The UK is now back in recession. The Coalition may be right that in the long-term the economy needs to be "rebalanced" away from the public sector to the private sector. But how do we get to a point when that can start to happen?
The Opposition's claims of "cutting too fast and too deep" sound a bit more convincing now. I was never convinced that after decades of over-reliance upon the public sector, job losses in that sector would inevitably lead to job-creation and growth in the private sector. It would appear you can't just cut your way to economic growth.
I am sorry but not surprised to hear that our economy has entered a double-dip recession.
Time and time again it has been proven that investment is the key to an economic rebound. Economic contraction was clearly going to happen under a Chancellor determined to continue with 19th-century fiscal policy, as any attempt to eliminate the deficit rapidly was always going to threaten economic recovery.
When Labour left office in 2010, we were benefiting from real economic growth, sustained by a budget deficit that would be closed in good time. But this wasn't good enough for the Tories. They warned that Labour would borrow at an unsustainable level, to the extent that we'd end up like Greece. Now it emerges that we are set to borrow £150bn more than Chancellor Darling had planned and we've regressed into the first double-dip recession since the 1970s, probably triggering even more borrowing.
If any other senior Government had made such a monumental error, surely they would be expected to resign. If there ever was a need for Plan B, it is now.
Jack H G Darrant
I fail to understand why people are blaming the Government for the double-dip recession. At the last general election, the Tories stood on a policy of austerity. Almost all economists whose views I heard at the time said that this would almost certainly lead to a double-dip recession.
The simple fact is that the voters elected a government with a manifesto which in effect promised to regress the economy. Instead of complaining, surely we should instead be applauding the Government for fulfilling an election pledge so quickly after coming to power.
Murdoch and Hunt: complicity or shambles?
So Adam Smith, long-time "special adviser" to the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has fallen on his sword and resigned. There are two possible explanations.
One is that Jeremy Hunt knew exactly what was going on. The second is that his office was so shambolic that he didn't have a clue what was going on and that in relation to one of the most significant issues that his department was dealing with, his senior official didn't think it was worth informing him of his illicit and potentially illegal contacts with BSkyB.
I wonder if your readers can enlighten me, as I feel I'm missing something in the Jeremy Hunt saga. Wouldn't most people involved in negotiations over the BSkyB takeover have thought: "Duh, my special adviser has close connections with News International. They're bidding for BSkyB. Perhaps I shouldn't really employ this adviser at this time"?
Is Mr Hunt very stupid or just very naive? In either case, is he fit to be a minister? Someone needs to clean out the Augean stables of the special adviser issue – quickly.
What is most disturbing is that politicians treat us with such contempt. They seem to take it as read that they can deny all knowledge of wrongdoing and sack an underling and the great British public will take their word.
How an earth can these people refer to each other as "the honourable"? Is there such a thing as a conviction politician with an ounce of integrity or dignity left?
Have the rules changed regarding managers, leaders and those in positions of responsibility? During my working life it was always accepted that when mistakes are made the buck stops at the top.
However, in the case of Jeremy Hunt it appears this rule does not apply. In his case ignorance is bliss. How many other ministers do not know what is going on in their offices and how many special advisers are loose cannons acting without recourse to their managers and the electorate?
This is not democracy; it is anarchy.
Guiseley, West Yorkshire
Both James Murdoch and Jeremy Hunt were guilty of working on the principle "hear no evil, see no evil".
Mr Murdoch repeatedly claimed he did not know what his staff did. He wasn't told and didn't ask, he didn't remember reading crucial emails. Therefore what happened while he was in charge was nothing to do with him. Mr Hunt claims that because he acted with "total integrity" the behaviour of his special adviser was nothing to do with him.
What planet do they live on?
Nine months after "the most humble day of his life" Rupert Murdoch has clearly overcome his humility.
Last year, some apologies were made, some people were sacked, some large pay-outs were made to a handful of phone-hacking victims and a newspaper was shut down.
A swift damage limitation exercise by News Corp's public relations helped the company's share price to stabilise and circulation figures of the new title launched to fill the vacuum left by the News of the World top 2.5 million. Despite being the central figure in a scandal that goes to the core of our democratic politics Murdoch's demeanour now suggests that of a man who does not see what all the fuss is about.
Did Jeremy Hunt say to David Cameron, "We're all in this together"?
Young women on the phone
John Walsh is concerned about his daughter's constant mobile phone use ("I never used to worry that mobiles could damage your health. I worry now", 26 April).
Why do so many young women – far more than their male counterparts – seem to spend so much time talking or texting on their mobiles? Almost every young woman I see in public is constantly using her mobile phone, whether she's crossing the road, queuing at a cash machine, doing her weekly shop, travelling on public transport, pushing a pram or even exercising in the gym.
Also, on several occasions recently, my wife and I have witnessed young women sitting together in a pub or restaurant, but spending the entire evening obsessively checking their phones every minute or running outside to "take a call", instead of actually talking to each other. Why?
Nuns in clash with the Vatican
I really cannot allow Tom Baxter's comments on the Catholic nuns in the USA to go unchallenged(letter, 24 April). It is disgraceful to suggest that these women support abortion. They are in favour of the whole package of President Obama's healthcare reforms, and rightly so.
I heard the leader of the group on the radio recently and she was obviously bemused by the violence of the opposition of the Vatican to what they were saying. In that she might be ingenuous, but that is what happens in Rome these days.
In his letter of 21 April Dr Michael Johnson mentions Hildegarde of Bingen: she advised the Pope of the day, and we are told that the advice was taken. Am I cynical in thinking that in the Vatican today she would be expected to make the coffee and keep quiet? I am a "cradle catholic".
Mystery of the 'spy in a bag'
When I lived in Cheltenham in the early 1980s another occupant of our rented house worked at GCHQ. He worked on flex-time and one Monday morning there was a misunderstanding. He expected to start work at 10am; his manager expected him in at 09am.
At 09:20 I answered the door. A man with a walkie-talkie asked me if I'd seen the employee or if I knew where he might be. He also asked, too casually to my ear, if I thought all was OK with him.
It seems that Gareth Williams had an important job with GCHQ/MI6. Why did his line manager not effectively check on his well-being as soon as he was reported missing?
Butterflies still in trouble
Michael McCarthy's report (20 April) that several of our rarer species of butterfly showed large percentage increases in abundance between 2010 and 2011 is very welcome news. However, we should not be lulled into complacency, because the increase was from a very low base and could be just as quickly reversed.
The Duke of Burgundy and a number of other rarities now occur only on a very limited number of sites and remain very vulnerable to extinction. It is vital, therefore, that we should all support Butterfly Conservation's efforts to protect these species.
Newcastle upon Tyne
The European pretenders
Steve Richards writes on 17 April: "... it is a piece of cake for UKIP to pretend from the sidelines that the UK can be independent in an interdependent world."
The UK is a member of the European Union, that is going full speed to become a superstate. Last time I looked, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and South Korea were fully independent states, with a smaller population than the UK and all with G20 economies.
Who is doing the pretending? It is not UKIP.
William Dartmouth MEP (UKIP, South-West England)
Newton Abbot, Devon
Off the wall
The spat between Banksy and Blek is hilariously ironic (letter, 26 April). When my Euromillions numbers come up I'm going to pay a team of people to graffiti over the collected works of these two "artists". Surely it's what they would have wanted.
David Halley (letter, 26 April) would like "hundreds of harmless people" to "mass photo" the Olympic sites. Could he arrange this for the evening so that it could be a flash mob?
My wife tells me that there is an article on the G-spot in today's Independent (26 April). I looked but I couldn't find it.
Histon, CambridgeshireReuse content