General Election 2017: What’s missing from the debate?

Next week we’re likely to see the official publication of all the major parties’ manifestos for the upcoming General Election. Will they address deep set issues of social injustice that rarely get a mention amongst the wealth of analysis on Brexit?

Since 2014 Lacuna Magazine has published articles on the lived experiences of people caught up in different social crises. Our aim has been to look behind the headlines and examine those issues that affect our society and the most vulnerable within it. This month we are revisiting some of these stories in the run up to the election and asking: what are the political parties proposing should be done about them?

First, we return to the ever-increasing use of foodbanks in the UK. James Harrison asked nearly three years ago whether this phenomenon was ‘a warning that there may be something very wrong with the economic and social model we are pursuing in Britain today?’ With the number only growing since, are politicians taking this issue any more seriously now?

How we look upon the rights of the elderly has also been a recurrent theme for Lacuna. Though politicians make much of pensions and the triple-lock and the cost of care, shouldn’t we be thinking more about the non-monetary needs of an aging population? Alison Struthers asked herself some difficult questions about our individual responsibilities to the isolated amongst us. And Adam Weymouth reminded us that love and sex are not the preserve of the young. Do the political parties have anything to say about this constituency and their interests beyond the size of their pensions?

Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi has been reporting regularly for Lacuna on the plight of those most at risk of harm in society. But the problems they face have not gone away. Instead the issues she has uncovered remain all too relevant today.

In 2014 she highlighted the experiences of ethnic minority populations in the mental health system. Exactly one year later in October 2015 she told the story of young people failed by the mental health services. Though political parties have recently woken up to mental health as a ‘live’ issue, how are they really planning to solve the deep problems in the system? Is it just a question of spending more money? Will that deal with the lack of care that can permeate some of our public services? Will there be any proposals how there might be a change in approach?

Rebecca has also tracked the experience of losing one’s home and the hopelessness that can ensue. Will spending vast amounts on building homes solve the crises that result from not having enough money to pay the rent?

The devil is often in the detail of manifestos. Looking to see the promises they contain is one indicator of intent. But what is missed out is equally important. Will the parties come to grips with some of the matters that affect those who are rarely heard? We will have a better idea next week.

 

Banner photo by secretlondn123. Some rights reserved.

 

Andrew Williams

Andrew Williams is Lacuna's Editor in Chief. He teaches law and creative writing at the University of Warwick and is the author of 'A Very British Killing: the Death of Baha Mousa' that won the George Orwell Prize for Political Writing in 2013. The book tells the story of a murder in Basra in 2003, for which no one has yet been brought to justice.

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