YP Letters: Europeans are our kith and kin

Salt's Mill.
Salt's Mill.
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From: Rt. Hon. Lord Wallace of Saltaire, Liberal Democrats, House of Lords, London.

READERS must already be confused by the ‘facts’ being thrown across your letter columns and news pages by the contending parties. Colin Walshaw’s letter (The Yorkshire Post, March 28) suggests, for example, that the global police organisation, Interpol, which includes China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran among its members, is more valuable to the UK than Europol, which groups European democratic countries.

He also argues that the 150-state World Trade Organization, negotiations within which on trade liberalisation have been stuck for years, provides an easier framework for British trade than our close neighbours in the EU.

But the underlying issue in the referendum is about national identity – what sort of a country we think we are. Arron Banks of the ‘Leave’ campaign insists that we have nothing in common with the people on the other side of the Channel, and should aim to be closer to ‘our kith and kin’ in the Commonwealth, like the white South Africa in which he grew up.

All over Yorkshire, however, there is evidence of how closely we have been linked to other Europeans, for many generations. I walked past the old 1950s fire poster in Salt’s Mill the other day, printed in Italian and Polish as well as English so that all the workforce understood it. My parents-in-law are buried between the Ukrainian and Polish sections of North Bierley cemetery.

Little Germany in Bradford is named for the large numbers of German immigrants who worked there from the late 19th century – almost all of whom changed their names in 1914-15, and melted into the English population around them. Belgian refugees and wounded soldiers were housed in towns across Yorkshire between 1914 and 1918; and some stayed and inter-married. And some of the 40,000 British soldiers stationed in Germany from 1949 to the end of the Cold War married girls they met there. The idea that the European continent is populated by hostile foreigners, working to do Britain down, is one of the most absurd myths of the ‘Leave’ campaign: they are also part of our kith and kin.

From: John Balmforth, Mirfield.

LEAVING the European Union would leave the NHS facing a “real challenge”, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said. Leaving Jeremy Hunt in his present job will provide a much bigger challenge.

Shackleton puzzler

From: Mrs J A Burkitt, High Meadows, Walton, Wakefield.

YOUR article on Ernest Shackleton was excellent, and had a particular relevance to me (The Yorkshire Post, March 25).

My great aunt, Caroline Johnson, married one William Shackleton, mill owner, of Hebden Bridge. William was a first cousin of Ernest Shackleton and apparently they used to visit him in Ireland.

Could one of your clever readers tell me what relation Ernest Shackleton is to me?

A viable competitor

From: Bernard Hill, Hull.

WHAT a breath of fresh air to read Dr Brian Robertson’s letter (The Yorkshire Post, March 28). What he says is perfectly logical regarding the development of Robin Hood Airport as a more than viable competitor to southern-based airports or even to Manchester.

The airfield was built to take large aircraft, and with the even more improved road links and with the addition of a mainline railway station at the airport, then I see no problem with it being a success.

What it will need is the combined efforts of all the Yorkshire councils, whichever riding or city they represent, and thereby will lie the problem – those in Leeds and its environs will protest that Leeds Bradford should get preference, supported by their neighbours in Harrogate, only interested in their own little patch, and that is why there will never be a Greater Yorkshire Powerhouse (call it what you will), small closed minds not able to look at the larger picture. The rest of the county has to suffer.

As for me, I can go across the Humber Bridge, take a short flight from Humberside to Schipol and fly to anywhere in the world.

Who arms 10-year-olds?

From: Bob Watson, Baildon.

YOUR Editorial headed ‘The 10-year-old gun criminals’ made for disturbing reading, whilst making some pertinent points (The Yorkshire Post, March 29).

However, one hugely important point was missing. That is, from where do these children actually obtain their firearms?

Golden age of comedy passes

From: John Watson, Hutton Hill, Leyburn.

RONNIE Corbett was the smallest in stature but the biggest and best loved in the business (The Yorkshire Post, April 1).

What a sad day for British comedy especially when he lost his partner in The Two Ronnies which I thought was better than The Morecambe & Wise Show. These four characters were giants in their profession unlike a lot of so-called comedians today who can’t get a laugh without vulgarity.