Thursday's Letters: For all their mistakes, Labour prevented bank meltdown

REGARDING the letter from Alan Carcas (Yorkshire Post, January 8), of course, Labour should take responsibility for the country's financial problems from 2007. To be fair, though, Mr Carcas should congratulate the same government on the booming years of 2002 to 2006.

The economic problems of the Western world were the result of a bad and dangerous practice followed by bankers in search of a quick return from the investments of their clients' savings and in pursuit of the massive bonuses which rewarded their inefficiency.

Gordon Brown made many mistakes as Chancellor, but is recognised by the rest of the world, with the exception of the British Tory Press, as the politician who paved the way to saving banks from going into liquidation and meltdown, a measure which saved millions of people's investments and pensions, a move supported by the Tory opposition.

Alan Carcas should be grateful that the Brown Government pumped millions of pounds into the banks' coffers to save "small" people's savings.

This week, before a Parliamentary Select Committee, Bob Diamond, chief executive of Barclays Bank, praised Labour Chancellor Darling's "tremendous job during the crisis".

And, let us not forget that it was the Thatcher regime which lifted banking restraints and allowed slick professionals to exploit a system to their advantage.

Many of us will remember the time when it was difficult to borrow money. Applications for mortgages were made on bended knee to bank and building society managers, loans were made after a thorough investigation of the applicant's ability to repay the debt.

While Mrs Thatcher was condemning 12 million trade union members as "traitors in our midst," the real traitors were burrowing deep into the financial structure of the country in a successful effort to boost City profits which allowed unheard-of salaries and bonuses to be paid.

The present Government – and the previous government – are scared of the bankers whose threats pose a greater threat than the National Union of Mineworkers ever did.

From: Tom Howley, Marston Way, Wetherby.

From: Colin Smith, Beech View, Ferrybridge, West Yorkshire.

Is bankers' pay out of control? Yes it is. But I would question if these people are qualified bankers?

A traditional banker would not resort to the antics they have got up to and in the past would have been well and truly hauled over the coals for such actions.

Their actions are more in keeping with the wheeler-dealer type of person than with the way a banker would act.

I am a retired banker and we acted within the rules of banking, which were traditional in their operation. It amounted to knowing your customer, reading his income against his outgoings or reading his balance sheet in order to see his business acumen.

If the traditional way of working had been undertaken, we would not have this mess. We received bonuses on performance. and they were nothing like the sums being paid. No performance, no bonus. It would be unthinkable for someone to receive a large payment for being a failure.

I object strongly to these people being called bankers, as I am frequently tarred with the same brush. A respectable occupation is now looked upon as if we are all thieves and rogues. When I consider the good help and advice we used to give to people, present day people in authority make me shudder. The poor ordinary staff get all the brickbats, but none of the payouts.

From: GR Day, Back Lane, Micklebring, Rotherham.

Sickening, sickening, sickening greed! That is my reaction to the news that senior management in the banking industry are awarding themselves huge bonuses, some of which are worth more than the average man earns in a lifetime (Yorkshire Post, January 10).

These bankers (let's call them modern-day thieves) must have short memories, forgetting that it was only a short time ago the banks were on their knees, and who was it that bailed them out? It was the millions of people like myself, the modest taxpayer.

How do the banks act, now they are recovering? They make it difficult for people wanting a mortgage to set up a home, or for small businesses requiring a loan to expand. Talk about being kicked in the teeth!

Wake up, Government and do something. If you cannot stop these obscene bonuses then tax them at 99.9 per cent and/or limit the number of shares available. This would bring a little more into the nation's (our) coffers and secondly ensure more confidence in the current coalition's capability to govern in fairness and strength.

Blowing hot air in error over boilers

From: Dave Archer, Cherry Tree Street, Hoyland, Barnsley.

BILL Carmichael doesn't usually let facts get in the way of his rants, but his "plumbing the depths" article did just that (Yorkshire Post, January 7).

I have a "hippy" condensing boiler which has worked perfectly through our two recent severe winters.

I can only assume he applies the "hippy" tag because the boilers smoke, or more accurately the water vapour in the exhaust is visible as a white cloud. Please tell him the boilers don't run on dope, before he blows a fuse.

The secret to the problems some have had is in this vapour and the name condensing. The boilers condense water, which should be run into an appropriate drain.

As explained on the BBC, the problems have occured where the pipes from the boiler to the drain has been exposed to the unusually low temperatures and this condensate has frozen, blocked the pipe and stopped the boiler working.

Solutions such as using a hair dryer to melt the ice, or running the pipe into a bucket inside where the cold would not freeze it were discussed. The long term answer is to lag the pipes where necessary.

I suggest Mr Carmichael (and his friend?) employ plumbers who know what they are doing and Mr Carmichael does some research before he starts ranting.

Vaccine still has risks

From: Brian Tyrrell, Long Meadows, Bramhope.

I HOPE that the recently reported comments of the editor of the British Medical Journal, that recent evidence "should now close the door on this damaging (MMR) vaccine scare", are not symptomatic of a wider complacency within the health profession.

In allowing the glib reference to a "scare" to go unchallenged, this article overlooks the fact that the three vaccines in MMR are known to cause in some instances a range of potential problems, including fever-related fits and inflamation of the brain.

The NHS, in its guidance note on MMR, confirms that serious allergic reactions can occur in up to one in 100,000 immunisations. It then goes on to say that if the child is treated quickly, they will recover fully. However, the note fails to mention that in a small minority of cases that has not always happened, given the numbers of injuries and deaths that have been reported over the years and the incidence of successful claims for compensation. This is enough to scare me.

I appreciate that the health authorities must give greater weight to the rights of the statistical majority than the small minority who might collect a vaccine-induced booby prize. However, it seems that in doing they do not always properly manage the conflict of interest that arises, or fulfil their duty to that minority. In these circumstances, it is essential for parents to remain on their guard.

Hughes's cynical stance

From: Terry Marston, Acer Court, Lincoln.

I HAD a respect for Simon Hughes, deputy Lib Dem leader, because I thought he respected the intelligence of the electorate – until last week.

In a BBC wireless interview , when invited to ascertain what 2011 had in store for the Lib Dems, he postulated that they had got off to a good start in 2010 – getting (I paraphrase) some of the unpopular (heavy lifting) stuff behind them early in the Parliament and he listed the budget; the comprehensive spending review; student fees.

He assured us 2011 is going to be less fraught. Mr Hughes ignored the obvious consequences of Lib Dem coalition decisions which are yet to be suffered in 2011 by the weaker and vulnerable in our society. He seems to have wed the cynicism of the Tory-Lib Dem Chancellor Osborne who congratulated himself that his percentage budget reduction in local authority spending was less than the Opposition had suggested.

Of course, it is in this budget reduction that the cuts in services to the weak and vulnerable will be worked and most hurtful. The Tory government budget managers have told us that they have put sufficient in the local budgets to maintain services.

Measure for measure

From: Brian Sheridan, Redmires Road, Sheffield.

YOUR letter writer D Birch (Yorkshire Post, January 10) rightly draws attention to the fact that we are now paying over six pounds a gallon for petrol.

Though I generally take a sanguine view of the obsolescence of imperial measures, I believe the change to selling petrol by the litre has enabled successive British governments to pull off an invaluable (to them) sleight of hand: a weapon not available to their French and American counterparts.

A penny on a litre is more than four and a half pence on a gallon; a hike that no government would get away with so regularly if we were still buying by the gallon.

Incidentally, the response from our once militant hauliers has been strangely timid. Are they resigned, or have I missed something?

Real comedy's roots in an age of hardships

From: Don Burslam, Elm Road, Dewsbury Moor, Dewsbury.

The favourable comparison of Morecambe and Wise with Ant and Dec, which columnist Tom Richmond criticised (Yorkshire Post, January 1), set me thinking. Was there something in the former's background which made their humour more satisfying because it was based on their lifetime experiences?

I do know Eric had to go down the mines and Ernie was in the Merchant Navy and the desperate days of the war made everything seem more vital and significant.

I suppose it is common ground that we live in an unexciting, routine-dominated age with the car and TV playing a central role in many peoples' lives. Generally, people are far better off, cushioning them against many of the shocks which brought down former generations. People are of course far healthier too through the NHS.

Perhaps this largely uneventful, risk-free life is reflected in the typical modern comedian who seems somehow rootless, classless and bland and difficult for audiences to really relate to.

Of course, Morecambe and Wise had that relationship in performance to which people could respond. As with Laurel and Hardy, this may be the secret of a popular durable partnership.

To test my theory, can the reader think of one of the current crop whose humour resonates in traditional fashion? Les Dawson may have been the last of the line.

Actor's TV role overlooked

From: Mike Charles, Ringwood Avenue, Wellington Hill, Leeds.

It is clear from the many media tributes that the late Pete Postlethwaite was a well-respected actor and liked as a person (Yorkshire Post, January 4). I have not seen mention of his fine role in the Sharpe TV series; indeed, I think he acted in at least four episodes as the evil Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill. Complete with his pronounced facial twitch, his script and personality were very close to the original Sharpe novels.

The role was well-suited to his acting skills. "I can't be killed, Sharpie," or "Name taken for punishment, sir?" or "Says so in the scriptures". Great entertainment. Thanks Pete.

Courtesy call

From: Mrs M Jowett, Granby Park, Harrogate.

I WAS interested to read the letter from Terry Duncan (Yorkshire Post, January 5) entitled "Hats off to old courtesies".

After I came to Harrogate in 1963, my mother and father often came to stay as they liked the town. My father had been in the Army Corps in the 1914-18 war and, each time we went past the war memorial, if he was wearing a hat he removed it. I am quite sure if he was alive today he would continue to do this.

I wonder if anybody ever does this now. I doubt it very much.

Right to silence

From: Diana Priestley, Fixby Road, Huddersfield.

May I point out to Father Neil McNicholas (Yorkshire Post, January 8) that while his church believes that women should have no rights to be priests or bishops, there are many of us who believe that men should have no rights to opinions on the subject of abortion.