Unite is absolutely right to highlight the risk to the NHS posed by the trade deal currently being negotiated with the US (“PM must exclude NHS from EU-US trade deal or it could be sued, union warns”, 3 July). Many other aspects of life in the UK are also threatened.
The deal seeks to “harmonise” European and American food, safety and environmental regulation, which in reality would mean slashing our hard-won standards to match much lower US levels. So products such as hormone-treated beef and pork, and chicken washed in chlorine, sold by US companies but currently banned here, could appear on supermarket shelves in the UK.
Education would also be affected, as American companies are being offered the chance to get involved in public education, from primary level right through to university.
David Cameron claims to be fighting for national sovereignty in his dealings with the EU, but in pushing for this deal, he is ceding our sovereignty to multinational companies. The deal is a corporate power-grab, and should be abandoned.
Director, World Development Movement, London SW9
Reading about punitive US sanctions on European banks made me realise that there was a historical parallel.
Britain fought for more than 20 years against revolutionary and Napoleonic France, and during those wars imposed trade sanctions against neutral powers which were exporting contraband goods to France.
The Royal Navy enforced that policy by stopping and searching neutral merchantmen and impounding goods and ships that were breaking our embargo. This policy annoyed the US merchants concerned and resulted in the largely naval war of 1812. Though we had the satisfaction of burning the White House, they had the last laugh by soundly defeating us at the Battle of New Orleans – after the war had already ended in a draw. Should we conclude anything from this?
Can anyone tell me why we allow the USA to dictate who we trade with? I can accept that we should not trade with terrorist organisations, but why cannot we trade with Cuba? This is a peaceful country whose only “misdemeanour” is that its leaders will not kneel down and grovel to the world’s leading litigious society.
Overdose of blame for GPs
Jane Merrick (3 July) blames GPs for the loss of effectiveness of antibiotics. As a retired GP I remember spending an inordinate amount of time explaining to patients why the use of antibiotics needed to be restricted, and that the course ought to be completed in order to avoid resistance building up. Considerable airtime has been given to this topic on television and radio.
There has, however, been a deafening silence on the role of antibiotic use by vets and farmers, particularly in rearing poultry, where I understand antibiotics are used regularly in the prevention of infection.
We all have a responsibility in this matter, not just one group.
Dr Christine Wood
Penistone, South Yorkshire
How the state could fix pensions
You are right to call for National Insurance to be abolished (editorial, 30 June); it has many anomalies. Most of the benefits should always have been financed out of general taxation, but the provision for pensions is different. Pension provision should have been funded.
The cash that my employers and I paid for the pensions element of the scheme should have been held in trust and invested to provide the funds needed to finance my pension. The cost should not fall upon my children and grandchildren. In my case the cost of an annuity to fund my pension would be about £78,000; a hidden debt. As the average age increases we are now creating ever higher levels of hidden debt.
There is little incentive for taxpayers to contribute to the private pension and annuity schemes which have proved to be so unsatisfactory in the past. The state could operate a guaranteed pension scheme which would encourage taxpayers to make proper provision for their retirement. It is essential that they do so to limit the social security benefits which future governments would need to fund.
The state could run a funded pension scheme with a guaranteed return of say inflation plus 2 per cent coupled with guaranteed annuity rates. This would enable contributors to know what their retirement income would be.
The state could invest the fund in for example residential mortgages, new rented housing and small businesses. It should make a profit, but even if it didn’t the saving in social security cost would make the scheme worthwhile.
The greatest benefit from such a scheme is that it could be used to replace the final salary schemes provided for public employees, thus eliminating the great difference between public and private employment.
What won’t happen on the West Bank
As is well known it is anti-Semitic to suggest that either Zionism or the Israeli state is racist. I would therefore expect, in the wake of the kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian child, for the Israeli state to behave in exactly the same way as it did when three Israeli children were kidnapped and murdered.
I am confident that the army will search the homes of thousands of settlers. That prominent settler leaders will be detained and that the source of this and similar attacks, the terrorist nests of settlements such as Kiryat Arba, will be subject to bombing from the air.
Of course none of the above is conceivable. This is the real problem in Israel and no amount of “peace” negotiations that permit the war process to continue will make any difference. Until Israel becomes a state of its own people, Jewish and non-Jewish, and not a supremacist Jewish state, the situation will continue indefinitely.
Has all humanity left the Middle East? It sickens me that four teenagers have been murdered. They are teenagers; it doesn’t matter that three are Jewish and one Muslim. Each has parents, friends and until recently a future.
The inevitable reprisals have started. It would be refreshing to hear that both sides are dealing with these murders in the way most societies would and working together to investigate them, find the perpetrators and bring them to justice. That would reassure many of us who look on dismayed at the constant violence in the Middle East.
A grievous blow to jazz
The news that the Arts Council has chosen to axe its funding to Jazz Services Ltd – our national organisation for debate, information and financial support – is the most grievous blow to our music since the organisation opened its doors in 1967.
For those in the profession who have watched with dismay jazz’s submergence amid the rock culture – as well as its incomprehensible but triumphant survival nonetheless – the news may not come as a shock. But we have a society which is once again open to the sounds of jazz, major colleges offering degrees in the music, and new generations of young jazz musicians enriching our artistic heritage year after year. In view of all that, the Arts Council’s decision-makers can be seen only as fools who fail to recognise that art does not, by definition, need to starve in a garret.
As a professional jazz musician of 40 years, I say: shame on them.
Westcliff on Sea, Essex
Investment in wind power
You report (“Green power”, 27 June) that experts in the renewable energy business “are concerned that Conservative Party opposition to renewable energy could [deter] investors”.
On the contrary, it has encouraged me to invest in an onshore wind turbine development, supported by the local community, to demonstrate that I am rather more farsighted than the “spoils the view” brigade, who probably use as much, or more, power than the rest of us.
Or are they relying on a short-term “dash for gas” for our future power needs? I bet they don’t believe in climate change either.
Why did the press miss the big story?
It remains a mystery why for so many years some tabloid journalists were prepared to break the criminal law to provide their readers with a circulation-boosting diet of celebrity infidelity, yet they completely failed to help to bring to public attention Jimmy Savile’s sexual abuses, which had been going on for decades.
It would surely have served their argument for an unrestrained press far better had they been able to provide a genuine public service.