Tuesday's Letters: You can't blame the last government for all Britain's ills

I WRITE in response to Sir Bernard Ingham's article (Yorkshire Post, December 22).

The beginning of his piece was quite accurate and made interesting reading – but unfortunately it went downhill from there. He insinuated that the present day woes are all down to Gordon Brown and his henchman Ed Balls.

What he fails to mention is what the Tories would have done as the worldwide economic meltdown hit. Sir Bernard is right when he states that the 2.5 per cent raise in VAT could have an impact on inflation. Furthermore, the rising cost of fuel without the VAT rise must be putting pressure on hauliers.

I distinctly remember when fuel prices were not as high as they are today, a militant group of hauliers and farmers took to blockading refineries and organising go-slow protests on the motorways. I often ask myself, where are they now? There has not been a murmur from them and surely they cannot be happy with the spiralling cost of road fuel or, like Sir Bernard, are they also blaming everything on the last government?

From: Paul Crabtree, Stoneswood Road, Delph, Saddleworth.

From: E Wilburn, Aintree Avenue, Cantley, Doncaster.

LABOUR Party leadership – where is it, Ed Miliband? You and your cronies are just as bad as the other two leaders. You haven't got a clue.

We now know there is nothing between the three main political parties, with you Ed Miliband asking the Lib Dems to forward their policy ideas to you. Shame on you, I thought the Labour Party was in opposition to the pact and all it stood for.

Even in the full council meetings held in the Doncaster Council chamber, the Labour group are agreeing to everything, as they have no policies of their own to put forward. The elected mayor has never been questioned by the group on anything from service cuts to job losses, giving their full backing at all times.

Go back a couple of years and they never got off the back of their own parties. The Labour-elected mayor Winter, no matter what policies he brought forward, the Labour group rubbished both the executive and him, even to the point of banishing any party members that wanted to join his cabinet. I will not be voting ever again.

From: Kendal Wilson, Wharfebank Terrace, Tadcaster.

IT has been marvellous to see such brilliant letters in the Yorkshire Post about schoolboys that run our country, essentially the class demarcation zones levels often discussed by polticians and more recently by Labour leader Ed Miliband on Andrew Marr's political programme.

Mr Miliband was seeking to plug holes with his core voters, often perceived to be exclusively from a certain salary band and class level. This highly educated bunch of politicians hold the high ground in decisions made about us; ones that are often misinformed and remote. This highly educated component also exists at local authority level where budding career politicians often smooth their way in and end up with a bunch of policies often not related to the issues at ground level.

From: Andrew Mercer, Oxford Road, Guiseley.

IT was a bit rich for Ed Miliband to rush on to TV and call for Business Secretary Vince Cable to resign (Yorkshire Post, December 22). I don't remember any Labour Ministers resigning in a hurry. This was just blatant opportunism.

Mr Miliband is so poor that he's making Iain Duncan Smith, the short-lived Tory leader a few years back, look like a political genius. Do others agree?

Time for the return of true table manners

From: Colin Ella, Westgate Road, Belton, Doncaster.

IAN McMillan's timely piece about the family table is true indeed, and there is wisdom in the old saying of which he reminds us, "A table influence is a stable influence" (Yorkshire Post, December 21).

His wise words immediately took me back to my family home where from my earliest memories I remember the great joy of always sitting around the table for dinner and tea with all the family whenever possible.

My sister, brother, and myself always had our own place at the table. It was only my mother who moved around as she was up and down attending to the various courses. There was a deep feeling of satisfaction, comfort, respect and rightness about this welcome routine. It was the place where family values were realised and put into action.

Each of us would politely request when we had dined, "Could I please be excused?" or more commonly, "Please may I leave the table?"

I suppose all this will be considered rather quaint and old fashioned now but, as Ian rather hints in his remarks, "perhaps we could do with the centralising and binding efficacy of the family table once again." Maybe some effort in this direction could be a New Year's resolution.

From: Brian Sheridan, Redmires Road, Sheffield.

HOW heartwarming that Ian McMillan got excited about the arrival of a new table at his home. I know of at least one household that no longer even possesses one of these most symbolic pieces of furniture.

Ian is ashamed that he sometimes eats from a tray in front of TV and so he should be. We avoid this by following the example of the French. For many years now we have had a small TV discreetly installed in the dining room.

Could the excitement chez McMillan be a sign that tables are making a comeback?

Will the children of our progeny, like Ian and so many of his generation, have to learn to ask for permission to leave the table? I'd love to think so.

Coal keeps the nation warm

From: Ken Capstick, Gisburn Road, Wakefield.

Britain's largest coal producer, UK Coal, announced last week that "around 43 per cent of all the electricity being generated in a UK, firmly in the grip of the worst winter spell for decades, is being produced by coal-fired power stations".

The statement continued: "Such is the demand for coal that thousands of miners at deep and surface mines will be working during the Christmas and New Year festive period to maintain supplies to power stations, industry and homes."

This is the third successive year that coal demand has rocketed to save us from power cuts that would devastate British industry and it comes at a time when the Government is refusing to support our coal industry.

Britain imports about 44 million tonnes of coal a year, half of which comes from Russia, at an annual cost of around 2bn and without it there would be serious energy blackouts but this news comes at a time when Hatfield colliery, near Doncaster, has just gone into administration, putting the development of the clean-coal power plant on the site in danger of never materialising.

The advantage of coal, especially when the weather conditions are severe, is its flexibility compared to other fuels because it is easy to transport, handle and store and the world is awash with it, including the UK.

In the past three severe winters, coal never failed to deliver the goods when the chips were down.

David Brewer, director general of the Wakefield-based Confederation of UK Coal Producers (CoalPro) said: "Only a week ago, the Government announced its timetable for reforms of the power station market, stating that 110bn of investment is needed in new power stations and grid updates over the next decade.

"We shall be urging the Government to ensure that coal remains a cornerstone in the renewal of our energy infrastructure – it's the only fuel that delivers consistently in the most demanding of conditions."

Steve Mace, NUM National Executive Committee member, who works at Maltby Colliery, said: "With the Government's decision not to provide support for the Hatfield clean coal power station the whole project along with the many jobs will be put at risk.

"The attitude to Britain's coal industry needs to change before we become totally reliant on imported coal and having to buy the clean coal technology from others."

It seems clear that we will never know the value of coal until ours has gone and we have to pay through the nose for foreign imports and that the warnings of Mr Brewer and Mr Mace will continue to go unheeded.

Region's housing stock problem must be tackled

From; Matthew Shaw, Golcar, Huddersfield.

According to those who know, there is an urgent need for 28,000 new houses within the boundaries of "Kirklees", a bureaucratic entity created in 1974 that includes Huddersfield.

Good news for the building trade, bad news for communities already struggling to cope with the damaging consequences of overcrowding, not least the unbearable strain on transport infrastructure.

The number-crunching experts will have factored in the expected birth and death rates among the existing population, plus the continued increase of arrivals from outside the area. The population of Kirklees is about 400,000, within a decade or two, it is likely to nearer 500,000

Whether we like it or not, the shortage of housing needs tackling urgently, however the five per cent of housing stock (approximately 5,000 properties) that have been unoccupied for over a year needs subtracting from the total. Using either a carrot or stick approach, struggling or uninterested owners should be forced to bring such properties back into use.

We are told that brownfield sites are to be targeted first for development, but these will not provide sufficient building land, meaning the inevitable destruction of precious countryside.

However, before any more hedgerow or meadow is lost, every last bit of brownfield land must first be filled with affordable housing.

Personally, I believe there's more than enough post-industrial wasteland within Kirklees, I also believe that this ideal is being largely ignored.

Unfortunately, we seem to be heading for a future where all the green gaps have vanished, revealing an unbroken urban landscape of over 500,000 people. Kirklees could then feel equal to it's big neighbours, Leeds or Bradford, and justifiably demand being granted city status.

Bank customers want cheques

From: Alexander Ogilvy, East Parade, Heworth, York.

THE idea of phasing out cheques seems to be totally futile and could lead to the loss of many customers.

Cheques are obviously easier to use, to send or cash and to keep track of than the alternatives. Direct debits lead to confusion, and so called online banking, whatever it is, just isn't available to many of us.

In any case, computers are littered with mistakes and interference as evidenced by error-ridden bills and statements printed by them.

For some of us, there would be no point in having a bank account without a cheque book.

Real issue of the sex trade

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

I KNOW that most people in the country will feel the sorrow of the families of the three working girls who were murdered by Stephen Griffiths (Yorkshire Post, December 22).

But again the police are shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted by instigating a zero-tolerance approach to kerb-crawling. Surely, the proper way out would be to address the problem that most working girls have and that is drugs, usually Class A.

Critical list

From: Michael Ross, Weeton Lane, Dunkeswick, North Yorkshire.

I MARVEL at the depth of knowledge your correspondent Mr McKenna has (Yorkshire Post, December 17) on a seemingly limitless number of subjects. I would like to know how he acquired all this intimate information.

It would appear that his statements may be just personal uninformed opinions similar to those of his anti-establishment hero John Pilger.

How easy it is to criticise on all these matters from the leafy comforts of suburbia.