Letters: The EU is friend of British workers


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The Independent Online

I was sorry to see Owen Jones jump on to the British media's anti-EU bandwagon (6 November) – and with such a spectacularly back-to-front argument.

The EU is a system of checks and balances: the counterpoint to its free-market policies are those promoting workers' rights. And which country has steadfastly rejected this objective? Britain, a notable "fight them on the beaches" standoff being the British decision to opt out of the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights. The British worker's fundamental right, apparently, is to work longer hours than his or her EU counterpart, whose minimum wage is often higher and health and safety conditions often better.

As for democracy, the EU promotes it around Europe – many older Spaniards equate their return to democracy with EC entry. Yes, the EU sorely needs to democratise its internal processes. But I've yet to see a British "Eurosceptic" commentator make any constructive proposal to achieve this.

And I'm not sure a country that doesn't elect its own head of state, prime minister or upper house of parliament is in any position to lecture the EU.

Rod Chapman

Sarlat, France

In two years' time the Scots will vote on the question of whether they should become an independent nation-state. I am not one of those who supports Scottish independence, and have always argued that there are dangers in a "small-state mentality".

Now I find myself thinking that only by voting for independence can the Scots avoid a small-state mentality, for that mentality seems to be alive and well south of the border. If you were Scottish and determined to stay a part of the European Union you might well be starting to think that voting for independence was the only way of ensuring that you did.

Mr Cameron beware – in the process of seeming to encourage those who wish to separate the UK from the European Union, you may end up by bringing down your own Union.

Dr Mark Corner


European Union accounts have failed to reach the standard required by its auditors for the 18th year in a row. Once again EU auditors have refused to approve the latest set of accounts produced by the European Union. If this was a private business it would be illegal to carry on, and would have to close down.

It is the duty of every organisation to show clearly and accurately where the money is spent, and that it has been spent fully on the purpose for which it was intended.

Steve Halden


Police elections: stop whining and pick the best

As a Labour activist, I agree with your correspondents that electing Police and Crime Commissioners to oversee our police forces is a seriously mistaken policy. Yet I have been out, here in Hertfordshire, delivering leaflets in support of our well-qualified candidate. Like it or not, we shall have commissioners and the running of our police forces is far too important for futile gestures like not voting or spoiling ballot papers.

Furthermore, I note that the introduction of elected commissioners was in the Conservative manifesto and that the Conservatives were elected, albeit in coalition, to be our government. This is not like reorganising the NHS or, indeed, cutting the number of front-line police officers, which the Conservatives specifically promised not to do. However mistaken, the policy of electing Police and Crime Commissioners was democratically decided.

I urge your readers to go out and vote for the candidate who will fight to protect their police force from cuts and privatisation.

David Bell

Ware, Hertfordshire

Once again the independence and integrity of the police are in question, this time in connection with the alleged actions of a senior Conservative, the abuse of children, and a suggestion that the matter was not investigated by police when it was reported to them. Would the independence and integrity of the police force in question have been better assured if a party politician was at the time the elected police commissioner in charge – especially if he or she were a Conservative?

Bob Morgan

Thatcham, West Berkshire

May I suggest that instead of not voting, those unhappy with the concept of having Police Commissioners turn up at the polling station and spoil their paper by writing "None of the above – keep Police Authorities" upon it?

Rev Dr Mike Bossingham

Market Deeping, Lincolnshire

While the Police Commissioner process seems to have been badly handled, I value greatly my good fortune in living in a democracy and so I have done my best to evaluate the list of 10 unknown candidates with which we are presented here in the south-west.

The local papers have at last provided pictures and short CVs, and answers from each on important questions. Our local TV has had very short interviews with them at the rate of two each night and, with a process of elimination of those I thought too political or useless, I have picked somebody to vote for. This may be a stab in the dark but I am proud and grateful to be able to do it.

Joan Pennycook

Truro, Cornwall

Serious Fraud Office in trouble

The Director of the Serious Fraud Office, David Green, has said candidly that his agency is underfunded and overstretched ("Fraud Squad's new bruiser", 7 November). His words follow the High Court's stark warning in July this year that the SFO lacked the resources, both human and financial, to carry out its important work. The SFO has noticeably struggled in a string of complex cases, not least the botched probe into the Tchenguiz brothers, and just this week it has been criticised for failing to track down £103m in missing funds in the Keydata investigation.

I have warned the Attorney General time and time again that his government's decision to slash the SFO's budget by more than 25 per cent over the course of this parliament is driving it into the ground. A financial centre the size of London's cannot be policed on a budget of just £30m. The City's reputation as a place to do business will suffer.

The burden of additional funding for the SFO need not fall on the taxpayer. As David Green notes, one option is for the SFO to pocket more of the funds confiscated from criminals. It is a model that I have been studying very closely and has been adopted successfully in the US.

Mr Green has made a promising start at the SFO, but if he is to succeed in transforming the agency, the Attorney General needs to listen and act on what he says.

Emily Thornberry MP

Shadow Attorney General

House of Commons, London SW1

James Bond's duty to gay people

Victoria Wright is right to criticise Skyfall for continuing the cinematic tradition of using disability and facial disfigurement to represent the inner evil of characters (Voices, 7 November). Skyfall also continues another regressive practice: that of "queering" film villains. Many are depicted as gay, or have their deviance signalled by displaying elements of the "wrong" gender (such as male effeminacy).

While more recent films generally do not explicitly associate homosexuality with evil, the strong implication of bisexuality in the portrayal of the most recent Bond villain illustrates the extent to which this trope is still heavily relied upon in Western cinema.

Film-makers must start to look elsewhere for their visual representations of evil. Films such as Skyfall will be seen by millions. Consequently, their creators have a significant responsibility in ensuring that certain groups of people are not continuously associated with characters who are deviant or morally bereft.

Jonas House


Please give the sculptor her due

I was delighted to see coverage of the unveiling of the commemorative bust of Noor Inayat Khan (9 November) but saddened that no mention was made of the sculptor. This piece is by Karen Newman, who is an associate of the Royal British Society of Sculptors. Another wonderful example of her work is the portrait of SOE agent Violette Szabo GC which was unveiled in 2010 on the Albert Embankment outside Lambeth Palace. We should applaud professional sculptors and give them the recognition they deserve.

Robert Hunt

Honorary Secretary, The Society of Portrait Sculptors, Winchester

US election overkill?

I am not anti-American, but will someone kindly explain why we get wall-to-wall coverage starting weeks before the American Presidential elections; it started on all the main television channels long ago. The Independent of 8 November had 19 pages devoted to it; would not two or three be sufficient for the British public? Surely there is important British news around.

How much coverage is there on American television during a British General Election I wonder? It probably comes sixth or seventh in the news items, after the sports results!

Ian Fairburn

Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire

I wonder if The Independent on 8 November would have been labelled "Souvenir Edition" if Mitt Romney had won?

Julia Root-Gutteridge

London WC1

What's to be done about Jersey?

Aside from the investigation into alleged money-laundering by HSBC, what is the UK Government doing about Jersey itself (report, 9 November)? It has long been known that it offers a haven for criminals and tax cheats to hide their ill-gotten gains, so why isn't the Government doing more to force the bailiwick, which is after all a Crown Dependency, to clean up its act?

Howard Pilott

Lewes, East Sussex

Inflation puzzle

That inflation has dropped to 2.2 per cent is of course is excellent news. But my Bupa health insurance has just increased by some 10 per cent, the cost of energy by some 11 per cent. Every week when I go to the supermarket it seems that items, notably fresh produce, have gone up in price. In parallel to this, money in the bank brings next to no return.

Although reasonably apt at maths, I simply cannot reconcile the official rate of inflation with what is going on in my life. Can you please assist?

Gunter Straub

London NW3

Memory test

En route for his final visit to the memory clinic my late husband knew the format if not the answer. He asked me "How do you spell world backwards?" ("A million 'friends' to be taught how to spot dementia", 8 November).

Mary Evans