Letter: Manifesto for recovery: Gatt, housing market, monetary policy

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Sir: Having lived and worked for a number of years with small-scale farmers - men and women - on marginal land in south-east France, I was disturbed at your call for 'confident and courageous British diplomacy' in diverting France from its veto in the Gatt negotiations, as part of the Independent manifesto for national recovery.

French farmers, particularly in parts of the country such as that I refer to, are fighting not only for their livelihoods but also - and surely as importantly - for the traditional and familiar structures of their existence, for their very way of life. Does that ring a bell somewhere?

Somewhat belatedly, the French government has become aware of the true depth of the feeling involved, and of what is at stake, and has been prodded into a more aggressive stance on their behalf, as witnessed in its firm stand at Gatt. I, for one, wish it luck.

'Perfidious Albion' has long been suspected - often, but not always, misguidedly - as the source of many of the farmers' woes and, more generally, as the United State's Trojan Horse in Europe. To avoid further misunderstanding, may I suggest that the Independent drop the proposal I have mentioned from its manifesto in favour of a more neutral position, and help its readers to a more genuine and sympathetic understanding of French concerns, and of the way they are being addressed. They sometimes order matters better in France.

Alternatively, you might urge the British government to adopt the same confident and courageous diplomacy in pushing through the announced pit closures; surely, like charity, the sacrifice of lives and communities to market forces should begin at home.

Yours truly,

BRIAN FEATHERSTONE

Paris

23 October

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