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Austerity is shortening lives

Life expectancy has been one of those measures used often to indicate human progress.  On this measure, the UK doesn't do so well compared to other European countries.   
Life expectancy at birth in the UK  increased by 13.1 weeks per year on average since 1980–1982 for males and 9.5 weeks per year on average for females.

The reduction in the proportion of men smoking, along with the decline of heavy industry and the move away from physical labour and manufacturing industries towards the service sector are likely factors contributing to the changes, while female life-styles and childbirth have changed substantially.

The most common age at death in the UK for men is 85 and for women, it is 89. Progress indeed.

The health and wellbeing of our population are falling, and with it so too is life-expectancy.

Austerity is shortening our lives, or at least for some of us.   And there is the point.

Austerity has increased inequality and poverty, driven by the Tory cuts and approach to wel…

Cameron's democratic conundrum.

I am not at all impressed by the simplicity of 'English votes for English laws'.  Introducing a rule in parliament that says only MPs representing English Constituencies can vote on matters affecting the English doesn't solve the problem of how we move forward with the United Kingdom. On the contrary it hammers yet another nail into its coffin. But my main argument against it is that it denies, yes denies, the same level of democracy that voters in Scotland or Wales etc would have. Far from solving a problem it creates a new anomaly.  If I were then to be a voter in Scotland I would have the opportunity to split my vote - I might for example vote SNP (well I wouldn't but that is a different matter) for the Scotland Parliament but would vote Tory (certainly wouldn't but then this is an example) in the UK wide vote.  If I lived in England I would not have these opportunities. I would have to choose the same party to represent me in England as UK wide.

Now you might ask why a voter might wish to do that. But that is often what voters do. In local elections they will often vote for a different party than they would in a general election. The same is the case in European elections. Voters it seems are more sophisticated than 'English votes for English Laws'.

The British Constitution is an odd make up of conventions and statute. It has its anomalies. Some might argue that it is these anomalies that give it value. After all, if we are talking about democracy and votes counting, then why should someone born into a particular family have any greater say in our affairs than any other person? That of course is so with the monarchy. It is also the case with  hereditary peers. If Cameron really believed in democracy he would surely have abolished the remaining hereditary peers and finished the reform of the House of Lords. He won't of course.

Our 'democracy' is neither perfect nor thoroughly bad. To pick on one particular problem and elevate it above all the others is simply party politics. The West Lothian question is not the most vital issue in politics. It is a conundrum.  If Cameron wants to 'save the union' then he had better come up with something better.  He should stop playing for party advantage following the Scottish referendum. In doing so he puts the Union at risk.

I have no doubt that some kind of federal settlement is required. But that will require proper devolution of powers in England - or perhaps I should say 'to England'.

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