Letters: Growth? Yes, if you mean the national debt

These letters appear in the 19 March edition of The Independent

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We have just been listening to all the propaganda about how our economy has now fully recovered under the hands of George Osborne, but this so-called “growth” is not real growth at all; there has been no increased manufacturing and slowly declining real exports. The growth is a measure of “activity” which relies on imported products, ready-made for sale.

The overseas trade deficit is nothing to do with the ever-increasing national debt, which has grown out of control, though ministers say they have controlled the annual budgetary deficit while adding to it.

We all know the real truth when we look around our homes, in the garage and in the kitchen; it really is hard to find anything at all made in the UK. For years they have balanced the books by selling our infrastructure to foreign buyers. 

Robert Jolly
Holme-next-the-Sea, Norfolk


Peter Morris says that “in terms of total taxation, the UK compares very favourably against Western European peers” (letter, 17 March). He does not explain what he means by “favourably”.

Since the Reagan years, much of the Western world has been obsessed by low taxes, regardless of the devastation caused thereby. The important thing is not what one pays, but what one gets from taxes.

If low taxation means poor health services, poor transport, poor schools, poor roads, no policing, and no libraries, we are getting a bad deal.

Surely the aim should be to deliver good public services and explain to people that they cost money, which means taxation.

Letting the rich buy everything privately in their gated communities and serving up shoddy services to the rest is a recipe for disaster.

Rod Auton


It had been a disastrous marriage: for the past five years, every morning I was awoken with a punch in the face and every evening I found that my stuff had been sold or that something I had loved and cherished had been destroyed during the day. If I dared to ask what was going on, I was met with derision, aggression and arrogance.

Finally, I reached the decision that it was over; enough was enough. Then, just as we reached the steps of the divorce court, Georgie turned to me with oh-so-soulful eyes and solemnly promised that things would be slightly better for the immediate future if I was only prepared to commit for a further five years.

Should I give it another go?

Julian Self
Milton Keynes


George Osborne is going to scrap tax on interest on savings. This is just a cheap headline. Tax on interest at 0.5 per cent doesn’t amount to much.

Martin London
Henllan, Denbighshire


TV soaps sway fate of the NHS

From 40 years’ experience as a GP, I write to endorse Mary Leedham-Green’s letter (16 March). With the general election lurking, one of its fulcrums is our gold-dust NHS. And who collectively find themselves whether they like it or not, in a very strong position of influence? The script writers of our heavily watched TV soaps.

One such programme viewed by millions currently provides a shining example through a middle-aged woman, her family, and especially their young children. Typically, a simple domestic graze on the elbow, a finger cut in the kitchen from a ceramic knife – blood all over the floor. Goodness, all you need is a spirit-dipped wipe, kitchen roll with a dab of antiseptic, whisky even, and a bit of sticking plaster.

But oh no. Dear, dear darling – take her straight round to “doctor” or A&E. Well surprise surprise; “doctor” didn’t spend seven years training for that. Admit it or not but the soaps do offer their writers an opportunity to help (or otherwise). The message is very simple; script writers please note. If you want a National Health Service don’t waste its time.

Dr Richard Wood
Staithes, North Yorkshire


Fully integrating pharmacy into primary care was the subject of an editorial I had published in The British Medical Journal in 1995 – 20 years ago.

The benefits such a change would bring far exceed the few points offered in your article “‘Hidden army’ of pharmacists could ease crisis in GP numbers” (17 March). Not the least gain would be an estimated annual saving of £1bn, at 1995 prices. The greatest beneficiaries, however, would be the patients.

Pharmacists would be freed from their commercial bonds to fully employ their hard-won professional and intellectual firepower in direct, minute-to-minute, frontline clinical practice in shoulder-to-shoulder endeavour with the primary health care team. Their fears of economic disadvantage with such a change are wholly unfounded, it would be the greatest professional forward leap imaginable.

Steve Ford
Haydon Bridge, Northumberland


The brutal and cruel face of hunting

The Rev Philip Martin paints a tranquil picture of the hunted fox in his undulating Dorset countryside (letter, 17 March).

I, who have monitored hunts in Dorset since the ban came into force, would paint a different picture. The death of the fox is brutal and in some cases prolonged, and this violence is often transferred by hunt supporters on to anyone who dares to observe a hunting scene.

I shall spare the reader the details of slashed tyres, broken wing mirrors and twisted windscreen wipers, being spat at and assaulted both physically and verbally just for observing a hunt in action.

The Hunting Act is a landmark for animal welfare and so the hunters seek to destroy it by whatever means possible. The police and the legal establishment seem paralysed to enforce this law; rather as with the child abuse situation of the 1970s and 80s.

We have had all the debates, and the measured view of the majority of the population is that hunting with a pack of dogs is cruel and unnecessary. The fox is our small wild dog and setting dogs on dogs is simply unjustifiable.

Graham Forsyth
Chard, Somerset


How ‘indispensable’  is Clarkson?

There are two aspects to the Clarkson affair which the BBC should consider in making its decision about sacking him.

First, is he really indispensable? My own experience with “indispensable” people is that five minutes before they leave their colleagues are arguing about who gets the swivel chair; 10 minutes after they’ve gone people are in the pub saying what a pain he was, and a day later people are asking “Who he?”

The second aspect is more serious. I am a fan of Top Gear and have probably seen all the 100-plus episodes at least once. I have a strong sense that there have been very few non-white celebrity guests. The only two I remember are Will.i.am and Sanjeev Bhaskar.

If my memory is reliable then the allegations of casual racism have a verifiable foundation and should be acted upon.

I would miss Clarkson, but not for long.

Christopher Sterling
Harpenden, Hertfordshire


Multicultural Britain has failed

Trevor Phillips should be congratulated, not pilloried, for his honesty and realism. The truth is that multiculturalism has not worked. It has delivered not a tolerant multiracial society but a divisive, compartmentalised society not unlike that of Northern Ireland.

It has unwittingly spawned a political correctness that is almost totalitarian and has enabled widespread abuse and criminality to flourish in Rotherham, Oxford and elsewhere.

What the UK needs is a tolerant monocultural society that embraces and integrates all ethnic groups into UK society while enabling them to maintain their beliefs and cultures. We seem to have lost sight of the adage “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” and we need, but  don’t have, an overarching shared set of “British” values.

Peter Moyes
Brightlingsea, Essex


Junk mail for all – or else

I have just met our postman, who was merrily stuffing wads of junk mail into letter boxes, including mine (I live in a flat) clearly labelled “NO JUNK MAIL”.

Asked why he was ignoring the residents’ instructions he replied: “Everybody has to have it whether they want it or not, or I could lose my job. If you don’t like it, take it up with Royal Mail.”

Profit at the expense of customer service. What a waste of resources: straight into the bin, or on the floor by the letter boxes.

Trevor Beaumont
Huddersfield,  West Yorkshire


National bird we can all recognise

I don’t understand why there is so much speculation about the choice of our national bird (letter, 18 March). Obviously, it should be  the pigeon.

Fiona Pereira
London SE6


Israel is a democracy

Yara Hawari's opinion piece dated March 17th presented a distorted view of Israel, questioning its democracy by citing the failures of the Palestinian leadership.

The sad fact is that in Gaza, the Hamas terror group has not held a free and fair election since it took power in 2007, expelling and killing Fatah representatives in the process. Meanwhile, no democratic elections have been held in the Palestinian Authority-ruled West Bank for a decade.

In stark contrast, the joint Arab List in this week’s Israeli election won an impressive 13 seats in the Knesset, making it the third largest party in parliament. How ironic for Israel’s critics, that of all the countries in the Middle East, only in the Jewish State are Arabs free to engage in an open, democratic process.

Yiftah Curiel
Spokesperson, Embassy of Israel