RICHARD WILLIAMSON: My manifesto: A vote for every living creature

We all depend on a strong NHS, a strong economy, military defence system, living wage, transport system, space to live.The list has occupied us for weeks.

I have hardly heard a mention of the needs of the other members of the planet. They too make us feel safe and sane so they too must have a vote if we are to survive.

Take a look at Sussex. Imagine living without Chichester or Pagham Harbours and their 70,000 wetland birds that keep us enthralled throughout most of the year.

Imagine no woods or heaths, no footpaths to see the spring flowers, no towering beech trees softly murmuring in the summer breeze, no downland slopes of green where one can sit for a moment on a summer’s day and just let the view into the blue hills beyond take all the strain.

Of course city folk do live without these, and no wonder there is a growing mental health crisis that has begun to clog A&E centres. No wonder these same city- folk stream out of their crowded streets and buildings to look for an hour or two at the sea or meditate upon our ‘majestic mountains’ of the south downs.

Just look at the perfect symmetry and delicate beauty of the butterfly in the picture.

It is a female orange-tip butterfly preparing to lay her eggs in the flowers of cuckoo flower, or maid-of-the-meadows.

It is as majestic a glimpse of life in the universe as are the pictures of outer space as recorded by the Hubble telescope.

It is perfection. Yet in many cases we take its existence for granted, as we do the rest of the 1,700 species of wild flower and 50 of butterfly in Sussex alone, or the 360 different wild birds and 20,000 species of insects. Money is being continually cut from official sources to manage our nature reserves but there is a growing band of volunteers to help to maintain the habitats nevertheless, while we willingly let the National Lottery fund critical ecosystems.

These volunteers are often aged and only too glad to join social groups where they can feel safe and wanted again. Nature has thrown them a life-line. There are the Friends of Chichester Harbour for instance, the Chichester Volunteers who help manage Heyshott Downs which is one of the prime European sites for plants. The butterfly and the flower in the photo by Cicestrian Brian Henham would not exist without the gang of young and old volunteers who manage the coppice woodland on behalf of West Dean Estate and the Sussex Wildlife Trust.

Many people hardly need politicians for large chunks of their lives. They just get on and vote with their binoculars, their walking boots and their need for peace and trust in the beneficence of the great outdoors.

It seems doubtful if any of the said politicians would know what was being talked about anyway.