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Opinion: General election special as readers debate big issues ahead of polling day in letters to the KentOnline editor

Our readers from across the county give their weekly take on the biggest issues impacting Kent and beyond.

Some letters refer to past correspondence which can be found by clicking here. Join the debate by emailing letters@thekmgroup.co.uk

‘It is going to come down to voting for the party which will be least bad for the country’
‘It is going to come down to voting for the party which will be least bad for the country’

Tough choice at the ballot box

Like many people, I’m not happy about the choices facing me at the polling booth on July 4.

It is going to come down to voting not for which party will be best for the country but for which party will be the least bad!

When they lost power in 2010, the Labour Chancellor left a mocking note for his incoming Tory replacement to the effect that there was nothing in the bank!

While it cannot be denied that the economy, after 14 years of Tory government is not exactly healthy, I am heartily sick of hearing Starmer and Rayner chanting their tiresome mantra ‘The Conservatives have ruined the economy’!

The Tories inherited a struggling economy in 2010 and then had to cope with the perfect storm of Brexit, the pandemic and Russia’s war against Ukraine.

The pandemic is estimated to have cost the country in the region of £350 billion - of which £70 billion was eaten up by the Furlough Scheme that permitted people who could not work to continue being paid!

The Conservatives did not cause the pandemic or start the war in Ukraine.

It’s hardly surprising that the economy is still feeling the shockwaves of that economic perfect storm. But it is starting to recover.

On July 4, it will all come down to which party I trust to keep us on the road to economic stability. I certainly know for whom I will not - Lib Dem, Green or Reform.

But as of this moment, I am on the fence - although I could do my civic duty, turn up to vote and spoil my ballot

Bob Readman

Main parties are two sides of the same coin

Everyone knows what a one-party system is. We have something slightly different but basically the same (and equally obnoxious) - the two-party system.

Notice how the two main parties do each other's dirty work - ie, implement policies they would never dare do under their own name. So the Tories are responsible for record-high migration levels and offer no resistance to the woke agenda, while Labour toadies up to big business and goes along with NHS privatisation and dismantlement of the Welfare State. Both parties need each other; they are two sides of the same coin.

The first-past-the-post (FTP) voting system perpetuates this set-up as it is virtually impossible for third-party candidates to get elected. But does anyone still think that the PM is the most powerful person in the land or that Parliament is the supreme authority?

Increasingly government policies are being dictated by powerful outside bodies - NGOs, banks, pressure groups, etc - who are neither elected by, or responsible to, the electorate. These organisations make a mockery of - and are a threat to - the democratic process and undermine national sovereignty also.

All of which gives credence to Disraeli's dictum that, "the world is governed by very different personages from what is imagined by those who are not behind the scenes."

Which is why politicians and parties come and go but the agenda remains the same.

John Helm

Sunak and Tories will reap what they’ve sown

I have no doubt that Rishi Sunak is a decent family man, but he is a terrible politician.

He has only been in parliament for nine years, but in that time, even though he himself was a supporter of Brexit, he turned on the man who won the 2019 general election for the Conservatives and had promoted him beyond his abilities.

Since becoming Prime Minister he has presided over an administration which has made endless promises, that have been left unfulfilled and launched numerous policies that were either constantly postponed, or abandoned altogether.

He called a general election months before he needed to, at a time when his party was vastly behind in the polls, thus losing the possibility of benefiting from either an improving economic position, or the advent of what was attributed incorrectly to Harold MacMillan, as “Events, dear boy, Events”.

Sunak’s privileged background and wealth mean he does not understand the British working class, and this, combined with a lack of experience in parliament and his own political ambition, have led to him being out of touch with those he needs to vote Conservative.

His reliance on advisors, which led him to commit the major blunder of leaving the D-Day memorial events to give a campaign interview, makes it extremely unlikely that he can now retrieve the situation.

Those Conservative MPs who abandoned their greatest vote winner over a matter of cake, then threw out Liz Truss, elected by their own members, in favour of Sunak, will reap the fruits of their actions on July 4.

Colin Bullen

Credit voters with more intelligence

In his letter relating to the forthcoming general election, C. Aichgy opened our eyes to the possibility that the Labour Party might have secret tax-raising intentions if it forms the next government.

According to him ‘the great majority of the electorate are sleepwalking into a potential socialist money-grabbing nightmare’.

I think it is insulting to suggest that a legion of voters are sleepwalking into anything. British voters are used to assessing the evidence and reaching a balanced view as to which political party would form the best future government.

The first example he gives to illustrate our sleepwalking blindness is over the extension of congestion charges. This isn’t based on a shred of evidence and is simply scaremongering, suggesting that Labour would use charges as a form of taxation in disguise.

He goes on to suggest that charges for energy supply and planning consents are other examples where they ‘could’ introduce hefty fees. Once again, this is pure speculation. It wasn’t possible for him to put any meat on the bones of his argument, because there isn’t any. On the other hand if Mr Aichgy does has any evidence that this is indeed what Labour is planning, I suggest that he has a duty to open our eyes and share it with us, his fellow voters.

John Cooper

Candidates should live in the area

In the forthcoming general election, a number of candidates do not live in the area which they hope to represent in Parliament.

It is hard to see how these candidates can really understand all the issues local people face when they do not live in the area. Perhaps it would be even more difficult for them to see their constituents, should the need arise.

From time to time, the issue of possible voting reform arises. It is, perhaps, equally important that there should be a requirement that Parliamentary candidates must live in the constituency for which they are standing.

Richard Ablett

‘Highways maintenance should be brought in-house and be devolved wherever possible’
‘Highways maintenance should be brought in-house and be devolved wherever possible’

Vote for a better future on climate

In just over a year and a half, since Rishi Sunak has been Prime Minister, his government has approved a new coalmine in Cumbria, approved the enormous Rosebank oil and gas field, granted over 100 new oilfields in the North Sea, decided to grant more on an annual basis in order to 'max-out' North Sea oil and rowed back on Net-Zero targets.

Former Tory Energy Minister Chris Skidmore has been scathing about this, saying he can’t vote for a party that has ‘boasted of new oil and gas licences in its manifesto or that now argues that net zero is a burden and not a benefit.’

Is it not obvious that like Chris Skidmore, we should all make our vote count for a better future?

Mike Baldwin

Putting words in my mouth

John Cooper claims I have made a sweeping statement about irresponsible people having more children than they can afford, then living on benefits, without a shred of evidence to support that view.

Presumably he would be prepared to make a statement without fear of contradiction that there are no people in the country today who are living on benefits whilst having more children than they could otherwise afford?

He claims I would ‘no doubt’ call them the ‘undeserving poor’. He knows nothing about who I am, then has the barefaced cheek to accuse me of making sweeping statements.

There was no desperation, as he claims, in my matter-of-fact question to Ray Duff about a future Labour government taxing the rich as it did in the past, in a failed attempt to solve all the problems he mentioned. The fact that John Cooper found it ‘unconvincing’ does not make what I said any less true.

He goes on say there should be no benefit cap at all but his attempt to justify where the money should come from is contained in the hope that a future Labour government’s policies to expand the economy will be successful.

C. Aichgy

Young people understand chaos of our world

We underestimate our young people if we consider that they are too immature to understand the significance of the issues involved in the general election.

As a teenager, I formed my initial political views and have been developing them ever since that time.

Certain of the letters in your columns suggest that even many mature individuals have little grasp of political reality.

It is our young people who will have to deal with the many issues, from climate change to the threat of nuclear war, with which our politicians show no indication of being able to deal.

Maybe our younger generation understands that the meaning of the verb ‘change’ is ‘to do something different’. Not, as our political leaders seem to believe ‘to continue in the same disastrous ways’. Ways that have led to the present world chaos with wars and crises.

Ralph A. Tebbutt

Why I’ve lost my faith in Farage

I had considered voting for Reform UK because I was attracted to their policies and believed Nigel Farage would one day have a real chance of becoming Prime Minister, especially as the Tories were in disarray and had lost the trust and credibility of a broad spectrum of the public.

And it will probably be decades before the Conservatives manage to redeem themselves and become a viable force in British politics.

But my faith in Farage was destroyed when he said during a TV interview that the West provoked Putin into invading Ukraine and linked the expansion of NATO and the European Union eastwards for his incursion into a sovereign nation.

Farage has shown himself to be reckless and subversive which should exempt him from achieving a position of power since he has wilfully given succour to a Russian tyrant and warmonger.

Furthermore, his comments will have a detrimental effect on his chances of winning a parliamentary seat as the voters in Clacton, will be outraged at his excusing Putin's aggression.

Michael Smith

Split up council to improve efficiency

I have long thought that Kent County County requires restructuring into at least two or possibly three unitary councils.

Transport planning, which is very poor in Kent, should be done by a Transport for the South East body. Highways maintenance should be brought in-house and be devolved wherever possible.

The same applies to social care, where the secret, privatised, outsourced state overcharges at will.

Some of KCC's problem is 14 years of austerity, where government spending cuts have damaged local government.

The next government should restore funding but only with a full restructure.

If KCC tries to cut £81m from it's budget, its current cabinet will be spending more time with their families after May 2025.

Richard Styles

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