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Letters: Fox affair reveals threat to British sovereignty

Saturday 22 October 2011 08:46 BST

The case of Liam Fox must not be allowed to be made to appear as an unfortunate and unique episode. It raises fundamental issues about the state of British democracy. As citizens of Britain and the European Union we vote for both the Westminster and Brussels parliaments on the assumption that both bodies are acting in the interests of their electorates. The United States and Israel are foreign powers upon which British citizens clearly have no influence.

If elected members of Parliament wish publicly to oppose greater integration between ourselves and other European countries, that is clearly part of the democratic process. However, the creation of a secretive and discredited "charity", the Atlantic Bridge, which relied on the power of right-wing overseas extremist groups and tax-avoiding billionaires to pursue their own agenda on behalf of foreign interests, is clearly an infinitely greater threat to our democracy and British sovereignty than anything dreamt of in Brussels.

Just as we imagined that bankers were safe, prudent guardians of the nation's wealth, we assumed that MPs and ministers in Her Majesty's Government were acting in our interests. I can't wait for the next time one of these "eurosceptic" hypocrites starts to wail about British sovereignty.

Aidan Harrison

Rothbury, Northumberland

Leaving aside its status as the sole super-power, the USA is the world's most dynamic democracy, has practically always been our most reliable ally and was in any event created by Brits a couple of hundred years ago. Despite its failings (which are many) Israel remains the nearest thing to a functioning western democracy in a very tough neighbourhood on the doorstep of Europe.

Could somebody please explain why there is something inherently sinister about efforts – however cack-handed – to keep in touch with opinion-formers in both those places? The Independent needs to grow up, recognise that the world is a dangerous place full of people who hate us and want to kill us, and accept that unless we are willing to defend ourselves adequately (which we are not) we need to keep close to the tough kids in the playground in the hope that they will look out for us.

R S Foster


Was Adam Werritty the worst best man ever?

Stan Labovitch


Protesters go for the wrong target

What is the real motive behind the protesters camped out in the City of London?

What the private banks did was a direct consequence of government policy. I agree that the taxpayer should not be supporting failed businesses or banks. But it was not the private banks who set the artificially low interest rates at the Bank of England, the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, nor was it the private banks who inflated the value of our currencies to create the illusion of economic growth in the UK, the US and the eurozone.

Nor was it the private banks who sold our gold and spent taxpayers' money and put our countries on the brink of bankruptcy with unimaginable national debt.

The protesters should be targeting The Bank of England, The Federal Reserve, The European Central Bank and the previous Labour government.

D S A Murray

Dorking, Surrey

We are told by the Prime Minister that we are all having to tighten our belts to beat the economic recession. I would like to ask him how this affects him personally. What has he had to give up or cut down on?

I have a suggestion to ease our economic ills: to tax everyone's savings by 10 per cent. I would willingly hand over my £700 if the millionaire industrialists and bankers did the same.

It seems people all over the world are beginning to realise how unfair the distribution of wealth is and are taking to the streets as a result. Something has to be done to prevent world revolution.

T J Thompson

Falmouth, Cornwall

Are there any circumstances in which it is economically, socially or morally acceptable for anyone to earn more than £1m a year? Perhaps we could have a national discussion, not to pillory financiers, footballers and celebrities, but to ask what is fair and reasonable, given the economic hardship facing so many people today.

Quentin Macfarlane

Auchmithie, Angus

Energy consumers need more help

The smog surrounding multiple tariffs for gas and electricity has to be cleared away, but that alone is insufficient to ensure that consumers know which is the best deal.

Even with fewer tariffs many people, including the poorest, will remain on a poorer deal than necessary. They may not be especially numerate, they may be elderly and not especially savvy consumers, or they may not be on the internet and so have greater difficulty in making comparisons.

Shortly before every 12-month anniversary of their joining an energy supplier, consumers should be provided with a recommendation for the cheapest tariff for the coming 12 months based on their previous twelve months' history of consumption. In computing terms this is simple. This recommendation should be accompanied by a pre-paid reply card or a free telephone number.

Patrick Cosgrove

Chapel Lawn, Shropshire

That there are serious problems with the structure of the energy market is not in doubt. How "low" prices can result, when the energy companies spend huge sums capturing customers from each other, is beyond me. Part of this process is to construct tariff structures which would defeat the most ardent anorak.

The Government keeps repeating the mantra about shopping around. It would be more useful if they insisted that the companies offer only one domestic tariff – a standing charge and a price per kilowatt hour.

David McKaigue

Thornton Hough, Wirral

I am surprised at the shock and horror at the news that energy companies are making a profit out of their customers. Is that not the objective of a private-sector company? If we don't want Energy companies to make profits perhaps we should nationalise them.

John McKinley


Don't blame Churchill

Robert Fisk (15 October) wrote: "We all know about Gallipoli; hopelessly conceived mess, dreamed up by Churchill."

Well, no we don't, except for those who have fallen for the propaganda Fisk and his like put about – although they may be a majority. Churchill's plan was not only feasible but was working brilliantly until it was scuppered by a series of pusillanimous military blunders.

Fisk need only have referred to the judgement of Churchill's political opponent, Clement Attlee, who described the Dardanelles campaign of 1915 as "the only imaginative strategy of the war", adding, to Churchill: "I only wish that you had had full power to carry it to success."

And Attlee had some standing in this matter given that, as Major C R Attlee MC, he was the second-last man off the Gallipoli beaches after the blunderers had seized disaster from the jaws of victory.

Professor A J Pointon

University of Portsmouth

It should come as no surprise that more Arabs fought on the side of the Ottoman Turks in the First World War than on the side of the Allies, as Robert Fisk notes, when one remembers that more Irish Catholics and more Indians fought on the side of the British than for the opposition in both world wars. Could it be a case of "better the devil you know"?

David Burton

Wellington, Telford

No integrity at the top

It was with despair that I read that Surrey police knew that News of the World journalists were hacking Milly Dowler's mobile phone in 2002 and chose to do nothing about it (report, 14 October).

It seems that the old-fashioned notion of integrity has been abandoned, though one must now question whether it was ever present among senior public servants. Perhaps it has always been a pretence to keep us, the gullible public, in ignorance of the "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" conspiracy between the media, police, politicians and big business.

If Britain is broken, then it's broken at the top. If David Cameron wants to demonstrate leadership then let's see him deal with the cronyism that seems to be infecting public life.

Philip Maughan

Portree, Isle of Skye

Red card was fully justified

I fully support the move by the International Rugby Board to allow no tolerance of dangerous tackles. To lift a man up and then drop him from one metre or more on to his shoulders, neck or head is dangerous, and a red card should be shown without any question.

I am appalled that much comment in this paper and on TV has claimed that the red card in Saturday's World Cup match in some way spoiled the game, that it stopped Wales from winning. Would those commentators have preferred to see Clerc carried off on a stretcher, paralysed from the neck down and Wales the victors? Wales lost because their goal kickers were not accurate enough.

J Wright

Calne, Wiltshire

I read Alan Lewendon's letter praising the discipline of the Welsh rugby team (15 October) ten minutes before the Welsh captain was sent off for foul play. Oh dear. The Saturday papers were full of articles based on the assumption that Wales would win the match. Never count your chickens in case they come home to roost.

Andrew Belsey

Whitstable, Kent

Not that difficult

I can sympathise with Sarah Goldberg's view that some elderly patients are very difficult (letter, 17 October) and, knowing my own defects, I'm sure I'd feel very impatient with them – but even through my irritation I think I might connect uneaten meals with starvation.

Sara Neill

Tunbridge Wells, Kent

Cross reaction

Please correct your front-page howler in describing the crossbencher Lord Owen as a "Liberal Democrat peer" (13 October) before the Party suffers mass resignations.

Philip Goldenberg

Woking Surrey

Out of season

Mark Hix's recipes for asparagus (15 October) were excellent, but why not do these recipes during the British asparagus season? I refuse to buy vegetables from half way round the world.

Sue Thomas

Bowness on Windermere

Poor show, chaps

Not a single sportswoman is mentioned in your 24-page sport supplement (17 October). Is this a record? Almost certainly not.

Matthew Cobb


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