So, Ed Miliband has been briefed, presumably, that cutting public spending is a vote-winner, as he intends to become Tory “lite” and attack the poor and vulnerable (“Miliband vows to wield the axe”, 11 December).
I had thought we might get our caring socialist party back after the Blair betrayal. I had so wanted to vote Labour.
However they are no different from the other careerist, out-of-touch politicians. Where is the bravery and leadership?
Russell Brand is not my cup of tea, but he says what a lot of people think about the corrupt elitist political establishment who are in league with the banks and big business.
I am 51, three children, working, and reasonably well off financially. Hardly a rebel. I just want a socialist option please, Mr Miliband.
West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire
All the main political parties are talking about having to make difficult decisions after the next election, but they all seem to be shying away from the most obvious economic solution, lest it should cost them votes: taxes for the lowest paid need to be cut, to help families cope in these straitened times, but the shortfall must be made up by raising taxes for the better off.
It has to be accepted that making a proportional contribution is the price of living in a harmonious and compassionate society.
Tax avoiders and evaders need to be shamed and shunned, their offshore loopholes closed. There is nothing to be gained by tiptoeing around wealthy business people, trying not to upset them in case they skip the country, when the price of their continued patronage is driving our citizens to destitution and wrecking the framework of our society – our NHS, our welfare state, our libraries, schools, fire stations, museums and galleries.
British society is an intricate and fragile ecosystem, founded upon mutual respect and trust. We share a history which has been shaped by great leaders and trade unions, by industry and art, by workers who had a pride and dedication that once made this country the envy of the world, and thanks to which it is the creative, driven, pulsating land that it still is today. Let us hope that our political leaders have the courage and steel to hold firm in the face of these tough times and guide us together through this recession.
Derek Martin is right (letter, 8 December): tax giveaways when yet more cutbacks are in prospect are madness. Higher direct taxation is inevitable if we are to keep public services at a decent level.
Like Derek Martin, I grew up at a time when it was generally accepted that we all paid our bit in income tax so that health and other public services would be available to all when they needed them. That all changed under Margaret Thatcher. We are now being governed by kids who were still in short trousers in the era of higher income taxes and who clearly believe that a low rate of tax is an inalienable human right, even when public services are at risk of being axed because of the “deficit”.
I would vote for a party that included the following in its manifesto: (1) a modest rise in income tax, except for those unable to afford it; (2) renationalisation of the railway network to make it affordable for all as an alternative to driving; (3) renationalisation of energy supply; (4) an undertaking that this country will play its full part in the EU instead of trying to wriggle out of as many commitments as possible.
Which party will have the nerve – and integrity – to offer all this, I wonder?
Elegant wasp on the patio table
Michael McCarthy’s article on pests (9 December), recalled for me an occasion some years ago when my late wife and I were on holiday in Provence. We had been eating a lunchtime snack of fingers of toast and smoked salmon with our wine. Our patio table was a huge millstone.
We watched with fascination as a wasp landed and began elegantly snipping away at a sliver of the salmon that had fallen on the stone, working its way around. It took it quite a long time to eat its fill.
I have also seen an example of the brilliant ability of these creatures in making nests. Created entirely of chewed cellulose – paper, wood, cardboard – they out-perform anything made by bees or birds – a symphony of elegant little overlapping arches.
I carefully removed the one built in my garage and took it round to the local village school for the children to study. I hoped it would prove to be a useful educational tool, and the headteacher agreed.
Michael McCarthy’s observation that “there is no morality in nature” is obviously correct. They do what they must to survive. We on the other hand are able to empathise with other lives, whether that “other” is the fox killing for food, the rat being the unfortunate meal, or, dare I say, the Christmas turkey.
Modest kitchens for the workers
Henrietta Cubitt’s letter (“How the poor have to cook”, 12 December) suggests that “architecture has to take some blame” for the “tiny kitchens” which are to be found in most council accommodation that she knows of. It might be the architecture, but it was not the architects who were to blame.
I was a young architect practising in the 1970s, when many of our current council houses were built, and we all had to follow precisely a set of government-imposed rules, known as Parker Morris standards, which set out the exact maximum areas for all the rooms in such dwellings, including the “tiny” kitchens.
As one who had grown up in a house with a large kitchen, which included a kitchen table on which we ate most of our daily meals (the dining room table only being used for special events), I queried why the Parker Morris standards produced such a small kitchen, with only enough room for cooking. One of the more senior architects told me that the reason was that the authorites wanted to educate the working classes into eating in the dining room, so the kitchens were kept deliberately too small to fit a table into!
David J Williams
Rhos-on-Sea, North Wales
Father Christmas does exist
Eric Kaplan is sneerily dismissive of the psychoanalytic take on Father Christmas (The Big Read, 12 December). But as any good Jungian will tell you, Father Christmas is an archetype who does exist – in the mythical layer of consciousness, or the collective unconscious as Jung described it.
In fact the whole Christmas story is redolent with archetypal imagery, imagery which is not confined to Christianity. Dickens, in A Christmas Carol, well understood the liminal experience of the winter solstice as a time when the dead revisit the earth to encourage or warn the living.
Eric Kaplan, however well-meaning, seems to embrace a Gradgrind approach to the world of imagination, and would no doubt reject all of this. Yet the Jungian view allows a parent to assert confidently that, indeed, Father Christmas does exist – but in another dimension of reality, rather than in Harrods’ toy department.
Dr Mary Brown
Mixed message from the West to Muslims
Have we done the right thing in locking Runa Khan up for five years? Have we not turned this naive woman into a martyr for her cause?
Before we bang up a mother of six children for such a long time perhaps the nation ought to reflect on the mixed messages we have given Muslims. Haven’t we spent the past four years demonising Syria’s Assad regime and sponsoring, through our “allies” Saudi Arabia and Qatar, these very same Islamic jihadis in Syria?
Last year when the British government was planning to bomb Syria, that was not referred to as terrorism. So why is a young Muslim woman encouraging her brothers to go and fight in Syria termed terro
Perhaps we need a more consistent foreign policy?
Migrants in mortal danger
A heat-seeking camera would have detected the stowaway Ahmed Osman, who died after falling from the undercarriage of a truck. Can we not within the EU make it compulsory for all trucks to be scanned periodically so that stowaways’ lives are not put at risk?
West Bromwich, West Midlands
Hegemony of ignorance
If people like Russell Brand are going to try and be intellectually competent, I do wish they would pronounce “hegemony” properly. It is not pronounced “hedge-a-moany”. Gramsci and Lenin must be turning in their dialectical graves.