Ed Miliband should have no sympathy for the devil of Little Englander myopia when determining the Labour Party’s line on Cameron’s promise of a referendum on Europe (Steve Richards, 5 November).
For decades many of Britain’s electorate have been fed the blatant lies about EU membership of the self-interested right-wing press. Those who in their heart of hearts have known the sheer lunacy of leaving the European Union have remained deafeningly silent, for fear of losing their wafer-thin majorities.
Exiting the EU would be an act of national kamikaze, losing at least 4 million jobs and the massive international influence we enjoy as an active member of a major global economic player.
The Labour leadership should stand strong against such misplaced jingoism. As Steve Richards correctly points out, Ed Miliband always does well in the polls when taking an unequivocal line.
This is an issue vital to Britain’s long-term economic interests. The tail should no longer be allowed to wag the British lion.
Richard Denton-White, Portland, Dorset
When the British were last given a referendum on the EU, the political class systematically deceived them as to what was involved, in order to secure a yes vote. It is likely that this deceit is the most important reason why a clear majority in this country want another vote – and would quite probably cast it for exit.
Does it not occur to either Steve Richards or any other member of that political class that the incessant manoeuvring to avoid that vote is a large part of the reason that confidence in that class has all but collapsed?
Parliamentary candidates simply must go to the next election telling the truth about what they think about the EU, and if they would support a referendum or not. Nothing less will ever draw the poison around this issue and allow us to make a fresh start either in the EU or more probably outside it.
That is called democracy. Do you believe in democracy, Mr Richards?
R S Foster, Sheffield
It suits “call me Dave” to have everybody believe the UK is on the brink of leaving the EU. He thinks the EU desperately wants the UK to stay and will throw away loads of EU directives and agreements just to keep the UK within the EU.
But what happens if all other leaders say, “To hell with these right-whingers and their posturing; we’ve had enough of them. Let them go, they are too much of a problem, they are not worth persuading to stay”?
David Cameron could soon find himself in a position where other EU leaders don’t want him and he has convinced the majority of UK voters not to stay within the EU.
After all these years of antagonising the EU, David Cameron’s dalliance with Europhobic isolationism is risking his negotiating position, and he might find that he’s left with nothing more than a simple “in or out” vote.
Duncan Anderson, East Halton, North Lincolnshire
If voting made any difference...
Having watched the Newsnight interview with Russell Brand I have been mystified by the almost universally hostile reaction from commentators to his views on voting. His views reflect a great swathe of opinion, particularly among younger potential voters who have no incentive to become involved.
As Matthew Norman (6 November) points out, Brand has underlined a situation that is becoming worse. Governments are coming into power with decreasing majorities.
As a committed voter I have participated in every election and referendum since I became eligible to vote and will continue to do so. However, following some recent gerrymandering – sorry, electoral boundary changes – my vote in parliamentary elections has become pointless. Whomever I vote for, the local, unseen and unheard Tory incumbent will be elected thanks to a voting system which disenfranchises millions.
Only when the country adopts proportional representation and the single transferrable vote will there be any prospect of the change so desired by Russell Brand and many more.
Peter Coghlan, Broadstone, Dorset
Matthew Norman suggests a “none of the above” box on ballot papers as a means of luring the disillusioned masses to the voting booth by allowing them to express their frustration. Yes, of course. But why not insist that voting, rather than a right, is a civic duty?
“A plague on all your houses” is a valid option, but refusal to participate in elections to Parliament should incur a hefty fine. “Use it or lose it” should be the watchword of any democratic society.
Max Gauna, Sheffield
Business pays for maternity leave
It is obvious that the writer of your leader “A pregnant cause” (4 November) has never owned a small business.
If they had they would have experienced the chaos and cost when the key member of staff, usually a very capable young woman, who runs the office, pays the wages and copes with difficult customers and the host of other problems that bigger companies have whole departments to deal with, leaves for up to 12 months with no guarantee she will come back at all.
I am not suggesting that they should not be employed or be entitled to maternity leave, but to say that smaller companies are not disproportionately affected is ridiculous. The cost to the bigger companies would not entail the wrecking of the business plan, possible loss of other jobs and the calling in of bank loans.
Gary Kirk, Burnley, Lancashire
Don’t be beastly to the germans
The present government may not be personally responsible for GCHQ spying on the Germans from our embassy in Berlin (details of which you seem to be the only paper willing to reveal), being, as they are, victims of our privileged position in a North Atlantic alliance which is now over 20 years out of date.
However, if they had even a modicum of the courage required to do the morally decent thing for once, they would issue an apology to the German government, along with an assurance that it would be discontinued. This is highly unlikely, as we seem to live in a world where all sense of morality gives way to the quest for power and influence. This government is not one to break free from this.
Peter Giles, Whitchurch, Shropshire
How to make M&S less dreary
Here’s what would help Marc Bolland in his “uphill” task of improving Marks & Spencer clothing sales (Chris Blackhurst, 6 November). Forget about those expensive high-fashion collections: at the moment the mere act of shopping in M&S is a wearisome chore.
Go into the stores and clear out all those ghastly muddles, those corners where lurk the dreary grey and beige remnants of previous failed “fashion launches”, and sort out those overcrowded racks so that we can see what we’re looking for.
And bring in more pay-points so that we don’t have to trail the whole length of the floor for the privilege of handing over our money.
Jane Jakeman, Oxford
No place for burka in a civilised society
Well said, Dr Hargey (letter, 6 November). For too long misguided liberals have held up “culture” as an inviolable justification for practices which would not be acceptable in a civilised society. Burka-wearing militates against social interaction and therefore contributes to the unjustified distrust that many people feel towards Muslims.
Patrick Cleary, Honiton, Devon
Forcing young schoolgirls into burkas and denying them access to natural vitamin D from sunlight is child abuse. Pregnant women wearing burkas are abusing their unborn children by passing on their vitamin D deficiency. The Victorian disease of rickets is returning. A civilised society acts to stop child abuse and the preventable spread of disease.
David Crawford, Bickley, Kent
Rewards for loyalty
Congratulations to The Independent for rewarding loyal readers who opt to take out a subscription to their newspaper, by not increasing the price. Would that other large businesses would follow suit, instead of reducing prices for new customers.
Although we are exhorted by the Government to switch our fuel providers, the most vulnerable in society often fail to do so. The administrative costs saved by discouraging all this “switching” could be used to reward long-standing customers to encourage them to stay with their present providers.
E King, Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex
Not bad enough for this bank
It’s bad luck for David Punter (letters, 5 November), in his bid to be Bad Boss of a Bad Bank. There is already a wealth of internal candidates, equally well, or badly, qualified.
Beverley Southgate, London NW3