Nottingham Post

What we really want is politician­s who listen


IN December 2019, the Labour Party suffered the biggest defeat since the early 1930s. The leader at the time, Jeremy Corbyn, resigned and a new leader, Keir Starmer, was elected.

Keir acknowledg­ed the party had a mountain to climb, but notably he said the party had stopped listening to the voters. Instead it was only listening to itself. As soon as Covid restrictio­ns permitted, Keir Starmer and other Labour MPS went out listening to voters’ concerns, in all constituen­cies, and throughout all walks of life; leaders, workers, parents, teachers, the young and old, everybody.

From a career as a human rights lawyer, then chief public prosecutor, Keir Starmer has spent most of his adult life listening intently to his legal clients and then the thousands of staff he presided over in the Crown Prosecutio­n Service. Even the Conservati­ves acknowledg­ed he was very successful in reforming the CPS by listening to its thousands of staff, for this he was awarded a knighthood; Theresa May insisted on thanking Keir by personally taking him out to dinner. For many years he defended the accused facing the death penalty all over the world, and he won their reprieve. He did this free of charge because he passionate­ly believed execution was a grave infringeme­nt of human rights.

Listening is about empathy and compassion, putting oneself in the other person’s shoes.

Last week on Talk Radio, a woman called Louise from Rhonda in South Wales phoned in with a question about mental health provision on the NHS, or lack of it, she had been waiting over five years for treatment and had to quit work as a result. The call was fielded by Rishi Sunak. Initially he addressed the caller as Rhonda. He was corrected by the presenter, then the penny dropped. Louise was calling from Wales. The prime minister denied responsibi­lity for Louise’s plight as the NHS in Wales is a devolved matter dealt with by the Labour administra­tion in Wales. At this point, Rishi Sunak appeared to stop caring and launched into a criticism of Labour’s handling of waiting times in Wales, then carried on to blame the ongoing dispute with the junior doctors.

The way he handled this call was a disgrace. He wanted to absolve responsibi­lity and use it as an excuse for another political soapbox. His interest in the UK did not extend over the Welsh border.

We, the voters, are fed up hearing the same old political lines and excuses. We realise a government cannot deliver instant fixes to many problems. However we just want to be genuinely listened to by politician­s who care and want to make people’s lives better. In the next election the votes should go to those politician­s and parties prepared to listen, genuinely caring about voters’ concerns and fashioning long-term policies to address them. One would also expect the next Prime Minister to have a good working knowledge of the geography of the UK and the issues different areas face.

Adam Powell via email

 ?? UK PARLIAMENT/ JESSICA TAYLOR/ PA WIRE ?? Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer

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