The general election is only a matter of weeks away. With a hung Parliament the most likely outcome, finding common ground between the political parties will assume an unusual level of importance, both before and after the poll.

It is timely, therefore, for the Society to flag up issues that it believes should be priorities for any Government, as it has done in the document Our Priorities for the UK General Election 2015. At the very least it will contribute to keeping a focus on the issues of most concern to the profession, amidst all the usual clamour of the campaign.

Most solicitors will identify with the four themes chosen – protection of human rights, a stable devolution settlement, long term clarity on EU membership (in or out), and legal services at the heart of a growing economy. They offer the profession's perspective on contentious and longrunning issues, calling for appropriate Government commitments (though as regards the EU it does not advance matters much to insist on the profession being consulted prior to any policy decisions regarding continued membership). And it is entirely right that the Society should declare itself “passionate about the rule of law and human rights”, and support retention of the Human Rights Act as an “essential component of our society”.

Personally, however, I believe we can and should go further. It is accepted, at least by the main parties, that the continuing (even if reducing) burden of the budget deficit will impose severe constraints on new spending commitments, and it is safe to say that the pressure for further cuts and savings will continue unabated. But whether it is the Government's aim to eliminate or merely contain the deficit, its attitude to people affected by its policies should not be allowed to depart from the standards of common humanity.

When we hear of people being denied essential benefits for weeks (months?) because they have inadvertently transgressed some requirement of the system; when we hear of the treatment meted out to those detained for immigration purposes; when barriers (financial or administrative) are erected to deny to those in need of justice, ready access to courts and tribunals, we should not be silent. Those who wish to form the Government should be called on to recognise that they are dealing with people, and not just numbers on a budget spreadsheet.

The Society's motto can be translated “I hold nothing human as alien.” Let us insist that our rulers also recognise the human impact of their actions.