than being on an ever-rotating wheel of self-survival. If they did so with clarity and understanding and heart, not some way that paid lip service, they would be onto something.  I think then many people would roll with it. 

Paul McNamee is editor of The Big IssueRead more of his columns here.

@PauldMcNamee

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