Letters: Labour needs to act like it deserves power

These letters appear in the 12th November issue of The Independent

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One should never underestimate the ability of Labour MPs to do the Tories’ work for them.

At a time when David Cameron and George Osborne have displayed yet again the most blatant dishonesty over the EU (“Osborne accused of accounting trick to claim cut in EU bill”, 8 November), why are Labour not spending their energies attacking them?

There has not been a Labour leader in recent times who has not been vilified by the Tory-dominated media – remember Gordon Brown the “one-eyed Scotsman”, Kinnock the “Welsh windbag”.

Red, now incompetent, Ed is just the latest to suffer the attacks which ignore that he has been on the right side of the agenda in the past four years.

Of course he is a geek – they all are. Can anyone seriously believe his equally geeky but capable brother would not be going through the same obnoxious characterisation? It’s time for Labour to start challenging the untruths and distortions that it seems to feebly accept.

The economic crisis was not caused by the previous government. Most of the sensible world praised Mr Brown and Alistair Darling for their part in rescuing the world from the disaster caused by grasping bankers – the same ones who now bankroll the Tories and are rewarded by tax cuts.

The economy was actually growing and the deficit going down until Mr Osborne and his ideologically driven zealots took over.

If Labour wants to be in power it has to start acting like it wants and deserves it. That applies to the whole party from the leader down. Some of us want Labour to save the UK from another five years of Tory-inspired social division and xenophobia.

Tom Simpson



It would appear that we  are going to go into a second successive general election in which potential victory for the Labour Party is sacrificed to the ego of  its leader.

Gordon Brown should have known by 2008 that, such was his personal unpopularity, Labour couldn’t win under his leadership, but rather than step aside, he brought his arch-enemy Peter Mandelson back into cabinet to ensure that no effective challenge could be made against him and he could continue to lead his party.

And now Ed Miliband should know that his presence at the top of the party virtually guarantees that Labour cannot win the election outright. So when 8 May dawns next year and we all look forward with foreboding to another five years of Tory rule, Mr Miliband can have the satisfaction of knowing that at least he did not have to suffer the personal ignominy of resigning before the election.

Colin Burke



Green targets make no difference

Why does it matter if the UK fails to hit its greenhouse gas reduction targets (“UK carbon emissions: the stench of missed targets”, 10 November)? The UK contributes barely more than 1 per cent (and falling) of global greenhouse gas emissions, and it would make no difference at all to global warming if we were to lower this to 0 per cent.

Our greenhouse gas targets exist for political rather than practical reasons. One possible benefit of having targets is to be able to say that we are setting an example to the rest of the world (though not much of an example if the targets are missed). A more substantial benefit for the Government comes in the form of green taxes aimed at discouraging greenhouse gas production.

On the other hand, these taxes contribute to the UK having some of the highest household energy bills and petrol prices in Europe and the highest air travel tax in the world. We should consider whether we really want to pay “green” taxes, given that they will have no effect on global warming.

Nick Marler

Otley, West Yorkshire


Ian East is correct (letter, 11 November) that it’s no surprise the Government will miss carbon emission reduction targets in part because of its flawed attitudes to onshore wind.

The Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, has waged a war against the onshore wind industry, repeatedly calling in approved plans for onshore wind developments. In doing so, Mr Pickles is using his authority for cheap party politics and is undermining a sector capable of supporting the country’s energy requirements.

Onshore wind is not only a climate-friendly means of energy generation, it’s also considerably cheaper than alternatives including offshore wind. In the US, onshore wind is already the same price as gas. It is a sector meriting support, not party political persecution.

Andrew Whalley

Chief Executive  REG Windpower, Guildford


Can anybody enlighten me on what a “legally binding commitment” on the reduction of carbon emissions by 2030 means?

“Legally binding” ought to imply some kind of sanction for failure, but who gets sanctioned? The Prime Minister, Chancellor or climate change minister in power come 2030? Hardly seems fair when they’ve probably been left an impossible task by their predecessors. All of the ministers between now and then? Surely not.

So if I can’t look forward to seeing David Cameron, George Osborne and Owen Paterson sharing a cell in Pentonville (at least not for this), what’s the point?

Maybe now that we have fixed-term parliaments there should be interim targets for each government, with a sliding scale of penalties.

Bill Linton

London N13


Not so liberal when it comes to tobacco

Rosie Millard’s call for yet another tax on tobacco companies on the pretext of clearing up cigarette butts is illogical (Another Voice, 10 November). Nearly all the price paid for their products goes to the Treasury. The idea that they impose a financial burden on the country is bogus.

Presumably, such a levy would come on top of the one announced by Ed Miliband to pay for the NHS. If Ms Millard and the Labour Party believe the tobacco companies are not handing enough money over to the Government, they should be calling for them to be nationalised. 

More sensible people should welcome the contribution of an industry among Britain’s leading exporters to the salaries and pensions of politicians, doctors and those of us employed in the public sector.

To believe that a product should be legal but those who sell it regarded as enemies of society is a blatantly anti-capitalist and misanthropic view, especially as many who hold it, not least your newspaper, wish to liberalise the laws on illegal drugs.

Rupert Fast

Esher, Surrey


Wages should be set by the market

In your editorial of  7 November you argue that firms should pay staff more because, “a better pay deal for loyal workers is the only way for businesses to re-establish their social contract”. This is remarkably naive.

Businesses pay what they have to in order to attract, motivate and retain good quality staff. Any business which paid a higher rate than needed to its staff would place itself at a competitive disadvantage. A “social contract” is not included in the objectives of most senior executives, but growth and profit are. Wages rise with increased demand for skills, not as an act of philanthropy.

Paul Sloane

Camberley, Surrey


Did MPs think they were back at school?

There seemed to be an unusual degree of chaos around the House of Commons non-vote on the European Arrest Warrant on Monday evening, even by the accepted standards of such things. Until, that is, one remembers that the Government Chief Whip is Michael Gove, who presumably is trialling some new and radical model of how parliamentary business should be conducted.

Keith Flett

London N17


We could learn from The EU’s openness

I strongly support the call from C Richardson (letter, 11 November) for a daily page of EU news. The UK is very badly served in this respect.

Although my experience of contact with EU affairs is some years out of date, I was always impressed by the openness of officials and the very thorough way in which proposals were discussed and considered. The timescale is long, but the system has much to teach the UK.

D W Budworth

London W4


Private schools are in another world

Thanks for another example of “them and us”, embodied in the letter (11 November) from John Claughton, Chief Master of King Edward’s School, Birmingham. He would have us believe that his fees of “just over £11,000” are reasonably affordable. Within the reach of most?

Eddie Dougall

Walsham le Willows, Suffolk