Gazette letters: Elections, You Are Not Alone project and Old Street junctions
PUBLISHED: 08:30 29 June 2019
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For nearly a hundred years Labour and the Conservatives have been satisfied with a status quo that guarantees the baton of power just gets passed between them, writes Roderik Gonggrijp, Islington Green Party.
Under the First Past The Post electoral system, any other political parties - The Green Party, the Liberal Democrats or even Ukip - always have little or no chance to obtain as many representatives in parliaments as their electoral popularity suggests they should. This can only be achieved by a fairer electoral system of proportional representation (PR) - ie a system in which the share of seats a party wins matches the share of votes it receives. Under PR, for example, the Greens would have won 20 MPs in 2015 and 10 in 2017. In both cases we got one.
But now the unrepresentative First Past The Post electoral system may come to haunt its supporters, as a recent poll suggests voters are so angry with both major parties that our next elected prime minister could be Nigel Farage.
The YouGov poll on June 9 to 10 gave the following result:
Brexit Party 26 per cent of the popular vote - and 309 seats in parliament (47.5pc)
Lib Dem: 22pc - 71 seats (11pc)
Labour: 19pc - 170 seats (26pc)
Conservatives: 17pc - 22 seats (3pc)
Green Party: 8pc - 1 seat (0.15pc)
Ironically, when Nigel Farage was waving the Ukip flag he voiced strong support for PR.
But then again, Nigel Farage also says that we should replace the NHS with private healthcare.
If they want to avoid Nigel Farage as PM, Labour and the Conservatives must join The Green Party and others now in the Make Votes Matter campaign and urgently change our electoral system to a fairer and truly representative one.
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Recently I met a teenager who told me that a year ago she had attempted suicide, writes Justin Tomlinson, minister for disabled people.
She wanted to end her life after experiencing bullying throughout childhood, years of sexual abuse and a continuous feeling of being unloved and misunderstood by her family. These traumatic experiences impacted her life leaving her feeling isolated and alone, struggling to connect with herself and to others.
She is one of many young people on the You Are Not Alone project at Body & Soul I visited in Islington.
The amazing staff at Body & Soul told me what a difference it can make for the people they help - from the young teenager who has recently self-harmed to the mum living with HIV - to have someone to talk to.
The government is committed to improving the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people and addressing issues such as self-harm, and we are transforming their mental health services backed with an additional £1.4bn. This will ensure 700,000 more children a year have access to specialist mental health care by 2020/21.
And we are taking action to support people who need help earlier. Last year the prime minister accepted a series of recommendations from the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness and set up the Building Connections Fund, which has recently awarded Body & Soul a two-year grant to expand its You Are Not Alone project to reach more young people across London addressing suicide, self-harm, loneliness, and social exclusion through therapeutic group work.
The Connected Society strategy also sets out commitments from nine government departments, including my own, to tackle loneliness. And all our Jobcentre Plus staff are trained to help sign-post people they identify may have mental health issues, or issues of loneliness and social isolation, to further support from organisations like Body & Soul.
It's estimated that between five per cent and 18pc of UK adults feel lonely often or always. And when we feel socially rejected, it triggers a response in our brain similar to one from experiencing physical pain.
And a YouGov survey this week showed that of all the age groups, it was young people aged between 18 to 24 who were most likely to identify as being lonely.
Loneliness Awareness Week ends today, but we must not stop talking about the issues it raises.
That's why this week the government launched a new campaign Let's Talk About Loneliness to tackle the stigma of feeling isolated. It's incumbent on all of us as to be aware of people around us and to reach out to those who need support - so people from all walks of life know they are not alone.
There was an excellent well balanced piece in last week's Gazette but the reality is that the new junction simply does not work and is piling on the pollution, writes Sir David Bell, Islington, full address supplied.
Once again it's the law of unanticipated consequences.
Unless it's fixed - and I am not holding my breath - the "cure" will turn out much worse than the "disease"!