It really is of little consequence which party forms the next government. Of immensely greater importance are the thinking skills of the members of parliament. You might not want to vote for anyone who supported Early Day Motion 1240 supporting the homeopathic hospitals in the NHS. Supporters included such luminaries as Nick Clegg, Ian Gibson (formerly chair of the Science and Technology Committee, and a biologist of note), Lembit Opik, and Phil Willis (chair of the Science and Technology Committee when Parliament was dissolved). More recently there was EDM 908 rejecting the Science and Technology Committee’s report on the evidence for homeopathy, signed by 70 MPs including Ian Paisley, Anne Widdecombe, Glenda Jackson, and Michael Amcram. It comes as no surprise that both EDMs were originated by David Tredinnick, for whom any suggestion of rational thought would be ludicrous. I am still baffled by Phil Willis, who has all the trappings of a first rate sceptic, yet signed EDM1240.
In my constituency there are seven candidates, and I have sent them all the following questions:
1. What is your position on the role of religion in politics? Should the Church of England continue to be established? Or should church and state be separated?
2. What should primarily drive health care provision – reliable evidence of efficacy and safety, or patient choice?
3. Should faith schools be encouraged or supported by the state?
So far I have received replies from two of them, mainly because they were the first candidates announced so they were asked first. OK, there are many other questions that could test their rational thought processes, but these are important to me. You might like to ask your candidates questions that matter to you. Here are the first two replies – firstly from the Liberal Democrat candidate:
1. I am a committed secularist. I believe in a clear and defined separation of the church and state. I don’t believe that the Church of England should continue to be established. I believe this is necessary to stop interference and undue influence of religion in politics and vice-versa.
2. The former. Medical scientists and professionals are the experts, they know better than the patient what delivers greater health benefits. The primary driver for health provision should be promoting health by the most effective, efficient and safe means possible – putting patient choice ahead of evidence-based policy would not necessarily deliver these results. That is not to say that where possible and efficient to do so that patient choice should not be offered.
3. No (for reasons given in answer 1).
Next, the Conservative candidate’s view:
1. I became a Christian in an Anglican church in 1996. Since then I have been more and more anxious that the teachings of the church are watered down by the Association with a secular state. I don’t yet believe that the two should be separated but I am very despondent about the state of the Anglican Church ..
2. It will inevitably be a mixture and I don’t think your question does justice to the nuances of the issue. I believe that healthcare should meet the needs of local communities – all of it should be the best we can afford but patient choice (as the taxpayer paying for it) should feature highly in where the biggest share of resources is allocated.
3. Faith schools, community led schools, charity let schools should all be given per pupil funding – we need broader provision of schools so there is genuine choice in this country. I believe faith schools often provide the best education for our children and therefore I would be keen to see more set up.
Now I am not for a moment suggesting that there is any linkage between the various political parties and the thought processes of their candidates – although I am especially keen to hear from King Arthur Pendragon the druid of Stonehenge. Looking at what MPs do support, there are some pretty strange bedfellows. I’ll post the other replies here when available. I am a bit worried about what I will get from the BNP candidate, as he looks like a night club bouncer.
BTW if anyone has Peter Hain as their candidate you’ll want to remember that he supported the appalling Northern Ireland CAM survey that is so widely misinterpreted. He still believes that homeopathy cured his son’s asthma.