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.
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?
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.
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!
‘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”.
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?
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.
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.
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
Professor Dave Harper, University of East London
Dr Sam Thompson, University of East London
Anne Cooke, Canterbury Christ Church University
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
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
Campbell Perry, Psychotherapist
Sarah Davidson, Trainee Clinical Psychologist, Lancaster University
Bob Harris, Psychotherapist
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
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.
Dr Tom Stockmann
Dr Alexandre Richards, Clinical Psychologist, Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust
Dr Jacqui Stedmon, Plymouth University
Dr Louise Goodbody
Dr Laura Golding
Dr Gary Latchford
Dr Jim Williams
Dr Claire Niedzwiedz
Dr Susie OrbachReuse content