I read Andrew Grice’s column on Keir Starmer fighting the Tory portrayal of Labour as weak, with interest and agreement that indeed Keir Starmer is between the rock of going too easy on divisive subjects and the hard place of being seen as conflicted over totemic issues that seemingly the public are totally up for. Naturally, as a former barrister, he is heavy on the detail while Johnson is notably a consummate lightweight in this matter, never being known to “sweat the hard stuff”.
Of course, much of the government’s proposals are akin to a heavy-duty sledgehammer to crack several multi-complex nuts all at the same time. This goes against Starmer’s much more considered approach to matters, but he must come out, if not fighting, with a real proactive stance, which now tunes in with the public mood. His reasoned and rational approach at PMQ’s is a masterclass and most people would say “Yes he is right there” but this is inevitably countermanded by Boris Johnson, who is experiencing a certain uplift with the public and is in no rational mind to lose this ascendancy.
So yes, Starmer has to allay fears from his own MPs and supporters that he is not following in the wake of a populist prime minister and a right-wing home secretary and go for the jugular without losing his own credibility or principles, which got him elected in the first place.
Judith A. Daniels
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to withdraw Turkey from Istanbul’s pact that protects women from gender-based violence is deplorable, to say the least. Women encounter multiple societal challenges from generalised violence, poverty, marginalisation and mental illnesses. Women have the right to participate and be equal partners in the sustainable development of their inclusive societies. Time to ingrain human rights-based approach that is premised on community engagement, citizen participation, rigorous dialogue in all the policies and behaviours that affect us all.
Munjed Farid Al Qutob
The UK wants to expand its nuclear arsenal up to 260 warheads (apparently 180 annihilated cities won’t be quite enough). At the same time, we can barely scrape together a 1 per cent pay rise for our nurses. The total cost of Trident across its lifetime has been estimated at close to £200bn. For that money, you could fund the NHS to the tune of, say, £350m pounds a week for 10 years. There’s a thought.
Learning the hard way
It is beyond exasperating to look back on a year in which people with learning disabilities and autism have been deprioritised, time and time again. It’s especially disappointing after it became clear that people with learning disabilities are at a much greater risk of dying from Covid-19.
Consequently, systematic health inequalities have been exacerbated and mortality rates have accelerated. It didn’t need to be this way.
The recent prioritisation of people with learning disabilities in the vaccine rollout is warmly welcomed, but it is frustrating it has taken so long. Many lives could have been saved if the guidance was changed quicker.
As we look beyond the pandemic, we must learn from the experiences of the past year to improve healthcare provision and tackle inequalities. This must start with urgently addressing the backlog of annual health checks; a vital tool to help people with learning disabilities and autism maintain their health.
The omission of social care in the Budget and the lack of recognition for the social care workforce is galling. The government must prioritise making good on its promise to deliver social care reform. Without this, old mistakes are bound to repeat themselves. People with learning disabilities and autism deserve better than that.
Steve Scown CEO of Dimensions
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