Charity begins…

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An issue that has arisen more than once in this general election campaign is whether the NHS should be a national or an international service. This is generally with reference to providing courses of expensive drug therapy to HIV patients from abroad.

I’m proud of Britain’s generosity. Because of accidents of history we are affluent and can afford to be charitable.

The UK, under Empire, exploited the Third World so some sort of payback (it can be argued) is appropriate. But only up to a point.

We have debts of £1 trillion and some needy causes closer to home, so we are obliged to prioritise our resources.

Many readers will consider themselves charitable but I doubt they give to every beggar they encounter on the street, 
respond to every plea that comes through the letterbox or appears on the television.

Indeed, to so do is irresponsible to one’s family, particularly if there are debts to pay off and the youngest is in need of new shoes.

As far as I can tell this is what Ukip is arguing. It is hard to say because as soon as the issue is raised in a public arena hackles rise, mindless cries of “racist” or “fascist” go up, and it’s a signal for representatives of the other parties to scramble to the moral high ground and start spouting pious platitudes.

I’m neither a supporter of Ukip, nor an apologist for Nigel Farage, but a reminder of Voltaire’s dictum is in order here.

Paul Wright

Davidson’s Mains

Edinburgh