Debating the Issues

The media furore surrounding Brown’s blunder yesterday has yet to subside, and Brown is desperately trying to push the incident to the background declaring "Yesterday is yesterday. Today I want to talk about the future of the economy."

Well, these are far wiser words than those uttered in Rochdale; indeed the grave issues facing the British economy should be the main focus for all the political parties and it is a major concern for the electorate. It is amazing that yesterday’s major news of Spain’s credit downgrade received so little attention. Yet Spain’s situation is highly relevant to that of Britain’s and we may find ourselves in the same place if politicians do not take serious action to tackle the national debt.

Politicians are the major culprits for an election dominated by sound bites and photo opportunities instead of honest and open policy debates because none of the major political parties have dared to really, openly take on the issues that most concern ordinary people. The major tragedy of Brown’s gaffe is that he fobbed off a voter because she was concerned about immigration. An issue, which polls show, is important to the electorate.

Evidence that politicians are simply out of touch or are not dealing with the concerns of the electorate is plentiful. A very interesting ipsos MORI survey for the RAC Foundation, undertaken shortly before the general election was called, asked 1,025 people about transport policy. And one of the most interesting findings was the answer to the question “what do you think should be the next government’s highest transport priority after the general election”. The overwhelming majority of those polled answered the state of roads and pavements and the cost of using a car (e.g. petrol prices) should be the next government’s priority. Only 3 percent answered that planning and building a new high speed rail line connecting London and Birmingham and eventually Scotland should be the next government’s highest transport priority. Yet the only transport announcement of this election has been about high speed rail and all three leaders in last week’s leader’s debate declared their support for a high speed rail project in the next parliament and ignored the roads.

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