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- Arts + Ents
Ukip did so well in the recent local elections largely because all the parliamentary parties have promised us a referendum on the EU, but they have all broken their promises, putting their loyalty to the EU above their loyalty to the British people.
Throughout 2004 and 2005 Tony Blair promised us a referendum on the EU Constitution. On 13 May 2005, he said, “Even if the French voted No, we would have a referendum. This is a government promise”. Just three weeks later, the French voted no – and Blair broke that promise.
In 2007 David Cameron gave us his “cast-iron guarantee” of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty – but we had no referendum. Cameron now promises us a referendum – after the next election, when he may well be out of office.
Will Podmore, London E12
With all the negative feeling over the UK’s membership of Europe, it has been refreshing to hear from your correspondents in favour. We learn from Ukip of the daily cost, but they never balance this with the benefits, political as well as economic, of being part of something bigger than ourselves. The truth is that we cannot go back to a rose-tinted past. The only way is forward.
The West Riding mill town of my youth had as its motto “Industry Enriches”. I remember how the town manufactured wire, brake linings, motorcycles and boiled sweets. There is now precious little of this left. The scenario we would return to, outside Europe, would be a shadow of the glories of yesterday.
The youngest in our society might well live into another century, a world quite unrecognisable to most of us. Europe needs the UK to risk a joined-up future where we consider not only what we get out of union but also what we can give. West Germany did this a couple of decades ago when a barrier broke down. Likewise Europe, as a global influence for good, needs to incorporate its poorer nations and prevent the rise of right-wing factions.
While our mainstream political parties feel they must tweak their policies in response to Ukip’s advance, let us hear more those manifestos which want to create a world fit for today’s newborn to live in.
Rev Peter Sharp, Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire
It is unsurprising that Lord Lawson has come out in support of Ukip on Europe, as he also shares with most of them a totally delusional position on the most vital international issue of all time: climate change.
Lord Lawson has done more than almost anyone in Britain to misinform the public on climate change, even setting up a charity devoted to subtle climate denial (the Global Warming Policy Foundation). His is a dangerously deceptive voice, and he has therefore lost the right to be taken seriously by sensible people.
Dr Richard Milne, Edinburgh
Nigel Lawson may be, in your eyes, a political heavyweight, but I don’t think so. He’s merely very right-wing and obsessive about defending the business and rich people of this country. As a working-class pensioner who appreciates the protection the EU gives to ordinary people, when I read of Lawson’s desire to leave Europe it reinforces my belief that we must stay in at any cost.
Eddie Johnson, Long Melford, Suffolk
Bad grammar spells trouble
Dame Jacqueline Wilson criticises the language skills of British schoolchildren when compared with those of her fans overseas (6 May). Let this be a loud wake-up call. “Sweetly funny” Dame Jacqueline may sometimes find it, but those who do not make it as “famos ritters” will grow up needing to find jobs in an increasingly global marketplace.
Today’s British children will tomorrow be dealing with people in other countries who have learnt English as a second language and who notice bad grammar as well as spelling.
A well-known British company recently asked me to explain why they had not been awarded a particular global contract. I advised them to go back and re-read their proposal (preferably out loud) and come back to me if they still needed an answer. I did not hear from them again.
Penny Dorritt, Walmer, Kent
Admiral Horthy maligned
My parents were the victims of anti-Semitism in Hungary before and during the Second World War, and both narrowly escaped with their lives. I am therefore not exactly an enthusiast for the late Admiral Horthy. But to say, as your report did on 6 May, that he was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews is simply wrong.
Some Jews were almost certainly deported before 1944 but the mass deportation started in late 1944 after Horthy had been replaced by local Nazis. It is one of the bitter paradoxes of the war that Jews were more likely to survive in Fascist or pro-German countries like Hungary, Italy, Bulgaria and Finland, even Spain, than in those where the Germans simply invaded and occupied, notably Poland and the western Soviet Union.
Dr M Schachter, London NW6
How the morning after pill works
Dr Matthews (8 May) is wrong in stating that oral emergency contraception is an abortifacient.
This question went to judicial review in 2002 before Mr Justice Munby. He was clear that it is not possible to procure a miscarriage until you have a carriage. Carriage occurs when the blastocyst has become implanted in the endometrium. Oral emergency contraception is used after unprotected sex and before implantation. Mr Justice Munby concluded that oral emergency contraception is not an abortifacient. Two products are licensed in the UK, Levonelle and EllaOne; both are available from multiple sources.
Dr Sam Rowlands, Bournemouth
I was very disappointed to read Mary Dejevsky’s remarks regarding general practitioners (“GPs – blame yourselves for 111”, 8 May). Please remember that the vast majority of us went into medicine to improve the quality of patients’ lives and not to juggle budgets, politics and clinical commissioning.
Of course healthcare is required 24/7 and it would be wonderful if patients could see their own GP out of hours as well as in the daytime but I’m sure your writer would be the first to complain if she could not see any of her usual GPs because they were off “post-nights” or her doctor fell asleep mid-consultation because he or she had covered the previous day and night and was exhausted.
Many doctors do willingly participate in the provision of out of hours care in their local area. Should Mary Dejevsky have any suggestions about how GPs can “bring themselves to offer a decent service 24/7” which enables GPs to work safely within their physical limitations and manage to enjoy their own lives, I am sure we all, patients and doctors alike, would be delighted to hear about it.
Dr Rachel Mamman, Wirral, Merseyside
Mary Dejevsky is wrong to link the problems facing NHS111 with the GP contract or out of hours care. NHS111 is a stand-alone triage service designed to answer non-emergency calls. In theory, it has the potential to relieve pressure on the NHS by dealing with health queries that do not require a visit to a hospital or GP surgery. It was never designed to take more serious calls and is not tied to the GP contract.
Unfortunately, the implementation of NHS111 has been so chaotic that patients have faced unacceptable delays in getting through to an operator. In some instances, the advice they have been given has been questionable. The BMA remains concerned that delays or deficiencies in the health advice being relayed to the public undermines patient safety, while the continued inability of the system to cope with call demand is putting other NHS services under pressure.
It is clear that we need immediate action to tackle the problems overwhelming NHS111. We should not be using the current crisis to blame healthcare professionals who repeatedly warned that the system was flawed before it was even launched.
Dr Laurence Buckman, British Medical Association , London WC1
Don’t forget about Black Rod
Roy Evans (letter, 9 May) has missed the wonderful act of defiance at the heart of the ritual of the State Opening of Parliament. It is the slamming of the door of the Commons in the face of Black Rod, the Sovereign’s representative. We have here a marvellous act of anti-deference, an inexhaustible precedent of challenge, which can inspire all radicals and shakers of the status quo for ever.
Christopher Walker, London W14
Discrimination in bankers’ pay
If Samantha Mangwana’s letter drawing attention to pay discrimination in the City had concerned, say, black City workers, and not female ones, would Nick Wray have written his facetious letter (9 May) – and, more to the point, would you have published it?
Rebecca Wheeler, Warminster, Wiltshire
The notion that Bowie’s latest video confirms that “pop culture will continue to mock Christianity” is a strangely truncated judgement (report, 9 May). While it may well continue to mock, it will, like all the arts, also continue to engage with, mine, re-use, affirm and enhance Christian and other religious themes. That is how religion and culture work.
Clive Marsh, University of Leicester
It’s a shame that your article on the aquatic ape hypothesis (9 May) does not mention Elaine Morgan, the woman who has done most to attract popular attention to it. She has had to battle decades of academic derision in championing the theories of Sir Alister Hardy, the eminent marine biologist who believed in the idea but was not bold enough to publish a book on the subject. Let us hope that the support of Sir David Attenborough will bring more focus to a controversial topic that deserves to be taken more seriously.
Simon Prentis, Cheltenham
Isn’t it about time that, Christmas Day apart, we did away with Bank Holidays? Inevitably they mean overcrowded roads and less frequent – and reliable – public-transport services. I’m sure that those in work would rather be given the opportunity to have extra leave instead, at the time of their choosing.
Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby
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