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Wednesday 2 November 2011
Letters: Greece will show the way out of the euro
You have to hand it to George Papandreou. He has absolutely played a blinder. Completely outflanked Merkel and Sarkozy!
The Greek people will now vote No. The Greeks will be thrown out of both the euro and the EU. They will launch a new currency called the New Drachma, and at a stroke they will absolve themselves of 99 per cent of their debt.
So imports will then be priced beyond them? It will all help Greek-based home production to prosper. And then watch other countries imitating them.
David Cameron seems finally to have understood just how weak the UK would be if it lost its seat at the table where the big decisions are made.
Our primary concern should be how to deal with China, India and other economies that gain in strength by the day. The European Union is a major world player but Britain outside the inner circle would face the prospect of sliding into irrelevance. The rules would be decided by others.
Ten years ago I was a strong advocate of Britain joining the euro and recently I've been on the defensive. No longer. The euro has more difficulties yet to face but it is here to stay. I suspect that a reluctant Britain will end up joining the euro as the only way of sustaining our shrinking political influence.
Chris Davies MEP
Lib Dem, North West England
Dominic Lawson asks us why anyone should think it necessary to embark on federalism when our principal allegiance is national (Opinion, 1 November). The answer is obvious: so that Europe, which before the European project waged continuous war with itself throughout recorded history, should finally cease to tear itself apart.
My father's life was twice disrupted while he fought for this country – despite his and my funny Italian name – in appalling world wars, both started in our continent. My generation has been the first to know unbroken peace in western Europe.
Narrow nationalism leads quite inevitably to wars; listening to Tory backbenchers sounding off about the iniquities of Johnny European, who could doubt it? It's tragic that neither they nor Mr Lawson understand this truth.
Since the one referendum, on trading with Europe, which we were allowed over 30 years ago, the political parties have promised but never allowed another referendum on our membership of what is becoming a political body. These same parties have, for 15 years, paid unimaginable sums of our money to the Union, which cannot account for the use to which that money is put.
The Prime Minister tells us, now is not a good time to consider these matters. It will never be a good time as far as our politicians are concerned.
Unfortunately, most of us are not in a position to protest by withholding tax from central government. However, those of us who feel that the voices of the people should be heard, should consider the next-best option and stop paying council tax. Chaotic and messy, but in the circumstances this is the way a Big Society could assert itself.
East Mersea, Essex
Cost-benefit analysis is a powerful tool. To justify the trillions being allocated to shoring up the euro, it would be necessary to show that such costs were less than the claimed increase in real income which the euro is supposed to have facilitated.
Is any serious attempt being made to apply such analysis, or is it irrelevant, given the euro-advocates' "achievement" in convincing the politicians that there is no going back to national currencies?
Murder of women, the hate crime no one acknowledges
On 28 October, the International Day against Hate Crime, Vincent Tabak was convicted of the murder of Jo Yeates. It has emerged that, like Graham Coutts, who killed Brighton music teacher Jane Longhurst in 2003, Tabak was a consumer of sadistic pornography depicting strangulation of women. A day earlier, serial killer Robert Black was convicted of the sadistic sexual assault and murder of Jennifer Cardy.
How extraordinary it is that under British law, despite the fact that these killers deliberately targeted females, none is considered to have been guilty of hate crime, nor could that possibility have formally been considered by investigating officers. Between three and four women and girls die each week as a result of male violence, of which two are killed by partners and ex-partners.
Racist and homophobic attacks and crimes against religious communities, disabled or transgendered people are deemed hate crimes and attract increased sentences. However, the law does not accept that hate crime against women exists – even when offenders repeatedly target the same or different women or use grossly sexist language during assaults.
The law acknowledges that prejudice can give rise to violence, but fails to accept that attitudes of loathing and contempt for women make them a target too.
If Jo Yeates's death had been tried as a hate crime it is unlikely that Vincent Tabak's interest in images of violence against women could have been kept from the jury. It might also have been likely that the tariff set would have been higher than 20 years.
Director, For Our Daughters, Brighton
Like Nick Chadwick (letter, 31 October), I was appalled by the Yeates family statement. It makes me despair of this supposedly Christian country and its moral compass. I am surprised that the family's solicitor did not deter them from issuing such a statement.
Growing up in the Midlands in the 1960s I well remember the trial of a child-murderer and the mayhem outside the court, where a lynch mob would have torn him limb from limb had the police not been present in force.
Mr and Mrs Yeates need have no worries: as a former prison visitor, I can assure them that sex offenders and murderers are at the very bottom of the pecking order, and often need to be segregated for their own safety. Vincent Tabak's life will hardly be worth living.
Heaven forbid that we should return to the Dark Ages and capital punishment. What is far more important is that the Yeates family receive the bereavement counselling they clearly urgently need, so that they can eventually see beyond this terrible tragedy.
Chance for a new Middle East policy
Unesco's decision to admit Palestine as a full member may have the unintended but welcome consequence of exposing the fault-lines in the US's Middle East policy.
The US objects to Palestine seeking full membership of any UN body, and insists that the only possible route to statehood for the Palestinians is through direct negotiations with Israel. Yet because of the pro-Israel lobby, the US administration dare not put meaningful pressure on Israel to stop building the settlements that are the biggest obstacle to negotiations.
In 1990 that same pro-Israel lobby helped push through Congress a law that compels the US to halt its funding for Unesco because of Palestine's admission. That will almost certainly result in cutbacks to important UN educational programmes in Afghanistan, making it more difficult for the US to extract its forces in an orderly way.
Is it not time for the US to put its own interests, and the stability of the region, ahead of Israel's expansionist ambitions, and to ensure that its policy is henceforth written in Washington, not Tel Aviv?
The latest crop of Shakespeares
After all this talk of Shakespeare's knowledge of Italy (letters, 1 November), the truth must finally be admitted. The Bard wasn't English at all, he was Italian – or Danish, or Scottish, or a witch. Either that or he'd read a lot of books. But how could he without a Kindle?
I am a well-read graduate with a broad but obscure range of writings. This increases my chances of having written one of Shakespeare's plays. My other play's a Ben Jonson.
What about John Clare, who wrote such wonderful poetry with minimal education? Or did he? Maybe it was somebody else? Or maybe genius is something we still don't understand.
As PG Wodehouse remarked, does it matter if the plays were written by Shakespeare or someone with the same name?
Machismo in the boardroom
Mary Ann Sieghart (31 October) was too generous when she said that the only explanation for a lack of women in senior positions is that most men underrate their abilities.
As a gay and therefore dispassionate observer of the heterosexual male executive in action, I can tell her that the often grim, single-sex boardroom and its boorish machismo do not survive by accident.
Many highly paid men have been educated in all-boys schools and have attitudes to women little changed since they were seven years old. They are often unnerved by senior female colleagues, who usually, and rightly, have little truck with corporate chest-beating. Keeping women at bay enables these men to maintain an environment in which they are comfortable.
Sieghart is right to say that it would be to everyone's benefit were the situation to change; though it is difficult to see how it will until more women genuinely believe in themselves and more men understand that being male does not of itself confer superiority.
Instead of moving clocks backwards and forwards, why can't we just alter the time at which we do things? Businesses working internationally, and even between adjacent time zones, manage to deal with firms working different hours from themselves. Reading some articles one could be excused for thinking that changing the clocks somehow creates more daylight.
Am I the only reader to feel slightly queasy over the profile of Christian Louboutin (29 October), who seems to me to be a misogynist maker of fetish footwear? And is anybody else puzzled at the number of men who say that stiletto shoes are incredibly sexy – but never wear them?
Should I buy a poppy? I want to recognise the sacrifice made by our servicemen and women in defeating the Nazis, but don't want to be seen to be condoning the recent campaigns in the Falklands, Iraq or Afghanistan, which I see as unjust.
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