With the county elections almost upon us, here in South Buckinghamshire one of the most controversial of political topics has been the proposed HS2 rail link. I am not passionately pro or anti, but what I do feel passionately about is Nigel Farage and his Ukip party’s muscling in to proclaim their opposition to the project.
I would have a bit more respect for this politician’s sincerity if I got the feeling that his party had a healthy track record in campaigning on environmental issues, or a structured transport policy. However, reading Ukip’s literature doesn’t make a strong impression. There is a reference to upgrading public transport and protecting the green belt, next to encouragement for free car parking and opposition to “renewable energy scams”. Inevitably the foreigner and minority group cards come into play, with no preferential treatment given to travellers, and opposition to road tolls, except where the lorries are foreign-owned.
Any issue which happens to be good for a few votes will do. It is difficult to find any coherent policies, apart from their policy of opposing everything European. At least they are clear on that, even though it would be disastrous, cutting ourselves adrift from our main and closest market and ending up with the political clout of Norway.
Mr Farage and Ukip’s campaign seems to be based on things they are against. If they had to actually take responsibility for anything, they might find that they were out of their depth.
Alex Wilson, High Wycombe
Nigel Farage may be a “rather engaging geezer” as Boris Johnson says, but he is a frog in prince’s clothing – very dapper, entertaining and articulate on the outside but all the time hopping from one Euro-myth to another in furtherance of his cause.
He is particularly fond of exaggerating the influence of the EU on our daily lives by repeatedly telling us that “75 per cent of our laws originate in Brussels”. This is simply untrue. A House of Commons Library study covering more than a decade found that about 16 per cent of our statutory instruments implemented EU legislation.
Even if you added all the regulations imposing some form of obligation upon us, the total came to about 50 per cent of all our laws and regulations – and this included several that don’t apply to us but that we have to sign up to, like those on olive and tobacco growing.
Francis Kirkham, Crediton, Devon
The political elite are certainly running scared, as witnessed by their outrageous accusations against UKIP as we approach this week’s county council elections. Never have I heard so much spite, venom and ridicule from those supposed to be upstanding members of society.
While we take allegations against any of our candidates seriously, and will deal with matters appropriately, I wonder if all their candidates would stand up to close scrutiny. Let us not forget the expenses scandal of four years ago.
If those parties had listened to the concerns and wishes of the voters instead of treating them with contempt, they would not be in the sorry state they are now.
We are a party that is strong, durable and fast-growing and able to handle whatever the others throw at us, as best summed up in the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”
Philip Griffiths, North West Chairman UK Independence Party , Lancaster
Recent attacks from the Tories have denounced Ukip as closet racists. In my experience of Ukip at by-elections and at local elections and of meeting many of their grassroots supporters, this is borne out. Most Ukip members and supporters are nothing but opportunists, seeking a populist platform for their extremist views.
As the Official party of protest, we Official Monster Raving Loonies strongly object to use of the terms “fruit cakes and loonies” when describing Ukip. We who seek the Holy grail of Loonyism strongly object to the cavalier use of these terms.
Lord Toby Jug, Leader, The Official Monster Raving Loony Party, Eastern Region, , St Ives, Cambridgeshire
Nuclear fusion will never be practical
The ease of international collaboration on a technology is inversely proportional to the likelihood that anyone will ever make any money out of it. We now have the US, the UK, the European Union, Japan, Russia and other countries all collaborating on Iter, pouring their taxpayers’ money into the black hole of nuclear fusion technology (report, 27 April).
Fusion is fascinating basic science. It should be fighting its corner for funding with other big science, such as radio astronomy and particle physics. It will never be an energy technology.
First you have to get the deuterium-tritium reaction to go at all. Then you have to get it to go continuously. So far so good; they’ve done this, at least for short periods. Then you have to get it to release more energy than you use producing the reaction. They’re not close.
Then you have to capture the energy released. The plan is to surround the plasma chamber with a bath of molten lithium. Think about the engineering involved: a high vacuum on one side of the chamber wall, molten lithium on the other side, and a furious flux of hard neutrons bombarding the wall.
You then have to run hot molten lithium through a closed circuit of heat exchangers to raise steam for a turbine. Experience with fast-breeder reactor heat exchangers – molten sodium on one side, water on the other – suggests that this is an engineering challenge we have yet to meet. For four decades they failed, all over the world.
Let’s look a lot harder at the snake-oil PR that fusion people use to keep their hands in taxpayers’ pockets.
Walt Patterson , Chesham Bois, Buckinghamshire
Steve Connor, writes, “The international nuclear fusion project – known as Iter, meaning ‘the way’ in Latin…”
At the risk of appearing pedantic, iter is Latin for “journey”. The Latin for “way” or “road” is via.
Robert Lowe, Deputy Director, UCL Energy Institute, London WC1
Time is on the side of Leveson
Your leading article (26 April) speaks of stalemate over press regulation, but there is no real stalemate. A number of newspapers, unlike your own, are refusing to acknowledge the need for real change in the way the industry conducts its affairs. Their proposed charter is a device to allow them to remain unaccountable, but it is little more than a desperate and forlorn gesture.
The royal charter that was approved by all parties in Parliament embodies the Leveson recommendations, which are fair and measured and pose no threat to free expression. In time this will become obvious. Equally, the incentives to participate in the genuine scheme – incentives that are both moral and financial – will have their effect. What we need is patience.
Professor Brian Cathcart, Director, Hacked Off, London SW1
Outlaw drones or face attacks
You report on protests at the UK’s involvement in drone warfare (27 April). As drones in the wrong hands can also be used as flying bombs, making possible precision 9/11-style attacks on buildings, factories, power stations and sports stadiums, it is only a matter of time before rogue states (and terrorist groups) obtain drone technology.
We should therefore demand that our government has the courage to get the UN to make “drone warfare” a war crime, before it is too late.
Brian Christley, Conwy
Bees still in danger
Monday’s announcement of a temporary neonicotinoids restriction isn’t an unqualified win for bees (“Another reason to be grateful for Europe”, 29 April). The move is a breathing space which must be used to develop less harmful pest control.
To make good on its bee-friendly rhetoric the Government must also address the chronic loss of habitat, sources of food, and other threats pollinators face in the UK. We need a proper Bee Action Plan now.
Sandra Bell , Nature Campaigner, Friends of the Earth, London N1
Time to go
It is now surely time for our monarchs to follow Queen Beatrix’s example and abdicate in favour of the next generation. As it stands, increasing longevity, improved health and modern medical practices ensure that the reigning monarch will, in all probability, live into their 80s or 90s, meaning their successor is unlikely to succeed until they are themselves in their 60s or 70s. Unless a way is found to allow the next generation to succeed earlier, we are destined always to have geriatric monarchs.
John Harvey, Bristol
Big city eateries
Your story (30 April) about the new ranking of the world’s top 50 restaurants informs us that “Spain now outranks Paris and New York as the world’s culinary capital”. Is the writer aware that Spain is a whole country, whereas Paris and New York are cities (and the US and France have more entries than Spain)?
Rod Chapman, Sarlat, France
Box of cojones
Guy Keleny (Errors and Omissions, 27 April) reasonably supposes that “b*****ks” had been translated from the Spanish cojones. However, the column was headlined: “Show some cajones and get rid of the asterisks”. As cajones means “drawers” or “boxes”, the column nicely lived up to its name.
David Ridge, London N19
Your headline says: “British public loses faith in Coalition’s austerity plan” (30 April). Has it also lost faith in New Labour’s debt-financed boom we all enjoyed so much? Do we now believe that the British have been living beyond our means for the past 40 years?
Martin London, Henllan, Denbighshire