Letters: Budget boosts financial prospects

These letters appear in the Wednesday 26th March edition of the Independent

Share

Defenders of the old system of obligatory annuities seem to be arguing that people are so little able to take good financial decisions that they should be forced to take bad ones – which is what buying an annuity has been for a long time (Letters, 21 March).

Now that they no longer have a captive market maybe annuity providers will be forced to make their products more attractive, the sort of thing sensible investors might buy of their own free will.

Duncan Howarth, Maidstone, Kent

In George Osborne’s decision to allow pensioners to do what they will with their pension pots, am I the only one to sniff the next massive financial-services mis-selling scandal?

Stanley Tyrer, Bury, Lancashire

The Government is attempting to target the grey vote, offering a series of goodies to pensioners, thinking they won’t be concerned about the “have-nots” of society: children in poverty, the young unemployed, the disabled/long-term sick, the homeless. They forget that pensioners have children and grandchildren, too, whose future is just as important to them, certainly more so than the marginal benefit offered by such blatant bribes. 

John Andress, Lyn Hazel, Jean Heaven, Derys Maddox, Breda Thomas  & Colin Thomas, Dorstone, Herefordshire

No flag of St George for me, thank you

You report Jon Cruddas, one of Ed Miliband’s closest advisers, saying “the Liberal Left should stop feeling guilty about flying the flag of St George and have no qualms about celebrating Englishness” (17 March). As someone on the left, I loathe flags, national anthems and all patriotic things, so to hear talk of people like me claiming the Cross of St George flag makes me sick. 

Leave this piece of cloth with a red cross on it for the right where it belongs, and leave thinking progressives to be the internationalists that we are.

Ray Love, Bath

Ofsted offers reasons to be cheerful

Many of us longstanding critics of Ofsted welcome what appears to be a major cultural shift developing within Ofsted itself and its relationship with the teaching profession (report, 21 March). For many years it has ignored criticism from teachers, academics and others, and resisted fundamental changes through a never-ending series of minor, piecemeal adjustments. But Ofsted finally appears to be moving from what has too often been a negative approach, focusing on what is wrong and requires improvement, to a more supportive developmental one focusing more on celebrating success and working with schools to make them even better.

That’s a profound mind-shift – which some inspectors will find difficult to make and which some school leaders will find hard to acknowledge after years of suspicion, anxiety and even hostility to Ofsted inspection teams. But it is welcome nonetheless.

Professor Colin Richards, Former HM Inspector, Spark Bridge, Cumbria

GM crops are not the answer to hunger

In your report on GM crops (14 March) it is stated that the push for GM is important because of the “scale of potential food shortages facing humanity in the coming decades”.

Huge amounts of evidence show that there is more than enough food to feed everyone in the world, yet people still starve. This is because of lack of access to food; lack of money to buy it, or means to produce it. The system is broken and GM crops will do nothing to fix it. In places where they are being grown, they are not feeding people, but animals or cars. GM crops are now causing huge problems to farmers, for example causing pesticide- resistant insects and “superweeds”.

We hear constant claims from the GM industry about what these crops might be able to do in the future, but no tangible results. In the meantime countless tried, tested and successful ways of tackling hunger and food insecurity are underused for lack of investment. It is madness to throw good money after bad on GM, and to open the floodgates to a torrent of risky and unneeded  GM crops.

Emma Hockridge, Head of Policy, The Soil Association, Bristol

Sporting triumph

Well done for the short report and picture of Laura Massaro’s brilliant victory in the World Squash Championships (24 March). Squash is a demanding game that requires supreme fitness and mental strength – Roger Federer stopped playing (for kicks), reportedly saying it was “too brutal”.

While it seems to be being ignored everywhere else, we need more coverage of this great game – which, unfathomably,  is still not included in  the Olympics.

Lalit Bhadresha, London SW4

Perplexed by pronuciation

Who at the BBC has decided that “homage” should be pronounced so that it rhymes with French cheese? It has Latin origins.

Ian Turnbull, Carlisle

No special favours for Scotland

Alex Salmond should factor in an additional hurdle for an independent Scotland to clear before being able to join the EU (report, 18 March). Eastern European MEPs are telling me that they will insist on transitional measures being applied to any new EU accession state, including Scotland. This is because they had to suffer harsh transitional measures when they joined and they are adamant that new member states can expect no  special favours.

When 10 Eastern European and other countries acceded to the EU in 2004, subsidies for farmers were phased in over 10 years. This was also the case for the Bulgarians and Romanians who joined in 2007.

The EU also allows for restrictions on the freedom of movement of workers, giving these Eastern European MEPs additional tools with which to make life difficult for Scotland.

An independent Scotland would require the approval of an absolute majority of MEPs before acceding. The cost of achieving this majority support would be the application of these severe restrictions and transitional measures.

This isn’t “Tory scaremongering”; it’s reality.

Struan Stevenson MEP, (Con, Scotland), The European Parliament, Brussels

Have you ever wondered why so many Scots are in favour of independence? Allow me – a voteless SNP member, happily resident among decent English people – to enlighten you.

First we shall shut the biggest nuclear-arms dump in Europe and invite its American owners to collect their property.

Second, we shall restore the welfare state to full principled public ownership. It will be an offence to call the unemployed who cannot find work “scroungers”. We shall stop the selling off of parts of the NHS to the likes of United Health.

Third, we shall immunise our education from creeping “Goveism”. Unlike England, Scotland does not see education as a consumer item like cars and holidays, as a well-known senior English academic recently defined it, but as an investment for the country’s future. Well, we do have four medieval universities. Two, is it, in England?

Fourth, after a Yes vote it will be how, not whether, our fiscal affairs are organised; and Osborne, Barroso etc will then be singing from a very different song-sheet.

W B McBride, Bristol

Alex Salmond claims that if the UK would not allow an independent Scotland to share sterling this would mean that Scotland would not be liable for its share of the national debt. No it would not. A “yes” vote in the referendum would authorise the Scottish government to negotiate terms for independence, but the terms would have to be agreed by both sides.

It may well be that no matter what currency Scotland might use the creditors of the UK would not be willing to have Scotland take on its share of the debt on the current terms enjoyed by the UK, because independent Scotland, as a new nation without an established credit rating, could not expect such good terms. Scotland might then be beholden to the UK to accept Scotland’s share of the debt, and Scotland would then be in debt to the UK for that amount.

If a newly independent Scotland cannot persuade international markets to give it the same credit rating as the UK, there is no reason why the UK should ignore the risk factor and grant favourable terms to Scotland. Scotland would then be servicing its debt on less favourable terms, at a greater cost to the Scottish taxpayer.

I find it interesting that Alex Salmond thinks it reasonable to suggest that Scotland can leave with the lion’s share of North Sea oil and leave the national debt behind. It is a bit like a party to a divorce keeping the house but leaving the mortgage.

The North Sea oilfields were developed by the UK and became assets belonging to all UK taxpayers, including English, Welsh and Northern Irish. If independence happens it would be reasonable to agree that assets and liabilities should be apportioned by population.

Donald MacCallum, Bletchley, Milton Keynes

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Structural Engineer

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Structural Engineer Job...

Generalist HR Administrator, Tunbridge Wells, Kent - £28,000.

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Administrator - Tunbri...

Head of IT (Not-for-Profit sector) - East Sussex

£45000 - £50000 per annum + 5 weeks holiday & benefits: Ashdown Group: Head of...

KS1 teachers needed in Peterborough

£110 - £125 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education are ur...

Day In a Page

Read Next
James Foley was captured in November 2012 by Isis militants  

Voices in Danger: Syria is the most dangerous country in the world for journalists

Anne Mortensen
Texas Gov. Rick Perry might try to run for president again in 2016  

Rick Perry could end up in jail for the rest of his life — so why does he look so smug?

David Usborne
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape