2015 should be the year when we pick our politicians more carefully

The Talks debacle rumbled on at Stormont
The Talks debacle rumbled on at Stormont

We can’t predict the future but as the old year comes to an end it might be worth looking at a couple of the events which could see our United Kingdom changing beyond recognition in future years.

The failed Scottish Referendum may come back to haunt those at Westminister sooner than they think particularly if former SNP leader Alex Salmond succeeds in his bid to become elected in the British Parliament. A united kingdom as we know it is no longer a certainty in the short term.

Sandra Chapman

Sandra Chapman

Perhaps this is taxing the minds of Westminster. Under Conservative party plans set out recently by Leader of the House William Hague, England could be empowered to set its own rate of income tax.

When he launched the plan he declared that as Scotland is to get more power over its own affairs ``so it follows the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland must have the opportunity to have a bigger say over theirs.’’

That’s a giddy thought. Can you just imagine what all this extra power might to do our much derided politicians at Stormont who can’t even handle the powers they have already.

The Talks debacle before Christmas was quite possibly the reason the electorate en masse took comfort in shopping expeditions they could scarcely afford just to put the political misery out of their minds.

Allowing Stormont to set its own rate of income tax, not to mention corporation tax without getting to grips with welfare reform could lead to absolute chaos.

Meanwhile the economically illiterate Sinn Fein still wants to squander money on more Irish language schools – the UUP claims one such has been approved in Dungiven, the least viable place for one that anyone could think of.

I have nothing against Dungiven, it’s is one of the most scenic places in the province but the money would be better spent on good projects to encourage tourists to go there. I know they would be spellbound by the place.

Then there is the changing attitude towards the elderly. The Care ~Quality Commission which needed a lot of prodding to do a proper examination of care homes found ‘‘shocking awful’’ conditions in many of them.

The public has had enough of mistreatment of the elderly. After howls of protest on radio and in the media last week Belfast Trust reversed its decision to withdraw funding for care programmes for the old and vulnerable.

Belfast Trust is made up of public sector workers, the very people who will probably have had salary increases last year and who can look forward to generous pensions largely funded by taxpayers when they retire.

Largesse for themselves would in part have meant misery for the elderly in their care. Why they thought this crass decision over the elderly might be acceptable is beyond us. Any other Trust in the same frame of mind should have a re-think right now. The public have shown they won’t tolerate it.

If the Government insists every person should be working that means the state has to help out with the care of the elderly who cannot work. Their families cannot be expected to provide it. Times are changing.

Dementia, the curse of the century, a disease affecting more and more people at a younger age is at last being taken seriously. A global report says people must be encouraged to take action earlier in life to save themselves from dementia. Healthy living is the key ``to avoid a tide of suffering in future’’ says surgeon and former Labour health minister Lord Darzi.

Could this serious report really make the difference to levels of obesity which is helping cripple our Health Service? Let’s hope that 2014 has been a year of awareness and that 2015 will see the start of a major change in attitudes when, at the very least, we pick our politicians more carefully.