Letters: Logic and emotion clash in Europe debate

These letters appear in the Friday 4th April edition of the Independent

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What is all this about winning or losing the debate between Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg? Either you agreed with the one or the other. I doubt if many changed their minds: neither deployed any new arguments. Clegg used logic, Farage emotion.

The use of this debate was twofold. It exposed the arguments, and the “exit poll” gave an idea of how people would vote if there were a referendum today.

The good news for the “ins” like myself is that only about a sixth of the population needs to be convinced. The problem is how the ins are going to speak to the feelings of those who are not convinced by logic.

Venetia Caine, Glastonbury, Somerset

Save at the very end, nobody mentioned the word “war” in the Farage-Clegg debate on the EU. Both Farage and Clegg are too young to have experienced war in Europe.

For over 500 years nations in post-medieval Europe waged war against one another. In the last century two world wars shattered Europe. My mother had her eldest brother killed in the First World War (Ypres) and her youngest brother killed in the Second (Crete). I was born in 1938 and my father, having survived Dunkirk, was absent on active service from 1940 to 1945, so that I did not recognise him when he returned home.

My mother, sister and I slept in the cellar of our house in south-east London for the duration of the war. A good job too because the house opposite us was bombed flat in 1944 by a V2 rocket.

A united Europe (whatever its faults) is far preferable to antagonistic separate nations, and the Ukip isolation policy is simply a false dream based on outdated 19th-century notions.

David Ashton, Shipbourne, Kent

Listening to the televised debate on Wednesday evening, I realised why Nick Clegg has difficulty with a 70-year-old like me who grew up in Hackney in the 1950s. There the local population lived contentedly enough in a monocultural society in a London Cockney setting reflected by the Broadway Market round the corner, a series of cinemas in Mare Street and a straightforward English way of life.

Mr Clegg made great play of how he wants us to live in the present rather than the past. The problem is that the elements he cited were all foisted on us. We never asked for mass immigration. We never asked for multiculturalism. We never asked for diversity. We never asked for political union with 27 other countries of Europe. Mr Clegg necessarily begins from the weakest psychological stance in expecting people to accept situations which were forced on them. That is why his views carried little weight with me.

Edward Thomas, Eastbourne, East Sussex

Cinderella law: will social workers cope?

Frank Furedi (“The Cinderella law: emotional correctness gone mad”, 2 April) points out that every mother or father is  at risk of being labelled an abuser under the proposed “Cinderella law”.

The Government has proposed this new law just when the NSPCC reports that the threshold for intervening in a child’s life is actually being raised because of record reporting of child abuse. But a huge amount of this reporting is already needless. Department for Education figures for 2012-2013 show that, in England, there were 145,700 needless referrals to children’s social services in one year. Child protection is about a child “suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm”. When so many children are needlessly reported, this does indicate that people already overreact.

So why does the Government want to broaden the definition of child abuse even further, thus creating more cases for an overloaded system? Sixteen children known to Birmingham social services died in a five-year period. A report severely criticised Birmingham social services over the poor quality of referrals, leading to a surge in demand that could not be met.

Detecting child abuse in the community is akin to finding a needle in a haystack for overstretched social workers. So why make the haystack even bigger by creating more cases that will need assessment?

Tristram C Llewellyn Jones, Ramsey, Isle of Man

Consistent, loving care is critical in building the human brain, so it certainly is time that our child-protection laws reflect the long-term mental and physical damage caused by the emotional neglect and abuse of children. The announcement that the Government intends to make the emotional abuse of children a criminal offence is an important step.

Understanding the critical importance of the emotional well-being of children is vital to the well-being of society. There is a raft of evidence to show that when infants receive warm, responsive, consistent, attuned, loving care their brains develop well. They are then able to grow into adults with the capacity for empathy and the facility to become good, caring parents themselves.

Lydia Keyte, Chair, What About The Children? Newbold on Stour, Warwickshire

Frank Furedi claims our Sutton Trust report “Baby Bonds” is driven by “an authoritarian impulse whose main consequence is to diminish parental authority”. In fact, the report is driven by an egalitarian impulse, whose intended consequence is for public policy to better support parents, precisely in order to generate, as Furedi puts it, “more opportunities for children, and indeed parents, to realise their potential.”

Furedi offers no evidence to counter our empirical finding – from a review of over 100 academic studies – that a secure emotional relationship with a parent can have an important influence on children’s life chances, particularly for the most disadvantaged. 

Sophie Moullin, Princeton University, Professor Jane Waldfogel, Columbia University, Dr Liz Washbrook, Bristol University

Nasty Party kicks out A-level student

What a PR disaster the removal of the 19-year-old student Yashika Bhageerathi has proved to be! It shows Theresa May in her true colours as a member of the “Nasty Party” who, having failed to meet her targets for immigration, attempts to keep her numbers up by picking on a young, vulnerable girl who came here to avoid abuse. The removal of her alone, without her mother, and a failed attempt to remove her on Mothering Sunday, only added to the disaster.

The Home Office showed a complete lack of common sense and compassion in this case. What difference would it have made if Yashika had been allowed a further six weeks here so she could take her A-levels and return home with a qualification? Instead Britain is once again portrayed as an uncaring nation instead of a just and caring society.

The only people who deserve credit in this sad situation are the head, staff and pupils of the Oasis Academy Hadley in Enfield – they may have failed but they are heroes in my book.

Ken Smith, Hinderclay, Suffolk

Why no auction for Royal Mail?

You conclude (editorial, 2 April) that “Mr Cable was still right to be cautious” over the privatisation of the Royal Mail, on the grounds that privatisations cannot be guaranteed to be successful, and that “the effects of hindsight and ‘froth’ are impossible to judge”. 

Maybe so, but it is hard to understand why the Department for Business did not, apparently, even consider the use of a properly designed sealed-bid auction, instead of the conventional book-building exercise. Nor, apparently, did the National Audit Office consider this as  an option.

The Treasury uses such auctions to sell government bonds, Google was floated using one, so why not for the Post Office? At least then everyone would have had a chance at getting some shares, and the selling price would have been more likely to settle at the market clearing price, providing that the auction process was properly designed.

David Harvey, Tynemouth, Tyne & Wear

Abuse of women becomes fashion

Oh dear, here we go again. The editor of Italian Vogue, Franca Sozzani, thinks she is campaigning in some way against the abuse of women by actually showing nicely arranged “fashion” images of pretend victims (The Big Read, 3 April).

This happens again and again in film and media. You are not reflecting the horrors of society, you idiots, you are simply joining in and adding  to them.

Sue Nicholas, Cranleigh, Surrey

The battle of Richard’s bones

If there is doubt (“Car park bones disputed”, 28 March) as to whether the Leicester Greyfriars burial is indeed that of Richard III, or of a contemporary similarly slain in battle, perhaps they should be honourably interred as the Unknown Warrior of the Wars of the Roses.

Peter Forster, London N4

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