Yet again, in a rush to get in on photo shoots and show just how “right on” they are, politicians have ended up with egg on their faces (“This is what embarrassment looks like”, 3 November).
Harriet Harman, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg must be kicking themselves over that silly £45 Fawcett Society/Whistles T-shirt and their ignorance of its source.
Perhaps, from now on, they will concentrate on doing their jobs soberly, beyond the influence of pressure groups.
However, those who are outraged and pointing the finger over recent sweatshop revelations should consider the origin of their own clothes. So many clothing items are still made for nearly nothing and then sold, with labels stitched into them, for hundreds of times more.
Major supply factories will always deny being sweatshops, but the truth is that in developing countries any codes of conducts are hard to monitor, and will frequently be disregarded because such places are under pressure by the sourcing companies to produce garments quickly and cheaply.
Deprived nations offer the world’s cheapest labour and that appeals greatly to Western conglomerates, whether they choose to admit it or not.
The appalling thought of foreign workers close to slavery is overlooked in Britain but it clearly taints the human conscience. We as consumers must demand answers from all retailers as to how their goods are produced to confront this issue – and look more carefully at how we spend our money too.
The purchases of T-shirts by politicians has revealed what nonsense the concept of a living wage is, especially to those who advocate it.
It means that every time a person buys an item, he should inquire whether or not the seller is getting a living wage. If the answer is “no” then he should offer more for it. Presumably £45 was regarded by the purchasers of the T-shirts as sufficient to provide a living wage for all those in the supply chain.
If we all demanded to know whether or not our buying price covered this wage for everyone involved, trade would come to a stop. It’s silly.
G D Morris
Merkel is bound to lose patience with us
Ukip is a dangerous embarrassment to this country both at home and abroad. Its simple solutions for complex problems are nonsense. Unfortunately, rich, equally absurd Establishment figures and media barons back it.
Ukip does not acknowledge the following terribly inconvenient facts: the EU budget costs the treasury less than 1 per cent of the taxes we pay; immigration does not cost this country dearly, but rather it offers the UK treasury a net gain; the vast majority (98 per cent) of people who come to these shores do so to work and to work hard.
Why, then, have all major UK parties (including, shamefully, Labour) decided to portray themselves as somehow Ukip-lite? Where are the counter-arguments against isolating ourselves from the rest of Europe? Two World Wars began as a direct consequence of European countries’ inability to co-exist. Is going backwards really the best way to go forwards?
Most of Europe appears happy to boot us out if necessary (“Merkel warns Cameron is at point of no return on EU”, 3 November) and I don’t blame them. We are not, as many would have us believe, a major world player, and haven’t been for decades. We are a deluded people happy, it seems, to be fed untruths and sabre-rattling hyperbole.
Our attitude to the EU will only isolate us yet further, not just in Europe but across the globe.
This is the 21st century, where the very ideas of national identity and borders are becoming increasingly fluid. Just as the onset of social media and the march of technological advances are serving to shrink the world, we are looking to remove ourselves from it.
What an excellent idea from Chris Sexton (letter, 1 November): restoring to Britain the territories lost in the Hundred Years War would make us a true European nation. What’s more, with a land frontier we should be more likely to understand our European neighbours.
We could even have Nantes or Bordeaux as our capital, with London as a sort of European Hong Kong and the rest of Britain as the sort of insignificant off-shore island it is threatening to become in the 21st century anyhow.
In addition, Francophiles and Europhiles such as myself could go and live among the ‘natives’, leaving the island to all the Ukippers and assorted other Little Englanders.
Surely Angela Merkel is aware that, if Britain leaves the EU, the destination of choice for most European immigrants will be the most successful economy: Germany.
Beware Labour’s talk of ‘family values’
Be very wary when a Labour party commits itself to “traditional” families in the 21st century (“Labour to espouse family values”, 3 November).
There are few political parties more vacuous than the current Australian Labor Party. Its obsession with “working families” led it to embrace the conservatives’ various tax and welfare policies that effectively punish mothers when they return to work.
When they say “traditional” they mean “patriarchal”. When they say “family” they mean punishment for single parents.
Why vote for conservative-lite when the conservatives are much more efficient at playing xenophobic games?
We’re pushing Syria to never-ending war
We are giving non-lethal aid to Syrian rebels, who are well supplied with lethal aid by our allies (“Islamists ready for Mediterranean battle”, 3 November).
At the same time, if young British men leave this country to go out and fight alongside the rebels, we punish them.
Our policy of half-hearted support for Syrian rebels seems utterly confused and is condemning Syria to war with no end in sight. It is time for a radical change of direction.
The real trick’s on us at Halloween
I asked a group of trick or treaters on my doorstep what they would do if I opted for a trick, and was told they would “egg” my windows. Isn’t it time to make this protection racket of demanding treats with menaces a criminal offence before it gets any worse?
Keighley, West Yorkshire
Honest praise can motivate pupils
There are two points about praise if it is to be effective: it must be honest and it must be specific (“Teachers warned that praise can make pupils complacent”, 31 October).
Saying “well done” or “good” is of little benefit, whereas praise such as: “The first two points you make here are well described,” or “Your handwriting on this page is improving,” will inspire and motivate pupils.
Don’t blame The ‘shooting community’
Your caption for the photograph “Birds of prey under threat” (30 October) was misleading. The “shooting community” is not slaughtering them. Through its representative organisations, it has unanimously and publicly condemned the illegal killing of birds of prey.
In my own organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, any member involved is liable to disciplinary action, expulsion and the loss of shooting insurance in addition to the penalties of the law.
It would be quite wrong to blame the overwhelming majority who are law-abiding for the offences of a small number of criminals.
Chief Executive, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation
Drug reform doesn’t fit PM’s world view
When David Cameron opposes reform of drug laws, he is being entirely consistent. Cameron’s problem is that he sees the world as it appears to someone with a privileged background.
Druggies, the workless, the homeless, the destitute, the hopeless, are all part of the same community that has no place in the society to which Cameron believes he belongs. As Prime Minister, Cameron only represents those in society who share his sentiments.
SNP and UKIP should start getting friendly
With Conservatives likely to receive a bloody nose in England from Ukip, and Labour on a slippery slope in Scotland, perhaps it’s time for Ukip and SNP to start coalition talks in preparation for the next government.