Letters: Breastfeeding at council meetings

These letters appear in the December 8 edition of The Independent

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So, Nigel Farage is a breast pest, on top of everything else.

Over quarter of a century ago I was elected to Newcastle City Council. As a young mother I regularly breastfed my baby at committee meetings and council meetings, even once while chairing a housing committee meeting. Back then Newcastle City Council wasn’t exactly “enlightened” and some of the other councillors were old enough to be my grandparents. No one complained.

In just now many ways are we going to let this dreadful man drag us down?  Maybe children should work up chimneys?

Amanda Baker


Nigel Farage’s comment suggesting breastfeeding mothers should “find a corner to prevent making people uncomfortable” is simply outrageous. People that find this most natural of human functions embarrassing should look away, and, more importantly, seek psychiatric help to overcome their perversions. 

Paul Garrod

Southsea, Hampshire

As Nigel Farage clearly disapproves of a woman’s breasts being visible in public, I assume he also supports the campaign to ban Page 3 of The Sun.

Pete Dorey


If we left the EU, what about British expats?

I have just retired and returned to England, from being the Anglican Vicar on the Island of Madeira, a Portuguese territory in the Atlantic. The ministry of the Church there is, as it is in the Diocese of Europe as a whole, to English residents and visitors.

Most of the British residents in Portugal are older and retired. This is also true of the hundreds of thousands of British citizens who live throughout the Iberian peninsula, and I imagine other parts of southern Europe. For the most part they are not rich and depend on British pensions.

Like people of their own age living in Britain, they are just as reliant on all the services provided by a compassionate state – home helps, district nurses, and  free hospital care. The property they own only has value so long as there is a viable international property market.

Were Britain to leave the European Union, their situation could become intolerable. Medical care and social support may very well not be available except through private insurance, which most could not afford. Their property would have little value, and even if they were able to sell up, property prices in Britain are far higher than in most parts of Europe, certainly in Spain and Portugal. They could not afford to live where they are and could not return to the UK.

This would follow, should Ukip’s irresponsible ideas become official policy. If the aptly named Mark Reckless, who retained his parliamentary seat in the Rochester by-election,  had his way and all European citizens be required to leave Britain following a British departure from the Union, the elderly retired would be joined in their predicament by the rest of the two million British citizens now living and working in Europe.

Mr Reckless approaches the question of Europe with a completely open mouth and, as far as I can see, with an entirely empty head.

The Revd Neil Dawson

London SE27

Given that Owen Paterson and many of his fellow Conservative MPs have no interest whatsoever in remaining in the EU, should they not be referred to as the Europhobes they are? This would distinguish them from those “sceptics”, who have legitimate concerns that they genuinely want to see addressed.

Robin Stafford

Frensham, Surrey

Bouncers deserve a red card

Earlier this year (11 August) you published my letter asking why bouncers, which are intended to hurt, are encouraged in cricket, as opposed to a system of red cards in football and penalties in boxing for below-the-belt blows.

I am not for a moment suggesting that the demise of Phil Hughes was due to deliberate intent; it appears to have been an accident. I know how the bowler must be feeling. However, the time has now come to crack down on intimidatory bowling in cricket.

Ramji Abinashi

Amersham, Buckinghamshire

More austerity to fund Osborne’s tax cuts

You have to give George Osborne his due – he is a brilliant salesman. Who else could have made an Autumn Statement relatively popular when its main message was that it would reduce government spending on services for its people to the level of 1938, according to the Social Market Foundation.

Those of us who grew up in the post-war era, as a caring and economically successful society was being built, should be appalled. Offering a few attractive tax reductions, which admittedly may be good ideas in times of economic success, hardly seems appropriate when even more austerity is in prospect.

Of course there is no detail of what the service cuts will be. Unfortunately the Labour Party doesn’t seem to have the nerve to be straight with the electorate either. Isn’t it time someone said there are alternatives to destroying the public services – higher taxes are inevitable, but they need to be fair, and surely a small increase for all taxpayers would bring in more than targetting specific groups. Also there are some economists who say that getting the budget down as quickly as possible is not necessarily essential.

When will our top politicians start to debate the real issues?

Derek Martin

Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire

Osborne’s Autumn Statement is a disaster of economic thinking. Faced with a severe drop in tax take, want does he suggest? Tax cuts.

The suggestion that there will be a huge cut in central government spending means only one thing – privatisation on a hitherto unheard-of scale, heralding yet more failed projects, massive subsidies and huge profit rake-offs instead of investment.

If this government is re-elected, the “kids in the sweet shop” will finally have put this country on to its knees, while they swan off to the Cotswolds to enjoy their blissful, pension-protected retirement, with the odd directorship to alleviate the boredom.

Alan Gent

Cheadle, Cheshire

Professor Taylor-Goodby’s letter (6 December) calls to mind the graded form of purchase tax of the Attlee period.

Taxable goods sold at a basic price determined by the Board of Trade attracted no tax. More expensive items were taxed according to the amount by which they exceeded the basic price. The rates of tax varied according to the perceived utility of the item. Curtain rings, for example, were untaxed, however luxurious. Rucksacks, on the other hand, were taxed at 66 per cent.

This  meant that those who could only afford basic items paid very little, tax. The better off could indulge their taste for luxury, but were taxed more heavily. The system seemed fair at the time – people were taxed according to their ability to pay.

It was, of course, a cumbersome system, giving rise to much fag-packet calculating and mental arithmetic. The Tories scrapped it the minute they got back into power, and introduced a 5 per cent blanket purchase tax which, as with VAT, fell more heavily on the poor.

It strikes me that, with today’s sophisticated computer systems, something like it could easily be brought in. Not much hope, though, with this lot.

John Pollock

Beccles, Suffolk

The voters of Atherstone whom your reporter interviewed (4 December) expressed disillusionment with Labour. The attraction of Ukip is it appears to be a party that will “sort out this country”, even though many of its policies are more right-wing than the Tories’ and would make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

How should Labour increase its chances of winning the coming general election? Oddly, for a party that seems to assiduously follow opinion polls to help it determine policies, Labour ignores the results from these self-same polls.

Eighty-four per cent polled want the NHS in public hands; 68 per cent want energy companies nationalised and 67 per cent and 66 per cent want the same policies for Royal Mail and railways, respectively.

When the polls repeatedly show these levels of support for public ownership, it is baffling why Labour doesn’t adopt them. That would be the real difference between them and the Tories and Ukip.

The crisis is bad and from the Autumn Statement is going to get worse with the same austerity medicine. Boldness is required from Labour.

John Pinkerton

Milton Keynes

In his Autumn Statement the Chancellor outlined his proposals for yet more outsourcing of the business of running the country. At the next election, why do we not cut out the middle man and instead vote directly for Serco, G4S or Capita?

Gyles Cooper

London N10