Thursday's Letters: Our future should not hinge on 'X-Factor' leadership debates

AM I alone in despairing at the totally inappropriate hype surrounding the performance of Nick Clegg in the first of the televised election "debates"?

Has our general judgment as a nation really to be based on the

theatrics of a leadership X-Factor programme?

Perhaps we should start by dispelling some serious myths being peddled in the name of fairness, to which all three main parties pay lip service, and also to the fallacy that the Lib Dems really do offer meaningful change.

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The dead hand of socialism has brought this country to its knees economically and culturally until it is no longer possible to really identify what we stand for. What is clear to me is that a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for more of the same, but then that is all we will deserve if the current polls prove to be correct.

From: Martin Smith, Main Street, Elvington, York.

From: Keith Chapman, Custance Walk, York.

I WOULD like to hear more about those in the younger generation on what they expect from this election, as their future may be determined by those getting on in years, or are they just not interested that their own future may be seen to be determined by others?

What representation is out there for the younger section of the community? Could our different parties have some form of discussion groups maybe to give young people a voice out there?

It seems there is a big gap in the political system on these sort of issues to engage everyone in this election.

From: Ernest Witt, Wrenbury Grove, Leeds

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THERE seems to be great pressure on the Liberal Democrat leader to state which of the two main parties he would support in the event of a hung Parliament.

Surely what the country and liberal voters would expect is that any influence they may have should be based entirely on what they consider to be in the best interest of the nation, and presumably their own beliefs, regardless of party affiliations.

From: J Beaumont, Marsh Lane, Shepley, Huddersfield.

The Liberal Democrats propose to increase the income tax threshold to 10,000 at a time when the annual deficit is approaching 170bn.

To pay for this, Mr Clegg proposes to play fast and loose with national defence by not replacing Trident.

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I just remember the last time; Liberal opinion neglected the nation's defence in the second half of the 1930s, when Hitler was obviously preparing for war.

The nation was only saved by three things from absolute disaster: Mr Churchill's fight to bring home to the people the folly of disarmament in such a dangerous situation; Mr Chamberlain buying time with the Munich agreement in order to re-arm and bring the Spitfire into service and, thirdly, the bravery of the fighter pilots of the RAF.

In today's situation with North Korea and Iran on the verge of becoming nuclear states, can we afford to economise on defence?

From: JW Buckley, Aketon, Pontefract, West Yorkshire.

THE woes of our present Government are many, and well-known, and to

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concentrate on these is to accept the rotten system which caused them.

We need to look at the system. The system we had was fine, but it has been so manipulated and abused by New Labour, as to make it the issue of this election.

If it is not made the issue then, whoever wins, they will continue the same way, and we shall be saddled with the Animal Farm scenario – people in power may change, but the way they operate does not.

What do I mean? The House of Commons should be supreme, but MPs lick the boots of these party masters, and it is the parties in control.

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We need an independent and vigorous House of Lords – not the neutered, boot-licking lot we would get from elected peers.

The last thing we want is elected peers, yet Gordon Brown says this is essential; all part of the party plan.

We rely on the police to enforce the law with an even hand, yet even the police have been partly neutered by a combination of whisper campaigns and greater control of finances. We are heading for government control of the police, and this needs to be reversed quickly; unless, of course, you would be happy living in a police state.

But enough of this "greater picture" stuff – most voters are concerned with the nitty-gritty of everyday life. Ask your candidate one thing. If elected, are you going to lick the boots of party masters, or are you going to tell the party whips to get lost?

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You will continue by saying to your candidate that you intend to vote for someone who does what constituents want – not what party whips

say. Then go on to say that the price of petrol is a con, or any other specific issue you have.

TV's quaint reminder of racism

From: Brian Sheridan, Redmires Road, Sheffield.

HAVING lived through the Second World War, I am a natural fan of ITV1's carefully researched series Foyle's War. Last Sunday's episode featured a courageous black GI who had been victimised in the Southern USA only to discover our quaint form of racism this side of the Atlantic.

I wondered what younger viewers made of the repeated use of the word "coloured" and a local resident reporting a "piccaninny" in the neighbourhood. Thankfully, this kind of ignorance is dying away with my generation, though a small amount of the nastiest kind of racism still thrives in some extremist political parties.

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The much maligned sport of football deserves a lot of credit; all professional clubs now campaign against racism and racist chants are no longer heard on our grounds. Shame about homophobia: apparently, there are no gays playing in the English leagues. Really? Premier League players are reported to have opposed a move to make life easier for talented players who happen to be gay.

As Inspector Foyle remarked when he heard that Hastings councillors had voted in favour of a "colour bar": "That's democracy for you".

A poor deal from bank

From: David Jones, The Croft, Sheriff Hutton, York.

I FEEL I must respond to the letter from Norman Hazell, "Losing interest in bank savings" as I have also been ripped off by Santander (Yorkshire Post, April 15).

My wife and I foolishly invested a reasonable sum in fixed rate ISAs a couple of years ago but were shocked when we received our statements this year to see we had been paid the measly interest rate of 0.01 per cent.

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When I phoned Santander to check this and ask why I they didn't phone me to discuss alternative investments, I was told: "Oh we don't phone customers."

My response was to transfer our investment to another provider and I am in the process of checking any other dealings I have with the bank.

We bank customers are getting a poor deal at present due to low interest rates, so surely the banking industry should be trying to help us, not rip us off.

Serious failure to regulate

From: MP Laycock, Wheatlands Road East, Harrogate.

LAST week Gordon Brown grudgingly admitted a measure of responsibility for "failing to regulate the banks". His part in causing the banking crisis was far more serious.

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On becoming Chancellor in 1997, he abandoned, on his own initiative, Bank of England regulation of the country's banks. That system had worked perfectly well for years.

The Bank of England understood how banking worked. Its control had been exercised informally and without publicity. It was the ideal "light touch" regulation, which had evolved organically over more than a century.

The FSA, by contrast, did not understand the working of the banking system. It had no tradition of working with the banks. It had far too large a remit, including supervision of financial advisers and stock market trading. It produced huge volumes of of petty regulation but missed important trends in banking practice.

Women and children first?

From: David Woosnam, Woodrow Park, Scartho, Grimsby.

I HAVE seen it all now.

A Royal Navy ship leaves Santander for Old Blighty, largely full of troops, and leaving penniless British women and children behind (Yorkshire Post, April 21).

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Some years ago, Noel Coward wittily stated that he always crossed the Atlantic on a French ocean liner because "with the French, there is none of that nonsense about women and children first". It seems he could have added the Royal Navy to French liners.

Not the greatest day for us Brits. The heroes of Dunkirk are turning in their graves.

So those troops had been in Afghanistan. I salute them for their bravery. But would a few days more in friendly Spain break their spirit after that?

The call of the wild where the fox is rarely harmless

From: Vera Newhouse, Tosside, Skipton.

ARE foxes "completely harmless", as stated by Nigel Furness (Yorkshire Post, April 15)? When my boys were young, I bought six Bantam chicks so that the boys could see them grow up and provide eggs for food.

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My husband made a coop for them, with a wire netting pen attached to give them some freedom. One morning we found the pen had been turned over, giving access to the coop.

In the coop were five dead Bantams. Later in the day, my husband found some Bantam feathers, fast in the wire fence between our farm and the local forest – obviously a fox had been around.

Another episode. During the Second World War, my husband's elder sister hatched some eggs in an incubator and looked after the chicks and fed them so that they would provide meat and eggs which were both rationed.

When fully grown, she put 40 pullets into a barn on the farm where they could lay their eggs. A cockerel was put in with them.

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One morning when she went to feed them, the cockerel was missing and all the hens had been killed.

I know wild animals hunt for their food but do they need to kill 46 and just take two?

Church guilty of cover up

From: MJ Thompson, Goodison Boulevard, Cantley, Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

IN his article on the issue of sexual abuse by the Catholic priesthood (Yorkshire Post, April 14), Father Neil McNicholas states that the

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vast majority of priests are honest, decent hard-working people.

This I would agree with, but the major issue is not about the very small minority of abuses in the Catholic Church but the greater number of higher ranking officials in the Church who, over many, many, years did a major cover-up to hide these abuses and kept them from earlier discovery by the police.

Priests in the council chamber

From: Kate Taylor, Pinder's Grove, Wakefield.

I WAS interested to read in your obituary of the Rev James Lennox (Yorkshire Post, April 17) that he was one of the earliest Church of England clergy to serve as a town councillor when elected to

Huddersfield Borough Council in the late 1950s.

In the years immediately before the First World War, Richard Phipps, who was then Vicar of Kirkburton and later became Archdeacon of Halifax, was elected to the great (and much lamented) West Riding County Council.