Letters: Europe: decades pass and the debate goes on

These letters appear in the 3rd June issue of The Independent

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I was interested to read Sean O’Grady’s recollection (30 May) of the 1975 referendum on EEC membership. My memories go back even farther. 

While I was at school in the 1960s I was busy posting leaflets through doors in my West Sussex home town, announcing a meeting at the local town hall where the Anti-Common Market League had invited Tony Benn and Enoch Powell to speak against membership of the EEC. I am now almost 70 years old and looking forward to casting my “No” vote once again.

Roger Hewell

Holcombe, Somerset


Most people don’t care whether the European Parliament meets in Brussels or Strasbourg. However, a great many British people care very much that the Parliament should have one settled home.

The circus which takes place every three weeks with the Parliament adjourning to Strasbourg for four days simply cannot be justified in terms of the expense. This practice makes the Parliament look ridiculous.

If David Cameron’s tour of Europe doesn’t bring at least a promise of one settled home for the Parliament, what real hope can we have for reform in the future?

Nigel F Boddy



The proposed franchise for the forthcoming EU referendum is perverse and nonsensical.

Under the Prime Minister’s proposals,  1.5 million EU nationals resident in the UK, including 90,000 in Scotland, will be excluded from casting a vote on the future direction of the country in which they live. That is unless they are from Cyprus, Malta or the Republic of Ireland.

Bizarrely, however, the proposals will allow Commonwealth citizens who live in the UK and are not UK passport holders to vote.

This is nothing short of narrow nationalism, viewing a Zimbabwean living in Scotland or a Scot living in Majorca for less than 15 years as being worthy of a vote, but excluding a Pole who lives here and for whom the continued relationship between the UK and the EU will have a major impact. Such a situation will clearly do little to build social cohesion.

Alex Orr



Those 16- and 17-year-olds at the beginning of their careers will be desperately seeking work wherever it can be found, whether it be here or on mainland Europe. The odds are that they must be in favour of us staying in Europe. Aware of this, the Tories are plotting to rig the vote before a vote is cast.

Peter Forster

London N4


Perhaps David Cameron should make his position on the death penalty clear. As long as the UK is in the  EU, the death penalty cannot be brought back. However, if the UK leaves the EU, the death penalty is back on the table. 

The forthcoming referendum could not only result in the UK leaving the EU,  but also the re-introduction of the death penalty by government ministers, such as Priti Patel, who have advocated this policy in the past. 

George D Lewis

Brackley, Northamptonshire


Blatter pleads ignorance

There were but two avenues open to Sepp Blatter in this Fifa scandal. The first was to fall honourably on his sword and accept that the buck stops with him.

The second was to brazen out this crisis with solemn vows of a clean-up, as though systemic criminality within Fifa wasn’t finally the point: the point instead being his total unawareness of it until colleagues were arrested. This almost 80-year old man, newly energised by a re-election as automatic as it is suspect, now demands probity from those who’ve installed him for a fifth term, precisely because he has no idea what’s going on.

Mike Galvin

Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire


It’s been said that the big brands which sponsor the World Cup won’t vote with their feet despite Fifa being engulfed in scandal. The suggestion is that the World Cup is a global marketing opportunity that they just can’t risk losing.

Given the compelling evidence that Fifa is systemically corrupt, and the huge legal risks (both criminal and civil) worldwide from funding or procuring corruption, those big brands’ legal advisers might yet beg to differ.

Dick Jennings

Malton, North Yorkshire


Surely now is the time for an ethical venue for the football World Cup. The UK and other countries already have good stadium facilities, not built by slaves and not with a history of hundreds of fatalities. Those teams with no scruples or ethical values should go and play in Qatar; the rest somewhere more pleasant.

A S Edwards

St Andrews, Fife


Ivor Morgan and David Beck (letters, 1 June) refer to the “booty-full game” and the existence of “dark Blatter”. I suggest that the toxic decay at the heart of football  seems to be due to the inner space of Fifa  being  permeated with septic blather.

Ben Marshall

London N11


“Three British banks launch review of Fifa transactions,” says your headline (1 June). Set a thief to catch a thief?

Gill Ledsham



Pretending to be disabled

When will the non-disabled world understand how offensive it is to disabled people to see actors such as Bradley Cooper pretending to be disabled? It is not even as if he ends up looking anything like Joseph Merrick did! And you chose to have this affront to our dignity on your front page (1 June) with further accolades inside!

I have always understood the book The Elephant Man, but never understood how people could so miserably fail to grasp the depravity of Victorian England’s freak shows, that they have reversed Merrick’s status back to freak, by these revolting stage acts.

The excuse is that it might make non-disabled people more sympathetic. Let me disabuse you. That the Conservatives have been re-elected despite their appalling treatment of disabled people tells us everything we need to know about what these exploits achieve.

Merry Cross



The price of switching energy supplier

We are always being encouraged to change power supplier to get the best deal, and I regularly do this. However, when you are on direct debit, as you need to be to get the best deals, you invariably end up being owed money by your supplier. I have always found it frustrating how long it can get to be repaid.

Recently I arranged a change of supplier for a local charity. Five and a half months after the end of the contract we got a final bill showing that we were owed £180. I waited for payment and after more than a month had not received any, so I rang them up. I was astounded to be told by the very helpful person on the phone that: “They seem to have a policy of not paying until you ask.” How outrageous!

It seems to me that there ought to be a requirement for a maximum of two months for the refund: 30 days to do the bill and the rest for payment.

P J Johnston

Fourstones, Northumberland


Care at the end of life

I was shocked to read about the care suffered by one of Mr Critchard’s relatives (letter, 22 May) at the hands of a consultant who was a “devout Roman Catholic”. I write as a GP who is also Catholic and cannot recognise the philosophy that “people must suffer when they die”.

Catholic and other Christian health professionals are committed to delivering high-quality palliative care, and indeed there is a strong tradition of doing so – for example St Joseph’s Hospice in London was set up by Catholic nuns.

We need investment in palliative care services to train all health professionals in delivering high quality end-of-life care so that all are treated with dignity as they approach the end of life. We also need to have the personnel to deliver these services, as good palliative care is very time and resource intensive, whether it occurs at home, in a hospice or in hospital.

Dr M Aquilina

London SE4


A fox in the chicken run

Penny Little (letter, 22 May) says I “allowed” my hens to fall prey to the fox – and yet the fox climbed a 10ft-high fence. She doubts that the fox “chased to exhaustion” and tore them to pieces; do headless chickens in a feather-festooned pen not indicate this?

As for dining off its kill, the fox must have been vegetarian as all bodies were accounted for.

Mike McHugh



Creation of a  female God

As a dyed-in-the-wool atheist I was amused to read about the female clergy who want God to be referred to as “she” as well as “he”.

This reinforces the view that while we don’t know who created mankind, we do know that mankind created God.

Malcolm Harding

Pin Mill, Suffolk