Nigel Farage is right (11 November). The lack of debate about which EU policing and criminal-justice measures the United Kingdom will participate in after 2014 is shocking. The Committees of both Houses of Parliament have criticised the Government about the lack of information provided to them about its current strategy.
That said, it is not clear how open a debate Ukip wants. The House of Lords noted mistakes in the Ukip evidence provided for their 2012 Report. There are a number of significant omissions in this piece. I will note just three.
On human rights, Section 21 of the Extradition Act 2003 makes clear that individuals are not to be surrendered if this violates their rights under the Human Rights Act. Following the Assange judgment of the Supreme Court, this prevails over EU law. Mr Farage’s examples could not occur if British courts do their job.
On the Symeou case, the European Supervision Order is designed to avoid a repetition of these problems. It involves the state of residence committing to supervise a suspect within its territory pending trial in the other state. This allows British citizens wanted in other states not to be detained there because they are a flight risk.
On the issue of the arrest warrant and criminal fugitives, the most significant offence for which other states requested people from British territory in 2011/12 was drug trafficking (1,252). There were also 430 requests for murder, 120 for child sex offences, and 201 for rape. What policy does Mr Farage suggest for ensuring that these people face justice and are not a danger on British streets?
Professor of EU Law
London School of Economics and Political Science
The tragic emasculation of the navy
Your evocative photographs of the appalling conditions experienced by those who took part in the Arctic convoys had a certain aptness when set against Dave Brown’s political cartoon, The Fighting Portsmouth, based on Turner’s iconic painting of HMS Temeraire being towed to the breaker’s yard (9 November).
The satirical depiction of the Government’s intention to cease shipbuilding at the historic Hampshire dockyard highlighted another nail driven into the coffin of the Royal Navy.
Yet at a time when Mr Cameron is overseeing its emasculation, he is happy to be photographed shaking the frail hands of veterans awarded medals for their service when this country still had a Navy. Whether or not including such images in close proximity was intentional, it could hardly have been more sad.
Commander Roger Paine RN
Hellingly, East Sussex
Portsmouth stops building ships; The Independent stops publishing the tide timetable. Whither an island nation? And how will I know when to go for my daily swim?
Shortfall in neonatal nurses
Babies born in England are not just put at risk because of a lack of midwives. (“Maternity care crisis: health service spends one fifth of its budget on insurance against negligence claims”, 8 November.) For the 70,000 smallest and sickest babies born each year needing expert neonatal care, they face the further hurdle of a shortfall of over 1,000 specialist neonatal nurses.
Our doctors and nurses providing neonatal care are among the best in the world. Without enough of them there is no way that each baby can receive the care they so desperately need and deserve.
Bliss, National Charity for the Newborn, London SE1
The politics of polonium
Speculation that Yasser Arafat was poisoned by Polonium-210 (report, 8 November) is a reminder that the radioactive element was so named as a political act. Its discoverer, Marie Curie (born Maria Skłodowska), called it after her native Poland, at that time under Russian, German, and Austro-Hungarian control.
She hoped that the publicity would help her homeland regain its sovereignty.
Dr John Doherty
Cheap migrant labour is not the answer
Terry Pugh states that “we” need migrant labour to reduce industrial costs (Letter, 8 November). Any payroll reduction will “reduce costs”, but how low does he want to go? Wages may be considerably lower in Bulgaria than in the UK, but they are much lower again in China. And in China they import labour for a quarter of the price from Vietnam. A race to the bottom will stop only just short of slavery – but it will be increasingly “good for the economy”.
Mr Pugh also cites the NHS as a particular example of the benefits of pillaging other countries, but does not make clear how “we” manage to reduce our costs (given that there is no wage reduction). Costs are reduced because instead of paying to train health professionals we can get a sub-Saharan country with a desperate need for medical staff to pay for it instead.
We need to move beyond insular perspectives and recognise that this is about global capitalism and neo-colonialism, not feeling good about the people who are now shunted around the world at the behest of big business.
Beware the law of unintended consequences. Labour’s “living wage” wheeze would attract even more unskilled migrants from an ever-expanding EU.
There is an unwillingness across the political spectrum to acknowledge that a living wage and mass immigration are mutually exclusive. Either curtail immigration, in which case the market will automatically raise unskilled wages, or let business decide how many to let in.
An end to importing cheap labour from within as well as without the EU has a “democratic” cost. There will be a transfer of purchasing power from the majority haves to the minority have-nots as menial jobs that cannot be outsourced abroad become more costly.
Winterborne Houghton, Dorset
Cheer up - our politicians could be worse
Andy McSmith’s comment, that anyone who has the Trots and Nick Clegg lined up against him must have done something right, represents the kind of cynicism about politicians and politics that I find so depressing at the moment (Diary, 7 November). Are our politicians really that bad? As bad as Vladimir Putin or Silvio Berlusconi?
In my view we should be sceptical about the claims of politicians, but not cynical; a good political interviewer like Jeremy Paxman approaches each interview in a sceptical spirit; but sometimes he can appear cynical, and that is very regrettable. I prefer the attitude of Owen Jones, who criticises the system, but engages with it constructively.
While I agree strongly with most of what Katie Ghose says about electoral reform (Letters, 11 November), I do not believe that you encourage voting by handing it on a plate to juveniles too young and immature to appreciate either the issues at stake or the importance of a vote in a democracy.
Instead, we should be denying it until the age of 25 – the age at which the law no longer finds youth a mitigating factor in criminal behaviour.
Most of my peers left school at 15 and went to work; we were not allowed to marry until 16, drive a car before 17 or vote until 21. Unlike then, relatively few of today’s under-21s will have had to work to support themselves.
Keighley, West Yorkshire
Much has been made of Russell Brand’s call on people not to vote, and his claims that voting doesn’t change anything. It’s easy for a rich and famous person to live in this way. His life isn’t affected in the same way as an ordinary person.
But if I chose not to vote I’d be guilty of letting powerful people such as Cameron, Osborne and Duncan Smith ruin further the lives of people who are far worse off than I am.
I vote at every election because it is my right and because, if I don’t, I am giving permission for those I don’t trust, don’t believe in and don’t respect to do as they wish to the society I live in.
King’s Lynn, Norfolk
Max Gauna (Letters, 7 November) forgets that Britain is – ostensibly at least – a free country when he says that those who refuse to vote in elections to Parliament should incur a “hefty fine”. To be forced to participate in somebody else’s idea of what constitutes democracy is surely more iniquitous than the right of all free-born people to not give a flying fig.
Matthew Norman bemoans voter apathy in general elections (6 November) but nowhere does he address the most obvious reason for it. What is the point of voting for MPs at Westminster when vast tracts of our legislation are passed in Brussels and merely rubber-stamped by Parliament?
Until MPs regain full powers to respond directly to their constituents’ wishes, we can expect more and more voter apathy in the future, and frankly I wouldn’t blame anyone for not voting in the 2015 election.