Letters: Cameron's hypocrisy over Scotland

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The hypocrisy of the Coalition government knows no bounds and the latest interference in Scottish affairs is a prime example. The London government is laying down the law to Scotland, dictating when it should hold a referendum on separation and at the same time reneging on promises to the English for a referendum on leaving the European Union.

Further examples of Cameron's hypocrisy are pledges on curbing the excessive pay of executives, which will never materialise, but cutting benefits and income for the low-paid, which is absolutely certain.

Families with two children are to have their income cut by £1,250 a year for the next three years and public-sector workers are suffering massive cuts in pay and pension conditions.

To add further insult, the massive corporate tax avoidance of at least £25bn will continue to rob the taxpayer while the pensioners' travel concessions are removed to further erode their already poverty-level pensions.

And travel costs of privatised services are astronomical, forcing more people on to the road, causing pollution and congestion so that this government and their oil company friends can clean up with profits and taxes. The poor are being punished for the greed of the rich.

The country has suffered many bad governments and the Coalition is keeping to this tradition. We are now at war, and the enemy is a fraudulent democracy and the Establishment elite. The only alternative is to emigrate. To Scotland.

Malcolm Naylor

Otley, West Yorkshire

Is it not absurd for David Cameron to platitudinise, incorrectly, that new legal advice might be needed to show that Holyrood might require Westminster permission to hold an independence referendum?

If he really wants to advise the public about the legalities of Scottish independence, he would more properly acquaint them with the unadorned facts.

The Treaty which joined the parliaments of Scotland and England, the Treaty of Union 1707/Union With Scotland Act 1706, breaches both the Declaration of Arbroath 1320 and the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton 1328, because the last two named both stipulate that Scots be not held in subjection to any other monarch.

Accordingly, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is an illegal administration, and Queen Elizabeth II is an illegal monarch of an illegally assembled Kingdom.

Which is to say, the British Parliament has never been sovereign over the affairs of the Scottish people; that sovereignty has been held by the Scottish people long before the Treaty of Union, à la the 1320 Declaration and the 1328 Treaty.

When the Scottish Parliament "adjourned" in 1707 after the Treaty of Union had been signed by morally bankrupt Scots, such as the first Earl of Stair and the second Duke of Argyll, the Scottish Parliament still legally remained in its quondam parliamentary session because that session simply adjourned, it did not wind up.

William Burns

Edinburgh

No market place can decide what an executive is worth

The ever-increasing differentials between the best- and worst-paid in the UK ("Businesses tell the PM he's wrong about 'fat cat' pay", 9 January) has come about because there are relatively few of the high-paid, so the overall cost to a company is not itself a constraint, almost everyone involved in setting the pay levels of the high-paid has an interest in high differentials, and the decision to appoint someone who is already highly paid is seen as easier to justify because it is seen as an endorsement of their competence.

The idea that there is a market-place that establishes the worth of each individual is absurd because that worth is unmeasurable. The classic measures, share price or profits, depend largely on factors outside the control of executives and are not therefore measures of their competence.

Fluctuations in good luck creates winners and losers and that, more than anything else, generates the perception that some people are better than others. If the pay of one executive goes up because they are deemed exceptional then inevitably the pay of all the others soon rises as well. A circle of greed, because, in larger companies that can afford it, there is nothing to stop them helping themselves.

For once, I agree with Dominic Lawson, nothing will change unless ordinary people decide they have had enough and use their rights as consumers, workers and shareholders in making their choices in the goods and services they buy, the companies they work for and the companies they invest in.

The Government can help by making all pay deals above, say, 15 times average earnings conditional on shareholder consent, and requiring fund managers to vote in accordance with the wishes of the ultimate shareholder.

Jon Hawksley

London EC1

The Prime Minister is right, there's a lack of fairness in our economy, but he is sadly mistaken to think that a proposal to give share-holders power to veto big bonuses will achieve genuine change or real reform.

When it comes to obscene pay rewards, the biggest shareholder offenders are high net-worth individuals and private investment funds. If shareholders are made up of the elite, the rewards of success will be shared only by an ever decreasing circle of people. Rather than being a "gimmick", making all employees significant shareholders helps distribute economic power more broadly and ensures a fairer distribution of profits.

Employee empowerment is a key feature of social enterprises, businesses that profit society rather than shareholders. If replicated more widely, we would begin to see a rebalanced economy that rewards sustainable business and holds companies to account, ensuring they act not only in their own interests, but in those of their staff teams, consumers and communities.

Peter Holbrook

CEO, Social Enterprise UK, London SE1

Directors are supposed to be the trustees for the shareholders. But when it comes to directors' pay or judging their performance there is an obvious conflict of interest. Self-interest being the bedrock of capitalism, excessive pay is not surprising.

All incentives at the board level other than salary should be made unlawful. Whatever measure is used, it is bound to affect the director's judgement when there is a conflict between the overall wellbeing of the company and meeting an incentivised target. Top executives should not need any incentive to do a good job, over and above their reputation for good management. If they won't do a good job without being bribed, they should not be in the job.

And the auditors, who are supposed to be the guardians of the shareholders' interest, should not be appointed by the directors as at present. This is an obvious conflict of interest. There should be a panel of auditors who should be appointed by lot, to be vigilant on the shareholders' behalf.

WA Somers

London SW5

Oh dear, here we go again, Hans Christian Cameron with another of his fairy tales. This fantasy involves millions of shareholders who will gather and take care of excessive pay for top executives.

In actuality, the shareholders are mostly other overpaid top executives in other financial institutions, who form an incestuous cartel of fat cats scratching each others' backs.

To misquote one of his previous fairy-tales, "They're all in it together". The shares are just betting slips for the Canary Wharf Casino.

John Day

Portsmouth

Confused? Have another unit

The Commons Committee report on Alcohol (9 January) says that people do not understand alcohol "units". Hardly surprising, given that the present system appears to have been designed to confuse.

While it's clear enough for beer, half a pint is a unit, a pint two units, why on earth sell spirits in both 25ml (one unit) and then also 35ml measures? And even worse for wine: small, medium and large glasses, plus multiples of those. Why not just 100ml (one unit) and 200ml (two units).

Yes, the strength of wine varies, but so does beer, and a rough, but usable system is what is needed. Any system which requires a "drinks calculator" is clearly hopeless. At the end of the evening, a pubgoer should be able to tell you how many units they've drunk, and if they can't do so it should mean they've drunk too much, not that the calculation's too difficult.

David Gant

Cambridge

A committee of MPs has strongly advised that we all avoid alcohol for two days a week (9 January). Can we be assured that this committee will equally stridently demand that MPs themselves set an example, by closing the 19 bars and other alcohol-serving "refectories" in Parliament for two "sitting" days each week, not, of course, at "non-working" weekends.

And has anyone else noticed how difficult it is now to obtain an accurate figure for the number of bars in Parliament? Is this an example of David Cameron's new "open government"?

Ian McNicholas

Waunlwyd, Ebbw Vale

Unfair on Kershaw

How could John Walsh lump Andy Kershaw in with talkers of "motor-mouth piffle" such as Bruno Brookes and Mike Read (7 January)? It's bad enough that Kershaw be denied a regular outlet for his writing/comments. And Mr Walsh's additional comment on Liz Kershaw seems to imply that she has moved on from the BBC when she is still a vibrant, welcome presence on BBC6 Music.

John Foyle

Dublin

Mouldy mole

I can confirm the silky velvet texture of the mole (letters, 9 January). In the late Fifties, our cat brought in a perfect specimen, dead. I took it to school, in Bingley, West Yorkshire, in a shoebox to show everyone. Unfortunately, I forgot about it being left at the back of my desk. When the smell became almost over-powering, the school started to dig up the drains and I rediscovered it and, surreptitiously, took it home.

Charles Oglethorpe

Woking, Surrey

Unhorsed

What strange reactions to Spielberg's film. "Exercise in Schmalz" (9 January) ends, "This is a tale best watched on stage"; your third leader says, "The whole point of War Horse is the puppetry". No. The point is Michael Morpurgo's novel: the film and the stage play are adaptations. Reading the novel was an emotional experience; watching it on stage was a different experience. The puppetry was stunning and fascinating, but I wasn't as moved.

Christina Jones

Retford, Nottinghamshire

What a site

Here in Wales we have more interesting sights than humped zebras and dead slow children (letters, 10 January). A road sign outside a local steelworks used to read, Danger – Hot Slag Crossing.

Alfred Venables

Cardiff

Well-foxed

PA Reid's letter on "cubbing" (10 January) is an excellent illustration of Oscar Wilde's description of fox-hunting as "the uneatable being pursued by the unspeakable".

Patrick Cleary

Honiton, Devon

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