Reading the Independent's letters page is fascinating and educating, and it is great that serious debates are being had at election/Brexit time. However, it seems to me there are three simple truths we seem to forget about ourselves as voters.
- Voters generally want what is on offer from politicians – so long as they do not have to pay for it (therefore someone else must). Thus we get the politicians we deserve – parties rarely get into power on an “increase taxes to fund NHS, education, and so on” mandate, so we, the electorate, continue to encourage empty promises. Why are we surprised when the obvious happens?
- Independent readers (like myself) take quite a deep interest in politics. However, a large proportion of the electorate do not. So the recent discussions on “slogan politics” is missing the mark. Much of the electorate want simplified messages – politicians know this – and thus simple slogans and headlines will hit the mark for many. Margaret Thatcher was a master (mistress?) of this – witness her “corner shop” rhetoric. Those who are trained in public speaking know that for the audience to remember one thing you said is a result, two is very good and three is fantastic. Some may want more information from our politicians, but I'd wager that most do not. Every voter trying to understand the issues is counterbalanced by a “slogan-led” vote.
- It seems some voters vote on facts and issues – others vote for “hope”. Hence Donald Trump seems to have inspired half the US voting population with “hope” for a better future. Brexit appears to have similar characteristics – a vote for “hope” (with no details) seems to have been more powerful than known facts. Also, everyone wants someone to blame for the ills – in the 1950s it was the Irish, in the 1960s it was immigrants, in the 1970s it was the unions, in the 2000s it was the banks, and now it is the EU. A common enemy binds the voters.
Why won't the left-wing parties form a progressive alliance?
One reason the Tories have done well in local elections is because opposition parties did not form enough electoral pacts at local level. They should now use the lessons learned from these results in order to swallow their pride and agree locally on a numerical basis which candidates should withdraw from the general election. Once they are successful in that, and have introduced proportional representation, they can revert to business as usual on party lines.
Good news that the Labour Party is now looking to support proportional representation.
But what about the election now? Why don't they put their newfound respect for democracy into practice and form strategic alliances with the Greens and the Lib Dems and whoever is willing to save this country from Theresa May's rigid Brexit plans?
For goodness' sake, wake up, you lot!
And on the same subject – why on earth has Jeremy Corbyn again fallen into May's anti-democratic trap and refused to join party leaders' TV debates for this election? I couldn't believe it when I read that. Britain deserves better.
Auckland, New Zealand
Mental health awareness goes beyond addressing illness
This coming week marks Mental Health Awareness Week (8 to 14 May). Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, the theme this year is “Surviving or Thriving”. Rather than asking why so many people are living with mental health problems, this week seeks to uncover why too few of us are thriving with good mental health.
It is crucial to remember that three children in every classroom in Scotland will experience mental health problems by the time they are 16 and half of adult mental health problems start before the age of 14. While the Scottish Government and society as a whole has begun to treat mental health and physical health equally, we still have a long way to go.
If we are going to truly develop a mentally healthy society, we must begin with a renewed focus on prevention and early intervention, so that our children and young people get the support they need, where and when they need it.
Initiatives such as Mental Health Awareness Week go a long way in moving the national conversation forward, raising awareness of this important issue which affects each and every one of us.
The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition
Time for Corbyn to go
As things stand, Jeremy Corbyn's resignation as leader of the Labour Party is scheduled for 9 June. Is there any chance at all that he could be persuaded to bring it forward by just one month in the interests of the millions of people who do not want a Tory landslide?
Why is food bank usage skyrocketing in a country with 100 billionaires?
Why do over three million children go hungry in the school holidays and thousands go to food banks in one of the richest countries in the world?
Hunger does not get a mention in the election debate, yet its growing occurrence, particularly among children, is a national disgrace.
Two recent reports highlighted the growing scandal. The first from the Trussell Trust, which administers 427 foodbanks countrywide, reported how the number of people receiving emergency three-day supplies of food rose by 73,000 over the past year to 1,182,954 people. The total included some 440,0000 children.
The primary causes of referral to food banks were low pay and benefit delays (each accounting for 26 per cent of referrals).
The second report, Hungry Holidays from the all-party parliamentary group on hunger, tells how up to three million children risk going hungry in the school holidays. “This group comprises over a million children growing up in poverty who receive free school meals during term time, as well as an estimated two million who are disqualified from free school meals because their parents work for their poverty,” authors of the report said.
Something needs to be done to address this hunger epidemic among children and adults. The ever-growing number of people going to food banks in a country that boasts over 100 billionaires is testimony to a society that grows more and more unequal with each passing month. A country that likes to think it is progressing forward into the 21st century but in terms of much of the population seems only to be going backward to Dickensian times for many people.
It must be hoped that the political parties pick up the challenges put down by these two reports to address the growing levels of poverty and inequality in our society. Failure to do so will lead only to ever more serious consequences in the future.
What to say about Prince Philip's retirement?
Thank heavens for Chi Onwurah. Regarding Prince Phil’s departure, I am hugely grateful that there was this one tiny gap in the all-consuming tsunami of fawning, toadying, selective memories and general puke-inducing media following the retirement announcement.
Just seen Theresa May commenting on Prince Philip’s retirement from public duties. Surprised she didn't tell us what a “strong and stable” support he had been to the Queen.
Theresa May would have been at odds with Thatcher
“It's your job, the job of business, to gear yourselves up to take the opportunities which a single market of nearly 320 million people will offer.
“Just think for a moment what a prospect that is. A single market without barriers – visible or invisible – giving you direct and unhindered access to the purchasing power of over 300 million of the world’s wealthiest and most prosperous people.
“Bigger than Japan. Bigger than the United States. On your doorstep. And with the Channel Tunnel to give you direct access to it.”
Thatcher’s words in 1988 on launching the single market should unnerve her emulator, Theresa May.
We’re sleep-walking away from the most powerful trading bloc and political union the world has ever known.
The old and the less educated outvoted the young and better educated by a fraction – in a referendum full of lies. But views change with new information.
It’s time for those that really understand the consequences of our disastrous trajectory to step up. Your country needs you.
Looking to the future
The cynical Tories carry the Brexit fear tactics into this election. How sad that is when the future of our country and our younger generations are at stake.
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