Letters: Crisis In The Eurozone

And now for Europe's next crisis

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Eurocracy trumps democracy, Greece is back on board, no more talk of referendums within Europe. Disparate economies had always signalled the euro's failings and ultimate collapse.

Now expect US-style wars of secession against EU tyranny, and don't mention the EU's unsigned accounts!

Our western world must pay the price for the 20th century's politics of gross largesse. Only the money-lenders profit, but at each default the tiger economies will have their red meat.

R K Piggott

St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex

How might a country leave the euro? If I am a Greek national living in Athens and I have a few thousand euros in a Greek bank, what's to stop me transferring them electronically to an account at a German or French one in Frankfurt or Paris, beyond the reach of any compulsion to convert them to drachma? On the other hand, if I have an overdraft in euros, I would presumably welcome the new drachma, as my liability would convert to a currency which would rapidly devalue.

And what about contractual assets and liabilities expressed in euros? Will a lease on a Greek property, held by a non-Greek lessee, where the rent is expressed in euros, convert to an obligation in new drachma? What would determine whether such contracts remained in euros, or were converted?

Would not the whole thing be a bit like Yorkshire trying to issue its own currency, resulting in utter confusion?

Chris Sexton

Crowthorne, Berkshire

The Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies boasts about his long-standing support for Britain joining the euro, and says we must now join "as the only way of sustaining our shrinking political influence" (letter, 2 November).

The reality is that the euro has been the disaster that many predicted, with dire consequences yet to run their full course. Far from being the future, as Chris Davies insists, the euro is finished.

The UK is still perfectly capable of looking after itself, just as prosperous Switzerland and Norway do now. Our future, like our past, is trading and co-operating flexibly with the whole world, putting the British people first, and not being subjugated as a cluster of disempowered euro-regions.

David Scott

Heswall, Wirral

The world is changing towards bigger units: China, Russia, India, the USA care little for the rights and needs of small states such as the members of the European Union. There are no "special relationships".

Europe, united, is richer, more inventive, has better universities, more ability to talk other languages, has a more cultured artistic tradition in every way, can feed itself, has respect for peace. Any small nation within it will have more effective sovereignty over its own affairs than it will alone.

All Europe (and England) needs to do is cut their jackanapes collection of national politicians down to size and introduce a democratic government of the continent. All we need to do is give up the persistent pessimistic whining.

J P C Bannerman


Could John Stevens (letter, 3 November) please detail which 3 million jobs would be lost if we left the EU? If they are dependent on trade, does he genuinely believe that all trade with other European countries would cease?

Also, has he taken into account all the jobs which would be created when we are able to catch our own fish, make our own trains and encourage our long-standing companies to stay here rather than move abroad for cheap labour?

M E Lees

Littlehampton, West Sussex

Can we have a referendum on leaving the Eurovision Song Contest?

Dr John Doherty

Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

Metal thieves thrive in a cash economy

Your article on metal thefts (4 November) is timely, in this area of the country at least. Working a rural area in law enforcement, I see the results daily: homes and businesses without phone or internet connections for days, farmers unable to keep machinery in the field, historic railway charities driven to near-closure.

The situation verges on the impossible-to-police, and this is not a reflection on police numbers, rather the scale of the problem.

For a long time I have thought that the solution has to come from regulation of the scrap metal yards. The lack of morality of the thieves is self-evident; when you steal church lead and graveyard and crematorium plaques you cannot descend much lower. But what about those yards, not all of them of course, that accept these items without requiring much explanation?

You cannot go into my local post office and order euros without being asked for proper ID "to prevent money-laundering". Go into some scrapyards and with the most cursory of checks – your vehicle registration number and maybe an (uncheckable) address – you'll be paid in cash. Four-figure cash sums are not uncommon.

Until these businesses, like most others, operate on a cashless account system, through legitimate bank accounts, we will struggle to stem the tide.

G Lewis

Ravensthorpe, Northamptonshire

Summer of noise in Hyde Park

The 2004 Red Hot Chili Peppers concert certainly did bring "problems with sound for people living around Hyde Park" ("Millionaires of Mayfair poop the party in the park", 2 November). Every year the summer concerts, rock, pop and Proms all cause serious noise problems for "well-heeled", squeezed middle and low-income residents, not only in Mayfair and Knightsbridge but also farther afield in Marylebone, up Edgware Road and in Bayswater (apologies if I have left anyone out).

For about 10 days we are subjected to sound tests, rehearsals and concerts from morning to late at night. The noise funnels through narrow streets, booms out into squares and courtyards, and is carried by the wind and dropped in unexpected places, often amplifying and distorting as it goes.

This summer, buildings in more than one local area were vibrating in short bursts throughout several concert evenings, making some residents feel dizzy and nauseous, and alarming many.

The 75-decibel limit set by Westminster council is much too high for a densely populated city centre. The upper limit for Royal Parks concerts should not exceed the World Health Organisation levels, and this should be applied to next year's Olympics pop concerts in Hyde Park as well.

Parks should be for relaxation and recreation in peace and quiet, and in central London with its very high noise levels this is essential, so a ban on amplified music would be more appropriate than the horrendous noise that both residents in their homes and other park users are made to suffer.

Professor A Loesch

Mayfair, London

The arithmetic of overseas aid

News that "Generous Britons back foreign aid rise" (3 November) comes as no surprise to us in the development aid community; we've been saying the same for months. Common humanity, the belief that everyone's life is valuable, means British people do care about children they have never met in countries they have not visited.

Of course misspent and wasted aid should be exposed and stopped, but "smart aid" pays its way many times over. Smart aid eradicated smallpox and, in the next two years, will rid the world of polio, making my children and yours safer. Smart aid invests in human capital, through health and education, so countries become more prosperous and attractive trading partners.

Governance work is one of the most effective tools against corruption there is. Just as we hold our politicians to account here in the UK, empowering children and their families across the developing world to do the same maximises the impact of British taxpayers' money.

Marie Staunton

Chief executive, Plan UK, London EC1

How convenient for David Cameron and Andrew Mitchell that, apparently, we have all chosen to support their increases in foreign aid. How easy it is to be generous with other people's money.

Of course Cameron intends to implement the increases, whether or not the electorate agrees, because he and his government seem to be concerned with supporting everyone on the planet except those in the one country for which it has direct responsibility.

We can be taxed to kingdom come, our public services can go by the board and our care of old people become a national disgrace, but Cameron still thinks we can afford to pour more than £9bn (and rising) into the coffers of India, Pakistan and most of Africa.

What would Cameron's response have been had the results of this poll been different from those he wanted?

Ann Keith

Grantchester Cambridgeshire

In brief...

August babies can catch up

There is a solution to the problem of August-born children's low achievement (report, 1 November). If parents and teachers feel a child is not ready to start school the September following its fourth birthday, keep it back a year and send it the next September. That is what happened to me in Switzerland, and I never looked back.

Claudia Best

Mitchell Cornwall

Metaphysics on the tram

How the great philosophers of the past still affect our daily lives! On the Manchester Metro tram system the voice recording tells us that "the next stop will be [whatever]". The idea of a transport system designed by Bishop Berkeley is intriguing. I can imagine some of the smaller stops not existing until a tram actually arrives. The intermittent existence of the historic Victoria Station, however , I find hard to get my head round.

Jim Cordell


Tie-wearing routine upheld

I take issue with Guy Keleny (Errors & Omissions, 29 October). Men have not stopped wearing ties "in all but the most stately circumstances". I frequently wear one (but less often than I used to) and both my sons, in management jobs, wear ties as a matter of routine at work, as do their colleagues.

David T Roberts

Nailsea, North Somerset

A vote on the monarchy

The proposed abolition of male primogeniture in the royal succession represents a fundamental change to a system which has endured for more than a millennium. Would it not be right, having regard to the current fashion for referenda, to put the matter to the ordinary British people?

Andrew Horton

Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire

All power to the energy suppliers

The Government not only tolerates the arcane tariff structures of the energy companies but now wants to halve the feed-in tariff to people investing in photovoltaic panels. Are they in cahoots with the companies, spineless or both?

David McKaigue

Thornton Hough, Wirral