Letters: Tired of being taken for mugs by smug politicians

These letters appear in the Friday 30th issue of The Independent

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If the leaders of the main parties really think they can attribute their losses in the recent elections to a simplistic “anti-EU protest vote” then they are deluding themselves.

The discontent is much deeper. The electorate are tired of being taken for mugs by smug career politicians; tired of endlessly tightening their belts so that those same leaders and their cronies can have ever-larger rewards; tired of the public services for which they have paid being cut while money is diverted from the public purse to line the pockets of private contractors and “consultants”.

There is a total lack of confidence in the current system. If they want to turn the tide and retain their seats they need to listen to the ordinary people of this country, and show by their actions that they have done so in ways that are credible and tangible, with a genuine redistribution of wealth to the ordinary people who create it.

Mike Margetts, Kilsby, Northamptonshire


The recent gains in the local and European elections and the media coverage of Ukip and its leader have been rather over the top. The party has no control of any council, no majority on any grouping, nor even one solitary Member of Parliament.

The support has been branded an earthquake but is in realty a protest vote against the establishment. The protest votes the Liberal Democrats used to bag went to Ukip instead.

Like them or not, the three main political parties have more to offer than a one-man band who has marketed his “two pints of lager and a packet of crisps” brand well but has no real policies or solutions to the economic realities of a vibrant and multicultural 21st-century British society.

Paul Raybould, Torquay


Roger Chapman of Keighley, West Yorkshire (letter, 29 May), argues that London is already a foreign country and that is why there is a low level of Ukip support there.

While there are some London boroughs with a high proportion of immigrants, in many others the numbers are very low. So, if London is a foreign country then so is Yorkshire, based solely on Bradford. No, the real reason support for Ukip is low in London is that many high-skilled jobs there would be lost if we adopted isolationist policies.

Malcolm Howard, Banstead, Surrey


Never mind Plato (“The triumph of the ignorant?”, 29 May), let’s not forget the immortal words of the Mykonos Professor of Wind-Surfing (alias Rory Bremner): “demos” means people; “crass” means  stupid.

Penelope Murray, Sibford Gower, Oxfordshire


Antibiotic danger ignored for years

You quote Public Health England and the World Health Organisation both voicing great concern about the resistance of many bacteria to life-saving antibiotics (editorial, 24 May). Why has it taken so long for the powers that be to raise the alarm?

Thirty-five years ago I was telling my students of this danger. Bacterial conjugation, whereby bacteria can pass on mutations to other bacteria was well known at the time and it was obvious that a single organism could confer antibiotic resistance to an entire population in a short time.

I used to illustrate the danger by quoting a hospital doctor who boasted that he kept the bacterial count in his wards down by regularly spraying with antibiotic!

I find it incomprehensible that the unnecessary prescription of these uniquely efficacious drugs was not banned, both medically and agriculturally, as soon as it was known that antibiotic resistance was becoming prevalent.

Patrick Cleary, Honiton, Devon


The invention of fanzines

Alex Lawson says in his article on fanzines (22 May) that they emerged in the Seventies. This misses out some 40 years of their history. 

Fanzines appear to have been first produced by science fiction fans in the Thirties. The first professional science fiction magazine started in 1926 and fans discovered each other through the letters columns of these publications. Soon they were swapping their own amateur magazines. 

The term “fanzine” seems to have been coined in 1940 – the earliest citation in the Oxford English Dictionary is from 1949 – to distinguish the fannish publications from the professional ones, called “prozines”. Authors such as Arthur C Clarke and Ray Bradbury first appeared in fanzines.

Loncon 3, the World Science Fiction convention, is being held in London this summer. One of the many awards to be given out is one for best fanzine, an award first given in 1955.

Paul Dormer, Guildford


The myth of cavalry charging tanks

Robert Fisk’s otherwise penetrating article (24 May) on British perfidy in the Middle East during the First World War repeats, in a casual comparison, one of the most enduring and inaccurate myths of the following world conflict. Polish cavalry never charged German tanks in the autumn campaign of 1939. 

Polish cavalry did charge and overrun dispersed German infantry positions on several occasions, but never launched frontal attacks against German panzers.

To say that they did falls in with the misreporting of Italian journalists misled by their minders; with generals such as Heinz Guderian who wanted to laud Wehrmacht prowess; with the power of cleverly cut newsreels; with Nazi and later Soviet propaganda that wanted to show the Poles as militarily backward and nationally primitive; and lastly with the idea that brave soldiers are necessarily stupid.

It was a brief aside, but it does reveal the persistence, because it is believed by a highly reputable journalist, of an outright historical untruth.

 It also raises the question: if Poles never charged German panzers then did Arab horsemen ever charge French tanks?

Dr Philip Brindle, Bedford


In popular culture, girls will be girls

Rosie Millard and the BBC are fighting a losing battle against the use of “girl” for an 18-plus female in popular culture (“BBC is right to ban this lazy language”, 28 May).

It’s not patronising; it’s a simple matter of the rhythm and force of language.

“Girl” is a syllable shorter than “woman” and two syllables shorter than “young woman”. So it has greater impact, not least in newspaper headlines and book titles.

Try making the substitution in, for example, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or the Spice Girls. Across the gender divide, there is no such problem with man/boy/lad. Even so, Jersey Boys and Boys from the Blackstuff come across more strongly than if “men” had been used

David Crawford, Bickley, Kent


Parking won’t save the high street

The assertion that the British high street will die unless town councils re-examine “punitive” parking policies (editorial, 26 May) is based on a false assumption.

British town centres were neither intended to, nor are they able to, accommodate enough parked cars to change their financial fortunes. A reduction in parking charges would only increase demand for a commodity whose supply has always been the limiting factor.

Instead, councils should ensure adequate accessibility to the town centres for pedestrians, bus users and cyclists. The retail park, far out at the edge of a settlement, is designed for the automobile.

Compete? Why even try? Town centres are for people, not vehicles, and councils should embrace this difference.

Jack Bramhill, Southsea


Prince’s musical afternoons

Aside from his financial acumen, Prince Rupert zu Loewenstein (obituary, 23 May) was an elegant and generous soul, who – with his wife, Josephine, herself a fine pianist – hosted, for many years, Chopin Society matinee concerts in their beautiful Richmond home.

I shall always treasure the many happy memories of being allowed to play selections of my own Miniatures for the piano, whilst other members played well-known pieces by Chopin and Liszt, before savouring high tea with our gracious hosts in their magnificent gardens.

Gavin Littaur, London NW4


The way to build a railway

News item from the latest issue of the Railway Magazine: “Chinese national railway company China Railway Corporation has announced plans to spend $116bn on 48 new railway lines, totalling up to 7000 km of new track. The construction will be undertaken over the next three to five years, and will be partly funded by private investment.”

Why not offer them the construction of HS2 – after all its only a small branch line. It could be up and running by Christmas 2016!

John Deards, Warminster, Dorset