Friday, 26 May 2017

Making My Vote Count, part 3

They say a week is a long time in politics, but in my experience politics also moves very slowly.

The Christian Peoples Alliance candidate has finally put his email address up on the Who Can I Vote For website, so of course I have emailed him. The Green Party candidate still hasn’t put his email address up there, so I still cannot contact him.

I have still not had any replies to my emails from any of the other candidates and it’s now just under two weeks until the election.

We have had election leaflets pushed through our front door though. One each from the Labour and Liberal Democrats candidates on Monday, one from the Conservative candidate on Wednesday, and one from the UKIP candidate today. None of these leaflets come even close to answering my questions. The UKIP candidate does have her email address on her leaflet so I have been able to finally email her today.

The Labour candidate’s leaflet said she will, if re-elected, “Revitalise our cash-starved health service ensuring it stays free, safe and reliable.” She doesn’t say how she will achieve this very lofty aim, nor does she say what she has previously done as our MP to support and “revitalise” the NHS. Her leaflet is high on highly emotional language and low on measurable promises.

The Liberal Democrats candidate’s leaflet talks a lot about Brexit, over half of his A4 leaflet is given over to what he claims to do around Brexit. His leaflet makes no direct promise for the NHS, but he does pledge to merge social care and NHS services in my borough, and “better funding arrangements”. Though he doesn’t state what these would be and were they would come from.

The Conservative candidate’s leaflet makes no reference to the NHS at all. Obviously this is of no concern to him. His leaflet does make three promises: 1, to support Theresa May in all her Brexit negotiations; 2, to “empower” local communities to take “action” on litter, dog mess and anti-social behaviour; 3, to “champion” the self-employed and small business owners. I cannot see any of these helping the NHS out of its current crisis or resolving our shortage of nurses.

The UKIP candidate’s leaflet had five pledges on it and one of them applied to the NHS. It was called “NHS Before Foreign Aid”, and stated, “Fund 20,000 nurses and 10,000 GPs; Scrap hospital parking fees.” She doesn’t say were these extra nurses and GPs will come from, seeing as there are already shortfalls in both professions, and one of her other pledges is “Cut Immigration”. If we can’t recruitment nurses and doctors from other countries we’re only going to add to the shortage, we’re certainly not training enough. She says nothing about NHS funding. She implies that the foreign aid budget will be spent on the NHS. Last year’s foreign budget was £12.1 billion (1). Last year NHS Trusts were underfunded by £2.4 billion (2) and by 2020 the NHS is expected to hand back £20 billions of funding in “efficiency” savings (2). The head of NHS England, Simon Stevens, has said that the NHS needs an extra £10 billion just to keep going (2). Also, Britain is in the top thirty richest countries in the world (3), why can’t we fully fund both the NHS and foreign aid?

I would to love to put these questions to the above candidates, ask them to fully explain what they mean and what they would actually do, but I can’t. None of them have replied to my email, so far I have been unable to find any local hustings were I could put my questions to the candidates, and no one has knocked on my front door conversing for my vote, certainly not any of the candidates. Neither of the local Labour or Conservative party websites list any opportunities to meet their candidates (The other four parties standing don’t even have local party websites, or none that I can find).

All the contact I’ve received from my local candidates, who all want me to vote for them, has been four, small leaflets. All of these leaflets are high on emotive language and low on facts and measurable promises. All of these leaflets were controlled by the candidates, they say what the candidates want to say. None of them even came close to answering my questions to them (4).

The basic MP’s salary is £74,962 (5). None of these candidates seem to be even putting in half the work to earn this high salary. Why should I vote for any of them?

Drew Payne

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