Tuesday's Letters: Drive to privatise profit and socialise risk

THE Shadow Chancellor – Alan Johnson – is right in saying that George Osborne and David Cameron have no understanding of how it feels to people who need to claim benefit as a basic income to be subjected to the measures they are imposing.

It is impossible for people in their positions to comprehend how their ideologies seem driven by sheer vindictiveness to a person in receipt of income support, jobseeker's allowance or employment support


We do know though that the banking and financial crisis which gave this Government something to hide their social and moral values behind, was not caused by us, although we (with no real choice) were involved in it, at the sharp end of, for instance, in sub-prime lending.

Yet we are having to pay for the – should we say – "confidence trick" visited upon us. The underlying doctrine of this Government, and, unfortunately the one before it seems to be to privatise profit and socialise risk.

For a lot of people now, words will count for nought; actions will, as our lives seem to have been reduced to nothing much beyond being units of profit.

Here are some facts reported widely in the media recently which further reflect the values of those who now – elected or not – govern the quality of our lives:

Just one bank voluntarily agreed to immediately co-operate with

measures to close tax loopholes exploited in business deals; there will be an eight per cent cut in military spending over five years, which in practice means little change, and a 50 per cent cut in the social housing budget. As George Osborne sat down after delivering his heroic speech on October 20, he was congratulated by David Cameron and Danny Alexander, much as any bullies might congratulate themselves on picking a fight with people who they know – or think – won't retaliate. Perhaps they are right.

After all, the state's violence is always superior in all ways.

From Philip Hutchinson, Infirmary Road, Sheffield.

From: T Scaife, Manor Drive, York.

IT is all about timing. Any good comedian will tell you that. The thing is, has that comedic double act of Clegg and Cameron got it right? Not many laughs so far as they revealed their slash-and-burn four-year plan.

That is the key of course – four years. Why? Because the cuts are timed to hopefully, for them, ensure a General Election victory in 2015.

Their Thatcherite master plan is to savagely reduce the public sector. Reducing welfare benefits to a minimum and increasing council rent for new tenants to 80 per cent of market rate.

Disability benefit may be lost after 12 months with our nation's poorest 10 per cent affected most by the Tory rush to a second term in office. I say Tories, because who can trust the Lib Dems ever again after their betrayal?

What a laugh though, that in 2015 debt is projected to be higher than now.

But this does not matter, as the great plan to dismantle the welfare state and make people work until they drop has begun.

Politicians are laughing at us. But the possibly one million extra unemployed won't be laughing.

From: Charlotte Noble, Aviary Place, Leeds.

I KNOW we are in difficult economic times. But there is one easy decision that could spare a lot of the "tough ones".

A tax on the banks could raise 20bn in the UK to help those hit by the financial crisis in this country and around the world. For every cut I hear the Government announce I keep asking: Could a tax on the banks have paid for that?

The situation we find ourselves in started in the financial sector and we spent 1.3 trillion bailing them out.

We are all paying for a party we weren't quite invited to. I want to see my MP and leaders start fighting for a tax that would make Robin Hood proud.

All aboard the Not Aircraft Carriers

From: Martin Hickes, Leeds.

MICHAEL Portillo, in conversation with Andrew Neil and Alistair Darling on the BBC1's This Week about the decision to mothball Harrier aircraft for two huge, forthcoming 4bn aircraft carriers, sagely suggested – albeit with tongue only slightly in cheek – that, given that such ships in the modern theatre of war are now vulnerable white elephants open to missile attack, it would be better to launch or lose aircraft carriers without aircraft on them, than with.

I wonder if your readers, like me, were left wondering what naval

experts or indeed linguists might call an aircraft carrier which

doesn't carry aircraft?

In Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, an alfalfa farmer is encouraged, for a tidy subsidy by the US Government, to not grow alfalfa. In the clever satire, he becomes far more successful at not growing such compared to whenever he did grow the crop, and leaps from his bed each day with the excited prospect of not growing alfalfa. He is able to happily retire, for years having not grown alfalfa.

In the spirit of Heller, perhaps youngsters in the future might be able to look forward to telling their grandchildren that they were the captains of Not-Aircraft-Carriers, or whatever such things might be named, in the defence of this dwindling realm? Perhaps Airfix might even put one into production – or not as the case may be?

Live in the real world

From: Terry Duncan, Greame Road, Bridlington, East Yorkshire.

AS Victor Meldrew would say, "I just do not believe it" – but I knew it would happen after announcements by the Chancellor that police budgets would be slashed.

The chief constables now weep into the handkerchiefs of the law-abiding citizens of the UK and say, "We will have to take men off the beat", as they are doing from Lands End to John O'Groats.

For goodness sake, in what world do they live?

Newspapers, nationwide, for more than a decade, have been running

stories about the absence of real policemen patrolling our streets, instead, replaced with good-hearted volunteers with few powers, and even cardboard cut-outs at shopping areas, where thieves prevail but

are not fooled.

The police must get their act together. However, financial cuts are not all to blame.

It is the system of fast-tracked, university trained young men, with no experience of the "university of life", becoming senior officers who, unlike real bobbies, never pounded the streets for long, never got to know the local criminals.

I recall, 40 years ago, when I was in constant contact with the police as a young reporter in Scotland, you could find senior detectives, yes, even wearing Homburgs, and, yes, Macs, in a local pub day or night, even when off-duty.

Crime was never like it is today. Few crimes went undetected and the local sheriff dispensed justice with a prison sentence – without televisions, snooker tables and with rare family visits and hard work included.

Vote for more job losses

From: David Ollerearnshaw, Park Avenue, Penistone, Sheffield.

NOBODY seems to have picked up on this. I wonder if its a coincidence that the 80m loan that was axed for Forgemasters will be used for the Alternative Vote referendum? I have seen 10m mentioned, but you can

bet it will be nearer the axed loan cost. How many jobs will that create?

If they can spend that amount on something that's not really important, the country must not be in the mess they make out it to be.

I hope the voters of Sheffield remember what Nick Cameron – or is it David Clegg? – did to Sheffield.

They just look like clones of each other to me.

Merkel is right over claims on multi-culturalism

From: D Wood, Thorntree Lane, Goole.

HOW surprising and indeed refreshing to see a senior politician,

Germany's Angela Merkel admits that uncontrolled immigration and multi-culturalism is a huge mistake and cannot work (Yorkshire Post, October 18).

The same is of course more than true in this country, but our weak politicians still bury their heads in the sand and ignore the fast-growing problems which this failed experiment is building up.

Pandering to ethnic minorities has created big divisions in our society instead of the hoped for integration.

We should now reassert our national laws, language and culture and all immigrants should be expected to learn English and accept our "norms" as Mrs Merkel states.

Unfortunately we now have a large immigrant population from eastern Europe courtesy of the EU, who have no empathy for, or loyalty to this country and are not here to contribute, but just for what they can get out of it. They are of course not to blame, that honour must go to our worthless politicians who have allowed it to happen.

Of course, while Mrs Merkel is right in what she says, the same

reasoning must also be applied to the EU experiment, where we have 27 countries, with no common language, no common culture and no common bond, being forced together.

When will she, or some other senior politician, admit to the failure of this miserable experiment?

EU vote was too long ago

From: Tim Mickleburgh, Littlefield Lane, Grimsby.

G ELLISON (Yorkshire Post, October 21) wonders why anti-EU campaigners should still be "whingeing" about the lack of a referendum. In his eyes we had one in 1975, so we don't need another one.

But surely voters can't be bound by what happened 35 years ago? I mean I am 48 years- old, but am still far too young to have ever had a vote on EU membership.

In any case, many were happy to go along with Britain being part of

what was merely being portrayed as a customs union, the so-called Common Market.

Whereas we now know that we had signed up for a powerful European

Union, with its own Parliament and laws that take precedence over British legislation.

Revenue did tax bandings

From: RB Holroyd, Headlands, Liversedge, West Yorkshire.

BOB Crowther is mistaken in stating that the banding of properties for council tax purposes was carried out by students and the unemployed (Yorkshire Post, October 18).

In many areas the work was carried out by the Inland Revenue Valuation Office themselves, the remainder being undertaken by firms of valuers and estate agents, many of whom were members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, who had to tender for the work.

If anyone thinks their assessment is incorrect, there are appeal procedures through the Valuation Office.

'Unwelcome' lane change

From: John McGhee, Hillbrook Rise, Queens Drive, Ilkley.

I WONDER whose bright idea at Leeds City Council it was to reduce the road into City Square from the Dark Arches in Leeds to two lanes from three?

It is now chaotic both during morning and evening and a

dreadful "welcome" to anyone driving into the city. Traffic queues back to the M621 during both rush hours.

Presumably the unnecessary widening of the footpath which has caused this will have cost a considerable amount of money.

Perhaps the just announced public spending cuts may stop such

profligacy in the future and make someone in the highways department think twice before embarking on such wasteful and senseless schemes.