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- Arts + Ents
The EU has never made any bones about its being a slow one-way escalator towards becoming a federal state; the treaties say so; key European officials say so; national political leaders in other European states say so.
The reason for the rise of Ukip is that our political class will not acknowledge this incontrovertible fact, but persist in trying to kid us about it. This is one of the main reasons why our trust in that class has all but collapsed. Nigel Farage tells the truth; the others lie.
We are a grown-up people; we have a long history – we deserve leaders who are honest on issues as big as this and make the argument for the position they believe in, and then let us decide if we want to become part of a federal Europe or remain an independent state.
Until they get that message, the Ukip vote will only grow, and yet more time will be lost before we fully join Europe or start afresh outside it.
R S Foster, Sheffield
I am unsurprised that Philip Hammond is supporting the idea of a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union before 2015 (report, 6 May). The Conservative right appears to believe that Ukip’s strong showing in the recent local elections is directly attributable to the Coalition’s failure to oppose the pet hates of their kind: same-sex marriage, benefit claimants and the EU.
Speaking as a moderate (and left-wing) eurosceptic, it is apparent to me that it is public dissatisfaction with the Coalition’s policies on immigration and the economy that is costing them votes. Following a pattern all too familiar in recent times, the Conservatives are dividing on a matter which irritates a lot of people, but is very low down on their list of political priorities.
After all, if we eurosceptics considered withdrawal from the EU to be more important than, say, sound policies on taxation and public spending, Nigel Farage would have walked into Downing Street years ago.
If the Conservatives want any hope of winning the 2015 election (which is blissfully unlikely) they must follow Labour’s lead and work with ordinary voters to draw up policies on issues that matter to them, such as the cost of living, lack of housing and the scourge of unemployment.
Jack H G Darrant, London SW2
The reaction in the rest of Europe, should Britain withdraw from the EU, seems to me to be very relevant and important. Most countries in Europe already have their own versions of our Ukip, and these vary in unpleasantness, from the mildly so, to the very nasty indeed. The only thing they have in common, and which distinguishes them from Ukip, is some degree of anti-Semitism.
British departure from the EU would only strengthen these parties and might even set in motion events leading to the collapse of the whole European enterprise. This would surely be an unmitigated disaster and would probably lead to the resurrection of customs barriers, border “incidents” and everybody blaming others for their own problems. Do our Ukip supporters and Eurosceptics really believe that this would not concern us also? If they do, they are making the same mistake as Chamberlain and Halifax.
Peter Giles, Whitchurch, Shropshire
In Gove’s eyes, my pupil is a failure
A 16-year-old pupil at my comprehensive school in the West Midlands has just gained an apprenticeship at Jaguar Land Rover in Solihull. The girl in question is delighted, as are her parents, since competition is fierce for these posts. However, according to the Education Secretary Michael Gove, the girl is a failure: she has done well in English, maths and science but she has not taken a GCSE in either a foreign language or Latin. She therefore does not qualify for Mr Gove’s “English Baccalaureate” measure of GCSE exams. The brutal truth is that this girl will count against my school in this summer’s national league tables.
Just exactly what standards in education does Mr Gove believe he is raising when a girl with a bright future ahead of her in engineering is deemed to be a failure?
Ben Warren, Headteacher, Summerhill School, Dudley, West Midlands
Mr Gove is accused by some of asking too much of our young by including Shakespeare on his list of those with whom they should be acquainted, on the grounds that his plays will prove too demanding and even irrelevant for them.
Some years ago, I visited a rural school in Malawi, where an English class of 60 boys aged around 14 were discussing Macbeth. There was one copy and indeed one chair for every two pupils. This in no way detracted from the passion with which they approached the play. The first question was, “Did Macbeth have any redeeming features?” Hands went up everywhere. Strong, contrary feelings were expressed and supportive evidence offered. The play had touched nerves. The level of involvement and animation, in a continent unknown to Shakespeare, almost 400 years after his death, among youngsters whose first language was not always English, should give encouragement to those who feel we ask too little of young people’s intellectual potential in this country today.
Christopher Martin, Kington Langley, Wiltshire
The idea that someone is homophobic (or anti-Semitic or racist or misogynist) rather than sometimes exhibits such behaviour, is based on the misconception that people are consciously aware of, in control of, and consistent in, their actions.
Niall Ferguson (“One of my best friends ...” 9 May) seems unaware that prejudice is almost always subconscious, rather than deliberate. Having a gay friend does not stop you making homophobic comments, just as having a black, Asian or white friend does not stop you making decisions based on racism.
Few people would admit to discriminating against people based on their surname, but almost all organisations use alphabetical order when dealing with people. (One comedian, Dave Mahoney, changed his name to Dave Allen because his agent always started with the As.)
Instead of loudly protesting his innocence, Mr Ferguson would do better to ask his friends to tell him when he is behaving in a prejudiced or bigoted way, then, perhaps he might appreciate the saying “true knowledge is to know oneself”.
Peter Slessenger, Reading
You report (11 May) that the Royal College of GPs recognises that “carers neglect their own health and are at greater risk of depression”.
Some years ago I was the sole carer for three members of the family, including my elderly, infirm parents. Eventually I had to give up my secure employment because the caring had become a 24/7 job. I was never eligible for a carers’ allowance. Years of constant fatigue and stress can cause one to lose one’s identity and “me” ceases to exist. One can become a hopeless drudge.
I did not realise when I had a mental breakdown. Although my relatives and I have never fallen foul of the law I, for no reason, twice shoplifted and had to appear before a local court. I was treated as a criminal – which I suppose I was – but bound over at the time. I consulted a psychiatrist privately and when he asked why I had shoplifted I replied that I did not know. I told him that I could not understand why I had not collapsed after all my years as a carer. He told me that shoplifting was my way of collapsing.
Eventually, after my parents died (at my home) my son and I were at long last able to take a holiday. We spent two weeks in Disneyworld, Florida. That was the best therapy we could have had. As my son said to me afterwards, “Mum, you were able to come out of your shell!”
Barbara MacArthur, Cardiff
As a recently retired social worker, I was struck by the conflict between articles in The Independent on two consecutive days (7 & 8 May) concerning social care budgets. Under a new Care Bill, councils will be instructed to step up efforts to publicise the help available to carers.
How does this square with the subsequent statement that a further £800m squeeze on adult social-care budgets will be implemented over the next year, thereby placing increasingly unrealistic pressures on social services departments from the general public?
Georgina Ford, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
Give these loyal Afghans a home
Of course the loyal Afghan interpreters should be offered refuge in Britain (report, 3 May). As immigrants they should be welcomed for their services to the Crown. What is more, they already speak English.
Chris Harding, Parkstone, Dorset
Bishops shy away from ‘politics’
I have always been puzzled as to why bishops should still have any right to seats in the House of Lords (Letters, 11 May). I would be happy if they all became genuinely political and truly vociferous over issues such as war, poverty, injustice and child abuse. As it is, when challenged to speak out on such things all too often the excuse is “we must not be seen to be too political”.
Lesley Docksey, Buckland Newton, Dorset
Carole Lewis (letter, 11 May) mentions Cameron, Osborne and Clegg as being descended from relatively recent immigrants from Europe and that if their policies had been in place from the 19th century, they would not be here now. Sadly, she forgot to add Nigel Farage to that list.
Frances Newman, Brill, Buckinghamshire
There has been much said about Sir Alex Ferguson. I believe that Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh both admire his wit and achievements. So would I be impertinent to suggest, that this Scotsman, who will go down in history, should be created a member of the Order of the Thistle?
Terry Duncan, Bridlington, East Yorkshire
Jim O’Neill is right (“Sir Alex Ferguson has conquered football. Next the world of finance?” 10 May). Sir Alex played a major part in helping to transfer football from the sports pages to the business pages and in helping to enrich two American billionaires. Maybe next he can persuade a Russian oligarch to take an interest in cricket?
John Naylor, Sunningdale, Ascot
Now that it is so well established that politicians do not keep their promises and parties do not fulfil their manifesto pledges how do we, as responsible citizens, choose which party to vote for?
Dennis Leachman, Reading
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