Heavens above! Emily Thornberry is the product of a working-class council estate. The true test of what she thinks about ordinary working people is to be found in the fact that after she joined the middle classes as a barrister, she joined the Labour Party, not the Conservatives. Her downfall, prompted by her tweeting a photo of a home decked in England flags, is her characteristically English wry sense of radical humour.
The “white van man’’ is a recent much-loved icon of an ironic English humour, which stretches from Hogarth to Mock the Week. Ms Thornberry’s image of the house, the van and the large St George flags is worthy of Hogarth. It signals her evident dismay that the voters of Rochester had fallen under the spell of a disingenuous, camouflaged, neo-Thatcherite tribute party, led by an enterprising former public schoolboy and former City trader, which has the £ sign in its title, suggesting a new country to be called “Poundland”.
Ms Thornberry was highly effective in dealing with Tory propagandists. Ordinary working- and lower-middle-class people need her badly to put the Labour Party case for a fairer and more rational Britain that represents their interests – something in which she clearly believes – rather than the pantomime pretences of Thatcherite Ukip.
On behalf of all working- and middle-class Britain I say, come back Emily Thornberry, we have need of thee!
In his self-congratulatory column in Saturday’s Independent, Nigel Farage seems to have confused listening to the concerns of voters with pandering to their prejudices.
The problem is that politicians lack the courage to tell people the truth: that immigration has generally been beneficial for this country, that immigrants, especially those from the EU, are net contributors to our coffers, and that leaving the EU would be an economic disaster.
Quite why people think that having a pint of beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other is qualification for high political office is beyond me.
While Mr Farage’s simplistic pronouncements may garner votes in the short term, in the long term they will leave voters feeling even more disillusioned, a situation that could be avoided were leaders of other parties prepared to engage in proper debate.
Amid all the discussions about which parties will gain or lose however many seats in next year’s election, and therefore who is likely to enter a coalition with whom, I have not yet encountered any discussion of the possibility that the only two-party coalition to command a majority in the House of Commons might be Labour and Tory.
What three-party coalition can be envisaged? Tory, SNP and anything? The SNP has already ruled out any deal with the Tories. Tory, Ukip and Lib Dem? You can’t see the last two together. Labour, Lib Dem and SNP seems at least plausible.
Analysis of the by-election in Rochester and Strood in terms of the whole electorate of the constituency shows that about two people in ten supported Mark Reckless, three in ten voted for other candidates and five in ten didn’t vote at all. This can hardly be construed as massive support for Ukip. Instead, it raises questions about the state of democracy in Britain today.
Maybe the Conservatives and Labour now regret their stance in the 2011 referendum on voting reform.
Ukip sells the dream that we can turn back time to a green and pleasant land when Spitfires ruled the skies, before we sold off our major industries, and when we reaped the resources of our empire. But it’s all gone. It’s not coming back.
I have just been listening to a phone-in on the radio. When a caller was asked why they supported Ukip, the reply was: “People in other EU countries don’t know what it is like to have their children in a classroom where no one speaks any English”. Quite.
Goring on Thames, Oxfordshire
More wind farms may mean fewer pylons Alistair Wood (letter, 22 November) says he doesn’t object to wind turbines as such, but does object to pylons. I am afraid the horse has bolted from that stable a long time ago.
The 275 and 400kV super-grid was built in the 1960s, as I recall. He may find it comforting that wind and other renewable sources are less intense sources of energy than conventional power stations and, if distributed widely, could reduce rather than increase the need for National Grid connections. Indeed, some countries are encouraging local renewable generation, which could reduce it yet further.
I am puzzled by the suggestion that green arguments come from “town and city dwellers”. As it happens, I live in a village considerably smaller than Llanymynech, but that’s not the point. Climate change (and most of the other negative impacts of fossil fuel and nuclear generation) hits the countryside worst, and country dwellers should be (and many are) at least as concerned as city dwellers.
The pattern that I do see is that the most extreme Nimbys are those who have moved from town to country for the nice views and don’t want them spoilt.
Bonuses merely incentivise risk
As a shareholder, I was recently invited to approve a remuneration package for a chief executive of £1.5m salary plus a bonus package that amounts to more than six times the annual salary. We need to bear in mind that the bankers and captains of industry who receive the bonuses are not entrepeneurs – they do not risk any of their own money, only ours.
Bonuses are wrong for three reasons. Firstly, most brain workers, including many of the employees of the company concerned, do not get offered a bonus and are expected to do their very best for their employer out of a sense of pride and integrity. If this incoming chief executive needs to be bribed with a massive bonus to behave likewise is he or she really the right person for the job?
Secondly, as leader of the team, how can the chief executive with a huge bonus demand, with a straight face, 100 per cent effort from his or her subordinates who are not on bonuses?
Worst of all, bonuses skew risk analysis. If the chief executive perceives that the only way he or she has a chance of making their bonus target is by taking wild risks, then there is no downside in taking them. If the risk fails, the chief executive is no worse off. Contrast the position of an entrepreneur who does risk his or her own money.
Yet we have seen our Tory Chancellor doing his very best to thwart a small effort by the European Union to curb this pernicious practice.
Wear your charitable giving with pride
Just about every week I disagree with Janet Street-Porter and today (22 November) is no exception. Every year I used to give to the Poppy Appeal but didn’t wear a poppy, but then the penny dropped – maybe people seeing my poppy would be reminded or prompted to give themselves.
She says: “Charitable giving has become another way of showing off, incorporating pointless records, wrist bands and ephemera.” Maybe that ephemera and showing off might just raise more money.
Safer Cars don’t mean safer driving
I read with interest the article relating to vehicle technology and safety improvements (“En route to even greater safety”, 18 November). The final paragraph observes: “Vehicle safety may have improved enormously, but there’s still a lot of work to do.”
I spent 30 years as a traffic patrol police officer, and have been involved in many aspects of road safety since, including speed awareness courses.
I would make the observation that the “work to do” should relate to our skills as a driver, the weakest link in the chain. Generally, our skill base is low, we seldom take additional driver training, we drive at inappropriate speeds, and fail to take responsibility for our actions.
By all means make our vehicles safer, but is it not time that more focus was placed upon the driver’s skills?
Did Canada get lost under the snow?
I see that the snow storms sweeping North America are only affecting the USA (“‘Historic’ early freeze sweeps across entire United States”, 20 November). Looking at your maps they stop at its northern border. I assume that the land above wasn’t affected? Or is that country of so little consequence it was not worth mentioning?
Swanage, DorsetReuse content