I suggest that any voters who are seduced by the political wiseacres’ reassurances that the EU elections don’t matter and don’t affect our daily lives should remind themselves of Nigel Farage’s remark near the end of the second debate with Nick Clegg: “I don’t just want us to come out of the EU, I want all the countries to come out.”
This would mean the collapse of the Union and a return to the Europe of the inter-war years – nations trying desperately to survive and to negotiate non-aggression or mutual help treaties to try to avoid being swallowed up by powerful neighbours. Then a minority of European countries were democracies whereas now all 28 EU members are and it’s a condition of entry for aspiring new members.
The elections do matter to every one of us and the best candidates to send to Brussels are those who will work tirelessly for the successful evolution of the Union, in which they wholeheartedly believe.
Geoff S Harris
Nigel Farage and his disciples tell you that the UK is the sixth-strongest economy in the world. But they do not mention how strong we would be outside the European Union. I suggest our ranking would fall hugely.
On Thursday, if you are absolutely fed up with the sound of Mr Farage and his followers, then do go out and vote. Ideally for the Liberal Democrats.
It is Ukip who are still fighting a war within Europe. The rest of us have moved on. Next year it will be 70 years since the end of the Second World War. Europe together has got stronger and will continue to do so, even without us. But, the UK will not, as a single nation; especially if we also lose Scotland.
At a poorly attended public meeting called by Farage’s party in Bridport, I caught some of the magical intellectual quality of debate characteristic of Ukip when confronting a well-informed heckler.
The organisers instantly began an angry shouting response, greatly assisted by a forbidding matronly supporter who grunted, turned and spat out that comfortable old rural greeting, “Peasant”. Ah, the spirit of Olde Englande is alive and kicking in rural Dorset! I doff my cap in quiet despair.
Burton Bradstock, Dorset
Mark Steel’s thrill at Ukip’s immigration over-estimates is entirely specious and misplaced (16 May). Immigration from new EU members is now running at the size of a mid-size British town every year.
The immigrants claim entry-level jobs that would – should – be done by our own workers, they consume housing, education, health-care resources, without any upfront payment, and impose remorseless social change and dislocation on British communities already exhausted by change and bullied into silence by such cultural fascists as Mr Steel.
Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
I am nearing 70. Gays do not make me feel uncomfortable and never have. Nigel Farage, on the other hand, does make me feel very uncomfortable and I find him “distasteful if not viscerally repugnant” (report, 12 May). So, we just about cancel each other out.
Terrorists who kill for a religion
Yasmin Qureshi (letter, 17 May) complains that Boko Haram is always referred to by the media as an Islamist terrorist group, whereas the IRA was never referred to as a Catholic, or the Tamil Tigers as a Hindu terrorist group.
Surely this is because Boko Haram (and other al-Qa’ida-inspired groups) commit their crimes in the name of, and to advance the cause of, their religion. The IRA and the Tamils committed their crimes for nationalist political ends, to which their religion was irrelevant. I don’t remember anyone from the IRA claiming that Protestantism was evil, or that Catholicism was the only true faith.
When crimes are committed for primarily religious ends, the religion of the criminals is relevant and should be reported.
Privatisation marches on
Linda Kaucher (letter, 8 May) raises the issue of privatisation of the public sector in her discussion of the Pfizer bid for AstraZeneca. In one government agency, the Land Registry, this process has recently culminated in the proposal that it should cease to be a government department and be established as a service-delivery company. The proposal includes options for moving assets to the private sector where there is “no longer a strong policy reason for continued public ownership”.
Registration of any property confers title on the registered proprietors – and this record and thus title is held within the Registry offices – paper title deeds are no longer “necessary”. Thus, this change affects all house-owners, property owners and potential house-owners. It is proposed to create a private company to deliver the operational side of the Registry, with only a small central office retained.
Land Registry staff would become employees of a private, commercially run (profit-making?) company, which could one day be taken over or bought by any other commercially run company. The public-service role of the staff would disappear and their responsibilities would be to the company – not the Government. The change has not been widely advertised, the recent public consultation on it was relatively short and most people are not aware of it and the possible consequences.
One can envisage a situation as has arisen with our power providers whereby the registered title to all properties and land would be in the hands of an overseas company.
Inspectors call on independent schools
Readers might be forgiven for thinking that Michael Gove’s idea of the state inspectorate in England inspecting English independent schools is a new one; but this already happens in Wales, carried out by Estyn (the Office of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales).
We believe independent schools have nothing to fear from such an arrangement and we found the inspectors fair and open in their assessments (we were rated excellent in all areas). Indeed, the process provides a useful link between state and independent sectors, and members of senior leadership teams in independent schools – including our own director of studies – are often Estyn inspectors.
Independent schools do vary in quality (hence the service that the Independent Schools’ Inspectorate provides) but is public money really going to be spent in England on inspecting independent schools? At least when an independent school is inspected by ISI the school has to pay for it themselves.
Director of Music
Formidable writer in the library
When I was working in Morningside library in the late 1960s, in the Edinburgh area where Mary Stewart (obituary, 17 May) lived, the writer was an occasional visitor.
She was necessarily heavily disguised in headscarf and dark glasses; Stewart would have been mobbed if her readers had spotted their favourite novelist. Multiple copies of her latest book were ordered to meet the demand.
When she began researching her Merlin series, she chanced on me for help in locating some books. As I guided her to the appropriate shelves, she commanded: “Do not tell anyone what I am writing! Anyone!”
“Did you think when you had your first book published,” I asked, “that your books would be such a success?”
“Of course” the modest scribbler snorted crossly, “I would not have written anything if I had not known I would be a success!”
Bob Crow’s socialism
I was pleased to see the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) mentioned for the first time in The Independent (“Could the new Bob Crow bring RMT in from the cold?”, 3 May) but disappointed that Andy McSmith got his facts wrong about its foundation. For the record TUSC was co-founded in 2010 by Bob Crow, who sat on its national steering committee first in a personal capacity and then, after an RMT conference decision in 2012, as an official representative of the union.
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition London E1
Rehabilitation without books?
Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling has a “strong commitment to rehabilitation” (report, 16 May). How does this square with his vindictive and stupid policy of banning books for prisoners?
St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex