Monday's Letters: Flood disaster exposes a rising torrent of social dissent

YET again, we helplessly observe a humanitarian catastrophe, this time in Pakistan – with the Indus river metamorphosing into a maelstrom of surging walls of water exacerbated by monsoon and swollen rivers.

Twenty million people are homeless in an area about the size of England. Yet Pakistan was relentlessly criticised for not doing enough. This is unfair when the sheer scale and speed of this disaster is taken into account.

When recent comparatively smaller floods affected England, similar criticism was made against our initial reaction. Even today in the UK, there are over a thousand bridges in need of modernisation and people are still at risk from flooding and are homeless.

Catastrophes large and small will still occur but we need to address some fundamental problems. Major concerns are unrelenting poverty and over-population on flood plains.

To alleviate such issues, global governments need to take a long hard look at themselves. They must face up to the massive poverty and unfairness in the world.

We need to redistribute wealth to raise everyone out of poverty. Together with major infrastructure projects the affects of flooding, fires and earthquakes could be greatly minimised. As people gain a better and easier life, population growth would

be reduced easing the burden on the planet of everything from food and water resources to energy and pollution excesses.

But the UK is in no position to moralise because our politicians refuse to do anything about the pressing issues of poverty, inequality and wealth distribution. They fail miserably to provide full employment through job sharing and care not two hoots about universal housing and decent pensions.

Our inept politicians face a torrent of social dissent and as with most catastrophes they can't see it coming.

From: T Scaife, Manor Drive, York.

The forward thinking that led us astray

From: Bob Watson, Springfield Road, Baildon, Shipley, West Yorkshire.

BRADFORD Lib Dem councillor John Cole says (Yorkshire Post, August 16) that as much of the Government quango Yorkshire Forward should be retained as possible. He goes on to say that the agency has delivered good support for regeneration in the centre of Bradford.

As a lifelong Bradford resident, I have to say that I couldn't disagree more strongly. This bloated organisation may have done some good in the region, but this has been at the expense of extensive and costly staffing (with civil service style pensions), a huge budget, prestigious offices, and an apparent desire to expand its boundaries ever further.

That this quango has been constantly unaccountable to those of us who pay its wages says it all, as we have seen in Bradford where it has supported a 24m city centre park that few people seem to want, or consider a costly extravagance; and has also been intent on demolishing the Odeon Cinema building against the wishes of the majority of the local population. Enough is enough.

John then makes mention of the legacy of Eric Pickles when the Cabinet minister was in control of the council. Well, when one looks around at the shambles that is Bradford today, perhaps it would have been better if Eric had stayed in control. Things certainly couldn't be any worse.

The poor old middle class

From: AW Clarke, Wold Croft, Sutton on Derwent.

AM I alone in wondering if the only people not represented in Parliament are the so-called "middle classes"? I am never very sure what this means, any more than I can establish exactly what is meant by "living in poverty".

However, I have observed that our current leadership in government have referred to the middle classes as "sharp-elbowed".

Quite what this vilified group have done to deserve all this criticism I do not know other than, on the whole, they work, pay taxes, try to

keep out of trouble with the law and encourage their children to do well at school. Evidently, that does not qualify them to be regarded as good citizens.

I should say at this point that I do not regard myself as "middle class". I have inherited nothing, worked along with my late husband all my life and have great sympathy with those who cannot find work but I do feel angry that people like me are lumped together as people who have never had to struggle to manage our lives.

Clouds in the crystal ball

From: John O'Brien, South Elmsall, Pontefract.

BERNARD Ingham seems to forget that all Prime Ministers have faults and being near to anyone of them can influence a supposedly neutral civil servant's view (Yorkshire Post, August 18).

Are we to assume that Mr Cameron is a miracle worker and can see the future as to how his policies will work? He is new to the job but remember he has no experience of ministerial work and has to learn as he goes along.

Does he have a crystal ball to see how his policies will work out and how does he intend to encourage investment by the private sector to make up the jobs which are being cut from the public sector?

Businesses in the private sector require help from the financial sector to help with investment and research which appears to be lacking from the very banks which have been bailed out by government. Mr Cameron needs to be careful in case his crystal ball starts to show dark clouds on the horizon.

In praise of grey squirrels

From: William Snowden, Butterbowl Gardens, Farnley Ring Road, Leeds.

WHAT a depressing and deplorable story about the man who sought to provoke the RSPCA by drowning a grey squirrel (Yorkshire Post, August 13). What is wrong with such people? Why are they so callous and cruel?

Grey squirrels have lived in Britain since the Victorian age. They are not "aliens". They are native, born and bred. Those who frenetically persecute selective species of flora and fauna (from "balsam bashers" to grey squirrel killers) reveal disturbing psychological

traits. "Aliens!" is their clarion call.

I call them conservation fanatics – they assume the right to decide which species shall live and which must die.

Even with the rate at which so many species of flora and fauna are being driven to destruction, the conservation fanatics look set to prevail. By the end of the century, ignoble man is likely, either by selfish indifference or wilful design, to have obliterated most life on earth.

Blair gives away his guilt over invasion of Iraq

From: Roger M Dobson, Ash Street, Cross Hills, Bradford.

WHAT a complete admission of guilt by our former Prime Minister Tony Blair with his statement that proceeds from his book would go to the Royal British Legion (Yorkshire Post, August 17).

I am sure that any money received by the Legion will be gratefully received and faithfully applied but surely it would be better coming from an honest source.

Tony Blair took this country into war in a part of the world where we were not wanted having been pushed or prompted by the then president of the United States of America.

In his time as our Prime Minister, Tony Blair did many stupid things such as the smoking ban and ban on hunting with dogs, but his involvement with taking us into a futile war was the most stupid of all.

From: David Quarrie, Lynden Way, Acomb, York.

TONY Blair is giving away to the Royal British Legion all the profits from his book about his memoirs. This could be about 4m and naturally the RBL is grateful and will not squander this money and many badly injured UK troops will benefit. Everyone must be pleased with that aspect of this Blair action. However, scratch the surface, and what you see is not all sweet and lovely.

This is a clever advertising move for his forthcoming book. Blair will see this donation as a form of insurance against more anger and hate and to ease his conscience, and to try and sleep better at night.

Blair has "blood on his hands" – much of what he did and authorised was

illegal, wrong and against the wishes of a vast number of UK citizens.

No amount of money will ever bring back all those who died and were injured for no good reason, both in Iraq and Afghanistan. Blair was bamboozled by Bush, and we are less safe now than before 2001. Blair's legacy is Iraq, and always will be.

After York, who needs Ascot?

From: Andrew Mercer, Oxford Road, Guiseley.

WHAT a joy to see your photographs, and reports, of racegoers having so much fun at the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival.

We're so fortunate to be blessed by so many fine racecourses in the county – and it is right that horse racing's role in the local economy is acknowledged.

You're indeed correct with your acknowledgement (Yorkshire Post, August 18) that there is no finer racecourse in the country than York. Long may it continue. Who needs Ascot or Newmarket?

Peer pressure

From: Ann Maguire, Stradbroke Road, Sheffield.

JOHN Prescott accuses his former Cabinet colleague, Alan Milburn, of being a "collaborator" for choosing to advise the new government on social mobility.

It's a bit rich, given that Mr Prescott campaigned for the abolition of the House of Lords before accepting a peerage recently. Doesn't that make him a "collaborator" with those who wish to retain the Lords?

Lockerbie error

From: Simon Buick, Harrogate Road, Leeds.

WHY is SNP leader Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland, unable to admit that his government was wrong to release the Lockerbie bomber a year ago? Salmond says he is a man of compassion. How about showing some compassion to the families of all those who were blown up by, among others, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi?

This mass terrorist could have been treated, compassionately, for his terminal cancer inside the Scottish prison system, couldn't he?