Jeremy Corbyn’s New Year message shows perfectly the obstacles to him winning a majority

Mr Corbyn has recorded a New Year’s message to his supporters and in 3.13 minutes he has perfectly encapsulated why he can’t win a majority.

Presentation

Before you jump to conclusions, this is not about having the media training of everyone’s favourite Etonian who takes liberties with our membership of giant trading blocks.

He doesn’t need to put on a tie or give the “designer” stubble a trim. He doesn’t need Cameron’s elocution or Blair’s “trust me I am a Catholic” hand gestures.

What he needs it to stop coming across like an amateur. If you listen to the quality of the audio there are cars driving by in the background.

Of course people are hardly going to not vote for him because he thought it prudent to conduct his New Year address in the middle of a roundabout. But it does represent what a huge portion of the electorate think- that he is incompetent.

Policy

Or lack of. At no point does he mention any policy, not at all.

Yes, he says that the elderly should be cared for, he points out waiting lists are long and of course homelessness is clearly a stain on a developed economy.

However at no point are any solutions put forward.

Almost all of the electorate agree that we should look after the elderly, that people shouldn’t wait years for operations and children shouldn’t be homeless. If everyone who believed that voted for Labour they would have even more occupied seats than a Virgin train to Newcastle…

It is not the sentiment that you need to convince people of, it is how these aims are achieved. You can’t say that most people don’t agree with his policies because no one knows what they are.

Of course a New Year’s address on YouTube is not necessarily the time for huge policy announcements but their absence underpins an issue with Corbyn’s Labour -their lack of policies.

Target market

This video was a message to his supporters- and that is the problem.

Hats off to Mr Corbyn, he sure can make people who already like him, like him even more. He preaches to the converted like a pro.

Hats even further off, under his leadership Labour Party membership has swollen to in excess of 500,000.

Like every jock in the changing room he likes to show off about the size of his mandate. Unfortunately for him his mandate, 61% of Labour members, is actually less than the number of people who support football teams based in Manchester.

Imagine running an election that just appeals to Manchester City and United fans.

As a percentage of the electorate it is tiny.

If he wants to have a chance of winning a majority, or even maintaining the current amount of seats, he needs to add a few more meetings with industry leaders to his diary.

Why should you care?

For better or worse (absolutely for worse), we live under a system of government which is made for two parties. That means if the Leader of the Opposition (a position Jeremy Corbyn has twice run for), can’t get close to a majority- for all intents and purposes we live in a one party state.

One party, in our case the Tories, are guaranteed to be in power.

Unlimited job security by no means guarantees enduring high levels of competency. Worse than that, it promotes unaccountability and corruption.

Even if you are a true blue Tory, you should want a credible opposition for the simple value of having a competent government that is held to account.

If not, we will end up with a government that is basically Celtic when Rangers got relegated.

Who should you vote for in the UK general election if you care about climate change?

Friend of Well Hung Parliament Dr Mat Hope has kindly agreed to do an article exchange! As very much the beneficiary of this exchange I want to thank him and direct you to his excellent site http://www.climate-hope.co.uk.

Well, the Green party obviously, right?

Not necessarily. While the Greens may score the best on environmental issues including climate change, the UK’s weird electoral system makes things that much more complicated.

There are two main issues you need to consider alongside what the parties are promising on climate change when choosing who to vote for: where you live, and what you want your vote to do.

Once you factor these into your considerations, it’s a much murkier picture.

First past the post

I’ll go through the voting permutations in a minute. But it’s important to first recap the ground rules of the UK’s very particular system. So, as briefly as possible, let’s go back to school.

The UK’s electoral system is known as first past the post. That means the party with the most seats once the votes have been counted is invited (by the Queen; yes, really) to become the government.

To determine the biggest party, the country is separated into constituencies or ‘seats’, each with one MP. In the UK, you don’t vote for the prime minister, you vote for an MP, knowing their party leader will become prime minister if they win the most seats.The candidate with the most votes in any seat, even if it’s less than 50% of the vote, becomes an MP.*


If no party gains more than 50% of the seats, they can ask another party to join them in forming a coalition government – just as David Cameron’s Conservatives and the Lib Dems did last time.The main problem with this system is that, like the US presidential elections, the overall majority (in terms of the percentage of the population that votes for a party) doesn’t matter a jot.

It also means the vast majority of votes don’t really count, as there’s only a handful of seats that are genuine contests between more than one party. For instance, where I live, the Labour candidate has a huge majority, and all the polls suggest the incumbent will keep his seat, so it’s really unlikely, arithmetically at least, that my vote will count towards who gets into government.

This may seem like a bad thing, particularly since this election is set to be extremely close. But it actually opens up a lot of options for what I can ‘do’ with my vote. Especially if, like me, your vote is likely to be decided on a single issue.

So, if you care about climate change, who should you vote for?

Fortunately, Carbon Brief has already done a lot of leg work for me in collating the parties’ climate change promises in this handy grid. In the finest journalistic tradition, here is my guide to how you should vote if you care about climate change, based almost entirely on – sorry, derived from – Carbon Brief’s guide (with a little added analysis).

1. Vote for the Greens

The Green party, unsurprisingly, make the biggest promises about tackling climate change. If you could choose a government purely based on which party would likely do the most to tackle climate change, you would choose the Greens.

They promise to strengthen the UK’s legally binding emissions reduction goals under the Climate Change Act, increasing the target from an 80% cut by 2050 to a 90% cut by 2030. They are also very much the party of renewable energy, promising to make the UK’s energy system zero carbon without the aid of nuclear power, though they support CCS as a transition technology. They would also end fossil fuel company tax breaks, and promise to close all coal plants by 2030.

So there you go, ladies and gents, the winner of this climate change election is… the Greens. Except, of course, they won’t win. And you voting for them won’t make it so.

If you live in Brighton and maybe Norwich, go for it. You may end up with a Green MP. Everywhere else, there’s a strong argument that it is a wasted vote.

2. Vote for Labour

So if not the Greens, then who?

This election is going to be a straight shoot-out between Labour and the Conservatives in terms of who is going to be the biggest party. So you could vote ‘tactically’ and pick whichever is the better on climate change between those two.

In that case, vote Labour, hands down. Back to the Carbon Brief grid…

Launching Labour’s manifesto, party leader Ed Miliband said “[T]ackling climate change is an economic necessity and the most important thing we must do for our children, our grandchildren and future generations.”

Labour says they will set a legally binding decarbonisation target to “remove carbon” from the electricity suppy by 2030. Labour also pledges to create a million green jobs, and continue to support the growth of onshore wind.Labour seemingly wants to depoliticise the UK’s increasingly vicious energy politics by creating an energy security board to oversee the delivery of the government’s plans. That’s perhaps ironic since they could, probably fairly, be accused of starting the bickering with their pledge to freeze energy bills.

The Conservatives, in contrast, have seemingly ruled out implementing a binding decarbonisation target. They’re also explicitly pro-fracking and anti-onshore wind. The main thrust of their manifesto is that they’ll try to meet the UK’s emission reduction targets as cheaply as possible.

It’s unlikely you’ll be in a seat where Labour and the Conservatives are competing directly. But if you’re in a seat that could go to Labour or a party other than the Greens (and arguably, even then), the climate change vote is for Miliband’s crew.

3. Vote for the Liberal Democrats

But say, for some mad reason, you don’t want to vote Labour. Well, I suppose you could vote for the Liberal Democrats.

That’s perhaps not as crazy as it sounds.

The Liberal Democrats are seemingly conducting their campaign on the basis that they’re neither Labour nor the Conservatives. What they ‘are’ is still a bit vague, but they’re definitely, definitely not exactly the same as Labour or the Conservatives. And they will totally keep their promises this time, they promise.

The Lib Dems are set to get an absolute kicking on Thursday. But if you care about climate change, there could be a good reason to vote for them. Namely, they may well end up being the make-weight in a Conservative-led coalition (again). And, arguably, they actually did a pretty good job at anchoring the Conservatives somewhere near climate change policy sanity last time out.

The Lib Dems’ climate change policies are pretty similar to Labour’s. They promise to implement a decarbonisation target, support some nuclear power, allow well-regulated shale gas, and create 250,000 new green jobs.

Many political insiders consider Ed Davey, a potential future party leader, to have done a pretty good job in trying conditions as energy and climate secretary. It’s possible that the Lib Dems could keep that portfolio in any new coalition government.

So, if you think the Conservatives are going to be the party to form a government, possibly with the Lib Dems, it may be wise to try and get as many of Nick Clegg’s lot involved as possible.

4. Vote for UKIP

Just kidding. Don’t vote for UKIP.

5. Vote for the Greens (yeah, I know i’ve already said this)

But say you feel uneasy voting for a party just because they might, just might, make another party less crazy, what do you do then? Well, we’re pretty much back where we started.

Climate change is not that high on any of the parties’ political agendas. In which case, it may not matter who ends up leading the government. Whoever it is will probably only tweak the status quo rather than overhaul it, which is arguably what’s needed if we’re serious about tackling climate change.

But one of the good things about the UK’s political system is that there’s some power in opposition, too. A good showing across the national polls would help the Greens’ profile, and ensure their representatives get more screen time to try and force the governing parties’ hands, even if it doesn’t actually get them into government.

So why not vote for the one party who you can be pretty sure will continue to bang the drum on the climate change?

Oh. Because they won’t win. And voting for them could indirectly lead to a Conservative government. I forgot.

Well, return to Go…And best of luck making your mind up come May 7th.

*Note for US readers, we don’t have a separation of powers between the legislative and executive in the UK. So if the US operated on a similar system, Obama could have remained a senator while also being president, basically. 

Issues that the Green party should be championing in the election that aren’t the environment

Ah the Greens. “I’d love to see the Greens get in” the statement uttered by every left of centre voter right before they don’t vote for them. So how can the Greens ever hope to get into power when even people who want them to be elected won’t vote for them? Well one great solution would be to shout about a number of key policies they have which are not directly linked to the environment. That way you don’t just appeal to eco-warriors and people living close to sea level. Here are four policies that the Greens could quite literally fight an election on without necessarily appealing to their key demographic.

The EU referendum

So it wouldn’t be outrageous to say that the further right on the political spectrum you are the more likely you are to be against the EU and therefore in favour of a referendum you think would lead to an exit. You would therefore think that a political party broadly positioned to the left of all of the other mainstream parties would be against a referendum.

The Greens however are in favour of a referendum in order to use it as a mechanism to reestablish the direction and make up of the EU. They want to move it away from endless focus on free trade and promote “genuine cooperation” and enhance democracy (you can find it in full here).

Most of the UK is eurosceptic in leaning. Usually this not necessarily because they are bigoted little Englanders but because they have legitimate concerns about the European Union and its future direction. They are not against the EU fundamentally but are uncomfortable with its current form. However the only outlet these people have for this is essentially UKIP, who, let’s face it, are bigoted little Englanders.

A concerted push to establish that the Greens are not anti European but are against the EU in its current form could be a huge vote winner if properly utilised.

Nationalise railways

Without a doubt one of Labour’s most popular policies in the lead up to the election is the re-nationalisation of the railways. This is also a longstanding Green party policy.

Most of the electorate are in favour of turning what is a natural monopoly back into a state asset especially following consecutive year on year fare hikes.

If the Greens could tap into the public’s annoyance that the unglamorous maintenance of the railways is conducted by the state and the profitable part run by the private sector they could have the potential for a huge return in terms of votes. Plus it would directly compete with one of the more left leaning Labour policies thus peeling off some of the core Labour vote.

Ban proactive recruitment of overseas NHS staff

The Green party have promised to ban proactive recruitment of overseas staff for the NHS. This is motivated by a desire to safeguard the NHS, keep high standards and reduce UK unemployment. This stands in stark contrast to UKIP who have the same policy but it is motivated by a desire to have as few brown people near them as possible.

There is a real political opportunity to be had by being a party that is perceived to stand up for the rights for British people and the NHS whilst not being driven by closet xenophobia. By positioning themselves as such they can appeal to a larger spectrum of voters while remaining true to their core voters with eminently sensible policies like amnesty for long term illegal immigrants.

Clear policies- e.g. Raising school age to 6 if parents want it

“There is no difference between any of the parties”. This utterly moronic statement is shouted by politically illiterate muppets across the land. Despite the fact it is clearly not true to anyone with the ability to use a search engine it does present a political opportunity.

A clear and emphatic difference in policy is what engages people. “If I vote for party A they will do this, if I vote for party B they won’t”. It is really simple and engages people far more than “both parties will cut the national debt but one will do it over 5 years from an increase in tax on the top 8.3% of earners whereas the other will do it off the back of cuts with no effect on frontline services”.

The Greens are in a great position in that they can position themselves as both a protest party by virtue of having few MP’s and a legitimate alternative by having clear, evidence based policies. A good example of this  is the current Green policy of giving parents the option of raising the starting age of children in school to 6. If one takes even a cursory glance at the best performing countries in terms of primary schooling it is overwhelmingly countries that start children in school at an older age. It allows for great learning through play, language skills to develop and stops children being immediately behind because they are less developed than their peers.

A few clear, different policies with a scientific basis could propel the Greens into the political mainstream.

Well Hung Parliament (William Hayward) is a Cardiff based political commentator and journalist.

He Tweets @whungparliament

He blogs at https://wellhungparliament.wordpress.com

He Facebooks at www.facebook.com/parliamentwellhung

10 issues in world politics you should really be aware of and why they matter

1. The empowerment of women is the single greatest step forward humanity can make.

What it is

Every study and every example from history has shown that empowering women by giving them the right to vote, the right to work and control over procreation is the only cure for poverty.

Why it matters

Apart from the whole thing of not being a dickhead there is an overwhelming argument for empowering women.

Firstly it literally doubles a countries workforce and productivity while in no way increasing the amount of state support it consumes. Put bluntly, if all the women in a country are not working they still require housing, feeding and healthcare. If they are in work they are producing and adding to the wealth to the country. This doesn’t even take into account that all evidence suggests that adding women to a workplace creates a far more complete skill set than male only environments. Thus making the country even more productive.

Secondly it is a far better way to control populations. Lets face it, when given control over their own bodies most women do not choose to have 5+ children. It is not a coincidence that countries with most equality, education and accessible contraception have lower birth rates. Overcrowding is one of the biggest threats facing humanity. Empowering women solves this problem.

2. China needs North Korea

Korean

What it is

The Korean peninsula (pictured here) is absolutely key to China’s security. Kim Jong Unstable is completely dependent upon China to survive and therefore China knows its border is secure. If South Korea was to take over its northern neighbour, China would have one of the USA’s closest allies directly bordering it. To put this in context this is the equivalent of Iran controlling Wales.

Why it matters

It is in China’s interest to keep North Korea isolated, anti-American & unpredictable. It cannot afford to have a US ally touching its border. This means that it is in China’s interest to hinder negotiations between N. Korea and the US. Plus China is in the UN security council so can veto any action against North Korea.

3.Russia had to take Crimea

1007px-Black_Sea_map

What it is

If Russia had not annexed Crimea its security would have been seriously compromised. Crimea is the base of its Black Sea fleet. It had rented the base from Ukraine but as Ukraine turned more towards Europe and NATO Russia feared it would lose its base.

Why it matters

It matters because as much as it hurts me to say I would have done the same thing in Russia’s position. If Russia doesn’t have a base in the Black Sea it is very easy to attack. If it had waited for Ukraine to join NATO it would have had no chance of keeping its base. Basic survival dictated its actions. It is important to understand that Russia is not just been randomly aggressive. There is a point to its actions.

4. Water will become the new oil.

What it is

The world is getting warmer. This means there will be less available drinking water.

Why it matters

If we have no oil our cars stop working. If we have no water we immediately die. As drinkable water gets more scarce controlling it will matter more and more. Not just so we can drink, but so we can water our crops and animals. One of the key stumbling blocks to Palestine having its own state is that it would control too much of Israel’s water. Make no mistake. The wars of the future will be over water.

5. Antibiotics not Al Qaeda will be the one that gets you.

What it is

Bacteria is developing resistance to our antibiotics quicker than we can make new ones.

Why it matters

If our antibiotics don’t work we cannot fight infection. Every cut and scratch could prove fatal. Please finish your courses of antibiotics people!!!

6.Democracies do not go to war with each other.

What it is

Never in the history of the world have democracies gone to war with each other. It simply does not happen.

Why it matters

Your average person on the street doesn’t want to go to war. If your average person on the street has a say in government the governments will not want war. If every country in the world is democratic, there will be no war.

7. The break up of the Soviet Union did not make us more secure.

What it is

In 1989 the Berlin Wall came down. This signalled the break up of the great enemy of the west, The Soviet Union. This did not make us more secure.

Why it matters

I could write for hours about this but simply put the break down of the SU did not help our international security for the following reasons:

  • A huge amount of weapons flooded the black market.
  • Our enemies went underground.
  • Lots of small threats are harder to handle than one equal opponent.
  • No one could militarily challenge the USA so had to resort to acts of terrorism.
  • It made Russia feel the need to reassert itself.
  • It left lots of highly trained, angry young men out of work.

8. Isis’s proximity to Europe.

What it is

Islamic state has started to gain a base of support in North Africa especially in Libya. Praying on desperate people who are attempting to cross the Mediterranean they are developing a network of support across two continents.

Why it matters

It matters because the distance from Libya’s capital Tripoli to the European Union is just 220 miles. That is less than the distance from Liverpool to London. It is easy to think that ISIS and the threat they pose is another world but it is not. We must not allow this group to spill across the porous borders of the Middle East and Africa

9. Pakistan have nuclear weapons

What it is

Pakistan is one of the 8 countries known to have nuclear weapons alongside France, UK, USA, China, Russia, North Korea & India (no one is sure about Israel).

Why it matters

Much time and debate is given to the risks of having nuclear weapons on UK soil. “What if ‘terrorists’ steal them” people cry. This is an irrelevant argument. If anyone wanted to acquire nuclear weapons they would be far better placed to take them from the unstable corrupt governments of North Korea or Pakistan than a loch in Scotland. Nuclear security is an international issue, not a domestic one.

10. Lots of countries have Russian minorities.

What it is

Many countries in Eastern Europe have large Russian minority populations. The baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia have some cities which are up to 80% ethnic Russian.

Why it matters

Putin justifies supporting the uprisings of separatists in Eastern Ukraine by the fact they are ethnic Russians and deserve to be free under the gentle stewardship of the motherland (to paraphrase). If this argument is accepted he has the right to interfere in many, many other sovereign states. A precedent must not be set.

10 things that democratically savvy citizens should know:

Peter-Capaldi-Peter-Capaldi

There is an election on the way. The time to flex your democratic muscles, engage in the political process and exercise your right to vote is upon you. Doing this however is fraught with risks. There are so many pitfalls that all but the savviest  of voters can succumb to. Below is a list of some of the most common tricks used by politicians that you must be wise to. This is the political equivalent  of not leaving your drink unattended in a night club, your bag unzipped in a busy high street or your downstairs windows left open. So read on to avoid been date raped, pick pocketed and burgled by politicians.

1. Changing how things are measured.

Politicians love to change how things are measured to better reflect their political aims. The two big ones are inflation and the budget deficit.

Our wise, strong and not at all smarmy George Osbourne has managed to say he has cut the budget deficit significantly because he has changed how he measures it. Before it was measured by a single figure e.g. £100 Billion. However now it is measured by percentage of GDP. So if GDP increases the budget deficit will go down even if the amount has remain £100 billion. This means that good old George can pronounce with a completely unmerited sense of achievement that he is succeeding in tackling the deficit.

The same applies to the measure of inflation. The Retail Prices Index (RPI) and the Consumer Prices Index (CPI).

2. Using current events

Politicians will always use events to their advantage. Nothing is more welcome to a politician to hammer their point home than a well timed humanitarian catastrophe. Does it matter that the context for this doesn’t really apply to them? Of course not! Like Putin defending a small Russian minority they will be all over it. Lets look at some examples:

  • The Fukushima nuclear disaster. Suddenly every anti-nuclear campaigner was shouting about how this showed that nuclear power was the greatest threat to humanity and should not be in our green and pleasant land. Never mind the fact that tsunamis are not exactly common in the UK.
  • Every Islamic terrorist attack. Well knock me over with a feather if only I had given up all the civil liberties that the terrorists are trying to destroy we could have stopped them! Whether it be 90 days been held without trial or unlimited access to our personal emails our elites cannot get enough of using Islamic terror to take a little of our freedom.

3. There is no law say that things said in an election campaign must be true!

As crazy as it is to hear there is no law saying that anything said on a campaign poster must be true.

In 1984 (seriously) there was regulation brought in say that no person in an election could publish political statements that “is untrue; and that is, or is likely to be, misleading or deceptive”. However this was repealed 6 months later as it was almost impossible to enforce. So remember, if you see a mighty billboard declaring anything in the run up to the election, there is nothing that makes it true.

4. Once in power your core support doesn’t really matter.

As long as you don’t do anything really stupid like invade Iraq or lie about tuition fees your core voters will pretty much vote for you whatever happens. This means that apart from a few throw away policies to raise morale among the faithful don’t expect parties in power to really pander to their core vote. (Note following the rise of the SNP, Greens and UKIP this point may not apply in 4 months time).

5. Burying bad news.

Political parties have a long list of things that they have to tell the public at some point but really don’t want to. It may be anything from prisoners escaping or a duck pond being claimed on expenses. Clever politicians will announce these on days when there is a far bigger news story going on. Take the September 11th terrorist attacks. Any announcements on that day are going to basically be ignored such was the enormity of the other event. Jo Moore, a special adviser to the Blair government was forced to resign after she sent out the email on 11/9/01 that it was “a good day to bury news, Councillors expenses?”. To be fair to her it is hard to hear the announcement about expenses beneath 3000 bodies….

6. Take trouble makers into the cabinet.

Imagine you are Prime Minister. You have to build your cabinet to run the country. However you have some trouble makers among your MP’s. They are calling for closer integration with Europe or have designs to be party leaders themselves. For sake of argument lets call these troublesome rapscallions Michael Heseltine and Ken Clarke. If you left them on the back benches they would be able to stir up discontent, build a base of support and give the media delicious soundbites.

However if you take them into the cabinet and give them a position of little power you can bind them by Cabinet Collective Responsibility and get them to toe the party line. Or you could give them a position of high responsibility like Home Secretary which almost always ends in an embarrassing, discrediting resignation for your political rival.

So all savvy citizens should remember that political office doesn’t mean that they are liked by the PM.

7. “Thin end of the wedge” legislation.

It is hard to get radical laws through. People don’t like change. What many politicians will do is try and get relatively uncontroversial laws passed so they can then build on them.

Take gay marriage for example. It is much easier to get gay marriage approved when civil partnerships are already in place. It was much easier to get civil partnerships when homosexuals where given equal rights in the work place. It was much easier to get equal workers rights when homosexuality was decriminalised. Imagine if the 1967 law allowing homosexual practice had included marriage and the adoption of children. There is no way it would have been passed.

This is all very well for equal rights for homosexuals because no person in their right mind could possibly argue against rights for the LGBT community unless they were secretly in the closet themselves.

However when it comes to things like press regulation it is very dangerous. For instance, it is easy to argue that journalists must respect privacy of people and we could bring in laws against it. However this could be the thin end of the wedge to laws that say you cant criticise the current government Clever citizens beware.

8. Answering the question they want asked.

Nice and simple this one. When interviewed politicians usually have three things in their head they are going to say. Whatever they are asked they are going to just repeat the same three answers. Usually preceded with the line “let me just say this”.

9. Listen to the facts not the tone.

This is a personal gripe of mine. So often a party’s representative will say a statistic in such a way that it implies something untrue or misleading. Take inflation. Say inflation drops from 5% to 4%. Many politicians will say something along the lines of “this is a welcome relief for hardworking families who are sick of seeing their bills sky rocket”. The implication being that prices have gone down. This is not the case. They are not going up as quickly. Think.

10. Campaign tricks.

All sorts goes on during election campaigns. I will give you a few fun examples to give you an idea of what to be on the look out for.

In John F. Kennedy’s first run for Congress in 1946, his father, Joe Kennedy, to help his son’s chances in the Democratic primary, allegedly paid a man named Joseph Russo to run — greatly reducing the chances of the other Joseph Russo who was already running in the primary.

Again in the USA there has been numerous example of candidates releasing hateful literature about themselves under their opponents name. This generates sympathy for them and contempt for their “mean” opponent.

BEWARE

So there you have it! 10 things to be aware of as a savvy member of a democracy. The ability of the current government to get the poor to blame the poor for them being poor is a work of revolting political genius. Only by being a savvy electorate do we have a chance of countering this.

Dead Certain. 5 arguments against Euthanasia from someone who supports Euthanasia.

hippocrates

Ever since I can remember thinking about the issue of assisted suicide I have been overwhelmingly in favour of it. Why the hell shouldn’t people who are suffering unimaginable pain and no longer wishe to live be allowed to die? Surely doctors should be able to painlessly end the lives of people who no longer have lives worth living? It isn’t fair that loved ones ending the life of a terminally ill family member can possibly be risking conviction and prison.

However, a recent conversation with a family member (whom I hold in very high esteem) that works as a palliative care nurse has shaken my overwhelming certainty that the opinions I hold are correct. As much as it physically hurts me to say it I may have formed the opinion that fits best with my fairly centrist liberal outlook and constructed an argument around it. I have therefore decided to do my best to put forward what I consider the strongest arguments against assisted dying.

A few quick disclaimers.

  • I am still pro-assisted suicide. I am doing this mainly as a personal exercise.
  • These arguments are merely overviews, not detailed analyses.
  • I am talking about terminally ill people only.
  • There are many other arguments, these are the ones I found personally the most compelling.
  • This was the hardest article I have ever written. I am bloody confused and unsure of myself.
  1. Exposes vulnerable people to pressure to end their lives.

“The right to die can easily become the duty to die.” 
~ Dr. Peter Saunders, The Care Not Killing Organisation

The strength of a society is how it treats the most vulnerable. Allowing assisted suicide gives vulnerable people a decision to make. This can add pressure to those least equipped to decide best for them.

Most people do not make decisions for selfish reasons when it comes to their children. Guilt over being perceived as a burden to their family can dramatically impact a person’s decision to end their life. This can be a burden in terms of time, money or medical resources.

2. Many of the arguments for assisted dying could be solved with higher levels of investment in palliative and mental health care.

It is difficult to asses the quality of palliative care empirically (Salibury et al 2000) however it is critically underfunded in the UK. A large increase in palliative care investment would thereby increase attention to the patient’s physical and emotional needs in the final days, months and years and could alleviate much of the suffering experienced. Thus reducing the strength of the euthanasia argument.

One must also consider the amount of people who have a terminal illness who also suffer from depression. I haven’t been able to nail down an exact figure but the consensus seems to be that it is significant. If someone was depressed and without a terminal illness we would never dream of allowing them to decide whether doctors could end their lives. They would be treated for their mental illness. The fact that someone is terminally ill shouldn’t effect their mental health treatment in any way.

3. Many people change their mind during. 

Terminal illness is very much a journey. As much as I detest anecdotal evidence I am told all palliative care workers can draw on examples of times when people have wanted to end their lives and have changed their minds later on. These people are glad they did not end their lives. What stronger argument do you need?

4. Pressure and impact on doctors.

When a patient says, ‘Help me, doctor,’ he is assuming that his doctor is on the side of his life

~ Dr. Margaret Cottle (palliative care physician and instructor, University of British Columbia, Canada)

Allowing doctors to assist in the suicide of a patient opens up a whole range of issues and problems. Below are just a few of them:

  • Goes against the Hippocratic oath to do no harm.
  • The emotional impact on the doctor.
  • Doctors do not have the right to decide if sometime lives or dies.
  • Euthanasia could become the cost effective way to treat the terminally ill.
  • It undermines the motivation to provide good palliative care and pain relief.
  • A 1998 study found that doctors who are cost-conscious and ‘practice resource-conserving medicine’ are significantly more likely to write a lethal prescription for terminally-ill patients [Arch. Intern. Med., 5/11/98, p. 974]. This suggests that medical costs do influence doctors’ opinions in this area of medical ethics.

5. Putting a value of human life.

When we start putting a value on whether life is worth living we could be seeing the thin end of a wedge. By saying that we can justify ending someone’s life because their life is worth less than someone else’s leaves us open ethically to number of questions. It leaves the door open for capital punishment for example. Saying one life is worth more than another is a can of worms I don’t think we should open.

Confused!

I have never been less sure on an issue than I am on Euthanasia. My gut tell me that people should be able to die if they want to. But the impact of having other people carry out the killing carries so many problems that I am in a real quandary.

Therefore I am going to exercises my right to terminate my article. Thanks for reading

A much more articulate argument than I could ever write.

http://www.care.org.uk/advocacy/end-of-life/euthanasia-the-arguments-for-and-against/arguments-against-assisted-suicide