It has not taken long for David Cameron to depart from his victory script, again bowing to appease the Tory Eurosceptics and Ukip (report, 25 May).
He has snubbed and disenfranchised 1.5 million European migrants, the majority of whom work here and contribute to our economy, by refusing them a vote. Is it democratic to ban one section of the public from voting because you fear they will say “yes”, because you want them to say “no”?
He has also patronisingly disenfranchised 16- to 17-year-olds, whose whole working lives will be affected by the referendum decision. This group of young people is the one whose earnings and taxes will help sustain our NHS, pensions and care costs in the future.
One United Kingdom? I don’t think so, especially in a referendum vote.
Connah’s Quay, Deeside
One hears reassuring words from commentators that Germany would not wish the United Kingdom to leave the European Union as we are a major recipient of its exports.
However, in the event of our departure, Frankfurt would quickly take over as the financial centre of Europe, resulting in massive benefits to the German economy. Already, the confirmation that we will have a referendum on EU membership has acted as a catalyst for major companies and financial institutions to consider their position.
If the pre-referendum polls indicate that the vote will be close or will result in our exit, this trickle will metamorphose into an irreversible flood.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership opens up the prospect of the UK being taken to a court by businesses keen to make a profit no matter what harm it does to our country. Are we the people of the UK going to be given a chance to say whether or not we agree with what has been negotiated on our behalf in a referendum?
I am old enough to have voted in the last European referendum and I remember clearly the result was an emphatic decision that Britain is part of Europe and that we should play our part in building the “New Europe”.
The only reason that we are having a rerun is in order to placate the extreme right of the Tory party which has always been violently anti Europe.
Let us hope that the next referendum will be the last.
Tydd St Giles, Cambridgeshire
As a minister of the church, born in England, I could conceivably have followed a call to serve in Scotland, where I would have had a vote on Scottish independence. Instead I have ministered to churches in Cheshire and Cumbria comprising quite a few exiled Scots who did not have a vote in that referendum. It seems to me quite illogical to refuse EU nationals living in Britain a say on our future in Europe – unless, of course, it is just too convenient for a prime minister to make up the rules as he goes along.
Rev Peter Sharp
High Peak, Derbyshire
If, as you report, all “EU nationals living in Britain” will be ineligible to vote in the referendum, there will presumably be a zero turnout.
Peebles, Scottish Borders
A 24/7 NHS is a pipe dream without money
You urge the Government to introduce “24/7” NHS access (Editorial, 19 May). But is it affordable, is it possible, and is it worthwhile? The answers are no, no and no.
Parliament has given up on all-night sittings; why do they want to force others to work in a way they found unacceptable? The money it will cost could produce a substantial improvement in important aspects of patient care, rather than wasting it on supermarket-style convenience.
No amount of money will produce 5,000 extra GPs in the life of this Parliament, – the training time is 10 years – unless they are mostly immigrants. Quite apart from our xenophobic immigration policies, what will this cost developing world health services?
Surprisingly, healthcare workers at every level often aspire to have a family and social life. Most are readily prepared to work out of hours to deal with emergencies; that sort of care in the UK is extremely good. It will not be so easy to motivate staff to stay up all night so that patients can drop in after pub closing time for a blood-pressure check. To suggest that this be done without extra pay for unsocial hours shows how the government despises NHS staff.
Messrs Cameron and Hunt uttered a sound-bite without thought, and it is disappointing that you welcome it without considering its full implications.
Dr Gerald Freshwater
Seven-day access to the NHS isn’t as welcome as you might think. One of the remaining perks for workers is time off for a doctor’s appointment or, better still, a hospital appointment.
Now, we shall have to give up the Sunday morning golf or garden centre trip in favour of the queue at the surgery.
It’s clear that the NHS is seriously underfunded. This is not surprising as at the moment the NHS gets roughly 8 per cent of GDP, while comparable countries to the UK, such as France, Germany, Japan, Australia, spend well over 10 per cent of GDP.
If the UK is able to commit 0.7 per cent of GDP to overseas aid and nearly 2 per cent to defence, surely it is time a ratio of GDP is allotted to the NHS?
This could take into account the ageing population, social care, and what other similar economies spend. This would take a lot of heat out of the argument for all political parties.
I am sure that if a two-year compulsory session in a GPs’ surgery post qualification was implemented, much of the shortage of GPs would be resolved.
Fines on wrong-doing banks are risible
Five major international banks have pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the US related to their deliberate manipulation of global foreign exchange markets, which allowed them to rake in billions of dollars at the expense of retirees, university endowments and municipalities (report, 22 May). The effect of the guilty pleas is essentially zero, beyond the immediate costs of the fines levied.
In the years since the financial crisis, regulators avoided bringing criminal charges against banks and their executives, opting instead for cash settlements and so-called deferred-prosecution agreements, in which charges are delayed on the basis of the banks’ compliance with certain conditions. Despite the unprecedented character of the pleas in this case, the impact of the admissions of criminal wrongdoing by the banks will be next to nothing, the fines levied simply a cost of doing business.
To this day, not a single executive at any major bank has been criminally prosecuted for helping to cause the financial crisis, or any of the crimes that followed.
Am I alone in perceiving a massive disconnect in recent reports of two apparent crimes, namely the Hatton Gardens job (23 May) and Barclays’ misdemeanour in rigging forex? For the geezers allegedly involved in the former, the beak has issued a warning of expectation of lengthy prison sentences if convicted. For the chairman of Barclays during its years of shockingly corrupt behaviour (this latest dismal example being further confirmation of the degraded culture he oversaw) his “sentence” appears to be comfortable retirement in the higher echelons of society. One rule for the rich?
Where do you expect to find charisma?
In Errors & Omissions (23 May), Guy Keleny rails against “apparently unconscious” sexism in his opening paragraph. Two paragraphs later, on a different topic, he asserts that “charisma is a quality more usually associated with grown-up men than young girls”. By whom? Not by me; my nine-year-old daughter and her friends seem at least as charismatic as the grown-up men of my acquaintance. Perhaps Mr Keleny should examine his own “apparently unconscious” sexism.
Lessons from a culinary master
Very many thanks to Mark Hix for sharing his lovely recipe for ham and eggs (The Independent Magazine, 23 May). I have been trying to make this dish for years but have always been puzzled by what ingredients to use and confounded by the difficult cookery technique. Perhaps Mr Hix can be persuaded to share some more of his insightful recipe ideas in the coming weeks, for example: a cheese and pickle sandwich or baked beans on toast.