Letters: As the euro totters, Cameron speaks


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I find your criticism of David Cameron's policy towards the euro crisis (leading article, 18 May) incomprehensible.

For years, the UK has been holding itself aloof, so far as it could, from the fantasies of a single European state of which the euro currency is the pre-eminent manifestation. The bulk of UK opinion, and some of your commentators, saw quite clearly why and how the project would fail.

Now that the project is failing as forecast , it is illogical for you to blame Cameron for not being involved in it and not having an influence on its progress. Cameron did not sign the recent fiscal treaty for exactly the same reason.

There is a role for a pan-European organisation which promotes free trade, environmental standards and international norms in standards of governance. There is no role for a pan-European organisation which tries to be a sovereign state.

Anthony Pick

Newbury, Berkshire

Having elected to stay out of the euro and to be a minority of one in the stability treaty negotiations, I fail to see how David Cameron can expect to have any influence whatever in Europe.

When questioned, he has to admit that the continued success of the euro is still in the interests of this country. If this is the case, why the semi-detached attitude? Why, in this situation, is it not in the interests of this country to be part of the eurozone? At a stroke, we should have real influence on what happens in Europe and should probably be able to use our reputation for financial ability to ensure a satisfactory outcome.

History suggests that in spite of all our efforts to be rid of it, Europe always claims us back in the end. It cannot be otherwise, for both geographical and cultural reasons.

Peter Giles

Whitchurch, Shropshire

While David Cameron's comments about the euro may have been fairly accurate, I am afraid his manner came across as that of a public-school boy lecturing the riff-raff. It will surely just irritate those in the euro, who will say "As a non-member, what business is it of yours?" and lose us any friends in the EU we had. It would seem Nadine Dorries was right.

David Foster

Whatfield, Suffolk

Has anyone considered asking the French and Germans if they would like to dump the euro and join the pound?

Alan Gregory

Bredbury, Greater Manchester

Still paying homage to the bankers

Alistair Darling's depiction of those who clamoured for Fred Goodwin to be stripped of his knighthood as a "bit of a lynch mob" was as absurd as it was distasteful. By subliminally linking Goodwin to the victims of racist oppression in the Deep South, Darling scaled new heights in the Labour establishment's Heepish homage to the Disasters of the Universe – the wideboys who run the City.

Led by Gordon Brown, Darling's former government helped to pave the way for the economic calamity that is taking Britain into the heart of darkness. Outside the triple-glazed towers of bonanza bonuses and Klondike rewards, a rabid coalition is now manhunting the poor, the homeless, the unemployed, the mentally ill, the disabled and the blind, but Darling's apparent priority is to defend the man who knee-capped the Royal Bank of Scotland and made more than a modest contribution to the demolition of the British banking system.

Thomas Crooks


In criticising Chris Bryant, John Cocker (letter, 15 May) suggests that borrowing money to kick-start the economy is like asking a bank to lend money to an unemployed man to buy a car to attend a job interview. Surely a more accurate analogy would be that the bank manager is asked to provide money to an unemployed person who wants to buy a car to provide a much-need taxi service in an area lacking public transport.

The economy's "banker", the Chancellor of the Exchequer, could choose to raise funds for more investment without borrowing, by taxing the wealthy and closing tax-avoidance loopholes. Instead he reduces the 50p top tax rate and has no credible plans for boosting demand in the economy. People in that rural area will have to walk.

Derek Heptinstall

Broadstairs, Kent

As a taxpayer, will I be able to set my part of the £2bn loss on Northern Rock against future income tax demands?

Gordon Whitehead

Scalby, North Yorkshire

Rhetoric about newspaper sales

Have any other Independent readers picked up on the anti-Independent rhetoric from the Audit Bureau of Circulation's (ABC) decision to separate weekday and Saturday circulation?

The Independent is down to under 100,000 but on a Saturday performs marginally better. But The Guardian can't even get their figures right, with two different reports of varying figures. Readership figures are a greater indication of a newspaper's performance, but still, readers from other newspapers apparently perceive The Independent as lesser quality, as a reflection of its circulation.

I am getting bored with these quantitative spats and I'm sure other readers will agree that quality is what matters to those handing over their £1.20 each day. Look at the wider picture: The Guardian forced to adopt a digital-first strategy to curb substantial losses; The Times losing circulation rapidly and the recent phone-hacking investigation sure to hasten that decline; and the Telegraph fairing relatively better with a solid performance.

The Independent may have one of the smallest circulations, but by George it has the best-quality, most transparent reporting, which deserves credit. Let's not focus on the figures that the editor and owners – the Lebedevs – will make; let's focus on brilliant journalism and a fantastic institution. I, for one, are independent.

Dean J Hill

Walsall, West Midlands

Disabled forced back on charity

I have every sympathy with blind people, threatened with the loss of benefits that make the difference between being able to make something of your life or depending on charity ("Fury as blind people hit by benefit reform", 16 May). But how is that different from those of us with a host of different impairments, who rely on Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to enable us to have a fair whack at pulling our weight in society?

I've had DLA since it was introduced and without it would never have got qualifications and become a leading trainer and consultant on protecting disabled children from abuse. Ever since leaving school, I have needed a car and I could get that on the Motability scheme only because I had DLA.

But despite massive deterioration in my spine, I will lose it because I can still "self-mobilise". People currently being assessed for Employment and Support Allowance are having it removed if they are able to get in and out of their own wheelchairs and can wheel themselves.

The public have to decide whether they want to go back to the days of disabled people forced to depend on charity, or to have us enriching your lives by being and working amongst you.

Merry Cross


Trimmed hedges fail to blossom

Michael McCarthy enthuses about the beauty of the blackthorn and May (hawthorn) blossom (Nature Studies, 17 May). Sadly, these species only produce blossom and fruit on two-year old wood, and so remain barren on hedges cut every year.

Our countryside could be resplendent with these blossoms from early March through May if not for farmers' obsession with annual hedge-trimming. Cutting hawthorn and blackthorn hedges every three years on rotation would not only save on cost but would also produce a mass of blossom for pollinating insects and fruit for birds in autumn and winter – as well as looking marvellous.

Encouraging pollinating insects by providing a source of nectar from late winter through May would benefit farmers.

Francis Kirkham

Crediton, Devon

Did I 'savage' Jenny Tonge?

Contrary to Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's opinion (14 May), although I may possibly be in her eyes an "ardent Zionist" (I believe in the two-state solution), I would like to state clearly, for the avoidance of any doubt, that I have not been instructed to hate anyone. Furthermore, I am not sure who she feels has been giving such instructions, but would be interested to hear.

As for the "savaging" of Jenny Tonge, I did write to the Lib Dems asking if the party leadership did not agree that there is something wrong about calling for an inquiry into allegations of organ harvesting from sick children in an earthquake zone by Israeli soldiers, instead of dismissing it as the poisonous racism that it clearly is. Does this count as a Zionist savaging, according to Ms Alibhai Brown?

Avi Freeman

London N2

In brief...

External combustion

Your claim ("Engine power, a beginner's guide", 17 May) that fuel in an internal combustion engine begins to combust slowly in an engine's inlet manifold will come as news to petrolheads everywhere. Were it to do so, traffic moving away from a set of traffic lights would make the drag racers at Santa Pod look like the candles on the cake of a one-year-old.

Combustion begins after the air fuel mixture has passed through the inlet manifold, into the cylinder, and the inlet valve has closed in order to prevent combustion in the manifold – thank the Lord.

Vaughan Thomas

Usk, Gwent

Not scared of the Government

I would like to clarify ("Teachers in regions may be paid less", 17 May) that the main reasons my union signed the agreement for teachers' pensions with the Government were because we believed that it was the best deal we could get in the current economic climate through negotiation, and it safeguarded the pensions for thousands of current and future teachers and lecturers in England and Wales.

We are more than capable of taking on the Government on more than one front to protect our members' interests.

Dr Mary Bousted

General secretary, Association of Teachers and Lecturers

London WC2

Batting for the toffs

As a cricket fan of a certain age,I well remember the days of Gentlemen v Players, when a team of ex-public school toffs and hereditaries played the professionals.

Events of recent weeks suggest that Messrs Cameron, Osborne and Maude – a modern team of toffs and hereditaries – are bringing to the political arena the same guiding principle espoused by their cricketing forebears: amateurism.

Keith Lievesley


Pink pound

How right Paul Mason is to stress the economic benefits of gay marriages (letter, 16 May). With all activities related to the marriage industry attracting VAT at 20 per cent, the Government has a sound vehicle for raising the revenues to cover tax cuts for the rich.

Carole Lewis

Solihull, West Midlands