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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 April 2005, 13:15 GMT 14:15 UK
UK voters' panel: Michael Dommett

MEET THE PANEL
Michael Dommett
Name: Michael Dommett
Age: 48
Lives: Alton, Hampshire
Works: Engineer
Current voting intention: Liberal Democrats
In 10 words or less:
"Folk dancing civil engineer, loves exploring, history and reading"

I have heard plenty of criticism from all sides during the campaign but when it comes to the parties addressing the real issues, all I have heard is silence.

Michael Howard has talked repeatedly about Mr Blair's untrustworthiness, Mr Blair about how the Conservatives haven't changed, and people with over twice the national median income have complained that the Lib Dems will cost them more in taxes.

But what about the real problems? What to do with disruptive children in schools? What if poorly parented children or poverty are factors that are clearly linked? Silence from all parties.

Transport and the environment are concerns of mine but they are not being addressed. Airplanes are putting huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the air, but the major parties are saying nothing.

The bendy buses in London are not right for many roads.

VOTERS' PANEL

The train operating companies are making profits and intend to further reduce station staffing. I see no benefit that we could not have had with one company responsible for track, trains and rolling stock.

And then there's Iraq. Why can't we hear the truth?

Blair and Bush seem to be saying that you can go to war with anyone you like if you can dress them up as terrorists.

But they show no interest in getting rid of wicked leaders elsewhere - Equatorial Guinea for instance.

Perhaps it's all because the parties are trying to impress the swing voters - undecided people in a few key constituencies. The rest of us don't matter to them.

We need a change in the voting system so that more of our votes count. Ideally not a party list system either - a Lib Dem policy, oddly enough!


Your comments:

I agree with everything Michael says. None of the major parties would tackle global warming by taxing aircraft fuel thus putting up air fares for the holiday obsessed British public. This would be a sure fired vote loser so they steer well clear. This, after Blair's comments about global warming being worse than global terrorism!
Chris Simmonds, Southend, Essex, UK

Michael Dommett makes the usual mistake with the railways in assuming that the fault lies with private companies. Private companies ran the railways for a century before nationalisation. After nationalisation, the railways started to collapse. They were gutted by Beeching, and suffered decades of underinvestment and mismanagement.

That anyone can claim that privatisation of the railways is anything but a good thing simply shows their ignorance of the facts - that Britain's railways were the envy of the world until the Great Social Experiment post-war doomed them to mediocrity.
Derek Blighty, UK

We are being fed information that does not relate to the real issues facing real people in their everyday lives. Transport issues are huge and, within the short term, if these are not tackled, the economy will suffer as we all sit in our cars going nowhere and losing productive work time.
Anne Steele, Glossop, England

Michael complains that action was taken against Iraq, while not against other countries. Is Michael unaware that Iraq was subject to Security Council resolutions authorising all necessary means, while Equatorial Guinea is not subject to any such resolution. Surely Michael is not urging the UK to ignore Lib Dem policy and wage aggressive war without a SC resolution?

Where the UK and the US have attempted to get SC resolutions elsewhere (Darfur most recently), the French have vetoed the resolutions. Perhaps he should use the Lib Dem's policy of closer links in Europe to persuade the French not to support dictators in exchange for oil deals.
BF, London, UK

Michael, in my opinion, is talking a lot of sense. It's just not good enough for the parties to keep knocking each other and have nothing positive to say. And he rightly points out the hypocrisy of justifying the Iraq invasion in terms of simply removing a dictator; there are now, and frequently have been plenty of evil dictators in many countries, and nobody has lifted a finger to remove them. The double standard at work here is plain to see.
Christopher Slater-Walker, Watford, Europe

You are talking rubbish on the social issues - who introduced the Sure Start scheme for children and families on low incomes? Who introduced parenting skills classes for parents of disruptive children? Who introduced a variety of schemes to tackle social exclusion including exclusion from school? The answer to all these is Labour. I suggest you get your facts right.
Liz, Worthing

I would have much more sympathy for the Liberal Democrats if their spending focussed money where it was most desperately needed; on the poorest members of our society, particularly the working poor with children. The truth is the Lib Dem's plans favour the middle classes - the poor won't pay tuition fees or personal care fees anyway.

They pretend to be the most socially minded party, but their policies are little more than efforts to shore up support amongst the middle classes and appeals to some higher morals. With limited resources, and the funds clearly needed to help the poor and socially excluded, tax rises can only be justified if it helps those truly needy not the whinging middle class. That's why I vote Labour, and not the Liberal Democrats.
David Phillips, Cambridge





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