For some, the issue is personal and for others, it’s societal © FT montage/Alamy

In the lead-up to the 1992 US presidential race between Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, strategist James Carville famously quipped “It’s the economy, stupid.” The phrase reduced the election to a single conduit to which all other issues would lead.

The debate over “potholes” is doing a similar thing to British politics. For some, the issue is personal — potholes can cause significant damage to vehicles and pose a danger to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. For others, Britain’s pockmarked roads symbolise a broader problem — a chronic mismanagement of public funds.

Financial Times readers had a lot to say on the topic and left more than 500 comments beneath this article on the threat posed by potholes to the Conservative party in an election year. Some commenters questioned why Britain couldn’t be more like its European neighbours, while others queried what else councils were spending their money on.

A range of these responses are published below. Join the conversation by sharing your views in the comment section.

Austerity is to blame

Austerity pushed the cost of everything from the state into other areas of the economy. This resulted in reduced road maintenance, bad roads, reduced road efficiency, higher insurance premiums, lower productivity, increased costs, reduced growth, fiscal constraint, cheap road repair, and so on across the economy.

A boondoggle of increased spending on unproductive areas, but that’s good as long as it is off the state’s balance sheet. — Xeno0x

Roads should be rebuilt

Having cycled extensively in Germany, France, Spain and the UK, the basic problem is that successive governments never took the chance to rebuild the road network properly as other countries did after WW2. As a result, local authorities are forever patching fundamentally ancient lanes which have never been upgraded.

Last year I cycled 1,000 kms across Spain and I don’t recall seeing a single pothole. If this is ever going to cease being an issue in the UK roads need to be rebuilt and not just patched. — Sic transit gloria mundi

Potholes in Downing Street

Not sure why Sunak had to drive so far. Plenty of potholes in central London already although probably not in Downing Street. (many are being patched up just now, ahead of the election) — Antenor

We should all commute by helicopter

We should follow Mr Sunak’s splendid example and commute by helicopter; no need to fret about potholes then. — Sam Taan

G7 countries are far better maintained

I am a relatively elderly cyclist living in Edinburgh and can attest to the disgraceful state of the roads on which I cycle. I am increasingly reluctant to use my bicycle because of the number of potholes more often than not at the edge of the road where I should be cycling.

Potholes are not an issue in other G7 countries where roads are far better maintained. I lived and worked in The Netherlands for many years (hence my love of cycling) and tell friends here there is no word in Dutch for pothole simply because such a word is not needed. — Highland Chief

Unhappy voters

This article is about voter discontent. When council taxes rise inexorably (which is visible to voters), and local public services (eg roads) deteriorate markedly, it’s not hard to see why voters are unhappy. — satisficer

Change is unlikely

There has been a real terms decline in central government funding of local authorities of more than 50 per cent since 2010. This leaves most authorities with very little left of their budgets once they have funded statutory services principally child and adult social care. As most of these potholes are on roads maintained by local authorities, that’s why they are falling apart.

Current levels of taxation in the UK may be the highest since the early fifties but on any sensible comparison they are inadequate to fund the services that people expect government, national and local, to provide. Until politicians face up to this don’t expect anything to change whosoever resides in Downing Street. — Auld Scots Engineer

A chronic problem

There has been an attempt to fix them but it is a chronic problem. A quick fill is just being put on top of the holes rather than fixing the foundations — so the potholes just come back.

I now have to drive as I would in an underdeveloped country, avoiding potholes and keeping to the centre of the road. It is symptomatic of decline, under investment and poor management.

I agree with Angela Rayner but I doubt Labour will do any better with this issue. Our local council is nearly bankrupt. — Que

No potholes in Luxembourg

Just returned from driving in Luxembourg. Didn’t see a pothole all weekend. Looks like they iron each road every morning. — TwistedByKnaves

The state of Britain

There are so many metaphors for the state of Britain after 14 years of Tory ineptitude: roads, railways, gas/water infrastructure, schools, hospitals, housing. It’s what happens when you don’t invest in anything. — Econoclast

The need for cycle networks

As more and heavier vehicles cause road and climate damage, why are we allowing the burden on our road surfaces to grow and grow?

There are lighter ways of getting about — why don’t we insist on getting them built quick? Cycle networks, bus-only lanes, better pavements, safe road crossings, consolidation centres for light vehicle last mile delivery…

Or do we want to go on getting fatter and fatter to complain the furniture keeps breaking? — Carsruincities

*Comments have been edited for length and style

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