For the past two and a half years we have heard over and over again from George Osborne and others that our current financial problems were solely caused by the previous Labour government.
Your article on net government borrowing (22 November) threw light on this argument. The statistics showed that average borrowing over the 18 years of Conservative governments (1979-1996) was £29.5bn a year. However, between 1997 and 2007 the last Labour government had on average net borrowing of just £15.6 bn a year. When we include the two years of problems caused by the bankers and the money used to bail out banks, the average borrowing was £34.1bn a year.
It is clear from these statistics that the Coalition's rhetoric about blaming the previous Labour government is wrong. What was needed from the Chancellor was a coherent plan to recover from the financial crisis through the development of a growth plan. In Osborne's Autumn Statement we can see how blinded and incompetent he has been over the past 30 months.
My reaction to the Coalition's statement that it would eliminate the structural deficit in one Parliament was different from Mary Ann Sieghart's (Voices, 7 December).
I concluded that a deficit which could be dealt with so relatively swiftly was unimportant, and must be serving as a pretext for attacking the welfare state and reducing the living standards of the poorest. As subsequent events have proved.
In his Autumn Statement, the Chancellor noted that the liabilities of Bradford & Bingley and Northern Rock Asset Management had been brought on to the balance sheet: thus adding about £70bn to the national debt. This he said "reminds us of the price the country is still paying for the failures of the past."
I can only presume he was referring to the 1986 Building Societies Act of the Thatcher era, which paved the way for the disastrous privatisation of both these lenders.
David Cameron continually asserts that he's on the side of "hard-working people". Presumably the mainly disabled employees at Remploy were not working hard enough. Matthew Norman (5 December) is correct; the treatment of the poor, and specifically Remploy employees, shames us all, but this government will forever be tarnished by these actions.
Osborne throws away money by deferring the fuel tax rise and attempts to save a lesser amount by closing Remploy. This is economic madness combined with the spirit of Scrooge.
West Wickham, Kent
Savile case highlights a legal injustice
New criminal sentencing guidelines which will take into account psychological harm for sexual offences are most welcome and long overdue. As a society, however, we should also view proper recompense in the civil courts as nothing less than vital to the legal process.
I represent many of Jimmy Savile's victims, most of whom are unlikely to receive much more than £50,000 for the pain and suffering caused. This is not a small sum, but pales in comparison to compensation awarded to victims of considerably less traumatic injustices.
It is perverse that the legal system in effect regards repeated rape and child abuse as less "damaging" than defamation, such as was suffered by Lord McAlpine. While Lord McAlpine undoubtedly went through a terrible ordeal after his name was wrongly linked to child abuse, it was short-lived compared to the decades of suffering caused by Savile. It is frankly incomprehensible that he will very quickly receive over six times more than most of Savile's victims, who will also have to wait much longer while many inquiries are yet to get under way.
Furthermore, if the BBC can find £450,000 to reward George Entwistle for failing to do his job properly, the legal system should be able to ensure proper compensation for victims of the gravest forms of abuse.
Fair compensation helps victims to get the treatment they need to move on with their lives, but also brings a sense of justice and finality to an episode which has blighted so many lives.
Lawyer, Slater & Gordon, London WC2
Jeeves raises a delicate matter
"Jeeves, you are making that noise in your throat. Something you wish to say?"
"No secrets here, Jeeves. You know that. What is on you mind? Say on."
"I fear, Sir, it is a delicate matter".
"Oh, come on, Jeeves. You're not going to be all stuffy about my new blazer – the one with the cerise and ochre stripes. It is very much the thing, don't y'know."
"No, Sir. Distressing as I admit the garment is, it is not that of which I wish to speak."
"Oh, good. Righto then – you have our attention. What's the problem, Jeeves?"
"I fear, Sir, I have inadvertently become the subject of notoriety in the newspaper. I am very sorry, Sir."
"Notoriety? Newspaper? You, Jeeves?"
"I fear so, Sir. Eight down."
"Eight down, Jeeves? You're not making sense. You haven't been easing back on the fish have you?"
"I have become, Sir – well, I am the answer to eight down in the Concise Crossword in Tuesday's edition. It is very regrettable, Sir."
"Oh, come Jeeves, a bit of an honour, isn't it?"
"No, Sir. The clue was erroneous. It suggested I was a – ahem – a 'butler', Sir."
"'Butler', Jeeves? No, no. That's not right."
"Precisely, Sir. It is a most uncomfortable predicament for a 'gentleman's personal gentleman'."
"Yes. I do see that. Absolutely bally so. Very embarrassing for you, Jeeves."
"Your sympathy is much appreciated, Sir. I was wondering if, as my employer, Sir, you might see your way to submitting a corrective."
"You mean write to the Editor putting him right on the matter?"
"If you felt able to do so, Sir."
"Consider it done, Jeeves. I shall attend to it this very day."
"Thank you very much, Sir."
Nasty behaviour mars football
The death of volunteer linesman in the Netherlands is very sad, but not entirely surprising given the example set by professional players, notably in the higher echelons of the game.
In 20 years of playing in local football, I witnessed ever more examples of nasty, petty, unsportsmanlike conduct. This correlated with the rise of the baying, arrogant professional footballer, driven by ever greater sums of money to win at all costs, leading to deliberate attempts to marginalise and intimidate referees.
Many young lads simply follow the example of their heroes. It was only a matter of time before this attitude spilled over into deadly violence.
Off of the pitch, the friendly rivalry that used to exist between supporters of different clubs has followed a similar trajectory, with disrespectful attitudes becoming ever more the norm.
I despair for a game that has brought me so much joy and friendship over the years. But there is a solution. Follow the example of rugby union football: dissent should not be tolerated; players should be penalised and, if necessary sent off, managers fined and clubs docked points. Perhaps then, with a better example from the top of the sport, we can, at a local level, regain the game that we lost 20 years ago.
Loyalists to what?
I see the Ulster Loyalists are at it again. Where is this fantasy Protestant United Kingdom they imagine they are being loyal to?
The rest of us know that the UK has been a multi-faith nation for some time. The Prince of Wales says he will swear to be defender of "faith" in general at his accession. And – more shocking than that – at one point, 10 years ago, the Leader of Her Majesty's opposition, Iain Duncan Smith, was Roman Catholic, as were the Lib Dem leader, Charles Kennedy, and the Speaker of the Commons, Michael Martin. And the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was about to become one!
Come on Ulster, wake up and smell the incense.
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
Don't despair of the climate
"I'm a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will" (attributed to Gramsci).
Richard Mountford (letter, 6 December) believes "emissions aren't going to fall to zero", and that geo-engineering can remove greenhouse gases and is technically possible; but regardless of the consequences? As regards global warming, Bill Fletcher (same day) believes most people are too short-sighted and selfish, and advocates, with irony, that we eat drink and be merry.
They are both wrong, it never will be too late to stop things getting still worse. We can and will find solutions by facing and continuing to work on the problem courageously, without despair.
Wasn't Starbuck the dreary character who spent the book criticising Ahab for pursuing Moby-Dick instead of making huge profits for the Pequod's investors?
When people fail to give satisfactory answers to the Public Accounts Committee regarding corporation tax, is that avoidance or evasion?
If Alex Salmond really desires full independence for Scotland he should be indifferent to the attitude of Brussels to Scottish membership of the EU as well as that of Westminster to retaining the pound. Having given up comparisons with Ireland as a model for an independent Scotland, Mr Salmond has latched on to Norway as his paradigm. Norway is neither a member of the EU nor of any currency union. That is true independence and should be his objective.
Chesham Bois, Buckinghamshire
Jem of an idea
Julien Evans (letter, 6 December) is right that rationalising the spelling of English would help to improve literacy. Part of a solution would be to drop the soft G (as in "gin"). I can't think of any instance where it could not be replaced by the letter J, which has the same and single sound.
Paddock Wood, KentReuse content