Letters: Battle lines drawn for European election

These letters appear in the Wednesday March 12th edition of the Independent

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I am delighted to see Nick Clegg standing up for the EU last weekend, in the face of an increasingly vocal Eurosceptic political faction.

He made a very important point: the European elections are the most important in years; they effectively act as a mini-referendum, and we have two choices – in or out,  that is, the Liberal  Democrats or Ukip

Our EU membership  generates jobs for this country. In an increasingly globalised world, we need to stand tall with our European cousins, to protect ourselves from security threats, and protection of  the environment is a huge issue which can only be tackled at the supranational level.

I was also pleased to see the Liberal Democrat leader saying his party were not offering unbridled support to the EU. They recognise that, just like all institutions, the EU needs reform to ensure it moves with the times and continues to work effectively. The Liberals  have always been reformers.

The Liberal Democrats want to steer the European Union into a direction which most benefits Britain, which  can only be done from within, with hard-working British MEPs continually negotiating and settling policy. It cannot be done by those who take a huge salary with the intention of achieving nothing. I refer to those who want us to leave the EU.

Richard Grant , Ringwood, Hampshire

It is clear that if the electorate dislikes or is suspicious of the EU, then the May elections are the time to act.

Such voters cannot possibly vote Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat or Green. A vote for any of these parties would actually lend unwitting support to the EU. To a greater or lesser extent, all are Europhile parties which simply cannot be trusted with regard to the imperialistic, federalist agenda of Brussels.

Non-voting should never be an option for anyone – like it or no – in EU elections at least; we have to vote Ukip. There really is no viable alternative.

Les Arnott, Sheffield

It is a measure of senior Tory inhibition about the EU that the Camerons did not automatically think of availing themselves of the benefits of the European Single Market and its inbuilt mobility of labour when hiring a nanny  (“No 10 forced to check how PM’s nanny gained British citizenship”, 8 March).

David Cameron is on a hiding to nothing trying to persuade key EU friends such as Angela Merkel that he is, deep down, a good European when he and his wife consider the obvious solution to the nanny problem a Nepalese one.

David Head, Navenby, Lincolnshire

Fearless union leader will be sorely missed

Winston Churchill was never one to shy away from controversy – or from a good turn of phrase. “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life”.

This quotation well applies to the huge role in British public life played by Bob Crow. The leader of the RMT Union was undoubtedly a divisive figure, but it is precisely that fearlessness in standing up for what he believed in that will be sorely missed.

Although Bob Crow’s reputation was a divisive one, we should also see his passing as a time for us all to remember what the unions have achieved for every single one of us, no matter what our political colour.

Weekends; the eight-hour working day; paid vacations; lunch breaks; ending child labour – the list goes on. Without people like Bob Crow and the unions they represent these basic human rights would never have become the laws that we take for granted today.

Matt Hawkins, London Green Party, London SE23

As a trade unionist and a socialist I was shocked to learn of the death of the RMT’s General Secretary, Bob Crow.He was hated by the transport bosses and their media lickspittles, but he was loved by his members and his class. Where other trade union leaders talked a good fight but sold out the struggle more often than not, Bob Crow walked the walk as well as talking the talk.

He delivered for his members and would not compromise in defence of their terms and conditions. He never sold out.

The best tribute the RMT can pay him is to smash Transport for London’s plans to close all ticket offices on the Tube and 900 jobs with them.

Rest in Peace, Bob Crow, and thank you for reminding us what a real trade union leader is and does.

Sasha Simic, USDAW Shop Steward, C133 branch (PC), London N16

No hiding the horrors of war

There is an issue you do not seem to be aware of in your editorial of 10 March, which deals with whether the full horrors of war should be shown on our television screens.

It is this: any British citizen who supports a war in which the country is directly involved (such as those against Afghanistan and Iraq) must be held personally responsible for all the deaths and injuries, however horrific, which British armed forces (or those of countries directly allied with Britain) have perpetrated  against civilians whether by “accident” or design. Only an opposition to the war communicated to the authorities can acquit  a citizen of this responsibility.

It then becomes essential to bring home to  supporters of the war, whether they like it or not, just what they have consented to. If, say children are dismembered or burnt alive (as they invariably are in modern  war) then there should be no holding back on what is shown on TV or elsewhere.

Since children cannot be held responsible for what their seniors do, the transmissions should be at a time which aims to protect them.

Malcolm Pittock, Bolton, Greater Manchester

Save us from a slow, grim death

I fully agree with John E Orton’s comments (Letter, 11 March) on the subject of Alzheimer’s and assisted suicide. Like him, I witnessed the terrible spectacle of an elderly family member, who was physically and mentally infirm, slowly dying.

Pneumonia and infections, all of which might have brought a dignified end to her life, were pointlessly treated with antibiotics for many weeks until she became a demented skeleton on a hospital bed.

She could make no decisions, and we were powerless to intervene.

This experience has prompted me to make an advance decision, in consultation with my doctor, who wishes that more people would do so. I hope that this will mean that I and my family will never be in such a situation.

Christina Jones, Retford, Nottinghamshire

An unjust tax on family homes

In his insightful article on the mooted, absurdly named, impractical and unjust “mansion tax”, John Walsh (6 March) addresses a number of points that the Labour Party has refused to address in my attempts to communicate with it on the subject.

Thousands of families who have bought homes in London over the past 30 years or more will find themselves subject to an extortionate wealth tax on the market value of an asset which bears no resemblance to the original purchase price and generates no income.

Consequently, thousands of homes will have to be sold by those families who do not have and who may never have had sufficient income to pay such a tax.

Expand and increase council tax bands, impose progressive rates of tax on higher income, even impose a wealth tax on the genuinely asset-rich, but do not force thousands of ordinary families to sell their long-owned family homes to pay an unjust tax.

Nick Eastwell, London SE10

Daylight across the Continent

Peter Kellett (letter, 10 March) misses the point. It is not our longitude that determines which time zone we should be in but rather (as a northern country) our latitude.

Most of France and all of Spain are south of the UK, and Madrid, in the same longitude as Exeter, has 80 minutes more daylight in midwinter, giving them much greater flexibility in arranging their time zone. No amount of clock-fiddling will change this inescapable geographical fact.

Christopher Anton, Birmingham

Let them eat meat

I deplore Ben Williamson’s suggestion that we should tax milk, eggs and meat on health grounds (letter, 7 March).

At a time when real incomes are falling and food prices are rising faster than inflation, such a tax would make it even harder for those on low incomes to eat healthily and enjoyably. The parallel with cigarettes is false; these foods are not unhealthy as part of a balanced diet,

Julian Gardiner, Elstree, Hertfordshire

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