THE SHADOW Home Secretary probably means well with her all for the cost of gun licences to be increased.
It is perplexing, as Yvette Cooper argues, that it costs more to obtain a fishing permit. By highlighting this ambiguity, the Pontefract and Castleford MP appears to be suggested that farmers – one section of society which has good reason to be in possession of firearm licences – will be prepared to pay more for this privilege and that this will deter the lawless in Yorkshire’s inner cities from obtaining guns.
If only it was this simple. Even if the cost of a gun licence increased dramatically, this would not prevent gangsters and hardened criminals from using illegal means to obtain firearms – these are people who have no compunction for the law of the land and the National Farmers’ Union says, with justification, that incidents involving legally-held guns are “few and far between”.
Yet Ms Cooper’s comments do highlight the importance of personal responsibility, a trait eroded by New Labour’s ‘nanny state’ approach to policy-making. If Labour thinks farmers should pay more for gun licences and so on, shouldn’t the NHS start charging the parents of young children who have to be treated for alcohol and substance abuse? It doesn’t end here. What about those who deliberately set out on a Friday or Saturday night to drink themselves to oblivion before having to be carted off to hospital by ambulance paramedics? Shouldn’t they be made to pay the consequences for their recklessness and its impact on A&E services which are already stretched to the limit?
With NHS hospitals in England facing a £750m deficit this year, perhaps a debate should be held on the merits of charging those misguided people who jeopardise their health through their personal lifestyle choices – it might just make them think twice about their future conduct and its cost to others.
THE WARNING by the chairman of the HSBC bank about the financial consequences of Scottish independence carries even more credence because Douglas Flint is a widely-respected businessman. His non-political status means that First Minister Alex Salmond cannot dismiss this intervention – andthis is where the problems are piling up for the SNP leader whose cavalier attitude is finally being exposed ahead of polling day.
So it should. Mr Salmond has given insufficient thought to the ramifications of an independent Scotland requiring a separate currency to the pound – he assumed, wrongly, that the status quo would persist – and this has prompted Mr Flint to warn that money would pour out of Edinburgh’s financial institutions if the SNP dream prevails on September 18.
He is not the first businessman to expose Mr Salmond this week; billionaire oil and gas tycoon Sir Ian Wood has said that the First Leader’s projections for future energy wealth are too high and that young people, and especially those impressionable 16-year-olds who have been given the right to vote, should know this before exercising their democratic right.
Yet, ahead of Monday’s TV debate between Mr Salmond and former chancellor Alistair Darling of the Better Together campaign, one further point needs to be remembered. This great constitutional matter is not just about Scotland – it also affects all those people from Yorkshire with savings, pensions and investments tied up in financial institutions north of the border. When do they get their say?
As the Wensleydale Agricultural Show celebrates its centenary today, a snapshot of farming’s future is provided by shepherdess Amanda Owen and the stunning photographs that she has taken at her remote North Yorkshire farm.
To use farming parlance, her daily imagery of Swaledale through the seasons is attracting a growing flock of followers on Twitter and these pictures are now being turned into a calendar.
Yet Amanda’s story also highlights the importance of social media – it is now proving to be a lifeline to those farmers who want to keep in touch with the outside world while tending their land – and that there are still young farming families who have not given up on agriculture. This will not be lost on all those who gather in Leyburn for the Wensleydale Show. While they can look back on the past with great pride, they know the future, and the need to encourage new young blood into farming, is just as important.