When a third-world country takes the bit between its teeth and has the guts to make extravagant self-sacrifices in order to survive, we call it a “plucky little country” – patronising, maybe, but at least a fair assessment.
When young families in such countries quietly settle to sell the only thing they have, their labour or their brainpower, going abroad to the only markets they can find, we should admire them.
As if conscripts in a war, they have to leave their families to go to work abroad and to send what money they can to support them. Despite the sneers, they are, in fact, too proud to beg our help.
The extreme, brick-headed Conservatives lurking in the nasty party, and in Ukip, seem to have no moral relationship to the great Conservatives of the past who, love them or hate them, had a high sense of responsibility for the unfortunate, sick and disabled, the poor, old, rejected and needy, who abound these days in this obscene world of bonny, bouncing bankers. They are concerned neither about people other than their own, nor about pockets other than their own.
Kenneth J Moss, Norwich
Whether immigrants are good for this country or not is not the point. It is the negation of democracy that sticks in most people’s craws.
The invasion of other cultures on the scale of the past 15-20 years will inevitably change the nature of our nation. The questions are: “Were we, the established population, asked whether we agreed to this fundamental change in our society? Were we given an adult explanation? Were we consulted?” The answer is an emphatic no.
They feed the interests of business; they don’t let the people decide the nature of the country in which they wish to live; and the politicians, who treat us with such scant regard, wonder why they are so despised.
Finlay Fraser, Cottingham, East Riding of Yorkshire
Your headline “Talking Turkey” (21 December) once again demonstrated either the Prime Minister’s lack of understanding of the EU or his choice to ignore this understanding and play personal politics, dragging our country along with him.
I find it really hard to believe in the former, so have come to the conclusion that it is the latter. The Prime Minister recently stoked the threat of waves of Romanian and Bulgarian “benefit tourists” and “job thieves”, and apparently we are now faced with further waves of Albanians, Serbs and Turks.
Conversations with Danish friends suggested that there was a similar disquiet in Denmark, and the idea of concern across many EU states has been repeatedly reported in the media.
But instead of opening discreet but meaningful dialogue with other member states to come to a consensus on the regulation of benefit payments, the Prime Minister switches to his “fight them on the beaches” mode.
I can only believe that this fear of dialogue is because any agreement then reached would smack of integration, something which is apparently even more to be resisted than waves of fellow citizens of the EU.
Closer integration in more areas would surely better define Europe, with more common application of social and welfare policy creating standards which new entrants would have to meet, as well as putting some substance to how we view human rights within the EU.
This fear of further integration must be a source of confusion to our EU partners when they look at the make up of the UK. While Scots are all citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, I have yet to meet one who, when asked, was anything other than a Scot.
And while we have common policies on finance, tax, defence and the like, Scots hold to their laws and education systems.
Surely this demonstrates the very model of an integrated society that the EU could become?
John E Wright, Newcastle upon Tyne
In the midst of this endless xenophobic barrage we might do worse than remember the 100,000 or so Scots who migrated to Poland in the 17th and early 18th centuries to seek work and escape from a miserable poverty. Just as well that Cameron was not around then. When will this nastiness end?
Peter Kampman, Edinburgh
Privatised power has cost us dear
J D Woodcock (letter, 31 December) is right to praise the engineers and technicians trudging about in foul weather to restore service to customers.
However, it’s a fair bet that they are not on the same remuneration as UK Power Networks CEO Basil Scarsella (believed to be £1.7m). This farce of profits from electricity generation and distribution, water, railway passenger and freight operations etc going overseas to benefit Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain and China is a Government-conducted rip-off.
I was under the naive impression that, when I voted, I was electing a government to manage our country for the benefit of the British people. This is obviously not so.
All our nationalised utilities needed investment which the Government was not prepared to fund, as this would have increased tax.
We are all now paying far more than we were before privatisation, and not getting a better service. The state should take the utilities back into state ownership. MPs talk about hard-working families; let’s see them actually doing something to help ordinary people and British industry, which is also affected by high power costs.
Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Your front-page headline “‘Blackout boss’ earned £1.7m” (31 December) is totally misleading: he did not earn that sum; it is merely what he is paid.
Robert J Jones, Chelmsford, Essex
We all admire the engineers who come out in all weather to restore power. But we have no time for the directors and senior managers of the energy companies whose greed beggars belief.
We have far fewer engineers than we used to, as many have been sacked to boost profitability. The fact that they were there to ensure everyone has the power they need is regarded as an unnecessary expense; if a few customers are without power for a week or so, then so be it! The only priority is achieving higher bonuses and dividends.
Energy prices increase year on year well above inflation; all customers expect in return is that proper staffing levels are maintained to provide a decent service. If bonuses were conditional upon maintaining power supplies rather than profitability, we would all get the level of service we are paying for.
Malcolm Howard, Banstead, Surrey
How to silence infantile MPs
Donald Macintyre is right to ask: “Is it time to bring rowdy MPs into line?” (28 December). But Ed Miliband has the remedy to hand. He says he would like to change the “bunch of kids who shout at each other”. All he has to do is tell his side to be silent when a member of the other parties is holding forth, then respond firmly but politely.
The public will soon identify the public-school antics of the other side as puerile and pathetic, and I can guarantee that we will soon be able to hear what our representatives actually think in orderly debates.
I observed this way of dealing with self-indulgent rowdiness in a nursery school and have never come across a more effective way of dealing with infantile behaviour than publicly identifying it as such.
Colin Burke, Manchester
We need to take our consciences to work
Sally Bland says it is “professional” to do things at work that you would not choose to do in your private life (letter, 27 December).
The implication that a professional person should leave their moral judgement at the door when they enter the workplace is worrying. Perhaps it explains why every month sees a large organisation fined for appalling abuses without any expectation that those involved should be held accountable, as they were just following orders? No doubt, many involved knew things were wrong, but they also knew they would be worse off if they tried to do something about it. Do we not need to have more people who act in accordance with their conscience rather than denigrate them for lacking “professionalism”?
Nick Bion, Reading
Syria: a victory to remember
During our festive season and our reflections on 2013, I have observed no mention of one of the greatest achievements of last year: that great day for British democracy as France, the UK and the US were posturing to bomb Syria when our Parliament “nipped it in the bud”.
So, no repeat of our disastrous and tragic follies in Afghanistan and Iraq. Instead, over the festive season, I read that we are sending billions in aid to Syria. This success really is something to celebrate.
Andy Turney, Dorchester, Dorset