Is it right for a dying government to be put out of its misery? If the government is suffering terminal decline, but doesn't seem to be aware of its own condition, is it morally right to administer the coup de grace?
That's the question that seems to be exercising my readers at the moment, judging from the flood of letters about it. As I have no particular feelings on the subject myself, it seems only fair to let my readers have their say and print a small selection of their opinions today.
From Mr J Wickston Daly
Sir, History tells us that all governments go through a life cycle analogous to human life itself. They start off fresh and keen, they gradually learn the ropes by making mistakes, they achieve maturity and make real progress, but then, just when you think they are getting into their stride, they start to show symptoms of old age and decrepitude.
In my opinion the present government has now reached that stage. It has forgotten the promises it made when it was young. When, for instance, you remind it that it was going to be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime, it seems not to know what you are talking about. It seems to have forgotten all about the weapons of mass destruction it claimed were in Iraq. It has forgotten it was responsible for the Dome. It has forgotten lots of other things which I have forgotten about too. It doesn't matter if I forget things. But it does matter if the Government forgets.
What makes it worse is that when you try to get it to talk sense, instead of having any meaningful dialogue the Government finds itself resorting to parroting not very helpful expressions like, "We must move on", "We must draw line under these things", "We have put more money into it than any previous government", and "I am not sorry that we toppled Saddam Hussein".
A government that forgets everything, and which mumbles to itself, is a candidate for euthanasia, in my opinion.
From Dr Lucia Gardener
Sir, May I say how much I agree with the previous writer, and to say that the situation is even worse than he suggests? The Government is prone to senile delusions. As Mr Daly says, the Government loves to say that it is not sorry it toppled Saddam Hussein. But it did not topple Saddam Hussein! The Americans did! Our government has convinced itself that we invaded Iraq and toppled a tyrant, acting alone. It is also convinced that last year was the best year yet for the NHS etc etc.
I think the Government should be given a bottle of whisky and a loaded gun and left to go for a walk in the woods by itself.
From Professor Owen Ketts
Sir, Although I agree largely with the previous writer, she ducks the question by suggesting that a senile and ailing government will put itself out of its misery. In my experience, anyone left with a bottle of whisky and a gun doesn't do the decent thing; it first gets very drunk, then starts taking pot-shots at the nurses.
It may be argued that when a government is old and enfeebled, it will gradually fall to bits and expire of its own accord, and I am sure that is true, but it is a distressing sight for many people, and demands a lot of care and attention, not counting the damage it may cause in its final hours. So we why do we not just give it a small lethal injection in the ballot box?
From Mrs Sheila Cheadle-Hume
Sir, I agree with everything the Professor says, except that I do not think we can wait until the next ballot box comes along, as we shall have a very sick and incontinent government on our hands by then.
I would like to suggest getting things over and done with as soon as possible by staging a fatal car crash in which the government would perish overnight in a spectacular collision with reality. This can easily be done by changing the driver. Specifically, by putting Mr Gordon Brown at the steering wheel.
Yours etc ...