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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 April 2005, 14:47 GMT 15:47 UK
UK voters' panel: David Mayer

MEET THE PANEL
David Mayer
Name: David Mayer
Age: 45
Lives: Emsworth, Hampshire
Works: Financial services
Current voting intention: Undecided
In 10 words or less:
"Husband and father of six, fearful of our economic future."

I expect the various party manifestos to be couched in user-friendly terms, naturally with a slant to give the impression that their policies are better than anyone else's.

I want to see a firm promise to either scrap university fees and revert to the old system of grants rather than loans, or at the very least an expansion of means-tested grants to a wider section of the population.

This would overcome the problem of affordability of university education for those just over the cash limit, and might encourage students who are academically able but whose families cannot support them sufficiently.

As a parent of a child who attends a special school, I want to see a promise to look again at the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice to remove the presumption that mainstream schooling should be the norm for pupils with special educational needs.

On health, rather than grand promises to improve the NHS, let's have some proper accountability for where the money will be spent.

VOTERS' PANEL
I also want a promise to look at the current first-past-the-post voting system and a switch to proportional representation.

On pensions, I want action regarding the current mess, and an indication of each party's proposed methods for tackling the problem.


Your comments:

Rover Jobs going to be lost on top of 1 million other manufacturing jobs lost. How is it Germany can subsidise their coal industry yet Rover cannot be helped out? Mr. Prescott found it easy enough to pump around 1.6 Billion into the Dome. David, for God's sake vote Conservative. That way, Europe won't get there hands on any more of this country's affairs.
Mark, Hednesford

I think that it would be wrong to depose a government on a long winning streak in favour of a fragmented party with a hidden agenda.
J Westerman, Leeds

Based on all the issues you mention, your views are very close to the Liberal Democrats
Geoff Payne, London

Sounds like you want to vote Lib Dem, but just can't bring yourself to waste your vote. Go on, raise that Lib Dem vote.
Jeffrey Lake, London, UK

There is no misconception about tuition fees, they are unfair. I recently graduated and there is no way anybody could have survived on the amount of money I was loaned. After (full rate) fees had been taken, the amount left didn't even cover my rent for the year let alone the books, tools and software I needed. Now I am earning over the threshold, the amount I am paying back though the PAYE scheme doesn't even cover the monthly interest payments on the loan. Even with me paying off as much as I can afford each month it will take me nearly 92 years to pay off the full amount of the loan.
Simon, Somerset

Well done David. I could not have said it better myself! You don't want a job as prime Minister do you?
Terry, Grimsby

A well thought out and inclusive point of view, I also worry about Labour's lack of accountability and I am impressed with his appreciation of the problems the youth of today face, with 6 children that's important.
Louise, Manchester

Why scrap university fees? I would like to see both university fees (which should be equal for all universities) and means tested loans increased. The salary at which you begin to repay the loans should be raised substantially. Students (not their families) would then pay a higher proportion of their own fees, but only when they manage to secure a salary where repayment is realistic and fair.
Richard Johnson, Windsor, UK

It's good to see someone mention proportional representation. It may be a tedious subject for discussion, but until we have some sort of reform on these lines, voting in a general election will continue to be an exercise in which the majority of the country actually have little effect on the make-up of the next parliament.
Matthew Faupel, Cambridge, UK

The problem we have is that each party believes in separate ideas. Conservatives are worried about asylum and crime, Labour are all about economics and education, and the Liberal Democrats are normally forgotten about. How are we to know who to vote for, when each party can only argue?
Alex, Essex

As I have a son who has Asperger's syndrome, I have sympathy for David's views, especially about special needs schools. We have been forced to educate our son at home - he simply could not have coped at a mainstream school. I have found the current system to be truly dreadful, as it does not afford any choice to parents.
SPT, Wiltshire

I agree with the sentiments regarding the NHS and special needs. My sister works as a speech therapist in the NHS, and says the drive to get special needs children into mainstream schools is doing a lot of harm to those children, particularly those with very limited speaking ability.
Nathan James, Liverpool

One of the major misconceptions about tuition fees is that the family must support the student. This is not so. The burden only makes itself known once the student starts earning a certain amount. If they never reach that level, they never pay back the loan. It doesn't impact on students who have a low-income job after uni, just those who have a middle or high income job.
Jo Gaston, Poole, Dorset

Jo is quite obviously not a student. Yes, the loans are repayable on condition of earnings after graduation, but if your parents earn just over a set amount, the most you get is about 3k. That is simply not adequate for rent, bills, food, books, tuition fees (50% of that loan). The burden is definitely on the parent to support students, otherwise their income wouldn't be means tested for their children to go to uni in the first place.
Chris, Bournemouth, UK

If Jo Gaston thinks that student loan repayments only affect those with middle and high incomes, she does not know how the system works. I began repaying my loan as soon as I started earning more than 10,000 a year - hardly a "middle income" is it? The threshold is set to increase to 15,000 this year, which eases the burden in the short term, yet means that I'll probably be repaying until retirement. Remember Tony's pledge that he would "legislate against top up fees" in the last manifesto? He then went on to do the complete opposite and introduce them instead. Parents of children planning to attend uni would be mad to vote him back in.
Stephen Charlesworth, Leeds, England





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