Out-of-touch call to pile on the misery

From: Alan Hughes, Unison senior manager, Yorkshire and Humberside.

NEIL O’Brien, director of the Right-wing think tank Policy Exchange, has demonstrated how out of touch he is with the real world by calling for public sector pay cuts (Yorkshire Post, October 27).

Many public sector workers are now entering their third year of a pay freeze while inflation is above five per cent. Proposed changes to public sector pensions would impose a further pay cut of three per cent.

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In stark contrast, the pay of directors in the private sector has risen at twice the rate of inflation. When bonuses are taken into account, the average FTSE 100 director earns £4.9m, which is well over 200 times the average wage.

We know that a combination of a pay freeze and thousands of job losses is bringing misery to communities across Yorkshire.

Ordinary families are struggling to meet rising food and fuel bills, so cutting the wages of hundreds of thousands of workers in Yorkshire would further suppress demand and cause yet more damage to the economy of our region. Mr O’Brien calls for public sector pay cuts, but he will never be heard calling for cuts in soaring pay for directors because his think-tank is bankrolled by big business.

From: AW Clarke, Wold Croft, Sutton on Derwent, York.

MALCOLM Naylor (Yorkshire Post, October 26) should not allow his prejudice to show by rushing to the judgment that ultra Right-wing Conservatives were responsible for commissioning the report that the elderly should release their large homes in order to provide space for families and the homeless.

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This report’s launch was sponsored by Tessa Jowell who, last time I looked, was a Labour member. The report was produced by the “Left leaning” think-tank the Inter-Generational Foundation. It is understood that Ms Jowell does not necessarily support the report.

I should say that, before Mr Naylor makes the assumption that I must be a Tory, I should tell him that I subscribe to the late playwright Dennis Potter’s thought – when I get up in the morning I don’t know whether I’m extreme Right-wing or extreme Left-wing!

Successful successors

From: J G Riseley, Harcourt Drive, Harrogate.

THE proposed reform to the rules of succession further emancipates woman and Roman Catholics.

In so doing it highlights the remaining gratuitous insult to the larger number who are not their parents’ eldest surviving child or who were born out of wedlock. It was demonstrated within the first two generations of the Norman dynasty that these are eligible candidates for the throne.

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When kings and queens had important jobs to do, like fighting battles, some flexibility was desirable to let the most capable contender through. This mattered less as they became figureheads and the system of succession was allowed to fossilise. Now that they are figureheads in an age of mass media there is once again a need to pick the most suitable of the monarch’s children for the job.

This could be developed, along the lines of traditional systems of tanistry, to say that our future monarchs would be selected from among all the surviving descendants of Queen Elizabeth the Second.

Walking on by

From: Brian Sheridan, Redmires Road, Sheffield.

IAN McMillan is much too wise to be known to Yorkshire Post readers only for his weekly dose of whimsy. His drift to more serious matters in his mid-week piece will have been noted.

I respect his candour in admitting that he and his wife had failed to help an unkempt, shoeless traveller on Sheffield station who had just been snubbed by a train-driver. His offence? Asking where a train was due to stop (Yorkshire Post, October 26).

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Ian was clearly ashamed of his behaviour. Unlike the depths of cynicism plumbed by the Edinburgh car-park attendants who, in the days before mobile phones, asked if an old man Ian and his friend reported lying in a pool of blood was “well-dressed”. In which case it might be worth calling for help. Who was the idiot who coined the proverb: fine feathers make fine birds?

However, if it comes to placing a tariff on a life, how does a Chinese toddler rate? If we hadn’t seen it on TV it would have been hard to believe that so many people could pass by the dying child before a tiny female street cleaner went to pick the child up.

Ian McMillan rightly says that we can learn by trying to understand, if not condone what other human beings do. It is encouraging that this deeply depressing footage has been a wake-up call to the Chinese people. Their government has warned that they were sleep-walking to a culture of profound cynicism.

No surprises there then

From: M E Wright, Grove Road, Harrogate.

I DON’T imagine that Jayne Dowle was greatly surprised by the predictably ineffectual actions of Ofgem and the coalition, vis-a-vis energy prices (Yorkshire Post, October 27).

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Messrs Cameron, Clegg and Co either cannot, or will not, accept that the terms “public school” and “public service” are the very antithesis of each other.

Consequently, vital energy and transport industries continue to be operated, first and foremost, as devices for syphoning bill, fare- and tax-payers’ money into the comfortable pockets of a privileged few – directors and shareholders.

The heading of Jayne’s column referred to the Government being “powerless” – it isn’t, but it clearly lacks the decency and courage to take robust action.