Your report on hunting ("Tally Ho! Hunt supporters turn out in force", 27 December) quotes a hunt master as saying, "We still kill just as many foxes as we did before the ban". This gets to the nub of the so-called "sport". These people enjoy killing – it's a bloodlust, which should be very worrying to the majority of us who don't even think this way. The police and other authorities are advised nowadays to look carefully at people involved in animal abuse because of the strong links of threat to children and vulnerable adults. I would ask, what other depravities are blood-sports enthusiasts up to?
Harry Walton got it right with his overview of Thatcherism and New Labour, but the detail is even more damning (Letters, 27 December).
I recall the last Conservative administration: VAT increased from 8 per cent to 17.5 per cent; VAT then added to gas and electricity bills. Higher tax rates were cut and the introductory rate abolished. The de-regulation of banks, building societies and pension companies opened the floodgates to low-cost endowments, self-certification, 120 per cent mortgages and negative equity. Over three million were unemployed for years, financed by the squandering of the North Sea oil tax windfall.
Schools, hospitals and our infrastructure fell into disrepair, and our railway industry wasted away, while every other significant European country was developing its own high-speed network and supporting its car industry. Inflation rose to 20 per cent and the bank base rate to 15 per cent. There were riots in the streets over the poll tax.
The government – which changed the rules, enabling MPs to claim for mortgages on second homes – came to a miserable end, embroiled in corruption, and with three of its prominent members jailed for corruption. A sorry tale indeed, and one which should never be forgotten.
The deceitfulness of David Bottazzi's advert "The 12 years of Labour" for the Liberal Democrats is something many want to see an end of in 2010 after this year of MPs' expenses scandals ("The Big Sell: On a billboard near you...", 27 December).
Where he accuses Labour of "2 woeful wars" he overlooks the fact that Liberal Democrats supported the war in Afghanistan and would have supported the war in Iraq had a second UN Resolution been passed.
The similarly dishonest implication of "3 banks bailed", is that in a world financial crash, had the Lib Dems been in power not only would there have been no domestic economic crisis, but also no need to save the banks. In fact, Vince Cable was first to recommend the nationalisation of Northern Rock, and, without government intervention, the entire banking system would have collapsed, with vastly higher unemployment and bankruptcies an obvious result.
Are such deceptive attempted manipulations the main reason people don't see any substantive difference on the question of honesty between any of the parties?
Like many who are concerned with conservation and the environment, I have been appalled by the waste associated with the Government's car-scrappage scheme ("Rescuing old cars is my idea of recycling", 27 December). But I take issue with Matthew Bell about the reliability of older cars. We have run three 1960s Rootes cars for many years and found them to be very well built and reliable. When something does go wrong, they are easy to fix without a computer diagnostic system. It's sad to think of cars like these being destroyed for a small ransom and being replaced by something that lacks their character or ultimate durability. The scrappage scheme has little merit apart from protecting some sales jobs in the motor trade.
A few years ago, with the joining of our parish with the neighbouring parish, we combined the two bell ringing bands, alternating practices between the two towers ("The bells are ringing – but for how long?", 27 December). Now a special handling practice can be held each week, on a weekday; the instructor, experienced helpers, and the new ringers are all retired. It takes older people longer to learn than youngsters, and the practices are held on the easier bells. This encourages enthusiasm and attracts would-be ringers. We must be flexible in attracting and training new ringers; and experienced ringers must be prepared to put in the time and effort to do so.
Here in the US, if there are any bells at all, they are mostly a recording and very much inferior to the joyful sound of the church bells of my childhood in England. With all the attention given to exhibitionists and superficial chasing after immediate gratification and money, the bells have always appealed to our highest values and are a type of soul cleansing.
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