I read Yvette Cooper’s column (Another Voice, 30 October) and in the same edition a letter by Michael Forster explaining why he is drawn from a Liberal position to the extreme opposite, Ukip. Yvette Cooper is right that Nigel Farage manipulates the fears expressed by Micheal Forster on topics such as immigration and the future of the NHS. But her party is no more popular than the Conservatives, and is seen by voters as having as little relevance to real life as the present government.
If this perception is allowed to continue, I fear we are sleepwalking into a government next year where a party such as Ukip has some control over its policies. Voters have certain preconceptions about each party. These may be crude stereotypes, formulated by a biased media and encouraged by Ukip, but they exist and must be challenged. The Conservatives are seen the party of the rich; Labour has an unelectable leader; and the Lib Dems are just not trusted. The parties must acknowledge these opinions and act to alter them.
Michael Forster uses the example of immigration to demonstrate the way that politicians are seen as remote. Why are they not shouting the benefits of immigration, at the same time acknowledging the problems it causes to some communities and demonstrating a desire and ability to do something about it.
I disagree with Michael Forster that voting Ukip would lead to a government that listens. I think it would lead our country in a direction the majority of people do not want to go.
I wonder if it is a coincidence that Michael Forster – who suggests that Ukip speaks for a growing number of voters, including himself – lives in East Horsley, Surrey?
East Horsley is a village with one of the highest percentages of detached houses in the UK and one of the lowest percentages of people in “routine occupations” (source: 2011 Census). I would be interested to know how many residents of East Horsley (and the many similar villages in South-east England) have met even one of the immigrants that Mr Forster seems to fear.
Another example, perhaps, of Ukip exploiting the irrational fears of many UK voters?
Whenever I read that Ukip have gained points in the opinion polls I wonder if the Ukip supporters know what the party’s policies are, other than leaving Europe and curbing immigration? Do they know Ukip policy on reducing the deficit or the NHS or education or foreign policy?
Heaven forbid if Ukip are ever in a position of forming a government. An anti-Europe, anti-immigration platform alone is not going to deliver a prosperous government.
While Ukip does have some legitimate concerns regarding immigration and benefits, I am extremely concerned that for political expediency it has got into bed with the far-right extremist Polish KNP party.
The KNP’s leader recently claimed that Adolf Hitler was “probably not aware that Jews were being exterminated”. I understand that one of the reasons Ukip has become involved with this party is that it will enable them to receive around a million pounds a year in funding.
How can any British party who wants to be taken seriously be associated in any way with such an extremist organisation? I, like many, would not vote for Ukip while they hold to this unholy alliance.
We should not confuse the relative importance of Russell Brand and Nigel Farage (Grace Dent, 28 October). One is a hilarious comedian whose political posturing makes us laugh, the other is a politician who is deadly serious and has shaken British politics to its foundations.
A movement we can learn from
“But so far,” says Alasdair Fotheringham from Madrid (report, 30 October), “Mr Rajoy himself, though, remains relatively politically unscathed [by corruption]”. This is, arguably, only a part of the truth and perhaps not the most important.
The other part is that all Spanish politicians are in trouble: and not just from the Guardia Civil or the Policia Nacional. They have found themselves painted with the label “the Caste”, a label coined by a new political movement called Podemos, about which we should know more than we do. The Spanish people are, the evidence suggests, rejecting the Caste and turning to Podemos as the alternative.
Podemos is a left-wing reaction against that cosy political arrangement in which the established parties, including many who themselves claim to be left-wing, appear differentiated only by the colours of their leaders’ neckwear. Sound familiar?
Compare what’s happening in Spain with the lurch to the right in popular politics in Britain, France, the Netherlands and other north European countries and it is not hard to see that we have much to learn from Spanish politics, where no established politicians remain unscathed. We need our own Podemos.
We could live with 9bn vegetarians
The world population is indeed growing inexorably (report, 28 October). Would the planet be able to sustain a population of 9 billion by 2050? Yes it could, as the planet is sustaining more than 65 billion animals raised for meat consumption every year. There are at any time three times more chickens on the planet than human beings. A move away from a predominantly meat-based diet to a plant-based vegetarian and vegan diet is imperative if we are to avoid mass starvation.
Poppies should not be company policy
I concur with P J Davison (letter, 30 October). Like Christmas and Easter, Remembrance Day is fast losing its impact because of over-exposure by the media. Of course TV presenters should wear poppies for the few days leading to Remembrance Day, but now it seems that everyone wears one for weeks before the event and they are stuck on to anything they are wearing.
The usual place is on the lapel of a jacket. Now, in overheated studios, they are worn on shirts. What is worse, they are probably provided free by the TV producers to give the impression the programme is “nice”. Remembrance should come from the heart, not from company policy.
Why only one side at the drugs debate?
I type this while watching the drugs debate live on the parliamentary channel. The standard of speeches seems to me very high: possibly because – so far – all the speakers seem to be in favour of decriminalisation.
However, this is because none of its opponents have turned up; indeed, there are only about 20 members in the chamber. How on earth can we trust this Government when its supporters can’t be bothered – or daren’t – engage in public discussion on one of the most important issues of the day? Is this because of dishonesty, cowardice or just laziness? In whichever case, what are we paying them for?
Who’s at fault for being fat?
Sara Neill (letter, 27 October) is obviously correct in her opinion that obese people are probably not responsible for their size.
That’s why you never see anyone overweight walking the streets stuffing themselves with fat-laden pasties, fish and chips, kebabs, cake and buns and all the other junk that’s available in just about every other high street shop.
And of course they aren’t responsible for starting their overweight offspring down the same path by stuffing them with sweets and crisps.
There are of course some people who have a medical condition but the biggest culprits are fast food, unhealthy diet and sheer greed.
Boris v Nigel would bring history to life
I was interested to read Juliet Barker’s comparison of the current state of British life to the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381 (report, 27 October), and wonder if the logical conclusion would be Boris Johnson stabbing Nigel Farage in Mile End.
Being consistent about not paying
Do we all now have permission to refuse to pay tax, bills and mortgage demands when they peak? Many of the very same Conservative politicians who are saying “Can’t pay, won’t pay” to the EU will also be business owners and landlords. When wearing one of those hats my guess is they are quick off the mark threatening legal recourse in the face of obstreperous late-payers.
Rambler deserves justice in the raw
I hope when the naked rambler Stephen Gough is in court, he is tried by his peers and faces a nude jury.