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Thursday, 10 May, 2001, 09:27 GMT
What are your election issues?

The prime minister has fired the starting gun for the general election which will take place on 7 June. Having put off the poll for a month because of foot-and-mouth, there are now just over four weeks of campaigning ahead.

What are the issues that really matter in this campaign for you? Is it health, education or the economy? Or do you have specific concerns about transport, the environment or benefits system in your area? What about international issues, such as our relationship with Europe or the United States?

Can it be an election campaign of issues or will the personalities of the leading politicians be the most talked-about thing? Whatever you think about the election 2001, whether you will vote on not, send us your views now.

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction

No chance of any of this. Under the present system I would be voting for self-interested politicians who are not interested in the rest of us. I shall register a protest spoilt vote as the only option I have. Perhaps twenty million spoilt votes would deliver a message even our politicians could not ignore>
Colin, Lincoln, UK

I shall not be voting Labour this time because of them going ahead with open-field GM crop trials. They have also gone back on PR pledges and the foxhunting ban. If there was a Green candidate I'd vote for them.
Nigel Bedrock, London, UK

I want three things:

1. Fixed term parliaments
2. An elected upper house
3. Proportional representation.

The problems which caused the fuel protests of September 2000 have not gone away and many hauliers are still very dissatisfied with the Government's response to their representations. With fuel tax having increased by 33% since the general election and the number of foreign vehicles coming to the UK having gone up by 108% in the same period, will a new Government take steps to bring our fuel duty into line with European levels?
Geoff Dunning, Harrogate, Yorkshire


It takes 5 years to train a doctor, so where are these extra 10,000 going to come from, and when!

Sarah Brennan, Nottingham
There are around 25 medical schools in the UK - each producing about 200 doctors per year, leaving the NHS still chronically understaffed. It takes 5 years to train a doctor, so where are these extra 10,000 going to come from, and when!!
Sarah Brennan, Nottingham

I would like to know what any party is going to do for the single person who has worked hard, but is given nothing back, not like married people with children who get tax credits & other incentives. that about the single people with no children. What will we get?
Lynn, Wolverhampton

It's all very well people getting worked up about taxation, immigration, education and any number of other 'ation's, but do they not realise that if we remain in the EU such issues will soon no longer be decided by the British government? The only issue worth taking into consideration when deciding for whom to vote is Europe - how to get us out before it's too late...
Z.J.Green, Heidelberg, Germany


Perhaps the election ought not be fought over specific issues, rather determined by the values that each politician actually upholds

Simon, USA
Perhaps the election ought not be fought over specific issues, rather determined by the values that each politician actually upholds. That way we could vote for something we personally believe in and perhaps there will be less apathy for pollster politics.
Simon, USA

For many years it has not been the differences between the two major parties that concern me most, but the similarities. Much is made of pseudo-differences at election-time (and I have followed the rhetoric since before I reached 18 (now 30 years ago). What is needed more than anything is a rebuilding of confidence in the will and the ability of governments, of whatever "off-centre" leaning, to govern genuinely and honestly for the people and for their nation. I will vote, as I always do - but oh for the chance to become passionate about the duty again.
Bob, British in USA

Politicians are very good at "telling" us what we (the public) want, but sadly not good at listening to want we want.
David Paul Young, Manchester, UK

The issue of international justice is uppermost in my mind. Who will work for fair international trade rules? Who will double our international aid to the internationally agreed 0.7% GDP? How is third world debt to be relieved?
Pete Bowler, Knutsford, England


my interests as a voter are certainly not represented

Luke Richardson, Winchester, England

First of all, let's see these parties offer us all something worth voting for. I am not offered a candidate, locally or nationally, worth noticing and my interests as a voter are certainly not represented in any place where they stand a chance of being acknowledged. It is a travesty that we live in a state where the sheer banality of the politics renders so many people apathetic to the condition their country is being allowed to fall into.
Luke Richardson, Winchester, England

The most important item for politicians to listen to is the voice of those who do not vote. Far too many (young) people have no direct link with the people who decide over them. This surely only breeds contempt. It is not a person's "duty" to vote, but it is a politician's duty to listen.
Tim, Sweden

I would just like to mention that this could be the last General Election with over 50% turn-out. Does this ring any alarm bells for these self-gratifying nobodies? I'm 30, and like many of my generation, have the cynicism of an 80 year old. Already, I've heard it all before and will not be voting.
Chris, UK

I'm also in the increasing group of people who are dissatisfied with the way the political system in this country works, and the superficial mess it seems to have been reduced to. The temptation to feel that there's no point voting is great - but I also think that it's easy to be blasť about this thing called democracy and hard for us to imagine what it would be like without it. So, I fully intend to vote: Green because environmental issues urgently need to be a priority across many established political policy areas.
Helen, Manchester, UK


Lesbian and gay rights are a good "weathervane" issue

Neville Walker, London, England
Lesbian and gay rights are a good "weathervane" issue as far as human rights are concerned. And they're already shaping up to be virtually invisible in this election. The UK lags a good decade behind most of its European neighbours on assuring basic human rights for lesbians and gay men - whether on partnership rights, anti-discrimination measures in the workplace, or the reform of sexual offences legislation which criminalizes behaviour that would be legal for heterosexuals. And it would be nice to think we might see the back of Section 28 too - but somehow I doubt many will be holding their breath.
Neville Walker, London, England

I would like to see some serious debate on constitutional matters in England. This includes taking a serious look at the support and viability of an English parliament in comparison to English regional government. Not the "You can have a choice of English regional government or nothing, and if you want an English parliament tough, because you're not going to be offered a chance to vote on it" options we're being given at the moment.
SLJ, London, England

Childcare. I had to quit my job because my child has special educational needs and cannot get to after school club from his special unit as the taxi will only deliver him home. The local council say it is my responsibility. So special needs kids are discriminated against. I object to all the publicity about working families' tax credit as the government claim families will have a minimum of £200 a week but this includes child benefit payments and this is misleading and dishonest. What is really sickening is that "New" Labour and the many "new" members of the party are exclusive rather than inclusive and frown on ordinary people. New Labour candidates are most often professional people - there's not much room for single parents: loser types.
Anne Greagsby, York

Why are the Conservatives talking about large tax cuts if they get into power? Nobody wants a tax cut until hospitals, police, and education are sorted out with extra resources. When is something going to be done about asylum seekers? People that try to enter our country against the law should be repatriated immediately not stuck in camps and hotels for months if not years. We are still paying for the British Empire, let's not forget charity begins at home!
Ian Rangeley, Beer, Devon

We keep being told that we as taxpayers need to fund improved health, education, policing, transport etc. Maybe someone could therefore tell us what we having been funding up till now? The foreign policy of this country encourages illegitimate occupation by taking no action against the likes of Israel. As a British Muslim I feel the government is not taking seriously issues that are close to the hearts of a large and growing part of this country's community. But what are the alternatives? Hague, and his anti-everyone views. I think I'll pass this year, as it seems the options are Dumb and Dumber.
N Akram, London, UK

One thing I feel sadly lacking in any UK election is a choice for RON (Re-Open Nominations). If we dissatisfied voters had a legitimate way of showing just how disgusted we are with all the available politicians, maybe they'd start to care.
Lee Benfield, Bracknell, UK

Divorce costs the taxpayer directly an astonishing £15bn p.a., equivalent to one quarter of the entire NHS bill! (2000 report for the Lords and Commons Family Protection Group) As yet, no party has a remotely coherent policy for dealing with this social scourge. Social science finds beyond reasonable doubt that marriage benefits the health and wealth of husbands, wives and children, as well as protects against social harms. But until politicians are prepared to recognise these obvious truths, and present policies supportive of marriage and preventive of family breakdown, they will continue chasing their tails at the ever-rising costs of education, health and crime!
Harry Benson, Bristol UK

It's sad really that at a young age I'm already looking elsewhere around the world for somewhere to live. The government here has failed on every front to provide a country worth living in and managed to raise taxes at the same time. Well done, no wonder we are short of skilled workers Tony, they've all left...
Chris, Reading, England

Education has to be the most pressing issue. Nothing is more important than investing in the future. Whichever party wins must sort out the recruitment crisis in secondary education and the intolerable mess caused by lack of funding for students in higher education.
Janet Gladstone, High Wycombe, England


My issues? Taxation - and especially stealth taxes

Phil Broeders, Manchester , UK
My issues? Taxation - and especially stealth taxes. Gordon Brown may have found '50 ways to tax your voter' and probably thinks himself very clever in the way he's done it. I prefer a government who are up front about what they are taking and what they are using it for. Why have we got a £40 billion surplus when hospitals are closing, schools failing, police numbers are falling, crime is rising and we have a shockingly poor transport system etc. etc? So I would suggest whoever is next in power to return a large proportion of this revenue back to the electorate and give us the choice as how we spend our money.
Phil Broeders, Manchester , UK

I'm also in the increasing group of people who are dissatisfied with the way the political system in this country works, and the superficial mess it seems to have been reduced to. The temptation to feel that there's no point voting is great - but I also think that it's easy to be blasť about this thing called democracy and hard for us to imagine what it would be like without it. So, I fully intend to vote: Green because environmental issues urgently need to be a priority within many established political policy areas. Don't waste your vote, go for a minority party with something real to say and everything to prove, and see if the voters can show that they want something different - you can guarantee the politicians will soon follow suit!
Helen Manchester UK


I want more local council accountability

Alistair, Manchester
I want more local council accountability. How is my council tax spent. We need more environmental initiatives. We need a healthy planet to leave to our children.
Alistair, Manchester

Voter apathy is solely the fault of the politicians we have elected. Virtually every political argument you will hear in the next four weeks will be the same. "We're better than they are/were." It would be nice to actually hear some solutions for a change instead of twisted statistics and pointing fingers.
James Wilkinson, Chesham, UK

Taxation, taxation, taxation....that's the key issue. Despite the weasel words of the last campaign, most of us are paying far more in tax than we were four years ago - for less service, more bureaucracy and a huge surplus. We should be saying to any prospective Chancellor "it's OUR money, and we want some of it back - and we want REAL plans for cutting waste and improving efficiency in public spending".
Allen, England

I live in a constituency where the Tories always win and my non-Tory vote is worthless. As all parties are keen to contest around 150 marginal seats, my constituency will be completely forgotten. Nevertheless, I will vote Green because all the other parties are as greedy and self-righteous as each other.
Dan Brett, Thaxted, Essex


Despite the pledge in the '97 election Tony Blair has twisted and turned to prevent the hunting with dogs bill becoming law

Colin, Lincoln, UK
Fixed term parliaments is my first priority. Despite the pledge in the '97 election Tony Blair has twisted and turned to prevent the hunting with dogs bill becoming law. He has finally thrown it out by calling the election now even though 70% of the electorate want this bill to become law. Secondly, I want an elected upper house to reign in the excesses and incompetence of the lower house. Thirdly, proprtional representation to give hope to the vast majority of us who want neither of the two parties that keep getting elected.
Colin, Lincoln, UK

I would like to see: Tolerance of Asylum Seekers and other race issues. Better representation of ethnic minorities in top jobs and in business. Nationalised Rail and bus network, all fully integrated. All this I believe can be achieved, but only if people are going to accept that taxes must be raised at the higher end of the earning spectrum. If all the money people paid out on private security, private health, overpriced rail fares and whatnot was paid as tax, we might have a half decent country for all to live in, not just 'middle englanders'. Sadly I don't see any of the major parties promising any of this... it's no wonder there is apathy...
James, Runcorn, UK

Not a word has been spoken about the shamefully low levels of government funding for scientific and medical research in our academic institutions.
Nick Fisher, London, UK

We can all mouth about public services -- but in general the way in which they are funded is just pouring money down a black hole with no or little accountability to anyone and certainly not delivering an ounce of choice. How much say do you really think you would get in sending your children to the state school of your choice if you lived in Islington for example however much money that council got. As for the economy HMG was left a decent legacy. It remains to be seen how the will handle the impending downturn. By their standards of the past 4 years the omens are not good.
Jim Hawthorne, London England


Does it matter who gets in?

James Collins
Does it matter who gets in? Each and every "Leader" will only do what pleases him/herself. They are all out of touch, out of this world and out of their minds. My vote, it goes in the bin.
James Collins

One of the main issues in the country is one that cuts across all races, colours, creeds etc. That is for men to receive the state pension at 60 now, the same as women. Any political party that has that in its manifesto will get my vote.
Janice Newcombe, England

I refuse to vote for a Government that so hypocritically punishes students through ridiculous tuition fees whilst boasting that they encourage higher education for the working classes.
Ryan, Newcastle, UK

I hope the media don't go crazy with their coverage and hype of the election. Some 24 hour news channels are already using silly graphics and over the top presenting and we're only on day one? Is there any wonder there is voter apathy?
Harvinder Sunila, Glasgow, Scotland


It is time we introduced fixed terms

Bob Harvey, Kesteven, Lincolnshire, UK
Blair is complaining that he has not had time to do all he promised last time. But he still has nearly a year to go before he needs to go to the country, and the biggest majority ever. There is no need to go to the country at all. What crisis is he expecting in the next 12 months that would prevent him being re-elected? If none, then why did he not finish what he had started in the 5 years allowed to him? It is time we introduced fixed terms, so that Prime Ministers cannot fudge the length of their term in their own interests
Bob Harvey, Kesteven, Lincolnshire, UK

Forget issues for one moment. How about a candidate worth voting for in the first place? That would be a novelty wouldn't it?
Justin Bailey, SE London, England

Constitutional change is the most important issue facing the country because it affects so many other key issues. If British people gain the right to elect mayors for their cities with real spending power or regional governments that can control the purse strings on local issues, we would have a real opportunity to manage schools, transport, policing and taxation policies in ways that better suit local needs (which vary enormously across the UK). As a Londoner, I've seen the positive effects of our elected mayor - a man who champions the issues that are important to Londoners and is able to really ruffle the central government's feathers (something most British people appreciate).
Jonathan, British citizen (a Londoner) living in the USA

Both myself and my wife are disabled and through no fault of our own unable to work for a wage. My question to the 3 leaders is this: what can you offer us in the next 5 years? And what do you have to say about the current squeeze in benefits? Don't say there isn't one, I know there is. We have no children and are too young for an old age pension.
E. C. King, Stevenage, UK

I agree entirely with Chris C, Dublin, Ireland in that I would rather pay 75% tax knowing where it was all going than to pay the same amount, but with the majority in stealth taxes, the destination of which is not revealed.
Dave Poole, Berkshire, UK


I would like a system where my vote counts for something

Khan, UK
Proportional representation - we simply don't have a democracy without it. I will vote Green at the election, and I would like a system where my vote counts for something without it having to endorse one or other side of our two-party choice.
Khan, UK

Power always comes with responsibility. Successive governments have constantly ignored this fact in the need for media manipulation and soundbites. Let these parties become explicit about their policies and how they will go about them then follow it up and I will choose to vote again. I'm sure the public would like to stop being treated as malleable children and become mature as political adults.
Jason, Manchester, UK

Gay partnership and marriage rights are long overdue in this country. We will be left behind the rest of Europe unless changes are made soon.
Mary Clay, London, UK

I would very much like to see the next government take a long look at the policies of US President George W. Bush in an attempt to stop some of the havoc he is causing worldwide. Not just the international relations issues need to be looked at, but the some of the more serious areas such as his abandonment of the Koyoto protocol and resurrection of the "Star Wars" programme (of which the UK is set to play a significant part). Can we carry on being the US's closest ally?
Julian, Cambridge


Democracy is too good to waste, even if there are no choices left

St, London
The issues are obvious. However, I have decided to give my apathy some bite. Not only will I actually vote, I will draw an extra box on my ballot, mark it 'None of the above', and tick that. Democracy is too good to waste, even if there are no choices left.
St, London

I feel immigration, tax and public services should be at the forefront of the election debates. The only thing that Labour wants the election fought on is the economy which has got to be the only front they have delivered on! Although we, through our taxes and high interest rates, have probably contributed to the success of that!
Patricia Fowler, London, England

My vote will go to the party with the best environmental policy. I want to see a revitalised rail system, an end to farming subsidies and their replacement by effective government-sponsored countryside management, and stringent controls on road haulage. Quality of life is important, but there will be no life at all unless we start taking much better care of our planet.
Michael Entill, UK

The issue of international justice is uppermost in my mind. Who will work for fair international trade rules? Who will double our international aid to the internationally agreed 0.7% GDP? How is Third World debt to be relieved, and how should HIPC be followed up?
Pete Bowler, Knutsford, England

The Labour Party has avoided the issue of Europe throughout its first term in power, especially the referendum on the single currency that they promised. How could a leader who cannot commit to his promises be trusted?
Avtar Devgon, Stoke-on-Trent


New Labour made lots of promises at the 1997 election

Fred Weil, Brookmans Park, UK
New Labour made lots of promises at the 1997 election. They have not delivered significantly on any of them and they are now asking for a second term as they need more time to complete their promises. We then get these gimmicks such as the "baby allowance" that are promised today and may be delivered 18 years hence. I will vote for one of the other main parties that has committed itself to sensible taxation and reduction in red tape.
Fred Weil, Brookmans Park, UK

Four years ago Mr Blair said how the economy was built on Sierra man. Well, I'm still driving a Sierra and haven't graduated to a Mondeo yet as his stealth taxes and red tape have strangled my small business.
Mark, Coventry, UK

I just want one honest straight talking common sense politician to stand up and speak the truth. Then I'll decide who to vote for!
Alan, UK

Public transport is a key concern of mine but as with the Tube whether anything gets done or not is another matter. Education must surely be a top priority if we are going to think about our children's future, so perhaps extra pay to teachers would not go amiss either. Meanwhile if they want to get people out to vote then maybe they should have voting on the Saturday prior to the 7 June like they did for the Mayoral elections last May.
Mark Richardson, London, UK (currently overseas)


I hear of so many people who don't vote because they don't like the options available

Linda, USA (British citizen)
I hear of so many people who don't vote because they don't like the options available. Why can't their voices be heard to reflect this? Could there be a system for these people that recognises that they wanted to vote but did not favour any of the parties available? If only we could all have the courage to speak out honestly instead of following everyone else like sheep. Imagine what we could achieve!
Linda, USA (British citizen)

Just for once, why not offer something for those of us stuck in the middle? That means those on too high an income to get any help, but too low to pay full whack for most of the things we're now expected to provide for ourselves - like medical care, pensions, further education and training as well as childcare.
Sarah, UK

I have no confidence in an election where the incumbent gets to choose the date. Whose bright idea was this?
David Creed, Atlanta, Ga, USA

I would like socialism to be put on the agenda. Clearly the markets have no answer to the country's and the world's problems. I would like to see as big a turnout as possible of those people who want something to the left of Blair.
Antony Savvas, Rhyl, Wales


We have to start realising that if we want decent public services we have to start paying for them

Yvonne, Leicester, UK
The Government has achieved economic stability and near full employment, but our public services are underfunded and have been underfunded for years. We have to start realising that if we want decent public services we have to start paying for them. But very few politicians in this country are honest enough to admit that.
Yvonne, Leicester, UK

So long as Chris Handsley doesn't expect my children and (eventually) grandchildren to pay taxes to support and provide services for him and his spouse in their old age, then maybe he has a case for not paying taxes for those who make a "lifestyle" choice to have children. He should also repay the cost of his education and other benefits as a child. With the demographics we have, the country has no real choice about ensuring we invest in our long-term future. So, hitting families with a double whammy of paying to bring up children and paying higher taxes to pay for the country's investment in their education etc is not a recipe for winning elections.
James, Hampshire

With a Labour victory a foregone conclusion I foresee a campaign focussed on personal smears and abuse, rather than on the issues that really matter.
Paul Mabley, South Shields, England


How much difference does voting for a particular MP really make?

Paul Andrews, Wrexham, Wales
So many unelected people have either been placed in important official roles, or are serving on the continued high number of quangos (aka task forces). How much difference does voting for a particular MP really make?
Paul Andrews, Wrexham, Wales

In the end, what are any of us really voting for? Which party is going to run the country in the interests of the rich, which party is going to carry on the long term project of dismantling the welfare state, and which party is going to carry out American foreign policy?
Robert G, UK

Investment in Higher Education - science, engineering and technology must continue. The last 4 years have seen light appear at the end of the tunnel. This must continue without turning back to the days of decline throughout the 80's and early 90's.
Mike, Manchester


Deny them all a mandate and pass round the P45s

Andrew Stanley, Isleworth
We've just had 4 years of shameless business-friendly government at the expense of the ordinary person. While they bend over backwards to grease the wheels of capitalism, aware that they can't really 'run' the country, Blair and co justify the vastly over-manned House of Commons by constantly initiating policy change after policy change for the public sector, with the resultant burn-out of thousands of teachers, NHS workers etc. Stuff Blair's worries about apathy. WE EMPLOY THEM. They are all under-performing woefully. I would urge everyone not to vote. Deny them all a mandate and pass round the P45s.
Andrew Stanley, Isleworth

Despite what it means to a lot of people, I am seriously considering not voting again. It is hard to look beyond the spin and the image to see if the present Government has actually done anything over the last four years. Alternatively, why is it that all of the opposition parties represent all that is perceived of Westminster politicians - London-centric and only concerned with voters' views when there is an election? It also remains a cruel fate that whichever party wins, the same vested interests and media manipulation will continue.
Will, Hull

I'll be using my proxy vote to vote in the Stormont Assembly. At least that way my vote will be contributing to something constructive and not the charade that Westminster politics is.
P Mcg, Manchester


No wishy, washy general statements

Chris C, Dublin, Ireland
I am UK taxpayer but living in Dublin. I want to know what it is my money gets spent on precisely. No wishy, washy general statements. Let's hear that 1p in the pound WILL go to health, 2p to supporting those on the dole etc. And get rid of the stealth taxes. Please let people make an informed choice with visible data, not hidden agendas.
Chris C, Dublin, Ireland

I'd like to see real debate over the serious implications of environmental destruction - but fat chance as all the main parties offer derisory responses and appear carbon copies of each other. As a young voter I feel totally apathetic with the stale nature of politics and will not be listening let alone voting in the coming election.
Peter Sadler, Leamington spa, Warwickshire

The issue for me is that Mr Blair has done nothing to help alleviate poverty which exists in the British Asian community, neither has he accept the hand of sensible non-party political Asians who want to forge a greater understanding between whites and Asians.
Imtiaz Khan, UK

We do not need to hear endless spin and tiresome slanging matches. We need to hear from our leaders and would-be leaders on all key issues: transport; environment; health; education; agriculture; trade and industry; the economy and taxation; welfare and the family; Europe and the reduction of state sovereignty; science and ethics; the USA and its aggressive foreign policy; defence; etc. It is hardly rocket science, is it?
Tim Cooper, Leeds, UK

The issues I would like to see addressed are crime and public transport. There was a report on an American new show last week saying that London has one pf the highest crime rates compared to other similar big cites like New York, Paris, etc. What do the parties have to say on tackling crime, especially inner city crime? And as for public transport, especially London Underground needs to be sorted out properly.
Saloni Shah, Montreal, Canada (British citizen)


I am a so-called apathetic member of the electorate

Peter Walker, London, UK
I am a so-called apathetic member of the electorate, in that I shall not be voting: none of the political parties has believable policies to deal with, for example, the overlong queue for bone scan at an NHS Hospital. Management without leadership is manipulation, yet governments have set up management systems resulting in empty words - spin doctoring - and inefficiency in many areas. I shall have better things to do on polling day, such as the cooking of dinner for my disabled wife.
Peter Walker, London, UK

I feel that the most important are the issues of spending, especially on the Military services, education and healthcare and the UK's position in Europe, personally I think we should steer well clear!
Rob Moseley, Loughborough, UK

I hope we have mature debate with no mud-slinging and rational presentation of policies. Fat chance! I want to live in an open society with excellent public services (transport, education, health) and no prejudice. I will vote for the party which offers the best chance of achieving those goals. Of equal importance to me is a genuine commitment to clean up the environment, thus policies aimed at improving services must be built on an 'environmental' framework. All the parties have a long way to go.
Martin Elliott, London, UK

One of my major concerns is the system of government we have. We do not live in a democracy but a five year elected dictatorship. Members of parliament do not represent the views of the people. With modern technology we are now able to let everyone vote on most major issues. Let the people decide directly not some out of touch politician who only gets elected because you do not like the alternatives.
Gary Murkin, Bexley England

Tony Blair and the Labour Government now have a proven track record of economic competence. No Labour Prime Minister or Government before has ever been in the position of entering a general election campaign with the economy in such good health.
Nolan A. Dunbar, UK (currently overseas)

One of the main points for me is that at least there has been a reasonable attempt to resolve the conflict in Northern Ireland.I recall the hunger strikers dying-not a part of our recent history I feel proud of.
Elaine Smith, UK

Tax. The only proper function of government is to protect the rights of the individual and his/her property. Anything else is government interference in private affairs - your tax bill should pay for the armed forces, the police and the courts. Everything else should be paid for privately, as government is the most wasteful and least efficient form of spending YOUR money.
Philip, London, UK

The things that are most important to me are: Massive reduction in crime, massive increase in police numbers,higher wages for teachers provided -they work a full year, higher wages for nurses. reduced hours for doctors, increased number of NHS hospitals and staff, increased intellectual standards in all educational certificates and qualifications including GCSE and A-level, massive crack down on truancy and discipline in schools, reduced number of cars and a massive improvements to public transport.
Tim, London, UK


It's always depressing to see any reference to the environment wiped off the news when an election is called

Martyn Williams, London, UK
It's always depressing to see any reference to the environment wiped off the news when an election is called, particularly as it can so easily cost more than a penny more or less on income tax would. BSE and foot and mouth are both massive economic disasters that have cost our economy billions, and have at the very least been made worse by environmentally damaging, factory-farming methods. The floods we had last year, again costing billions, were likely to be the direct result of climate change. Our traffic chaos - costing about £20 billion a year in congestion alone - are a crucial issue environmentalists have led the argument on for years - but been ignored. It has to get back into the debate.
Martyn Williams, London, UK

Everyone should have the right to a free education. Currently students without financial backing have to miss lectures working to make ends meet. This puts them at an immediate disadvantage compared with their richer colleagues.
Clare, York

I want to see Britain playing her part as a full member of the European community, not - as much of the Tory party appear to want - as a client state of the USA. This means better public services, a properly funded infrastructure and an education system that equips today's students with the skills they need to compete in tomorrow's world. To me, it also means the trashing of the Trident missile system, and a refusal to allow the USA to set up their Star Wars facilities in this country. Let's be European, and proud of it!
Nigel Baldwin, Portsmouth UK

Taxes and red tape are going to kill off 60,000 small businesses this year. Britain is going to lag behind Europe in Information Technology real soon, and already the government here is finding it impossible to staff major IT projects (for example the testing of the DSS systems). It's no coincidence that as big telecoms cannot get the staff they are closing down their British divisions (e.g. Motorola). This is a trend that I believe is now set to continue.
Richard, Manchester

The government in their 1997 election message that they would recognise British Sign Language as a minority language, and to promote access for Deaf people in the society. What they have done since then, nothing but ignorant!
Alan Murray, London

Relations with Europe are very important. I would love to know what each party plans. At present, apart from a few conservative soundbites and the planned Labour referendum, Europe is hardly mentioned. Yet, with the possibility of it expanding to 20 or more countries, Britain needs a strong and coherent voice. Come on politicians, don't let the Daily Mail tell us what the EU is all about...
Pascal Jacquemain, Croydon, UK (French)

I totally agree with James Elston. Discipline and respect for others have to be instilled in people from two areas - education for the children, and policing for the adults.
Reg Pither, London, England


Rather than wanting to vote for anyone I find myself wanting to vote against every party

Emma, UK
What concerns me is that this is the first time I will vote in a general election, and rather than wanting to vote for anyone I find myself wanting to vote against every party. None of them have any redeeming qualities or sensible ideas!
Emma, UK

In the light of the downturn in the US, I want Tony Blair to convince me that there is not a recession on the way
Neil Curtis, Oxford, UK

IR35. This poorly drafted legislation. Justified by assumptions and half truths shows that contrary to its statements that New Labour is no friend of business. It also leaves people open to being fired and re-employed as contractors. It costs the unscrupulous employer nothing to do this while removing all employment rights from the worker. It allows directors to earn off the backs of workers while preventing the worker from doing the same.
P Chapman, London, UK

I think taxes should be significantly raised. I pay English taxes yet live abroad. Our income tax rate is ridiculously low. The money should go to nurses and to ensuring that we have armed forces capable of defending ourselves and our dependents around the world.
Alex Banks, UK, living in Holland

Typical arrogance from Tony Blair to announce the Election in a school rather than to Parliament. The man has no concept of his constitutional role: He is Prime Minister of the country, and has the responsibility to act as such, not just leader of the Labour Party.
Philip Lewis, England


An important issue at the election will be which party will abandon the current expensive, unreliable and failing railway set-up, and deliver the British public a safe, cheap and reliable railway system

Matt Mitchell, London UK
The UK public pay large sums of money through state subsidies to private companies to provide a second rate railway service. On top of this there has been hefty fare rises. So in fact we are paying twice and the train service gets worse as the companies pocket the extra money as profit instead of providing more punctual, frequent and safer trains. With both the commuting public and businesses in London and the UK feeling the results of the poor railway service that is being provided, an important issue at the election will be which party will abandon the current expensive, unreliable and failing railway set-up, and deliver the British public a safe, cheap and reliable railway system. We are paying a lot of money at present, but the service gets worse and worse.
Matt Mitchell, London UK

Funnily enough, capitalism and the failings of our so called democratic system!
Steve O, UK

Science is a mainstream political issue, yet seems to swept aside. 6% of debates in the House of Commons are on scientific issues, and the newspapers are full of stories about GM foods, mobile phones, the MMR vaccine, the Kyoto agreement, how to prevent another Foot and Mouth epidemic and cloning. We deserve a system that is able to get the best scientific advice, and to use it properly - to safeguard the nation.
Alice Sharp Pierson, London, UK

Both the Labour and Conservative parties must stop the mud-slinging and focus on the issues. I'm fed up with rhetoric and sound bites. I personally would like more time to be given to the environment and transport.
William Croft, England


Taxation, as ever, will play a major role in the election

Richard, London, UK
Taxation, as ever, will play a major role in the election. The cynical stealth taxes that Mr Brown has brought in have been very deeply felt in many parts of the country, and people are justified in wondering precisely what the government are doing with the money.
None of the public services seem to have improved since 1997, least of all transport. All in all it seems that we have the usual patronising nanny state attitude of "we know how to spend your money better than you."
Richard, London, UK

Science is a mainstream political issue, yet seems to swept aside. 6 percent of debates in the House of Commons are on scientific issues, and the newspapers are full of stories about GM foods, mobile phones, the MMR vaccine, the Kyoto agreement, how to prevent another Foot and Mouth epidemic and cloning. We deserve a system that is able to get the best scientific advice, and to use it properly - to safeguard the nation's health.
Alice, London UK

I fear this election campaign will feature (as ever) the Labour and Tory candidates telling us more about what the opposition 'can't' do as opposed to what either Mr Blair or Mr Hague and their respective parties can independently commit to in terms of manifesto. In fact I find it truly amazing that the Labour party are only now considering what agenda items are relevant for the next term of office, with the election only weeks away. This kind of arrogance has truly endeared me to Charles Kennedy and the more pro-active transport and environment issues from the liberal bench.
Rebecca Southwell, UK


I think the most important issues at the moment concern what is going on in the USA

Joe Charnock, USA
I think the most important issues at the moment concern what is going on in the USA. The tearing up of environmental treaties and aggressive military policies pursued by the US government since the Republicans stole the presidency threaten the security of the whole world. Is Tony Blair prepared to stand up for British and international interest against the US government? That for me is the key question in this election.
Joe Charnock, USA (English)

I think it is important that the election is fought over a wide range of areas. True, Labour seem to have managed the economy well although even here they look set to ruin it all by joining the doomed Euro. In most other areas their record is more dubious. They have made a complete mess of secondary education. Teachers now spend more time filling in forms (such as that for the threshold) and marking ridiculous amounts of coursework than actually teaching. T
hey have made it so hard to expel pupils that those who want to work can't. In defence they have cut back our armed forces to the point where it is very doubtful if we could ever win a conflict without the US.
Mark, Cambridge, UK

We hear a lot about how each party will help couples with children e.g. increased allowances and savings accounts, but what about couples who choose not to have children? Are we going to have to continue to pay more taxes to fund these benefits?
Chris Handsley, England

Health is a key issue for me. I do not want to live in a country that has private health care - just look at America where the system has failed so many people who cannot afford adequate health insurance. The NHS may not be perfect, but it will be sorely missed if any party were to abolish it.
Matt Scott, UK


during the election there will be no debate on globalisation, the growing power of the WTO etc, the collapse of the worlds eco-systems

Dave, Milton Keynes
My main concern is the way in which all of the major parties are essentially the same - during the election there will be no debate on globalisation, the growing power of the WTO etc, the collapse of the worlds eco-systems etc.
I hope that this is the election where the minor parties such as the green and socialist parties start to make ground
Dave, Milton Keynes

My concerns for this country are social attitude. People today are far too rude, impolite and selfish. The government needs to educate manners and social discipline. Then we can all be happy.
James Elston, United Kingdom

What is needed, is investment in public transport. Serious investment. This is environmentally better than building more roads.
Linda Chang, UK

The tax bill has gone through the roof. Surely hidden taxes should be at the forefront of the election debate.
Simon, London

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