Letters: Solution to Calais crisis lies in Africa

The following letters appear in the 12 August edition of The Independent

Independent Voices@IndyVoices
Tuesday 11 August 2015 18:18

Instead of addressing Ukip and Conservative galleries, and sensationally accusing African migrants seeking a better life in Europe of undermining the continent’s standard of living (10 August), the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, should listen to the voices saying that British foreign aid is not working anywhere, especially in Africa.

Since independence some 60 years ago, the UK and other Western countries have handed to Africa more than £500bn in development aid, according to reports by the Economist Intelligence Unit and other reputable organisations. Despite this massive amount of money, the continent is becoming ever poorer, hungrier and angrier, as evidenced by civil war, famine and disease that are every year driving out hundreds of thousands of African people to search for a better life in Europe.

With the population currently standing at one billion and expected to triple by 2050, according to the latest UN World Population Prospects, many more African migrants will try to come to Europe in the next months and years rather than stay at home and wait for a slow and painful death from starvation, disease and violence.

The solution to African migration is not to continue pouring in British aid, which is fuelling corruption and perpetuating a culture of dependency in Africa. Instead, the UK should assist Africa to trade itself out of poverty. To that end, the UK should lead other EU countries in targeting their aid at tackling the population explosion, investing in trade, and removing the EU Common Agricultural Policy, food subsidies and other trade barriers which stifle African exports.

Sam Akaki
Director, Democratic Institutions for Poverty Reduction in Africa
London W3

Your columnist Ian Birrell (10 August) suggests that the “wealth” we are bestowing on the poor nations of Africa, through the “golden rivers of aid” (his words), is causing the “swarms” (PM’s word) of migrants to Europe.

So the solution to this problem, presumably, is to keep all these people as poor as possible! What a very Christian idea! And what rubbish.

Les Thompson
Staines, Surrey

Corbyn gives straight answers

It would be too easy to dismiss Norman Baker’s warning of the UK sleepwalking toward a one-party state (11 August) as apocalyptic scaremongering. But there are many of us who are lifelong Labour supporters who fear that a leadership victory for Jeremy Corbyn could bring the former Lib Dem coalition minister’s forecast closer to grim reality.

To young voters Jeremy Corbyn has emerged as an unlikely hero, not so much because they heavily share his policy ideas but more because they view him as the antithesis of the slick, soundbite politician; a man who, at least, answers straight questions with straight answers and exudes a passion, sincerity and consistency that somehow eludes his rivals.

To an enthused younger generation, largely oblivious to the Michael Foot era and the longest suicide note in UK electoral history, Jeremy Corbyn can appeal as the apparent champion of idealism over pragmatism. Persuading them that idealism requires compromise, democracy’s lifeblood requires a credible opposition with the potential to win power, and a march into the political wilderness under Jeremy Corbyn represents the road to Norman Baker’s one-party state (aka a Tory hegemony) is the crucial challenge in the remaining days of this campaign.

Paul Connew
St Albans

Your editorial (10 August) misses the real point, that Jeremy Corbyn is the only candidate to say what he honestly believes and to explain why. He is probably wrong, but none of the other candidates has expressed coherent and clear beliefs. They appear as worn-out politicians defending the ancient regime.

They may be right in believing that to win elections the Labour Party has to take the centre ground. But it – and possibly you – fails to understand that to occupy the centre ground of politics you have to first take the moral high ground and win hearts as well as minds. They have singularly failed to do so. That is why Jeremy Corbyn may win.

Peter Moyes
Brightlingsea, Essex

The Labour Party regularly goes round the circuit where they argue about their leader and policies in terms of what different factions want until they get round to thinking collectively about a leader and policies that will meet what the electorate want.

Last time around, they chose the candidate that the electorate would reject and rejected the one whom they would have chosen.

It is not as bad as the days of the Militant Tendency, when council candidates were deselected in favour of MT candidates, who then lost seats with natural Labour majorities. It is not as bad as when the “nuclear disarmers” made the Labour Party unelectable. However, if they do choose the wrong candidate again, they may come round, in five or so years’ time, to choosing someone whom the electorate might elect.

Tony Pointon

Alastair Campbell is calling for a vote against Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership election. I think that before taking a view we need to see the dossier where it states that Corbyn’s beard is a weapon of mass destruction.

Keith Flett
London N17

Osborne borrows to speculate

Ben Chu (6 August) makes the point that government borrowing to fund productive investment makes sense – so long as it increases capacity. But why is George Osborne borrowing to fund property speculation?

Here in leafy Sevenoaks, our district council is planning to borrow from the Public Works Loan Board at 3.8 per cent and plough the cash into buying property. It hopes that interest rates will not rise, while property rents and capital value will.

The cash comes via the Treasury, which has to borrow it from the markets – or print it. If this sort of local government speculation becomes widespread, then government borrowing might well lead to inflation, because it leads to more cash chasing no new capacity in the economy. Why is Osborne sanctioning this?

If the council were to plough the cash into building much-needed affordable houses – or even the new school we’re all waiting for – it might be justifiable. It would certainly add value to the local economy.

Tony Clayton
Sevenoaks, Kent

Cuts hit children with special needs

What a relief to read the commonsense truth about charities’ funding in Stephen Bush’s article (Voices, 6 August).

I am on the board of a charitable company that runs after-school and holiday care for both mainstream and special-needs children. We aim to provide quality childcare while integrating the special-needs children into the community of the mainstream children, and teaching the mainstream children to understand and value the differences of the special-needs children.

For this we need to employ quality staff, trained in both mainstream childcare and in special needs care. Willing but unskilled volunteers just won’t do, nor would Ofsted or the social services be happy with us if we tried to use them.

To employ such staff needs money. In the past we have had excellent support from our county council, as well as from several local charities, but this government’s savage cuts to local authority grants, and the hugely increased competition for such, leaves us looking grimly into a bleak future. A bleak future not for our organisation so much as for the children who need us and their families who depend on us.

Rosemary Smith
Chairman, Mistley Kids Club Ltd
Manningtree, Essex

Restaurant at the end of the universe

Your article about the dying of the universe (11 August) reminds me of the story of two astronomers eating in a restaurant. One said: “Our latest research shows the universe will die in 10 billion years.” A diner at the next table turned to them and exclaimed: “What did you just say?”

The astronomer repeated what he had just said. “That’s a relief,” said the diner, “I though you said 10 million years.”

Paul Dormer

The profession of crime

Your obituary of John Riggi (8 August) describes him as a “professional criminal”. As a professional engineer I suspect that my legally obtained income is much less than I might earn as a professional criminal. However, I have failed to identify the body that would enable me to register as such. Perhaps your obituarist could help?

Jon Summers
Tiverton, Devon

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