Letters: The Nasty Party relishes pillaging the poor



The more I see of the toxic Tories, the more I feel I am watching the Thatcher years through a telescope.

The savage cuts are political, and this pillaging of the poor makes one wish to apply for asylum in Scotland. They are the party with a grudge against their own people. Their wish to cut benefits is ugly and divisive.

Collin Rossini

Braintree, Essex

Even if you believe that more cuts to welfare are necessary, surely you must realise that they will hit a lot of people hard and are not a cause for celebration. But a clip I saw of George Osborne's announcement at the Conservative Party Conference also showed a lot of very happy Tories.

Patrick Cosgrove

Chapel Lawn, Shropshire

I have lost my way with the Chancellor's £10bn welfare "saving". I had always understood welfare benefits were one of the surest ways of keeping money circulating in the economy. Claimants are efficient spenders.

Has George Osborne never heard of the Multiplier? Or is that doctrine too off-message for Conference?

Godfrey H Holmes

Chesterfield, Derbyshire

The Tories are to cut welfare benefits by £10bn per year, impacting on the most needy in our society and yet further curtailing consumer demand in the middle of a double-dip recession. Meanwhile the Government remains committed to taking £9bn per year out of our pockets and giving it away in overseas aid.

It seems that the Coalition is not only determined to place the needs of the poor in overseas countries before those of our own, but willing to turn a recession into an ever-spiralling slump in the process. Come back, Keynes, your country needs you.

Alan Stedall


Many Conservatives oppose abortion on the grounds that the "unborn child" is an innocent. But if the child is born into a poor family, it immediately loses its innocence and becomes a scrounger.

Andrew Belsey

Whitstable, Kent

George Osborne has said that people who have worked hard to make a lot of money deserve to keep their mansions.

Does he mean to imply that inherited mansions, on the other hand, shouldn't necessarily be exempt from tax? No, I don't think so either.

Susan Alexander

Frampton Cotterell, South Gloucestershire

Proud of the Health Lottery's successes

The Independent says the Health Lottery has helped raise "only £24.5m" for local charities in its first year (report, 8 October). Perhaps The Independent raises these sorts of sums for charities every year, and is therefore qualified to be glib about that achievement. As someone who has personally helped raise around £40m over a career that has always put philanthropy at its core, my own view is that £24.5m represents a substantial lifeline for charities up and down the country.

My experience as President of Norwood is that fundraising in the current economic climate is more difficult than it has ever been. I am sure that charities including Scope, the Youth Sports Trust, Mencap, Dementia UK, the Conservation Volunteers, the Children's Food Trust and the many hundreds of local projects that have been funded through the Health Lottery may feel the same.

The High Court has already rejected Camelot's multiple claims about the Health Lottery, so I will not dwell on them here, beyond pointing out that the DCMS's own assessment of the Health Lottery is that it has brought in new money for health good causes.

But your piece suggests that the 51 society lotteries that raise money for good causes through the Health Lottery have in some way failed, and on this point I feel very strongly. Thanks to players of the Health Lottery, health charities in every part of Great Britain now fund projects which help keep people active and healthy in areas of acute deprivation, support families and carers struggling with long-term illness, provide support for people with mental health issues, encourage children into sports and reduce the burden on the NHS in a tangible way. Of this we are very proud.

Richard Desmond

Chairman, Northern & Shell, London EC3

The Jewish nation state

Contrary to what Dr Jacob Amir (letter, 4 October) implies, very few people – not even Hamas and Dr Ahmadinejad – oppose the right of Israel to exist as such. What they and many others oppose is the actions of a Zionist state which behaves aggressively towards the indigenous peoples of the area.

Of course, there is a complicated history here. But if these are the actions of "the nation-state of the Jewish people", we have to ask what this formulation means. Dr Amir asserts there is no religious component to it, but if so, how is this notion of Jewishness to be understood?

Unlike most other cultures of the world, it is very difficult to become Jewish unless you are born a Jew or are prepared to undertake an arduous process of religious conversion, taking several years. Anyone who has lived in Israel will have observed that non-Jews are very much second-class citizens.

Such social discrimination is by no means unique to Israel, but in declaring itself to be a nation-state of people who belong to a club to which admission is essentially determined by birth, Israel is effectively announcing that it is a racist institution, and inherently undemocratic. It is this that people object to. To do so is not anti-semitic. It is pro-democratic.

Simon Prentis

Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

Richard Carter (letter, 5 October) objects to Israel being a "Jewish" state and asks what other nation state is based on ethnicity ("race") of its citizens? One example would be the "Arab" Republic of Egypt, just across the border from Israel. I saw this description clearly signposted in Arabic and English after crossing into the Sinai from Eilat, Israel's southernmost tip. The Arabs are a people in the same way as the Jews.

Why is it not objectionable for an Arab country to define itself by ethnicity, yet when their Semitic cousins, the Jews, do likewise it is considered "not kosher"? The only difference is that the Arabs have many such states, whereas the Jews have only one.

Colin Nevin

Bangor, Co Down

Drone strikes on Pakistan

The debate over how unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, are used in countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan is an important one. Some say the growing use of drones may make it easier to win the battle; however in my view it risks losing the aim of winning hearts and minds.

In Pakistan, in over 330 strikes by the US, up to 850 civilians have been killed, causing widespread condemnation. We must debate how they should be deployed (if they are to be deployed) so as not to risk civilian deaths, collateral damage and our international relations.

When I recently visited Pakistan and met with President Zardari, senior ministers and local people, they all raised real concerns and anger at drone strikes by foreign countries, which feed into the anti-western attitude, played on by radical elements, and threaten to undermine the work achieved by international aid. I have raised this issue with ministers in the House of Commons and will continue to do so.

Rehman Chishti MP

(Gillingham and Rainham, C) House of Commons

(The writer was an adviser to Benazir Bhutto, late Prime Minister of Pakistan)

Wily sergeant's lesson for Obama

It may be too early to write off President Obama after one television debate.

When I was a lowly RAF officer cadet we had to sit a number of examinations as part of the course. I and many of my colleagues found the first examination extremely easy and obtained very high marks. There was an RAF sergeant on the course, who was seasoned in the ways of the service. He achieved a very modest score.

He told us that over the course of the next two or three months he would be seen as showing a steady improvement while our performance would deteriorate. He was right.

Michael Hayman

Torquay, Devon

A civilised way with outrage

I note with concern the increasing number of incidents in which writing something on Facebook or Twitter results in a jail sentence. The comments either "outraged" or "offended" segments of the citizenry.

That doesn't sound difficult to do and the response is a slippery slope with an uncomfortable surprise at its end. If someone were to post that the Windsor family should be stripped of their wealth and exiled, and if a mob of enraged subjects then turned up to stone their house, should they expect to receive police protection or to be jailed?

People with offensive opinions can be ostracised or ignored. A mature, tolerant society does not imprison them.

C P Henson

Ashford, Kent

If we all behaved like footballers

Since the start of this season the on- and off-field shenanigans of Premier League footballers have been hitting the headlines again. I share one thing with them – the status of "professional".

I was a teacher. I never earned anything like the money they do but I was still expected to keep to professional standards. The consequence of serious transgression would have been the end of my career and the curtailment of my pension. If punching the lights out of the school's most disruptive pupil only resulted in a three-lesson ban, I'd have done it every Thursday. I'd have skipped three lessons on the trot with 5C on Friday afternoon.

Tom Carr


Landslide in Venezuela

Congratulations to Owen Jones (9 October) for telling the truth about Hugo Chavez. It's a shame that the world news report on the same day regurgitates exactly the tired old right-wing spin about which Jones complains.

Thus Chavez is patronised for only "narrowly winning" the election with 54.4 per cent of an 81 per cent poll. Any British Prime Minister or American President would be claiming a historic landslide with such a result. Likewise his social programmes, which have perhaps done more for the poor than anything in Latin American history, are made to sound nothing more than electoral bribery.

Steve Edwards

Haywards Heath, West Sussex

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