Thursday's Letters: Our leaders need to do more than just balance the books

THE need for cuts needs to be put into the context of the difficult issue of employment.

In the 1960s and 1970s, successive governments tried to provide full or almost full employment by investing in industry. This resulted in massive government subsidies and a call to "slim down British industry to make it more competitive".

Mrs Thatcher's government was elected to achieve this objective, and the consequence was the complete destruction of Britain's world-renowned heavy engineering industry – and three million unemployed, mainly north of a line between the Humber and the Severn.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The last government tried to create more jobs by investing in public services and giving them new tasks. The weakness of this policy was that it relied on "service industries" and inflated property prices to support the borrowing and provide the taxes required to keep the country going. The consequence of this was the crash, which has made public services unsustainable at their present level.

This has led to an inevitable call for cuts. Unfortunately, cuts of the scale required cannot be achieved without massive social issues. We already have more than two million unemployed. The reality is probably much worse, after one takes into account all the various schemes which artificially reduce the unemployment figures.

There are very few unskilled jobs and we have families who are third and fourth generation unemployed – a kind of underclass which survives

on benefits. Nobody knows how many people the cuts will put out of work, but we could end up with more than double the present number of unemployed.

Typically, the politicians seem only concerned with the immediate need to balance the books. They assume that once the budget is balanced, the economy will revive and all will be well. This is simply not credible.

Our farms can barely grow enough food to feed two-thirds of the population. So we have to produce and sell goods and services to pay for the food we buy from abroad. All the big factories have gone and we don't seem to make many things any more. So balancing the budget is only half the problem.

Something has to be done to make Britain a leading producer again. This requires new investment in private enterprise in a way that is directed for the public interest. This is not impossible. Most of our banks are already nationalised. They do not have to be sold after they become solvent. Years ago, the French nationalised their banks and

restructured them so that lending and borrowing policies could be influenced by the state. As a result, France has kept its manufacturing industry and does not seem as badly affected by the recession as we are.

From: Paul Andrews, The Beeches, Great Habton, York.

From: T Scaife, Manor Drive, York.

THERE'S a brand new lottery due to kick off in the UK.

In fact, it should have its own show on the BBC: "It could be your job."

Yes, it could be your job, it really could. For the Con Dems are determined to reduce the nation's deficit in the only way politicians seem to understand.

Not only are they daring to plan savage public spending cuts, they are to set afire a bonfire of jobs and welfare benefits.

Real people in the real world, doing real jobs. Public sector

redundancies that will impact severely on the private sector.

Not Mickey Mouse jobs like politicians who insist the age of austerity is upon us. Although Messrs Clegg and Cameron won't feel it personally.

These fantasists could cost the UK dearly should they make the same mistake as Jim Callaghan and Mrs Thatcher, who each cut spending by 40 per cent.

This would be criminally negligent. Why? Because the Government has a responsibility of care and due diligence to the people it "governs".

The UK has escalating problems of unemployment, deprivation, crumbling infrastructure and services. An ageing population, underpaid and unpaid carers and millions of disenfranchised youth.

Some say the eventual job cuts could be 700,000 adding to the official 2.51 million unemployed. This would be disastrous. Existing benefits have not risen with inflation, for example, Job Seeker's Allowance should be 110 per week. How are people to live?

Where are the new jobs? What happens if there is further recession – is the only solution even more austerity? When will politicians understand that we need a new approach to unemployment and equality?

During their walkabouts, the Con Dems should be truthful, shouting at people: "It could be your job."

Democracy at work in police forces

From: Tony J Homewood, Wrenthorpe, Wakefield.

I SEE that Coun Mark Burns-Williamson, chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Authority, (WYPA), has signed an open letter, opposing the proposed introduction of elected police chiefs. The letter claims that "police authorities want to ensure that policing continues to be influenced at local and national levels by community voices, not by unconstrained individuals who may have a politically-motivated agenda".

I couldn't agree with him more and elected police chiefs will do exactly that. They will be constrained by the will of the local people whose views they will represent. If they don't then they will be removed at the ballot box by the people who put them there. Democracy here is direct.

Coun Burns-Williamson, on the other hand, has been elected by 1,775 voters in the Wakefield council ward of Castleford & Glasshoughton, who were electing him as a local councillor, not as the head of their police authority. His tenure at WYPA is entirely at the whim of the Labour group leader on Wakefield MDC, Coun Peter Box (1,316 votes). It is difficult to escape the irony of the fact that both Mr Box and Mr Burns-Williams, as Labour councillors, clearly have a "politically motivated agenda".

Direct democracy is about trusting the people to make the decisions that effect their day-to-day lives. What Mr Burns-Williamson means when he talks about policing being "...influenced by community voices", is his voice, those of his councillor colleagues on WYPA who, it should be said, were elected with equally limited mandates and the voices of the "independent" people who they have appointed and who nobody ever voted for.

A hero's helping hand

From: Edith Heaton, Sharphaw View, Gargrave, Skipton, North Yorkshire.

RECENTLY, an ex-Yorkshire cricketer has been in the news. His name is the late Herbert Sutcliffe. A plaque has been placed on the house where he was born. I think he must have been in the same mind as Wasim Khan, from the Cricket Foundation, who is interested in encouraging children to participate in cricket (Yorkshire Post, May 22).

Just prior to the 1939-45 war, he donated a cricket bat to the Nidderdale schoolboy scoring the highest number of runs in the Hartley Shield Cup Competition held in Pateley Bridge. It was won by a boy

called Tommy Dodsworth, a pupil at Summerbridge school. Herbert Sutcliffe said at the time it couldn't have been a better result as he was born in Summerbridge. I was a pupil there and, like the rest of the pupils, shared in the excitement surrounding the hero.

Sadly, Tommy died in Australia this year where he emigrated as a young man.

Thank you, Wasim, and keep up the good work.

Disgrace of the Duchess

From: Janet Berry, Hambleton, Selby.

WHAT an absolute disgrace Sarah Ferguson is to her family and to this country (Yorkshire Post, May 24). I will not address her as the Duchess because she does not deserve this title and should lose it immediately. I squirmed with embarrassment as I watched her seedy dealings with the undercover reporter. She is quite devoid of dignity and honour and seemingly will do anything for money.

I saw her once at the Great Yorkshire Show and once was quite enough. People had waited about 40 minutes to see her with Prince Andrew, we were all told where to stand. At last she made her grand entrance, stomping along with a scowl on her face with Andrew walking behind her looking extremely glum.

She made no effort to acknowledge our appearance and one Yorkshire wag called out: "Have you had a row?" Everyone roared with laughter.

She still has a staff of 12 which seems ridiculous. She has been hiding in the United States. What a pity she does not stay there.

Perverse logic that hampers fight against terrorism

From: Barrie Frost, Watson's Lane, Reighton, Filey.

THERE are demands for an inquiry into the alleged failure of MI5 to stop the terrorists who committed the July 7 London bomb outrage which killed and maimed so many innocent people.

It is said that MI5 had a duty to protect the safety of the public and questions must be asked as to whether they failed to do so.

How can this course of action be reconciled with the recent decision of the Special Immigration and Appeals Commission (SIAC) to stop the deportation of two highly dangerous terrorist sympathisers, who were allegedly plotting similar carnage on our streets, on the grounds that their human rights must be protected?

Very many well adjusted and decent British people must find such logic utterly unbelievable and sickeningly disgraceful and seriously question the behaviour of our courts where interpretations of human rights

always seems to favour those who should have forfeited any such consideration.

The SIAC ruled that although two al-Qaida linked Pakistani nationals were planning a similar atrocity in Britain and though they agreed

these two posed a serious security risk, they should be allowed to

remain in Britain because they could face torture if returned to Pakistan. The fact that, in this case, the good police work and

accurate intelligence prevented a possible terrorist attack and enabled arrests to be made before such an outrage was committed is, apparently, a complete waste of time for all those involved, when their efforts can be totally negated by the SIAC. Clearly, it does not appear to be the prime duty of the SIAC to protect the safety of the public when the welfare of terrorists is more important.

So, on the one hand, we demand an inquiry into whether MI5 failed to protect us, only for the SIAC to do a complete about-turn and wilfully ignore our safety. Shouldn't there be an inquiry into the decisions made by the SIAC as this would appear far more relevant?

Taxpayers are paying one agency to protect them from terrorist attacks and, at the same time, are funding another agency to overrule their findings.

How can anyone possibly be expected to understand such perverse logic?

Due to the appalling state of the nation's finances, many thousands of people will lose their jobs. May I make a suggestion that this could begin with disbanding the SIAC, for their contribution to the welfare of all decent people must be a negative one.

Aircrew tribute is long overdue

From: Colin Hood, Outgang Road, Pickering.

WITH reference to Barbara Garden's letter telling of a tribute to

aircrews of Lancaster bombers (Yorkshire Post, May 20), this most welcome tribute should also include the crews of the various marks of Halifax, Manchester, Blenheim, Wellington, Stirling and the earlier Whitley aircraft. There are still quite a lot of crew members left who would appreciate being included.

Bomber Command was the only organisation able to carry the war to the heart of Germany from 1939 until the invasion of 1944. Tributes and medals are long overdue to this group of people.

Unhappy day in Haworth

From: C Cartwright, Pontefract.

AFTER a fantastic afternoon in one of our heritage villages, Haworth, with my wife and two grandchildren, I was brought back to the reality of rip-off Britain by finding my car clamped and an intimidating company representative demanding 75.

This left me incensed and bewildered that a village that survives on tourism would allow such a reprehensible outfit to remain in business – or I am I mistaken?

Are the council and trading standards happy for this to continue? This situation from my research has been going for a number of years and it

still happens.