Letters: The EU is a huge source of pride

These letters appear in the 27 May edition of The Independent

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It makes me cringe to hear David Cameron talk about getting a better deal for the UK in Europe (“PM begins his campaign for reform in Europe...” 23 May). What if all the European leaders thought like this?

It goes against everything the EU should stand for, and everything we should be proud of, a union of European countries to jointly impose high standards of living, trade and free movement of people. A single market for us to thrive, share, learn and develop; a unique project amid developed nations.

Together we form the biggest economic area in the world, and stand firm on everything from crime to cheaply made solar panels.

It’s shameful that, while the French and Germans are leading the way for increased cooperation, we Brits are on the sidelines, looking increasingly isolated, selfish and greedy.

Alex Michaels
Kings Langley, Hertfordshire  


While there may be a case for not allowing a vote in the European referendum to recent arrivals who may also not be intending to stay here for long, how on earth can one justify refusing the vote to someone who has spent most of their life here?

I have been educating this country’s children, paying this country’s taxes, and raising two half-English children for the past 25 years. Although I, quite naturally, still feel French, I am to all and intents and purposes a fully paid-up member of British society – so why can’t I vote?

Who knows; I have been here for so long that I may not even feel particularly pro-European! Not surprisingly, our 16-year-old daughter fails to see why she, too, should be denied a say in her own future.

Nathalie Hempstead
Richmond, Surrey


Contrary to Carl Molyneux’s reservations (Letters, 26 May), the Government, in my view, is not only right to bar EU migrants from voting in the forthcoming EU referendum; it should seriously consider extending such a ruling  to other non-British residents too.

Britain currently has over 1.5 million Commonwealth residents who have the right to vote, and hence the power to influence the outcome of British elections.

National elections are meant to be about national policies and national interest. Why should non-British residents and those with dual nationality, whose affinity and interest lies outside Britain, have any say on such matters?

Randhir Singh Bains
Gants Hill, Essex


If the EU Vote is going to be restricted to “UK people”, surely the same principle should be applied to newspaper coverage. Thus, press comment on the referendum should be restricted to UK-owned newspapers with UK owners who are resident in the UK and who pay normal UK taxes.

Peter Brooker
West Wickham, Kent


Some politicians would enfranchise embryos if they thought it in their short-term interest, but David Cameron can scarcely be faulted for refusing to put the fate of the nation in the hands of minors.

Most people will see the absurdity of having education policy determined by children considered too immature to decide the school-leaving age for themselves; the budget by people who can’t be held responsible for their own debts; and the criminal law by individuals who can’t even be named in court, let alone face the punitive sanctions they might seek to have imposed on the rest of us.

Iain Salisbury


Am I the only person who remembers David Cameron saying the Tories were going to stop banging on about Europe all the time? I honestly don’t think they are capable of talking about anything else.

David Clarke


Cameron must listen to majority on hunt

At last David Cameron has an opportunity to demonstrate his determination to work for a “one nation” country. The long-running divisive issue of the Hunting Act (Letters, 25 May) needs to be settled once and for all. This may only be achieved if enough Conservative MPs realise that it is time to recognise that the time for protecting the historical privileges of a fortunate few is over.

The vast majority of English voters (80 per cent) do not want the act to be repealed, because the concept of killing animals for pleasure is repugnant to them. If Cameron has the courage to acknowledge the wishes of the majority, in the interest of his “one nation” aim, he would state publicly that he will abstain from the vote. Such an act would gain him enormous personal respect throughout the country.

Michael Branch
Wantage, Oxfordshire


I find it very hard to understand that anyone can believe it is right to chase a creature to exhaustion, then watch it ripped to pieces by dogs, merely to increase the confidence in riding of granddaughters and their friends in the Pony Club, and that this should be advanced seriously as a reason to abolish the hunting ban.

It is not “irrational prejudice against those who hunt” that causes people to be opposed to hunting with dogs, but rather an objection based in ethics. The bottom line is that it is wrong morally to inflict suffering on any sentient creature simply for the fun of the chase. Other purported reasons do not stand careful practical or philosophical scrutiny.

Stanley Tyrer
Bury, Lancashire


The fox-hunting debate should begin and end with the history of the Isle of Wight. Foxes are not indigenous to the island, they were introduced in 1848 ... by the hunt!

Richard Evans
Cowes, Isle of Wight


G4S shows disregard for the vulnerable

It is not surprising that G4S has been found guilty of overseeing the degrading treatment of young people and of racist comments in Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre (report, 22 May). It is clear that G4S learns nothing from its mistakes. On the contrary, it repeats them. In fact the guard who fatally restrained Gareth Myatt in Rainsbrook in 2004 was later promoted to health and safety manager, G4S children’s homes. In 2010, Jimmy Mubenga, an Angolan asylum seeker, died at the hands of G4S guards who used the same method of restraint that killed Myatt. 

When racist comments were found on the phones of two of its guards, G4S stated that they do not tolerate offensive and racist comments. In the light of your report, it would seem that this is for public consumption, not for executive action.

The offences of G4S are legion, but it is nothing short of scandalous that this toxic company is the recipient of copious contracts for the care of the powerless, whether in prisons, in asylum accommodation, in children’s homes, or in welfare to work. When Her Majesty’s Government uses G4S as the provider of choice, it exposes its own disregard for the lives and well-being of its most vulnerable citizens. 

Diana Neslen
Ilford, Essex


Babies need to talk to everyone

It is almost unbelievable that anyone can still believe that only a mother provides the intimacy for a child and only the father provides the “bridge to the outside world”, as Mark VanDam (report, 21 May), who is researching adult-baby communications, puts it. We have not been in the 1950s for a very long time! Children thrive from a diversity of social connection – so a father and mother talking differently to a child does a great deal of good. Throw in some communicative grandparents, childminders and older siblings, all talking to the child in different ways, and you get even nearer to the pattern of care in which we evolved as social humans.

Duncan Fisher
Crickhowell, Powys


Development threat to rural England

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is doing a great job trying to protect the countryside but tranquillity maps (report, 25 May) will do nothing to reduce the amount of land that will be lost to the development required to meet the needs of an ever-growing human population. England is already the most densely populated country in Europe, excluding Malta, and our birthrate now matches that of the 1950s baby boom.

For the sake of future generations I hope that our government has the courage to introduce a population policy that not only curbs immigration but also encourages smaller families.

Rosemary Horsey
Stockbridge, Hampshire


Newspapers when abroad

John Whitton writes about the lack of foreign- language newspapers in British airports (Letters, 19 May). It is difficult to find any newspapers at Paris CDG and virtually impossible to get a copy of The Independent anywhere in greater Paris. The only English language papers you can be sure of getting are either Murdoch’s, the Daily Telegraph or the Daily Mail. What an interesting view of the UK Johnny Foreigner must get. There is always the Herald Tribune but the cricket scores tend to be out of date.

Jeremy Axten
Addlestone, Surrey