The news that Cameron and Osborne “are winning the economic argument against Miliband and Balls” beggars belief, and surely reveals the power of the biased media (“Tories more trusted than Labour with economy...”, 2 December).
The Tories` propaganda machine did an excellent job in 2010, when they blamed Labour for the economic crisis, and stressed the subsequent need for deficit reduction and the imposition of austerity. However, the facts suggest that Tory propaganda works more smoothly than their economic policies.
Remember how the deficit had to be removed immediately? Living beyond one’s means was wrong, and failure to act would mean lumbering the next generation with massive debt? The country fell for it. Reducing the deficit was neither as essential nor as urgent as they claimed, especially as quantitative easing would soon re-capitalise the banks and kick-start the economy.
It did give them, though, the excuse they wanted to make savage cuts in government spending, which meant at least 350,000 job losses in the public sector, and huge reductions in benefits to the less fortunate; their real aim was a low-wage economy for the people and a low-tax regime for corporations and the rich.
In 2010, Osborne predicted the effect of the cuts would be to reduce the deficit to £40bn by the end of this year, but it is likely to be near £100bn. So much for Tory expertise. What about their point of it not being fair to lumber future generations with debt? Strange how this didn’t figure at all when they tripled the fees university students would have to pay.
Labour gets the blame because of all the borrowing its Blair and Brown governments had done. But when the figures are examined, which party deserves the criticism? In the past five years, the Coalition has borrowed £157.5bn, with billions more on the cards, compared with the £142.7bn borrowed by Labour in its 13 years in government; a much-vaunted long-term economic plan which fails to balance the books and leads to exponential borrowing, needs to be seen for what it is: a complete failure.
Still, we are told, because of Osborne’s shrewd handling, the economy has recovered. Really? National income is higher now than it was in the first quarter of 2008, but population has grown by 3.5m, so income per capita is down 3.4 per cent, and real wages for most are down 10 per cent. CEOs of the FTSE 100 companies earn 143 times that of their average employees.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies predicts spending cuts of another £48bn under a Tory government. The myth that the Tories are able economists, and that the economy is safe in their hands is one that needs serious debunking.
Has Christmas come early? Despite a current deficit of almost £100bn and rising – some £60bn more than Mr Osborne anticipated – the Government has recently announced the following spending plans: another £3bn on the NHS; £2.3bn more for flood defences; £15bn for roads; £7bn for tax cuts; more money for social housing; possibly a lagoon power scheme. No doubt there will be more goodies to come. There is just one problem. They want the voters to accept a post-dated cheque that will expire on 8 May 2015.
Fracking fisk report misleading
The quotation marks in your headline “Fracking risk ‘is similar to asbestos and thalidomide’” (29 November) are misleading. The government report does not say this – and does not imply it either.
I expect better from The Independent than completely misrepresenting expert opinion. If you want a quote from the report, how about this: “The development of shale gas will bring multiple economic benefits to the United Kingdom.”
Or, possibly the most balanced summary conclusion: “Fracking can be done safely in the United Kingdom, but not without effective regulation, careful management, robust environmental risk assessments and rigorous monitoring.” (These are actual quotes from the report.)
The threat from across the Atlantic
Referring to the growing dominance of Stagecoach in mainline train services as a result of the rush to re-privatise the East Coast line before the 2015 election, Dr John Disney of Nottingham Business School writes “This is essentially a private monopoly analogous to British Rail Inter City” (letter, 1 December).
Worse will be to come if the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) US/EU trade deal is ratified: no current franchises could ever be returned to public ownership although there is growing public demand for re-nationalisation of the rail system.
Some politicians are rightly alarmed that this fate awaits the NHS, but inexplicably, most don’t care/realise that TTIP demands access by predatory US organisations to all parts of our (and EU) publicly owned utilities/companies.
TTIP in its current form must be rejected totally.
No one should be denied justice
Robert Morfee (letter, 1 December) is right to complain of the appalling cost of going to law in Britain.
Next year there will be celebrations of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta; but we are still waiting for the implementation of the key clause of Magna Carta promising that “to none will we sell, delay or deny justice”. We should not have to pay for justice. We have had a National Health Service for nearly 70 years – is it not time we had a National Law Service?
People don’t need to ‘fight’ cancer
Thank you for Margaret McCartney’s article “Peacefully, at home” (28 November). I too have been angered by the cancer organisations stating “fight/beat cancer”.
I agree with Jenny Diski’s comments. People suffering from cancer do not need this rhetoric. They are put under pressure to keep “fighting” when what is needed is consideration and care for their final months, not medical intervention.
That is why I support the Macmillan nurses who come into your home to give that essential care and pain relief.
Lebanon deserves the world’s help
Lebanon is facing its greatest challenge with a massive influx of displaced Syrians – which has produced an unparalleled humanitarian crisis in this small country.
Lebanon has become the biggest host country, per capita, in the world. And its response to the situation, despite its limited resources, has been applauded by world leaders and international organisations.
But the international community’s response to the crisis has been below needs and expectations.
A recent World Bank study revealed that the total cost to Lebanon will reach $7.5bn by the end of 2014. Lebanon is calling on the international community and donor countries to offer some much needed support.
Ambassador of Lebanon
Remembering Gordon Brown
The Great Clunking Fist clunks off, haunted by the three moments when his nerve failed him – ducking leadership elections against John Smith and Tony Blair and a snap 2007 election.
At Edinburgh University, when I knew him, he seemed to me, even then, a thin-skinned brooder, a grinder rather than brilliant, but possessed of the most manic ambition.
He became Prime Minister but he seemed to have no idea what to do with such power, and his failures as Chancellor cancelled out whatever good he may have done in that long decade. His two most revealing moments were when he misspoke: “We have saved the world” and when he went ballistic after his encounter with the “bigoted woman”.
He emerged from his self-imposed purdah to save a referendum which really did not need to be saved and – typically – his “vow” may, in fact, be the thing that does break up the UK.
Rev Dr John Cameron,
St Andrews, Fife
Imagine all those countless tragedies
The shock and dismay at the death of the cricketer Phil Hughes has been felt and expressed far beyond the cricketing world. There has been a visceral, almost tangible reaction to our helplessness as witnesses to a young, talented, and blameless life eclipsed at the whim of chance.
As the centenary year of the First World War draws to a close, it may be fitting to bring Phil Hughes to mind, then to conjure up the image of the poppies at the Tower Of London, and to imagine each poppy as another Phil Hughes,
Westmill, HertfordshireReuse content