Political reform, assisted suicide and local markets

The broadcast and published media and the blogosphere are alive with ideas for reforming politics. The expenses scandal, the policy vacuum from both major parties, the recession, the AfPak debacle and so much more are all pointers toward an urgent need for root and branch reform. The existing political class cannot and will not take the necessary action, whether from an instinctive self-preservation or inability to grapple with the issue.
Amongst the better contributions is this:
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/andreas-whittam-smith/andreas-whittam-smith-seven-ways-we-could-reform-our-broken-political-system-1750027.html
Which in turn refers to this:
http://www.opendemocracy.net/blog/ourkingdom-theme/anthony-barnett/2009/07/09/from-anger-into-change
The continuing problems in Westminster are a challenge to the electorate and an invitation to reform. Will we take this opportunity or will we vote for more of the same? At least in Hexham there will be a true choice – an Independent.
The assisted suicide or Sir Edward and Lady Downes at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland has occupied many column inches in the press in recent days. Coming, as it does, so close to the recent Lords debate that resulted in a measure intended to liberalise the law in the UK being defeated, the news lends urgency to the need for reform.
I am completely confident that a law can be framed that permits the proper exercise of individual autonomy. Both those who choose maximum medical effort to preserve life at all costs and those who wish to choose the time, place and manner of their passing must be accommodated – surely this cannot be impossible?
Doctors too are divided on the issue. The legislation will need to be framed to accommodate their wishes. The question must also be asked; does it have to be a doctor who provides the assistance?
Who should be involved in such a decision? The individual, obviously, but whom else? A doctor who knows the person’s history, a doctor who is independent, a lawyer, a judge, an impartial third party, a committee of some sort…? This and many other questions remain to be debated and decided.
Contemplating one’s own death is a potentially unsettling experience but better to have given it some thought and informed appropriate family and friends than to leave it to them to sort things out when you can no longer contribute to the discussion. Even your closest relative or friend may get the answer wrong and that, presumably, would be the last thing that you would want – literally.
In the Hexham constituency we are blessed with many local produce markets. Not only are these prize-winning but they are the way of the future. Local produce for local people! The food is excellent. The food miles are minimal. The local economy benefits. People have the opportunity to take an interest in what they are eating.
Support local growers and producers – shop in your local market.

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