Opinion: Who will woo the Blue Badge Outsider?

Just a week to go until election day and we could all chant the campaign themes like the morning hymn in school assemblies of old - immigration, pensions, the economy, schools, the NHS.

The pollsters say these are the issues that determine how we cast our votes, and their predominance in the election battle will no doubt shape the cabinet of whichever party (or parties) wins.

So those portfolios whose brief includes dealing with the environment, with overseas development, with prisons or with disabled people, will be given to the also-rans or the young, unproven bucks.

One in nine people in this country has a disability. You'd think that the sheer weight of numbers might have tempted the election planners to target them. Step aside Mondeo Man, Watford Woman et al, come on down Blue Badge Outsider and Stick-Using Swing Voter. Yet there's no sign of them in the forefront of the campaign.

And when are we going to wake up and hear John Humphrys tells us that today, as 5 May approaches, all three main party leaders will be concentrating on explaining their policies on global warming? The truth is that they'd struggle to fill an hour, let alone a day, since they have so little to say on this mega-issue. As long as we can sort out if we're going to have a local income tax or a reformed council tax or a rebate for pensioners to pay for having our bins emptied onto landfill sites or into incinerators, then we seem happy to buy into the illusion that we are shaping the world we live in by how we use our vote.

It would be easy to conclude that we get the politicians we deserve, that they know us better than we credit and therefore their pitches are finely tuned to what really matters to us. But what about the response to the tsunami? What about all those people who ran the London Marathon earlier this month for their charities? And what about the eloquent campaigners on both sides who are putting over their opinions at a public enquiry into wind farms in the Lake District?

We're bigger than you give us credit for, you politicians. There are plenty of us out here who care more about the fate of our planet and our fellow man than we do about a penny here or there on our income tax bills.

You've got a week. Woo us into voting and so avoid another low turnout at the polls.

Peter Stanford is a writer and broadcaster and sits on various trustee boards

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