Tom Richmond: Welcome debate on care and a dignified end to life

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ON OCCASION, I have found myself sympathising with those well-meaning politicians who are striving to introduce “right-to-die” laws – should those coming to the end of their life continue to suffer immense pain and discomfort in their dying days?

SO coalitions do work. Who says so? None other than York-born Sir Vince Cable who was Business Secretary for five years when the Tories and Liberal Democrats joined forces in 2010.

Despite appearing to be in a semi-permanent strop, he writes in his new book After The Storm that relations between the parties “were much better than the daily reports of rows, feuds, splits, leaks and plots would suggest”.

He adds: “Civil servants often observed that the coalition worked better than the Labour government since, while we often disagreed about issues, personalities were not allowed to get in the way of resolving them.

“Messrs Cameron and Clegg deserve credit for that.”

Praise indeed.

FURTHER to last week’s column questioning the wisdom of Parliament being adjourned to accommodate the eight Lib Dem MPs who wished to remain their party’s conference in Bournemouth, I see the House of Commons will be sitting when Britain’s third party – the Scottish Nationalists – have their annual gathering.

This is proof that the rules should be changed forthwith so parties are compelled to stage their conferences at weekends and MPs have no excuse for not debating issues like the asylum crisis, Syria and Britain’s role in the world.

WHEN is the buck-passing going to stop? Caroline Flint, the Don Valley MP, made a perfectly reasonable request when she highlighted the blight caused by 3,800 empty properties in Doncaster. She wants the Government to review the rights and powers of local communities to tackle this issue “without imposing a cost on the taxpayer for the neglect of owners and landlords”.

The unhelpful response of Local Government Minister Marcus Jones? Contact your local council. I’m afraid this is simply not good enough when there is already a housing shortage – perhaps the Tory should be asking why the councils are unable to utilise existing powers rather than blaming others.

I do, however, agree with the Minister on one point. Although Ms Flint is a loss to the Labour front bench, it is high time that Doncaster had a champion on the backbenches who is prepared to speak up for the town on a regular basis.

THESE are challenging times for the police. More than one-quarter of crimes in rural areas go unreported while some forces are using increasingly spurious means to determine whether to respond to break-ins – or not.

It is also self-evident that the police are justifying a non-response by referring to the recent remarks of Sara Thornton, the head of the new National Police Chiefs’ Council, who ventured that the public should not expect to see a police officer after crimes such as burglary.

Two points. First, how are serial offenders, the criminals responsible for 90 per cent of offences, going to be caught if the police make no effort to search for evidence? Second, what would be the reaction of Ms Thornton, a former chief constable of Thames Valley Police, if she suffered a burglary and her local constabulary chose not to respond?

Somehow, I suspect that she would be the first to complain...

IT is clear President John F Kennedy’s handling of the Cuban missile crisis had a profound effect on Sir Alex Ferguson. Writing in his new book Leading, the legendary football boss says three of the best things that he ever did were “watching others, listening to their adivce and reading about people”. It’s why this perspective guided his tenureship of the Manchester United hotseat: “Making decisions that send 75,000 people home happy at the end of a Saturday afternoon is one thing. Saving hundreds of millions from nuclear war is another.” No wonder he remains Britain’s most successful sports manager. Ever.

tom.richmond@ypn.co.uk