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Last Updated: Friday, 8 April 2005, 17:44 GMT 18:44 UK
UK voters' panel: Tonia Barton

MEET THE PANEL
Tonia Barton
Name: Tonia Barton
Age: 43
Lives: Nelson, Lancashire
Works: Wine and spirit wholesalers
Current voting intention: Conservative
In 10 words or less:
"Single, committed socially liberal Conservative"

Having always been a Conservative, I feel that this election is vital to the future of Britain.

The constituency I live in has tended to be a barometer of the final result of the election, and I would like to see the Conservatives win in this election.

I think Tony Blair has let down the country by spinning falsehoods over a range of issues.

After the hope of the early years of New Labour I feel that we have been badly misled by this administration and it is vital that we have a change.

I feel we need to have a positive view of Britain and tackle the major problems of crime and anti-social behaviour together with asylum and immigration whilst retaining the common sense that we as a nation have.

VOTERS' PANEL INTRODUCTIONS
The over-regulation by the government over all areas of society needs to be quickly cut back.

Professionals in fields such as the health service, teaching and the police must be allowed to do their jobs and not be forever filling in forms to meet government targets.


Your comments:

I would love Tonia to look back at the previous 18 years of Tory mismanagement of the economy, the NHS and public transport. The Labour government may be occasionally incompetent but the amount of corrupt Tory ministers who have served time in prison surely says it all.
M Waters, London, UK

Tonia, just a quick question: if you've always been a Conservative, then why did you feel such hope during the early years if New Labour?
Larry, Leeds

To answer Kevin from Wallington's question, as to when were there 4 million unemployed, sorry Kevin but there were more than 5 million unemployed and that was the figure which excluded long term sick, students etc. Labour has its flaws, Gordon Brown has destroyed the pensions industry, but in all they have managed better than any other party for many years. Sorry if some of you are too young to remember 17% interest rates in 1982 and 15% in 1992. Careful what you wish for, you may just get it!
Alan Lazenby, England

I hate to contradict people but Tom Robinson is wrong about the Conservatives. It was 18 years of Tory mismanagement not 15!
Brian Welsh , Aberdeen, UK

Tonia seems to forget that the centralising tendency started with the Thatcherite Tories. Labour just tagged on behind. The result is a disaster for our professions - professional discretion and all that - but who started the process?
John, Ascot

It appears Labour are patting themselves on the back for the state of the economy and low inflation. If the economy was in a poor state would it be the fault of the world conditions. I also note that Labour are liable to say that income tax will not rise, but National Insurance contributions are not to be included in the promise which implies these will rise. Maybe the time has come to be straight and stop the confidence tricks. That would be the party that gets my vote.
John McCall, Burton

I reel in horror! Ms Barton is somehow blanking out the Thatcher era. Tonia, you lived through the madness of the 80s and 90s, didn't you? The very thought of trusting someone who was in Thatcher's cabinet makes me go cold. OK, so we were not lied to by Thatcher on the scale of Blair, but she all but wrecked the country. Can you not see that?
Steve Brereton, York, UK

Interesting reading all the views about how great our economy is now. Do people really believe Labour have done all this in their time in power? The one thing the Tories left Labour was a superb economy - Gordon Brown could not fail to build on their success. I am not born and bred Conservative and was prepared to give Labour their turn in power hoping they had changed from their dark ways of the 1970s. However, it may be a new Labour, but some leopards never change their spots. Talking about short memories, regarding the 1980s, I say people have short memories about Labour in the 1970s. The country came to a standstill with everyone striking. Labour must be ousted at this election; I have never met so many young people wanting to leave the UK because of what this country is becoming under New Labour. I for one cannot wait to leave the UK.
Nick, Weybridge

How naive are some of these comments? I live in France (temporarily) and let me tell you something: if you want an overregulated economy, high public spending, thousands of unnecessary state employees and a democratic system sold out to unelected eurocrats, then go ahead and vote Labour back in. Don't kid yourselves on the economy - this lot inherited an economy in great shape, stripped of state regulation and trade union influence. Be under no illusion - whichever party wins in May the UK is heading into a serious recession as a result of economic mismanagement and over-spending by this government. I trust all Labour voters will be happy to pay even higher taxes for no improvement in state services.
Anon, Paris

No party ever fulfils the promises which they make and therefore to vote based upon the sales pitch during an election is somewhat pointless. The welfare state is becoming a huge drain to us taxpayers, we have too many immigrants draining that welfare (anyone who thinks otherwise should visit Wolverhampton) and a lot of our skilled workforce is emigrating. Taxpayers deserve to see their money put to good use and whatever happens, Blair has to go to save what little pride this country has left.
Emma, Wolverhampton, UK

I haven't heard or read of any person, newspaper or magazine that has actually unequivocally stated that anything this Labour government has done has actually been worthy of the people of this country. I'm voting Conservative for my family's sake.
Trevor Way, Billericay

The leadership of the Conservative party is as it was eight years ago and there is no reason to think it can change
Tom Robinson, Milton Keynes, England
As a 75 years old voter, I have to say that I have never seen a government leave the country in such excellent shape as I am seeing this time around. How can anyone think that the Conservatives can compete particularly after the state the nation was in in 1997 after 15 years of Tory management. The leadership of the Conservative party is as it was eight years ago and there is no reason to think it has or can change.
Tom Robinson, Milton Keynes, England

"The police must be allowed to do their jobs and not be forever filling in forms to meet government targets." Why then is Tonia going to vote Conservative, when Howard wants all police officers to fill out a weekly online public report detailing what they have done to prevent crime?
Jonathan, London

To all those who are saying the economy is so good - do you really think this would be the case if people didn't borrow so much on credit like they have never been able to do before? It's a false economy which will eventually bring a huge recession. Wake up!
Gary, Warwick, UK

Tony may have let you down but here in Daventry we are having a new hospital built were there was previously only a health centre. Thanks Labour.
Herb, Daventry, England

Tonia has expressed perfectly some sensible views here and has her own ideals. From what she has written I also believe she is someone capable of listening to alternative views which is more than can be said of some very foolish correspondents here.
JP Goddard, Harlow, Essex

It is interesting to note that Labour supporters are quick to mention the 'stable economy' but they seem blissfully unaware that the economy is and has been in the hands of the Bank of England. They deserve the recognition for the economy, not Labour. No matter who gets in the economy will remain outside the direct control of politicians.
Guy Megson, Worcester, UK

Oh how soon we do forget! It was the Tories who outsourced school dinners, which created today's crisis. Have we also forgotten the poll tax? The minimum wage? Do we really want an NHS where we have to pay for half the costs? I certainly don't, which is why the Tories will only wreck our country. Again.
Douglas, Manchester, UK

Bravo Tonia! I agree. Not only does the constituency of Pendle need a change but it deserves one - as does Britain. Blair needs a stronger argument for returning him once more to power for another four years after he has failed to achieve what he has set out twice before. He has had eight years and has failed. He cannot blame the previous government any more. I will happily be voting Conservative at the next election so that the British can live better lives and Britain can be great once more. At this next election, Mr Howard was right to say: "Bring it on."
Ben Gascoigne, Nelson, Lancashire

More Tories voted for military action against Iraq than Labour MPs, including Mr Howard, therefore I definitely won't be voting Conservative on 5 May. And, after all the criticism levelled against Labour for banning something which no decent society should tolerate - killing animals - the Tories are going to spend yet more parliamentary time repealing the law. Absolute madness!
Liz, Kingston, England

I despair when people say that the economy is brilliant and that going back to Thatcherite ideals would lead to four million unemployed (when did we have this many unemployed by the way?) The economy is being propped up by massive private and public debt which will one day come back to haunt us. The number of people out of work is actually going up. Just imagine what would happen if you took the 700,000 public sector jobs that Labour have created since 97 out of the equation. Labour inherited an excellent economy. They are slowly but surely returning to the old Labour ideals of tax and spend.
Kevin, Wallington, Surrey

I will never ever trust the Tories again after what they did to so many house owners who were trapped in negative equity not for a year but for nine years like me. It robbed me of my house and my investments. How can we trust them again? People seem to think that we have short memories.
Philip Gnana, New Malden, Surrey

This makes no real sense. Tony Blair probably has dismayed many in his time in power but there is no sense in which the Tories stand up for health workers, teachers or police. The fact is we will remain better off with a Labour government, especially with a reduced majority.
Alex, London, UK

A social liberal? Yet she tells us she believes in tackling crime, antisocial behaviour, asylum and immigration! Does she believe this should be done in a socially liberal way by redistributing wealth to the impoverished and sorting out inequalities across the globe? Or the Tory way, by banging them all up in jail and only letting English speakers into the country.
Chris G, Cambridge, UK

I feel that anyone who votes Tory does not consider the interests of the country as a whole. By this I mean who was minister when record interests were on the go, opposed the minimum wage, was present on black Wednesday and plenty more besides, the answer is Michael Howard, it will be a massive backwards step if the Tories get in. I know Labour have their faults but in comparison to Tories they are without doubt the best we have.
Peter, Keighley, England

I agree with most of what Tonia says. It will reflect badly on British voters if Tony Blair is allowed to get away with his deceptions. Gordon Brown is overrated as a chancellor and it should be remembered that he is the cause of our current pension crisis.
Ken, England, UK

I note that Tonia Barton does not mention the stable economy, improving educational standards and improving health service among her issues. Perhaps it is because Labour has performed so well on these issues and she knows that the Tory policies to cut services would benefit only the rich.
Colin, Kingston, Surrey

Crime figures have fallen massively under the present government, hence the almost unprecedented slap-down that Michael Howard got from the Chief Constables for telling lies about crime figures last weekend. If Miss Barton wants to deal with the real threat of red tape and bureaucracy to the police, target number one should be Michael Howard's plans to make police forces publish their weekly crime figures on the internet. Like so many of the man's ideas, truly barking mad, but at least it's not one of his more nasty ones.
John Erskine, Leeds

The economy is brilliant. Labour has brought us a country to be proud of, except its ties with Bush.
Ben Whisker, Wakefield

Yes the same hard line Thatcherite nonsense that would see us with 4 million unemployed and the pariah in Europe.
Stephen Darby, Sutton Coldfield

Yes, we need a change! The Conservatives deserve a chance to give us back our rights as individuals and get us back to choosing how we spend our own money and live our own lives, not have the government decide with extortionate taxes and state directives on how we must interact socially.
Anon

Admittedly, the war in Iraq and the falsehoods used to defend going to war have been very disappointing, however I don't believe a Conservative government would have acted any differently, they too have always followed unquestioningly the lead of the US. Your point about over regulation being cut back: regulation is put in place for a reason, namely to stop abuse of a system, it is not there on a whim. To generalise and say it must be "cut back" is irresponsible and ideological: some regulation will need amending, some removing and some adding, this is how government has to work. Ruthless deregulation only leads to abuses of a system being reintroduced in the name of efficiency. This Labour government has been very effective regulators; the economy has not suffered, on the contrary, we have had a stable, healthy economy for the past eight years. Widespread deregulation would threaten that.
Jonathan Fisher, London

Bravo. Personally I think the Labour Government has upset so many sections of the UK public, ie Iraq, hunting, uncontrolled immigration/asylum, student uni fees and the council tax. Personally as an IT contractor, I saw this Labour government allow work permits for thousands of Indian testers and SW developers into the UK, even though there were tens of thousands of UK IT specialists out of work.
Bruce V Fox, Bournemouth, Dorset

I despair of the British electorate when I hear phrases like "having always been a Conservative". All parties have their lifetime adherents. These are largely people who aren't prepared to listen to the arguments, on all sides, but who will vote for a particular party no matter what they say or do, and no matter what the quality of their candidate. We need to dissipate the core votes of all parties and urge them to sell their policies afresh to us, in each election. Only then are we likely to get a parliament that is really representative of the country's varied opinions and aspirations.
Tony Weddle, Newbury, UK





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