Letters: I’ll pay more tax, for a more decent society

These letters appear in the 18 April edition of The Independent

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No doubt many will consider this naïve; however, I am disappointed by the tone of the electoral campaigns – particularly those of the three main parties and Ukip.

The focus is entirely on persuading us of what we will gain as individuals if we vote for them. We are told that hard-working families will be rewarded; we will pay less tax, have better job prospects, a lower cost of living. No one yet has spoken for those people who cannot work, who have no home, let alone a job, the people among us who are excluded from the bounties of this so-called economic recovery. All we are told is that there will be another massive round of welfare cuts, with no details of where the knife will fall.

Furthermore, none seem to be addressing the growing regional disparity. The South-east of England is one of the most prosperous and economically resilient regions in Europe, yet within just a few  hundred miles are areas that rank among the most deprived. How can this be acceptable?

I do not want my tax reduced if it will mean more homeless on the streets or more children going hungry. I do not want to pay less tax and find that I cannot get an appointment to see my GP, or that our children are still to be taught in overcrowded classes, or that we cannot play our part in helping  the poorest nations of  the world. 

I don’t believe these are radical views. To me, and I suspect many others, these are simply basic values that seem to have been forgotten in the race to appeal to our pockets rather than our notion of what sort of society we want to live in.

Mary Miller
Cholsey, Oxfordshire

 

The glaring omission in the manifestos of all the political parties is the national debt. At present, it stands at over £1.56trn, that is 81.58 per cent of GDP. It is increasing by approximately £107bn per annum, or £2bn per week.

The parties talk about reducing the deficit (the rate at which the Government borrows money), but nothing about reducing the overall debt. The latter will continue to rise even if the deficit shrinks.

Surely this is the crux of our economic problems. So why no mention in any of the manifestos?

Sarah Pegg
Seaford, East Sussex

 

Democracy in action, the Ukip way

Last night I attended a hustings for the local candidates, Labour, Tory, Ukip and Green; no Lib Dem turned up.

I have to say that our young Labour candidate was by far the most impressive speaker, even agreeing at one point, against Labour policy, with the nice, inexperienced Green candidate. Our long-term Tory MP was just smug. The audience was packed with baying kippers.

The Ukip candidate started his address by regretting that people call them racists and then continued to rage about those Asian men “grooming our girls”. Such a problem in our town where there is barely one black face, except serving the health service.

I have come to the conclusion that kippers are just lower-class Tories.

Carol Wilcox
Christchurch, Dorset

 

As a veteran Independent reader, I was perplexed at your decision to include a weekly “Comment” by Nigel Farage.

For the first few months I skipped past it without a second glance. However, as election fever has started to take a grip, and seeing Ukip shoot themselves in the foot, I decided to give it some of my time.

Initially I read it through splayed fingers, with disbelief at what Mr Farage was trying to explain about his ejected or disgraced party members, stance on immigrant HIV treatment and protests at his local pub. The list goes on.

Now I understand why you have given him space within your venerated pages. You’re letting him dig his own grave in public. What a stroke of genius!

Dave Patchett
Birkenhead, Wirral

 

‘Girls’ sprayed with champagne

The fuss over Lewis Hamilton’s “sexist” spraying with champagne of a “podium girl” after the Chinese Grand Prix misses the point. The objectors should be asking the organisers to explain why, in the 21st century, it is thought necessary to adorn podia of any kind with young women who serve no discernable purpose other than to gaze adoringly at the male winners.

If we need an explanation of low participation rates by young British women in sport, we could do worse than look at the message sent out by such scenes: men “do”, women “observe”.

Kathleen Moyse
Cobham, Surrey

 

The furore over Lewis Hamilton spraying with champagne a woman on the Chinese Grand Prix podium is ludicrous. Racing drivers spray everybody in striking distance on the victory podium, male or female, in time-honoured tradition.

However, there is the entirely separate issue of whether sports, and specifically motor racing, should use women simply as adornment for both sponsors and spectators. I was at Silverstone last week for the World Endurance Championship Six-Hour race. It was enlightening to learn that this series has, from this year, dropped the practice of employing “grid girls” and “podium girls”. As The WEC CEO Gerard Neveu said: “That is the past; the condition of women is different now.”

Perhaps Formula One might consider a similar move?

Michael O’Hare
Northwood, Middlesex

 

No justice in Janner case

Greville Janner escapes prosecution. Possibly his dementia is serious, but not even judges can be trusted in such matters. Politicians never will be. Nor should they.

The first business of Parliament after the necessary oaths and election of the Speaker should be a motion of no confidence in Alison Saunders.

Second, a strong Select Committee of both Houses should be set up to oversee both the police and justice functions. The current Committee has too wide a remit, despite the exemplary chairmanship of Keith Vaz.

Third, the power of the Attorney General to prevent cases being brought in the “public interest” or to take over and stop them, should be abolished. The “public interest” is always that of the party in power and their backers.

David Critchard
Exeter

 

Parties demand a spending spree

The three female opposition party leaders are all demanding the end of the current austerity policy, as if living beyond one’s means were a viable option.

They each remind me of a spoilt wife who has had her credit cards confiscated by her husband because of her reckless spending on luxury goods; yet despite being several months behind on their mortgage, she is noisily demanding that the cards be returned.

Brian Rushton
Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire

 

Tories undermine patient consent

The Conservative party’s election manifesto contained an extraordinarily retrograde assault on the rights of people with mental and physical health problems in receipt of benefits.

On page 28 of the manifesto, under the euphemistic heading; “We will help you back into work if you have a long-term yet treatable condition”, they propose that; “People who might benefit from treatment should get the medical help they need so they can return to work. If they refuse a recommended treatment, we will review whether their benefits should be reduced.”

In other words, people with mental health problems, drug and alcohol problems, or who are overweight will no longer be able freely to choose to consent, or withhold their consent, to treatment – to decline a recommended treatment will result in benefits sanctions, and consequent misery and poverty. This is particularly ironic, given that poverty and social inequality are significant contributory factors to many long term health and mental health difficulties in the first place.

This suggestion undermines a fundamental principle of medical and psychological healthcare, namely that of informed consent: a person who is capable of giving their consent has the right to refuse to receive care or services. It is wholly inappropriate to threaten the withdrawal of benefits in order to influence that decision. This is particularly true in mental health care, where therapy based on coercion simply will not work.

We are pleased that all political parties have made commitments to increase investment in mental health care. We profoundly regret the fact that the Conservative Party appear to believe that it is appropriate to constrain the freedom of choice and basic human rights of the most vulnerable people in society. If this is not their intention, we call on them to clarify their stance.

Professor Peter Kinderman

University of Liverpool

Professor Dinesh Bhugra

Dr Lucy Johnstone, Cwm Taf Health Board

Jacqui Dillon

Professor Dave Harper, University of East London

Dr Sam Thompson, University of East London

Anne Cooke, Canterbury Christ Church University

Bruce Bassam

Dr Jay Watts

Dr Steven Coles, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

Dr Ian Marsh, Canterbury Christ Church University

Dr Angela Gilchrist, Canterbury Christ Church University

Dr Alex Scott-Samuel, University of Liverpool

Dr Jane Simpson, Lancaster University

Professor Mike Wang, University of Leicester

Dr Richard Brown, University of Manchester

Dr John McGowan, Canterbury Christ Church University

Dr David Lawrence, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Professor Richard Bentall, University of Liverpool

Dr David Wrigley, GP, Carnforth

Professor Chik Collins, University of the West of Scotland

Professor David Shapiro

Dr Tim Prescott, Teeside University

Dr Bob Gill, GP, Welling Kent

Patsy Taylor

Dr Andrew Gumley, University of Glasgow

Professor Paul Salkovskis, University of Bath

Professor Elaine Denny, Birmingham City University

Paul Foster, Liverpool

Dr Wendy Savage, London

Dr Sylvia Chandler, GP, retired

Dr Brian Fisher MBE, GP London

Dr Julie Ross,

Dr Judith Ibison, GP, London

Dr Ian Fleming, University of Manchester

Sue Holttum, Clinical Psychologist

Che Rosbert, Clinical Psychologist

Professor Andrew Samuels, London

Dr Majzoub B Ali

Dr Peter Draper

Dr Rufus May

Professor Richard Fielding

Professor Michael Gopfert

Dr Claire Niedzwiedz

Professor Keith Venables

Dr Jade Weston, Buckinghamshire County Council

Dr Alex Langford, Core Trainee in Psychiatry, South London & the Maudsley

Dr Nick Hartley, Clinical Psychologist, Newcastle upon Tyne

Chris Jones, Assistant Psychologist, ELFT

Dr Sara Meddings, Clinical Psychologist

Dr Julianna Challenor Phillips, City University

Fhiona Alsop

Campbell Perry, Psychotherapist

Carole Orchard

Sarah Davidson, Trainee Clinical Psychologist, Lancaster University

Bob Harris, Psychotherapist

Shirley Tunley

Andy Mitchell

Aayesha Mulla, Paediatric Clinical Psychologist

Dr Jim Byrne, ABC Coaching & Counselling Services

Judith Haire, Author

Dr Masuma Rahim, Clinical Psychologist

Suzy Chapman, Patient Advocate

Patrick Larsson, National Health Service

Professor Shirley Reynolds, University of Reading

Dr Ronald Bottlender, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany

Will Curvis, Trainee Clinical Psychologist

Huw Green, Trainee Clinical Psychologist and PhD Student, New York

David Trott, Impact Charity Advisors

Manus Moynihan, Trainee Clinical Psychologist, University of East London

Harriet Ball, academic FY2 doctor, BMBCh PhD

Bohdan Galczyk

Dr Andrew McLean, Clinical Psychologist, Lancashire,

Dr Reed Cappleman, Clinical Psychologist,

Jean Davidson, Author and Psychiatric System Survivor

Stacy Earl, Trainee Clinical Psychologist

Clare Allan, Author

Dr Helena Rose, Clinical Psychologist,

Dr Ian Bowns, Public Health Doctor

Professor Paul French, University of Liverpool.

Jonathan Buhagiar

Dr Tom Stockmann

Dr Alexandre Richards, Clinical Psychologist, Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust

Linda Burnip

Debbie Jolly

Dr Jacqui Stedmon, Plymouth University

Dr Louise Goodbody

Dr Laura Golding

Dr Gary Latchford

Dr Jim Williams

Dr Claire Niedzwiedz

Dr Susie Orbach

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