I have lost count of the number of times Nigel Farage and Ukip have been smeared as “racist” and “fascist”.
Such abuse goes some way towards explaining Ukip’s electoral successes, as leftists and liberals have so devalued these terms, through misuse and overuse, that they are now just boo words for them to hurl at anyone daring to challenge their beloved dogmas.
The truth is that many of us just don’t like being ruled over by EU bureaucrats, aren’t in favour of ever more “rights” for vicious criminals, and would quite like to see sensible immigration controls.
Nigel Farage has announced that “the people have spoken”. Does he mean the less than 30 per cent of a turnout of about a third of the voters? This means almost exactly one in ten of the population has spoken. But aren’t they shrill?
As Ukip dreams of a Europe that might have existed some time ago, we might quote Margaret Thatcher and say: “You kip if you want to. The rest of us are awake to Europe’s possibilities.”
In the tradition of the European Commission, is there any reason why fresh elections should not be called immediately? And again and again until the right results are obtained.
Great Gonerby, Lincolnshire
Voters stall the EU superstate
The European election victories of Nigel Farage’s Ukip and Marine Le Pen’s Front National should be taken seriously by Angela Merkel, who should now rein in her utopian plans for an increasingly remote and undemocratic European superstate. The Euro-scepticism of millions of voters cannot be ignored if the EU is to retain credibility.
Spring white-out on the road verges
Michael McCarthy (20 May) attributes the abundance of cow parsley on roadside verges to factors such as agricultural fertilisers and car exhaust. It’s true that the cow parsley is in abundance this spring but then so is the may blossom.
I suggest that Michael McCarthy has a stroll along the Ridgeway National Trail near the Uffington White Horse, but he should take his snow goggles because the effect is of a white-out snow effect – hawthorn bushes so covered with blossom so as to seem laden with snow, and at their feet the cow parsley dazzles in unison.
There are no motor cars on the Ridgeway and no fertiliser, and the verges are not cut, and I did note some red campion, herb robert as well as lots of cleavers and buttercups.
For truly unspoilt lanes it is best to look in areas of our countryside with no arable fields, such as Exmoor, where the lanes are indeed multi-floral.
Charles isn’t always wrong
With the majority of the press out to get Prince Charles, we can do without The Independent joining in (Andreas Whittam Smith, 22 May).
What Prince Charles said about Putin was irrational, stupid and wrong. The Russians should be told that he occasionally talks without thinking and this view neither represents the UK government, nor the British people.
However, Charles often says sensible things that quietly bring government ministers to their senses. Whenever this happens he hardly gets a mention in the press, which uses the same technique to influence the UK electorate against the EU. Good news, ignore; bad news, big headline. I would not like to see Prince Charles silenced.
England is short of kings with memorable sobriquets: Alfred the Great, Ethelred the Unready and, our most recent, William the Conquerer, who died in 1087. So let our next king be known, not as Charles III, but as Charles the Meddler.
I rather think the comparison between Putin and Hitler has more to do with our limited educational system, with its consistent focus on the late German leader. Any close study of Russian history – and be sure that Mr Putin and his advisers have done this – will show greater parallels with the foreign policies of Catherine the Great.
She moved to the south, especially to the Crimea, on the grounds of persecution of Christian minorities by the Ottoman Empire.
When I mention Mr Putin’s advisers, I do so deliberately. Unlike the leaders he is most closely associated with by Western commentators, Mr Putin knows when to stop and he sees the value of listening to his advisers. This was something that Hitler would never do, that Kaiser Bill was unlikely to do, and that Stalin only did when he fully realised his own shortcomings in modern warfare.
Gove’s exam vandalism
In all the discussions over the effects of Micheal Gove’s experiment with free schools it is easy to overlook another result of his ideological meddling with education.
I know several students now taking their science GCSEs who are being forced to take nine examinations right at the end of their course, when only two years ago those exams were spread out over the whole science course. If anyone asks me why this change, my only response could be because Micheal Gove said so, hardly an answer based on good educational evidence. These students are now being required to learn a vast amount of information so that it can be regurgitated in a very short time on a few days in one year.
Now the idea is to remove the practical course work component in the final grade assessment and base everything on even more knowledge that will be assessed in a final written examination. This only makes a bad assessment model even worse.
The previous assessment model enabled students to demonstrate improvement, and was in fact a similar model to that used in university courses.
This destruction of a sound method of assessing students is, in my mind as a former science teacher, one of the worst examples of educational vandalism by a Secretary of State with an agenda driven only by his own ideology and not by reason or evidence.
Gods of the modern world
Robert Fisk (21 May) suggests that Amnesty, the Geneva Conventions and the UN are among the greater gods of modern societies. But surely the greatest, the inescapable, the least tolerant, the most demanding of our obedience, is the Economy.
Frampton Cotterell, South Gloucestershire
World English dooms irregular verbs
As Jean Elliott pointed out in her letter (24 May), the language is losing irregular verbs such as “wove”. Regularisation is the inevitably consequence of English morphing in to Ancwe (Ancillary World English) as the global lingua-franca.
Why rubbish recycling is in a mess
Of course Wales is ahead of the rest in recycling rates (“Totally rubbish”, 27 May) because, as I recall, they largely use the box system rather than wheeled rubbish bins (I used to work for a glass recycling company).
In the box system you get a series of stackable boxes, one for “papers” (paper, cardboard) and one for “containers” (bottles cans, tins). The collection operative hooks the box on to the side of the collection vehicle and sorts the glass from the aluminium, from the plastics, from the steel, and puts any remainder back on the doorstep to educate the householder about what is not recyclable. The stuff on the truck is of high purity and commands the best prices.
There is only one good use for a 240-litre wheeled rubbish bin and that is for 240 litres of rubbish. The householder can hide any sort of stuff in there. If it’s being used for recycling, it isn’t seen again till it reaches a sorting station.
Millions have been spent trying to sort out the various materials from this system, with steel being the only real success. The material produced is of very poor purity and low value and usually has to be sorted again before it can be used by the can or plastic user. Glass is so bad that it can only be used for road fill, instead of remaking into bottles, where it used to save large amounts of energy.
As we try to recycle more things – batteries, clothes, spectacles, plastic bags etc – simply add them to the box. The operative will sort them, right there, into the correct compartment on the truck. Do you think we will have extra wheeled bins for each of those?
Councils have been seduced by big waste companies into spending huge amounts of our money, on the basis that the more you spend the better it must be, when what we need is a local not-for-profit recycling group employing local people to do the job sensibly.