Letters: Cameron's 'let them eat cake' moment

 

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The madness of job-rich Newham council's attempt to dump 500 families on job-deprived Stoke-on-Trent is just another consequence of this governments "let them eat cake" policies.

These Newham families would need additional state support as there would be zero job prospects and a massive increase in the need for social services, due to their being uprooted from family and friends. If Cameron and Osborne had any real knowledge of the issues, they would know that the consequence of the cap on housing benefit is likely to be an increased rather than a decreased burden on the state.

This underlines the unfairness and lack of awareness at the heart of this government's thinking. Nadine Dorries is right: Cameron and Osborne are "two arrogant posh boys who don't know the price of milk". Next we will hear one of them say: "Let them eat cake."

Jonathan Poole

Kingston upon Thames

I think it has been established that David Cameron does know the price of a pint of milk. One wonders however if he actually knows the cost of a pint of traditional British cask ale these days, and if he does what he proposes to do about it.

Keith Flett

London N17

Nadine Dorries claims David Cameron knows nothing about shopping at the supermarket. Surely some mistake. Didn't he have his bike pinched from Tesco?

Clive Goozee

Bournemouth

No place for an undemocratic second chamber

I read with interest Mary Ann Sieghart's article on House of Lords reform (23 April) but I remain baffled by the logic that such opponents use against reform. Thus we read that an elected House of Lords would "challenge the Commons' primacy, weakening any government and leading to deadlock".

What is the purpose of a second chamber? Is it to act as a check on the Commons? To provide expert advice? To challenge when the Commons is in danger of making errors of judgement? Fine aims, but they all "weaken the Commons' autonomy" whether the Lords is elected or not.

It is obviously better that the Lords performs well rather than badly. However, that is not the only yardstick, otherwise we would accept that our government could be more efficiently run by civil servants and we could just quietly forget that we are meant to be a democracy. The primary purpose of a parliament is to represent the views of the electorate.

Ms Sieghart asks an interesting question: what is the problem to which the Clegg reforms are the solution? The problem is that the House of Lords is not chosen by the electorate and has no place in a system which purports to be democratic, no matter how useful the experience or intellectual prowess of its members.

Nigel Hallett

Cardiff

The Government should simply cut the size of a new Second Chamber to say 300, and rid it of all hereditary peers and clergy. Composition could be based proportionally on parties' performance at a general election – without the need for election.

Fixed terms of 15 years don't make sense: too long for many who will view it as a stepping stone to the Commons or devolved institution, and too short for those who want to make it a career.

John Boylan

Hatfield, Hertfordshire

Can we please have a referendum on the retention of bishops in the reformed House of Lords? The Joint Committee's report recommends retaining bishops, if only by majority, not by consensus, while a 2010 ICM survey showed that 74 per cent of the British public, including 70 per cent of Christians, believe it wrong that bishops have an automatic right to a seat in the Lords.

That may, of course, be the reason why we will not be asked the question.

Hanne Stinson

Woking, Surrey

Why does the UK, population around 62 million, need an upper chamber of 360 peers at £60,000 a pop, whereas the US, population around 311 million, makes do with 100 senators?

Chris Elshaw

Headley Down, Hampshire

Scene from hell at the border

As the Olympics approach, we must be starting to wonder what the first impressions of London will be for our many new visitors. If my recent experience at Heathrow is anything to go by, they will be dreadful.

The Border Control hall at Terminal 3 was a scene from hell. Many thousands of people, including parents with young children, were herded in lines for an hour and three quarters before reaching one of the three officials charged with admitting foreign passport holders.

It was ill ventilated, very poorly lit, with inadequate signage (what are Fast Track or e-passports?) and with no visible sign of any official to explain anything to anyone.

Prominent posters declared that "Britain is Great". You only get one chance to create a first impression. If this is the best we can manage at London's premier port of entry, few of our new friends will be tempted to agree.

Christopher Martin

London W2

The Government wants its departments to find further budget cuts. Money could be saved by cutting out unnecessary or duplicated border controls.

Coming back in Eurostar from Brussels last Saturday, my passport was checked at Brussels by Belgian and then by British border police, the latter also stamping my rail ticket to indicate they had seen my passport.

It and the railway ticket were then inspected by French border police roaming the train between Lille and Calais.

Finally the passport and railway ticket with its stamp were again checked by British border police after arrival in London.

This seems unnecessary duplication, even while we are not in Schengen. But if we could join Schengen we could cut out the whole lot. Switzerland manages it in Schengen while still keeping its Swiss francs and the treasured Swiss independence, which makes crossing the Swiss borders hassle-free.

H Trevor Jones

Guildford

Fair play? All that matters is winning

Terry Mahoney (letter, 23 April) has clearly never refereed a rugby match. If he had to deal with the skulduggery of the scrum as well as the apparently innocent "What was that for , sir?" from a captain, with a certain emphasis on the "sir", he would know that rugby players are no more innocent than footballers.

See also the many methods used of undermining umpires in cricket, ranging from ball tampering to excessive appealing. I could go on to list many examples from many sports.

I am afraid Mr Mahoney should get used to the idea that winning in sport, amateur and professional, is far too important to consider strict adherence to the laws and rules of the games.

Jeremy Axten

Addlestone, Surrey

Terry Mahoney recycles the hoary old boast about rugby players' moral superiority over their soccer equivalents. Remind me: who was it who used red paint to feign cuts? And boasted about getting their retaliation in first?

Professor Chris Barton

Stoke-on-Trent

I totally agree with Terry Mahoney's letter. Another aspect of the cheating culture in football which annoys me is when the TV reporters refer to a player "winning" a penalty or a free kick. These offences are committed by the offender, not won by the victim.

There was a report recently about the increase in the number of schoolchildren cheating at school sports; is it any wonder when they are continually reminded that so-and-so has won a decisive penalty or free kick?

Maurice Mawhinney

Cloughey, Co Down

Historical battles

Marika Sherwood (letter, 18 April) is quite wrong to imply that the English National Curriculum "ignores the histories of any but the British".

Since 2008 students have been required to study "cultural, ethnic and religious diversity" (Key Concept 1.2) and "the impact of significant... events on past European and world societies" (Range and Content i.)

That said, Michael Gove seems intent on proving Ms Sherwood right. At the 2010 Conservative Party conference he said: "The current approach we have to history denies children the opportunity to hear our island story.... Well, this trashing of our past has to stop."

Ms Sherwood and others should be working to defend the progressive curriculum we have from reactionary attacks, not slighting it for its imagined imperfections.

Joe Smith

Liverpool

Human cost of politicians' wars

Derek Haslam and Sam Boote make excellent recommendations that our elected officials use the NHS and state schools (letters 17 and 23 April). I would add a clause for warfare: no prime minister or senior minister may deploy any of our armed services beyond our shores, unless an immediate relative of the minister serves on the front line in the initial deployment.

This would focus the minds of our politicians on the human cost of their vainglorious campaigns. Our armed services should be for the defence of our country, not to serve the ambitions of our elected representatives.

Barry Richards

Cardiff

Voters never rejected PR

It was disturbing to learn that the Tory MP Eleanor Laing believes that the "British people rejected PR in a referendum" ("Lib Dems ready to sabotage Coalition deal", 21 April). The British people did no such thing. They rejected the alternative vote, which is as far removed from proportional representation as is first-past-the-post. Britain has never been given the opportunity to vote on PR; would that we had.

Michael O'Hare

Northwood, Middlesex

Miniskirts in Indonesia

I read with interest your article (16 April) entitled "Miniskirts get Indonesia's MPs hot under the collar", in which I was quoted as saying that politicians should worry more about the economy and education than about regulating skirt lengths. While I stand by that statement, I would like to make clear that I was speaking in a personal capacity, rather than as an employee of the NGO for which I work.

Izzah Inzamliyah

Jakarta

Looking after the pennies

Ian Leslie (letter, 23 April) says that retailers should price in even numbers before we can get rid of the penny. I can see no sense in scrapping such a wonderful institution, but, as a card-carrying pedant, I feel obliged point out that you don't need a penny to pay odd prices: 7p=5p+2p; 9p=5p+4p; 11p=5p+6p; 13p=5p+8p. What about 1p or 3p? Just pay 5p and get 4p or 2p change.

Peter Thomasson

Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire

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