IoS letters, emails & online postings (10 March 2013)

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You explain one mystery of UK politics: that in spite of a majority of electors consistently showing a clear majority hostile to the EU, Ukip cannot translate this into electoral success ("What voters should know about Ukip", 3 March). In spite of Ukip hype, the recent result at Eastleigh is a poor one for the party, because Ukip – and many Europhiles – do not realise that one can be hostile to the EU Treaty but not to Europe, Europeans or to free trade with Europe. Many people in this category (including me) are strongly opposed to the EU but object to Ukip's attitudes, which range from English chauvinism to "BNP-Lite". We could leave the EU but keep our membership of the European Economic Area (EEA), retaining the advantages of a free trade area and single market but without the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy.

This is the policy that Labour should be advocating. That Ukip doesn't espouse such a policy can only mean that its chauvinistic attitudes render it opposed to the EEA as well as the EU.

Phil Nicholson


Ukip's strong showing in the Eastleigh by-election prompts a heretical thought ("Don't heed the right's siren song, Mr Cameron", 3 March). Could it be that small-c conservatives such as Ukip have much in common with that part of the left whose origins are more Methodist than Marxist? Overseas military adventures appeal to neither, nor does Mammon worship. Both want a living wage for the lowliest of jobs, hence oppose the import of cheap labour. Time for the emergence on the left of a Ukip equivalent?

Yugo Kovach

Winterborne Houghton, Dorset

In "Women at odds over working from home", you quote my observation that those who work from home can't simultaneously look after their children (3 March). However, I went on to say that having the option to work from home can offer parents many benefits, including being closer to their childcare provider, which can help to cut costs.

All parents are entitled to ask for flexible working hours, and research shows that parents working for employers with family-friendly policies are more likely to stay there, helping businesses to retain skills and knowledge.

Elizabeth Duff

Senior policy adviser, National Childbirth Trust

In the middle of Fairtrade Fortnight, Janet Street-Porter branded all supermarkets as the same, for acting solely to deliver profits to shareholders (Editor at large, 3 March). The Co-op pioneered Fairtrade in Britain. Fairtrade produce is sometimes dearer and thus less overtly competitive because the producer in the Third World gets a better deal. For example, the Co-op will buy "virtual" bananas from farmers whose entire crops are destroyed by hurricanes, until they recover. Is this acting in the shareholders' interest? At JSP's Thirsk Co-op store, all beef, pork and chicken are sourced ethically from British farms: chickens are not standing on each other's shoulders to get there. Surely this is acting in the interest of UK farmers rather than of shareholders.

Leslie Freitag

Harpenden, Hertfordshire

As well as looking at prominent descendants of the great slave-owners, it would be enlightening to look at the causes of slavery ("The stately homes built on the back of slaves", 3 March). In the mid 17th century, with its growing naval power, England became more and more intent on wresting from Spain some of her major Caribbean colonies. Why? For sugar plantations and production of rum. Rum rations were liberally issued to troops before battle. With pikes, lances and, later, bayonets, the drunken soldiers rushed elated and fearless at the enemy.

Ursula de Allendesalazar


Eugène Bullard, the black American who became a French aviator, is the subject of a book by Claude Ribbe ("Rise and fall of black America's first fighter pilot", 3 March). Ribbe relates that, on one occasion, Bullard's unit passed a tall officer lying injured by the roadside as it entered the village where Bullard was to suffer a thigh wound. The officer was Charles de Gaulle. Years later, as President, De Gaulle singled out Bullard at a dinner in New York, calling him "a true hero of France".

John Murray

Kidderminster, Worcestershire

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