Letters: TV debate: Cameron has lost my vote already

These letters appear in the 10th March issue of The Independent

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I am a 30-year-old junior doctor, working within an increasingly overstretched NHS and concerned about balancing repayment of my student debt alongside saving for a house. Most importantly, I have no loyalty to any political party.

I must be representative of many young professionals whose support politicians wish to gain. Like many of the non-political class, I would use the TV debates to guide my vote on 7 May.

So I find Mr Cameron’s refusal to accept the broadcasters’ offer, and his opponents’ challenge, both arrogant and cowardly – not qualities I would look for in the next prime minister. He has already lost my vote.

John Mason



It has been reported that the BBC may give David Cameron a programme of his own if he continues to refuse to take part in debates other than with leaders of all the main parties. This is because all broadcasters have to be strictly impartial.

However, frequently on Radio 4’s Today, when a contentious issue is being discussed, the presenter may say: “We invited [whoever it might be] to send someone to be on the programme but no one was available.” The issue in question is still discussed, leaving the listener to decide why the opposition would not appear. Impartiality is never an issue.

Why should the pre-election debates be any different? If David Cameron refuses to appear on these debates, which he was so enthusiastic about in the past, there is no reason why he should be given a get-out-of-jail card in the cause of impartiality.

Patrick Cleary

Honiton, Devon


While I fully understand that the BBC would wish to avoid “humiliating the Prime Minister” by having an empty seat at their televised party leaders’ debate, it is quite another thing to then offer him “his own programme, an in-depth interview or... an extended party political broadcast”. How does this satisfy Ofcom’s rules on impartiality?

Firstly, Mr Cameron has been offered a place in the debate and has chosen to decline. That is entirely his choice. And secondly, the proposed alternatives now being offered to him surely represent preferential treatment for his party.

I would have thought that these same alternatives should be offered to the leaders of all the other parties as well. Otherwise, they may wish that they too had declined the offer of a debate and been handed the opportunity to present their policies unopposed.

Dr Dominic Horne

Ledbury, Herefordshire


The idea of showing an empty “Cameron” seat in the proposed election debate is childish, arrogant and insulting to voters and viewers, reducing the event to the level of a TV game show.

Cameron is free to adopt whatever attitude he cares to, and Miliband’s inevitable infantile claim that he is “running scared” does nothing to raise the standard of argument.

Robert Dow

Tranent, East Lothian


There is a precedent for the “empty chair” issue that may occur in the leaders’ debates. When Roy Hattersley failed to turn up for Have I Got News for You, he was replaced by a tub of lard. May I suggest a bag of wind for David Cameron?

Chris Powell

Southsea, Hampshire

No more Iraq wars – we haven’t the forces

There is a positive result of the Government’s austerity programme that has not been discussed.

There is one foreign policy promise that David Cameron can make and keep. It is that the United Kingdom will not participate in further optional wars like Iraq,  Afghanistan and Libya.

Even if neocons regained high positions within a new Tory government, and pushed for participation, the offensive capabilities of the Army, Navy and Air Force have been reduced to such low levels that such wars are out of the question.  

Our military forces can rest assured that in the future, if they go into combat, it will be for the defence of the realm, and  not an optional war that could have been avoided. 

George D Lewis

Brackley, Northamptonshire

Thanet doesn’t need a joke election

Thanet is not a joke.

Al Murray did not know where it was but decided to become a candidate. Nigel Farage is hoping to win the South Thanet seat held by Laura Sands, who is standing down. We need positive policies to help Thanet with new jobs and decide once and for all what is going to happen at Manston Airport.

I retired to Broadstairs, which is a lovely seaside town, but other areas in Thanet need money, jobs and vision. Thanet District Council is a joke, so we don’t need any more comedians, thank you Messrs Murray and Farage!

The people of Thanet deserve better and I hope that no one wastes their vote on 7 May.

Hazel Burton

Broadstairs, Kent

Parliament at the centre

Alan Gent and Ian Watson (Letters, 5 March) support Matthew Norman’s idea that Parliament should be moved somewhere more central than London, such as Manchester.

But why select an already crowded big city? Why not kill several birds with one stone by regenerating a blighted post-industrial non-urban area – a closed-down coal mine or steelworks, perhaps – with a fit-for-purpose Parliament, with enough seating, office and living accommodation for all MPs? Hostels, as in Canberra, would obviate the need for second home allowances, so often abused. 

A semi-rural brownfield choice would regenerate a steadily widening area, as services, government offices, embassies etc gravitated towards the new legislative capital, situated somewhere in the centre of the country.

Richard Thomas

Winchelsea, East Sussex

Standards of care in private hospitals

Your report “Private hospitals ‘lack facilities to deal with emergencies’, study finds” (2 March) contains a number of claims which do not stand up to scrutiny.

NHS patients who choose to be treated in an independent hospital are not putting their lives at risk if that hospital does not have specific emergency treatment facilities. The number of deaths and serious injuries to patients in independent hospitals represents about 0.001 per cent of the total of patients.

Like the NHS, the independent sector operates different types of clinics and hospitals. These hospitals only accept patients to whom they can offer appropriate care, so it is unsurprising that some do not offer critical care units or emergency facilities. The same system operates within the NHS, whereby a small NHS community hospital does not operate an A&E department or tend to employ emergency anaesthetists.

Independent hospitals are regulated and inspected to exactly the same standards as NHS hospitals by the Care Quality Commission.

It is true that sometimes there are unplanned transfers of care from the independent sector into the NHS. Such transfers also happen within the NHS, and indeed some non-emergency patients also transfer from the NHS into the independent sector. But there is no evidence to suggest that, following treatment in an independent hospital, readmission rates or patients requiring critical care are any more numerous than those who have been treated in the NHS.

Fiona Booth

Chief Executive

Association of Independent Healthcare Organisations

London EC2


Bids for Rattle’s concert hall

Instead of building a new concert hall in London, could I suggest that it should be sited somewhere that does not have a modern hall at all?

I would nominate Oxford, which is an hour from London by train, so Sir Simon Rattle could take his orchestra there as often as he wanted to.

Gordon Elliot

Burford, Oxfordshire


Age of the Kindle

Well said, Gail Royce (letter, 7 March). I, too, have been an e-reader user for almost four years and endorse everything she says about the ease of using this wonderful device. For those of us of a certain age, the ability to increase the print size is just another argument in favour of this brilliant little machine.

Jackie Knowles

Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire


Fading interest

What’s the point of saving, when this week the Halifax sent us a letter informing us there is to be a change in our savings. A decrease from one half of one per cent in interest to one quarter of one per cent! Hope the big-bonus boys enjoy their cash.

Terry Duncan

Bridlington, East Yorkshire

Con-Lab ploy for power

Lord Baker, in suggesting a Con-Lab coalition, seems to be suggesting that if the SNP can’t be thwarted by tactical voting, they should be thwarted by tactical governing.

Mark Miller

Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria