The integrity of the eurozone has been maintained, but at what cost, and why?
Greece doesn’t even have an economy as I understand the definition. With unemployment there hovering around 40 per cent, the eurozone, led by Germany, has issued a new set of orders to Athens that can only set off a chain reaction that will end in Grexit anyway.
What developed country in 2015 complains of declining stocks of critical medicines? By making Athens toe an impossible line at any cost, all Germany’s rigidity has achieved is to make Greece resemble some banana republic from the 1970s. And there is worse to come.
Greece’s admission to the eurozone was a geopolitical decision based on the expansionist nature of the EU and its determination to cement all states with a common currency. Books were cooked, eyes averted and a deal struck. This is the inevitable result.
How much longer does the eurozone want to pretend that Greece can overnight grow an economy? It surely understands that these new bailout conditions can only cause the Greek economy to further contract and finally stop altogether?
How much longer will it take this club, with its desperation to lose no member, to finally notice that the new guy at the bar isn’t just missing a necktie. He doesn’t have pants or shoes either.
Not a jackboot in sight. And yet more than 70 years after the last invasion of Greece another invading force occupies the country. Germany and her cronies once again administer the country, leading to terrible hardships for the Greek civilian population.
The argument could be that Greece should not have borrowed so much. The reality is that the creditors should not have provided the funds in the first case, assuming that they are financial professionals who should have known better.
Greece resisted occupation before. Let’s hope they rally to expel the enemy once more and achieve freedom and democracy from those who attempt to enslave them.
Stratford upon Avon
It is by their actions that we shall judge them; Germany’s missing moral compass has resulted in the humiliation of the Greek government and, more pertinently, the Greek people.
The EU and Germany allowed the Greeks to lie their way into the euro, allowed them to borrow beyond their means and have now decided to send in the bailiffs. It stinks of payday loans and bullying drug dealers.
Germany has forgotten its past (again) – the debt forgiveness in the 1950s and the help the country received from the Marshall Plan.
Does the UK really want to be part of a community with people like that?
It appears that not only the elephant returns to its birthplace to die but we now have to recognise that democracy shares the same fate. For future reference, could someone please let us know the birthplace of the vicious, predatory creed that now stalks the earth feasting on weakness and frailty, not just in Athens but also nearer to home?
Britain’s first woman journalist
Your feature (13 July) about finding Charles Dickens’ annotations in a collection of periodicals includes a “lost list” of authors to whom unattributed works may now be ascribed, among them Eliza Linton, whom you call “the first salaried woman journalist in Britain”. This was surely the Edinburgh-born author and journalist Christian Isobel Johnstone (1781-1857).
Mrs Johnstone, an established author, and her husband John were employed in 1817 to edit the Inverness Courier. After moving back to Edinburgh Mrs Johnstone and her writer/printer husband produced and edited magazines with a literary and political content and when Johnstone’s Edinburgh Magazine merged with the monthly Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine in 1834 publisher William Tait employed Christian Johnstone as “chief contributor and director”.
As the daughter of a printer she’d been brought up in the world of books and pamphlets. Her first husband, whom she’d married at 15 and later divorced, was also a printer.
Many of the big literary names of the day contributed to Tait’s and it was successful throughout Britain. Mrs Johnstone lived quietly and worked – prodigiously – from home. That she was a trailblazer probably never occurred to her. She provided opportunities for women writers and promising young writers. That nobody ever questioned a woman’s being at the helm of such an important periodical is testimony to her great ability.
She retired in 1846. The Johnstones, a devoted couple, died in 1857, within months of each other, at their Edinburgh home at 12 Buccleuch Place, today university premises. There’s no plaque. In recent years there has been some academic interest in her stories and novels.
James Bertram’s Some Memories of Books, Authors and Events (1893) provides an entertaining read about apprentice life at Tait’s.
Shooting seals to protect salmon
In his letter (13 July) Dr Martin Jaffa of Callander McDowell claimed that salmon farmers “will only shoot a seal as the last resort”.
Using Freedom of Information legislation I discovered that only 13 per cent of salmon farms in Scotland use predator exclusion nets to keep seals away from the cage nets holding the salmon.
The main reason these nets are not used is that they are expensive and you have to employ people to maintain them. It is wrong to say seals are only shot as a last resort when 87 per cent of salmon farms are not using what should be the first resort to stop seals getting close to the salmon.
Dr Jaffa also claimed the number of seals killed has fallen in recent years. While it is true that the number of seals reported as shot has indeed fallen it must be remembered that the killing of seals is not monitored and the Scottish Government relies on the shooters to report the number killed, using an honesty box system.
John F Robins
Secretary, Save Our Seals Fund, Dumbarton
The tax on family homes
It is odd that your correspondents (14 July), criticising the increase in value of homes liable for inheritance tax, cannot tell the difference between money (savings are cited) and a residential property.
Money is a liquid asset that can be spent in myriad ways. Property ownership gives one a fixed asset. The house or flat will remain when owners move out or otherwise quit the premises.
Homeowners are really custodians. Care, maintenance and improvements are paid for out of taxed income and usually subject to VAT. They may enhance, but should at least retain, the value of the property. Other factors may reduce a property’s value – ask anyone living on the proposed route of HS2.
It is because of the laws of supply and demand and government policies, not the fault of homeowners, that there is insufficient housing and thus high property prices.
Explanations for terrorism
Nothing could better illustrate Howard Jacobson’s hypothesis that when it comes to explaining Islamic terrorism, everyone gets the blame except the culprits (11 July), than the multi-signature letter in the same issue, criticising the Government’s Prevent programme.
Instead of condemning the perpetrators and the pernicious ideology that drives them, the signatories fall back on the usual suspects of social, economic and political grievances, which can be used to explain almost anything – without offering a single positive suggestion on how to tackle the existential crisis facing us today.
So David Cameron wants his war (“SAS to lead Cameron’s new assault on Isis”, 13 July). All recent prime ministers who wanted to leave their mark had their war.
Margaret Thatcher had the Falklands, John Major had the Gulf war, Tony Blair had .... ooh, lots. Poor Gordon Brown did not have a war and see how he is regarded. So David Cameron wants his war with Isis (the war in Libya doesn’t really count). How can we begrudge him that?
Westminster’s hunting squabbles
I see that MPs and Downing Street are showing what grown-up people they are over the fox-hunting issue.
First the SNP say they will vote against the Government, partly because of past grumbles about their parliamentary status. Now Cameron has delayed the vote.
Worse than children in a playground.