Too many are abusing the 
welfare state

From: Mrs BJ Cussons, Curly Hill, Ilkley.

HOW sad that GP Taylor chooses to spoil his writing on good neighbourliness with a pathetic attempt to relate today’s changes to Thatcherism’s supposed cult of self (The Yorkshire Post, December 23). Is he so out of touch with life that he doesn’t know where the faults really lie? Primarily that the good services of the welfare state have been abused by too many people. Those are the ones who believe – and have taught their families to believe – that ‘the state will provide’ and practise lifestyles that can never be provided by the state.

The culture change which is too often eliminating marriage leaves women and children in particular disadvantaged. What leadership has the Church shown? Has it tried to teach that no one has the right to bring children into the world if they do not intend to provide for them?

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Has the Church taught young parents to teach their children that they have no rights to the accessories of modern internet life unless they have earned them? And that that lifestyle is actually stealing time that our predecessors would spend sharing with people and creating the neighbourliness he hankers for?

End school

From: Mrs DM Priestley, Conksbury Lane, Youlgreave.

I WAS seriously tested to understand Brian Blackwell’s diatribe (The Yorkshire Post, December 18). He clearly had the advantage of a grammar school education himself but, like so many socialists, is determined to deny others that advantage. His remark: “I thought education was about individualism, not uniformity” amazed me. What could be more uniform than to send every child to the same kind of school – comprehensive? Worse still, forced into mixed ability, the bright child faces deep boredom, whilst the slow learner is sneered at.

It shocks me to hear that this uniformity is now being extended to ‘all age schools’, meaning that a young person will spend his/her school career on the same site, in the same company, for perhaps 13 years. I recall the broadening of young minds in grammar schools with new subjects, new teachers, and fellow pupils drawn from a wide area, geographically and socially. My father, who went to an all-age school himself (a pre-First World War elementary) was pleased to let me have the chance of a better education. He also remembered the part-timers, those who worked half days in the mill. The modern view would be that these children were deprived, but they thought of themselves as men, and so rather superior.

Mr Blackwell concludes: “Our children deserve far more than they are getting at present.” Yes, they do. They deserve a chance to go to a grammar school.

Give credit
to Lib Dems

From: Chris Foote-Wood, Prospective Parliamentary Lib Dem candidate for Richmond, Brook Terrace, Darlington.

YOUR correspondent Dr Heys damns with faint praise the coalition’s achievement in improving primary education (The Yorkshire Post, December 26) when he should be lauding it.

My 35 years’ experience as a school governor convinces me that children rarely catch up after a poor start. Thanks to the coalition, every child aged four to seven now gets a nutritious meal, free, every school day. Without that they cannot learn properly.

All parents of three to four- year-old children now get 15 hours a week free child care support, as do 40 per cent of those with two-year-olds. From April, 285,000 working couples will benefit from shared parental leave. All this is due to the influence of a Liberal party in government.

Dr Heys rightly lambasts Labour and Tory governments over their failings in education. Our reforms will take many years to show their full benefits – a rare departure from the usual “short-termism” of parties in power.

History can be piece of cake

From: William Dixon Smith, Welland Rise, Acomb, York.

MANY years ago, I purchased a slim volume of French historical trivia. It explained the celebrated remark attributed to Marie-Antoinette as a reference to a law which required bakers, having sold out of bread, to supply confectionery at the same price: a plausible explanation, which I have never troubled to check.

However, as asserted by Hugh Rogers (The Yorkshire Post, December 26) there is no evidence to indicate that Marie-Antoinette ever uttered those fateful words.

Let us resist the temptation to search for fanciful explanations altogether. If French bakers ever discovered a way to make pastry cheaper than bread, it’s a lost art.

Preparing for The Interview

From: Andrew Suter, Ampleforth, York.

I REFER to The Interview, a satire of the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and Sony’s decision not to screen it widely owing to threats of terrorism. Perhaps the answer is to put the film on the internet for free to the free world. Doubtless it would get a greater viewing than if it was a pay to view film, thereby discrediting the North Korean despot more than if what is likely to be a mediocre “pot boiler” had been released in the normal manner.