Make no mistake, the floods in the north are a national disaster

The following letters appear in the 28th December edition of the Independent

Sunday 27 December 2015 18:26
Members of a Mountain Rescue team paddle along Huntington Road in York, after the River Foss and Ouse burst their banks.
Members of a Mountain Rescue team paddle along Huntington Road in York, after the River Foss and Ouse burst their banks.

While the present spate of flooding in the north of England may not be so catastrophic as the tsunami in South-east Asia 11 years ago or even the present floods occurring in South America, it is not a local, but a national disaster.

While over the past few weeks there have been fortunately very few reports of loss of life, about 50,000 to 100,000 people may possibly have suffered serious long-term economic damage either through the damage to their home, business or place of work.

The Government’s offer of £50m to the flood victims is pitiably small. With global warming, such catastrophic events could happen annually almost anywhere in the United Kingdom. To both compensate the present victims and to have funds available to meet future demands, which will almost certainly arise, and to spend additional amounts to shore up the flood defences against future natural disasters, there needs to be a special fund to deal with this problem.

I would suggest that the Government should increase income tax by one penny in the pound specifically to create and cover such a fund.

John Moses

Kew, Surrey

The floods are an excellent opportunity for the Government to initiate a state-subsidised building and dredging plan that could employ thousands (including migrants), unify the country with a common purpose and earn the spin-off money that Maynard Keynes predicted and Adolf Hitler found true.

Stewart Trotter

London W9

As your article “Droughts caused by global warming to cause mass migration across the world” suggests (24 December), the global migrant crisis has scarcely even begun.

In addition to drought, the rise of sea levels will drive people in huge numbers off the great deltas and other coastal regions. What can come of this but conflict and famine? Meanwhile, the world’s population is increasing by 11,000 people every hour. Is it not blindingly obvious that we should do something about these numbers?

Roger Plenty

Stroud, Gloucestershire

I heartily endorse Alan Bailey’s letter (23 December) on the stabilising of the world’s population.

In the 1960s one of the major concerns of academics was a reduction of population growth. I still have my university notes to prove this. Serious newspapers, such as The Times was then, frequently discussed the issue in depth and scientists worked hard to produce new, more effective, forms of contraception. The consequences of massive population growth were well appreciated.

Gradually, media opinion softened. China’s one-child policy seems to have been universally condemned and large families seen as the norm worldwide. Even in the UK, large families appear to have been encouraged through social policy.

The recent storms we have been experiencing must be a wake-up call. More and more people simply mean more devastation.

Carole Lewis


Religion and crime: cause and effect?

John King shows a correlation between decline in religion and falling crime in the US (letter, 26 December). A correlation does not prove causation. A more credible explanation for the fall in crime was demonstrated 10 years ago by Levitt and Dubner in their book Freakonomics.

This showed that the introduction of more liberal abortion laws meant that fewer children were being born into an environment of poverty, broken homes, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, etc, from which much crime springs: generations of potential criminals were simply never born.

The relevance to his argument in detailing the appalling treatment of the young man by the Saudi police escapes me. The brutal treatment of its citizens by a state has been seen throughout history, not just by religious ones but latterly by Nazi Germany, Communist bloc countries, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe and Saddam’s Iraq – all political, not religious, entities.

While Mr King is free to regard religion as “twaddle”, nevertheless it has inspired the best of human endeavour. Uniquely, it is where we find architecture, literature, music, art, oratory, theatre, poetry and philosophy, coming together for a single purpose, expressed by people aspiring to demonstrate their highest values, serving a unified activity in a spirit of community and within a moral framework.

And while anyone can (and many do) care for the elderly, educate the young, visit the prisoners and nurse the sick, it is often the church congregations in our communities that have the structure, network and commitment to quietly and effectively do this work week in and week out.

Richard Charnley

Leamington Spa

When considering if Christianity is a civilising force we can only look at the teaching of its founder; teaching such as to turn the other cheek when hurt, love your neighbour as yourself, be merciful, forgive and help the poor. All these seem to be good principles to live by and maybe if we carried these out as Jesus taught then Christianity would really be a civilising force in society.

Brian Dalton


Corbyn’s appeal to all kinds of voters

The media commentators who regularly trash Jeremy Corbyn (his dress sense, his Christmas card, his bowing technique, his pacifism, his perceived inability to win elections despite winning the Labour party’s leadership election) should reflect on the rise of Podemos in Spain and Syriza in Greece, parties which appeal to the young and those who rarely vote, as well as those who believe the current system creates too much injustice and inequality.

Corbyn’s critics risk underestimating his appeal to people unlike themselves, people who have fallen behind in the rat-race and young people who will never own their own homes or pay off their debts. And even people a bit older and more like the commentators may have friends or relatives who aren’t doing too well in this increasingly unequal society, or may value properly funded public services, a more critical attitude to the free market, and politicians who talk about principles rather than bribes and fear-mongering, and who offer a real choice at election time.

Marilyn Mason

Kingston upon Thames

The media bullying of Labour’s leader is relentless, each headline providing opportunity for yet another anti-Corbyn blast. Alongside political opponents, New Labour heavy-weight detractors, past and present, are paraded. Prominent Corbyn supporters are aggressively grilled and their own political and private lives put in question.

This establishment collusion creates an effective smokescreen, which prevents the policies for which Mr Corbyn was elected from being presented and debated.

Elizabeth Deakin

Tywyn, Gwynedd

The punishment for Phoning while driving

Drivers who use mobile phones while driving are to receive more serious punishment. They are going to be slapped on both wrists. Surely it is time we realised that some driving offences are matters of life and death, and the common-sense view is that the way to deal with them is to impound the vehicles.

After all, if someone committed a gun offence it would be ludicrous to allow them to keep the gun, and the same consideration is being given to the carrying of knives.

Bill Fletcher

Cirencester, Gloucestershire

Press self-regulation fails once again

“Who wants to see another Leveson?” asks Ian Burrell (21 December). Well, maybe he is correct that the press, politicians and judges do not (how would we know?), but I for one very definitely do and I would go further.

Because all previous attempts at press self-regulation have failed, often spectacularly, I will not be satisfied until we have a truly independent regulator of the press. The so called Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) is not independent, it is the organisation of the big press companies.

I do not believe that Ipso will protect us from abuses of press power and I do not think I am the only ordinary member of the public to hold that view.

John Doylend

Bungay, Suffolk

Ban on hunting? Not really, not here

There is no point in speculating about the future of fox hunting (editorial, 26 December). Here, in deep south Warwickshire, the hunts continue to hunt, the police benignly either ignore them or spectate admiringly, and the hunt supporters curse and threaten any innocent who might suggest that it is wrong to break the law.

It’s a good job that none of these are claiming benefits, eh?

Michael Rosenthal

Brailes, Warwickshire

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