Letters: 'Lazy' workers and greedy bosses


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Described as one of "a team of rising star MPs from the Conservative Party" Norfolk MP Liz Truss has shown once more how little regard she has for the people who live and work in and around her constituency. In the book Britannia Unchained she and fellow MPs Priti Patel, Kwasi Kwareng, Dominic Raab and Chris Skidmore set out their views on why our county is faced with an "inevitable slide into mediocrity".

According to them it's the workers' fault we're in the mess we are, because we dare to want decent wages, trade unions and a care system that looks after those in need. And if only we weren't all so lazy, according to the people who are now enjoying a long summer recess most of us can only dream of.

Come on Liz and the rest of the Tories, get real. Workers are facing increased stress at work as colleagues are laid off and workload increases; they're faced with increased costs of living, with no pay rises and increased pension contributions for something that isn't going to provide in the way they'd been led to expect. Come and join us in the real world before you have the audacity to criticise us.

Jo Rust

King's Lynn, Norfolk

For how much longer are citizens of our Western democracies going to tolerate the accelerating wealth gap between the working, tax-paying majority and "top company bosses" who award themselves ever-rising salaries and undeserved "bonuses" (report, 18 August)?

The main cause of static wages in Europe and the US has been "globalisation", the deliberate export of productive jobs to low-wage countries such as China. Not only has this downward pay-pressure created massive unemployment, especially among the young, but also wider social costs of unemployment and poverty such as family breakdown, ill health and crime. The resulting stagnation and even decline of taxable incomes is a huge factor in the current fiscal crisis facing the eurozone, the UK and the US, which are all finding it increasingly difficult to fund civilised public services.

The catastrophic displays of incompetence, dishonesty and greed which have become apparent among so many vastly-overpaid business "leaders" are clear evidence not only of a failure of basic citizenship at the top of leading organisations, but also the lack of a competitive jobs market at this level. Just as with the notorious "closed shop" unions of the 1970s, we seem to have placed our economic future in the hands of an arrogant, tax-dodging little cartel of grasping incompetents.

It seems obvious that the best course for our economy would be to repatriate the useful, skilled manufacturing jobs and for investors instead to go out on to the world market to find competent chief executives who would no doubt be delighted to work for a tiny fraction of the £3m paid to "the typical FTSE chief executive".

Aidan Harrison

Rothbury, Northumberland

The Conservative MPs who said that "our productivity is poor" and "where Indian children aspire to be doctors or businessmen, the British are more interested in football and pop music" should know that, in developed countries, both low productivity and lack of realistic expectations are positively correlated with high levels of income inequality. So there may be policy solutions to their worries about the state of the nation.

Duncan Exley

Director, One Society, London SE1

What is Julian Assange really afraid of?

Your opinion that Julian Assange should go to Sweden and there argue his deportation to the USA on its merits, misses the point (leading article, 17 August).

A sexual assault charge brought by Sweden against an Australian could be expected not to be of major concern to the United Kingdom, yet our determination to deport Assange to Sweden is such that we appear to be willing to risk alienating a number of powerful South American countries as well as compromising our country's reputation by threatening international diplomatic rules. We can only be taking such big risks because of powerful pressure on us by the USA, which is determined to get Assange at any cost.

Assange himself is aware that once in Sweden, whatever the outcome of the sexual assault charge, the Swedes will be put under the same pressure to extradite him to the USA, and that this is likely to overwhelm any merits of his case. The inhuman way in which the supposedly "innocent until proven guilty" Bradley Manning has been treated while on remand over Wikileaks, indicates America's determination to take revenge on those who embarrass it by revealing the truth. 

Nick Marler

Otley, West Yorkshire

Steve Porter is strangely selective in choosing the points from Owen Jones's article to address (letter, 18 August). Jones made several other points relating to Mr Assange's claim to be fleeing extradition to the USA, which Mr Porter does not mention. Perhaps he would care to address the following:

He says that the USA has refused to guarantee that the death penalty would not be sought if Mr Assange were extradited. However, it would be illegal for either Sweden or the UK to extradite him if such a guarantee were not forthcoming.

Why is Mr Assange so afraid that Sweden will extradite him to the USA, when, given the ridiculously lop-sided nature of our own extradition agreement with the States, he runs a far greater risk of being sent there if he stays in the UK?

Why did he apply for political asylum at this stage, rather than in Sweden after he has answered the rape charges?

If his attempts to avoid extradition to Sweden are motivated solely by his fear of being sent to the USA, why did his earlier appeals revolve around procedural matters to do with the Swedish judicial system rather than this issue?

Michael Bennie

Newton Abbot, Devon

You fail to mention in connection with Julian Assange that Sweden's legal system has in the past complied with America's extralegal wishes (leading article, 20 August). The UN Human Rights Committee ruled in 2006 that Sweden violated the global torture ban by allowing the CIA to transfer an asylum seeker from Sweden to Egypt.

Yugo Kovach

Winterborne Houghton, Dorset

I have no trouble with Julian Assange's call for America to end its war against whistleblowers, so long as Sweden doesn't give up its war against rapists.

Paul Harper

London E15

Bulldoze this library now

Ian Richards comments realistically on the appearance of the current Birmingham Central Library (letter, 17 August). I worked in it for 16 years from the date of its opening, for 12 of those being responsible for Birmingham's world-class reference library.

Recruited from outside the organisation, one of the first things I realised was that most councillors were more interested in showing off their new building than in the resources which it contained.

The present structure stands out like a sore thumb in an area of architecturally attractive buildings. If this alone is not sufficient to warrant its removal it must be remembered that the concrete construction began to show signs of future problems from very early days. More recently steps have had to be taken to contain deteriorating parts of the structure.

The creation of the Paradise Forum by enclosing the central court served merely to introduce a shabby retail area at the expense of the thousands of people using the reference library each week. Instead of an atmosphere conducive to serious study and research they were treated to frequent noisy events from jazz bands downwards. The working library within the building deserved better, and decades of dedicated staff have indeed, to their credit, been making the best of a bad job pending removal to a new building farther from the city centre.

So yes, bring in the bulldozers and save the citizens of Birmingham yet more expense.

Tony Walker

Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands

Leave Kristen Stewart alone

Sometimes I wonder what century we are living in. Kristen Stewart has been subjected to an astonishing level of personal attack. Even Harriet Walker (17 August) insists: "I don't argue that Stewart did nothing wrong." Yet her "crime" was not tax evasion or financial fraud, but the act of kissing someone. I expect stoning to death for adultery will return to the statute books before long.

Stewart has repeatedly said, in interviews, that she has no wish to be a role model, only wanting people to be interested in the characters she portrays. We should admire her as a highly intelligent, immensely talented young actress, and leave her relations with her boyfriends to the people involved.

Peter Benson

London NW2

Brand won the argument

Peter Hitchens says that "Russell Brand's reason-free and factless harangues, spiced with personal insults, help the cause of anyone he attacks," (letter, 17 August), with reference to their discussion on the recent BBC Newsnight programme on the treatment of drug addicts. I saw that programme, and I thought that Russell Brand gave a very good account of himself, calmly and intelligently putting his case, backed up by personal experience. (He was an addict for 10 years and has been clean for a further 10.) I thought that Peter Hitchens' case was insulting from the outset.

Penny Joseph

Shoreham-by-sea, West Sussex

Exam medals

Pete Dorey suggests that people might suggest that because UK has gained more medals then the Olympics have got easier (letter, 17 August). On the contrary, over the years, as the measured performance of athletes has improved, the standard required for entry to the Olympics has been raised. With the exam system, on the other hand, as performance has improved the standard has not been raised, rendering the results of dubious value.

Pat Johnston

Hexham, Northumberland

Greatest show

The World Cup is the greatest show on Earth, according to Dave Pryke (letter, 13 August) because in 2010 it drew 24.2 billion viewers, compared to 4.3 billion for the Beijing Olympics. Well, not quite. The Beijing 4.3 billion was Neilsen's estimate of the number of unique viewers. This clearly cannot be the case for the World Cup figures; the clue is that there are only seven billion people on the planet. So what he probably means is 24.2 billion "views".

Gerard Bell

Ascot, Berkshire

Spectator sport

In the light of the dropping of Kevin Pietersen for the match against South Africa, it might be timely to misquote the great W G Grace: "People have come to watch Pietersen bat, not watch the England and Wales Cricket Board save face."

Roy Kendall

Bookham, Surrey

It's a verb

I am relieved to find that the Oxford English Dictionary describes "medal" (letters, 15, 17 August) as a transitive verb, which has been in use since 1822.

Jeanette Bovey

London SW13