Letters: Dump Europe and lose Scotland as well – The Independent
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The EU referendum offers voters in England, Wales and Northern Ireland two for the price of one: to exit the EU and dump Scotland.
If the rest of the UK votes to leave and Scotland to stay, Nicola Sturgeon will demand another Scottish referendum, which she may well win. After years of anti-UK rhetoric from the SNP in Holyrood and Westminster, who’d blame some for wanting to get rid of Scotland? But please remember. The SNP is a only a party, it’s not Scotland. It doesn’t speak for all of us north of the border.
When the last European referendum took place in 1975, the campaign in favour of leaving was led by some wild-eyed representatives of the outer fringes of the political spectrum such as Enoch Powell, Tony Benn and Michael Foot. In contrast the other side could field reassuring figures like Willie Whitelaw, Shirley Williams and Roy Jenkins. They duly won.
The appearance of George Galloway on the same platform as Nigel Farage and Bill Cash might suggest that history is about to repeat itself. Unfortunately the Remain campaign does not seem to have anyone of the stature of Jenkins this time.
I’m getting tired of reading that those over 60 tend to favour leaving the EU while younger people tend to hold to the opposite view.
My local U3A group (University of the 3rd Age) recently held a debate on the motion “This house believes Britain would be better off leaving Europe”. There were about 50 of us there and we are all on the mature side of 65 years. After lively discussion the votes were at least 70 per cent in favour of staying in.
As for the suggestion from M T Harris (letter, 20 February) that over 60s should be disenfranchised in the Brexit referendum – the implication that our lives and opinions are of such little value to the nation simply beggars belief. Given the often-quoted fact that we are all living longer, and therefore that many of us will experience the final outcome of the referendum (whichever result it delivers) for a good number of years, where would democracy stand if a significant section of the population had been denied a vote?
The Americans do and say nothing that is not in their best interests, and it should be clear to anyone with an ounce of common sense why they want Britain to remain in the EU.
As the closest and most compliant of US vassals, Britain is Washiington’s stalking horse in Brussels. While she remains in Europe the White House can be sure of making its voice heard and heeded in the EU’s corridors of power.
With Britain out of the EU Washington would find it that much more difficult to impose its influence on the non-Anglo-Saxon European governments.
Transatlantic solicitude for Britain’s future in Europe has nothing to do with concern for a faithful ally’s welfare. It has everything to do with ensuring the maintenance of US dominance in the EU-Nato Axis through the cynical manipulation of a so-called “special relationship”.
Intelligent British voters should treat such overt attempts to sway their intentions, like all similar US meddling in in the affairs of other countries, with the contempt it deserves.
The Hague, Netherlands
The referendum date is 23 June, four months away, and the first three days have seen saturation coverage on all media. Does anyone seriously believe the great British public can maintain interest in such a topic for so long, or is it all another cunning rouse to distract attention from the never-to-be-published Chilcot Report?
I note with dismay NHS employers’ proposals for junior doctor rotas, in particular where this includes rapid cycling between long (13-hour) day and night shifts.
For example the proposed rota contains regular occasions where junior doctors would be expected to work a 13-hour night shift, finishing at 10am, then return to work after 24 hours for a further 13-hour dayshift. At one point, a 13-hour nightshift is followed by three consecutive 13-hour dayshifts.
The 24-hour period between shifts – euphemistically referred to as “a day off” – is all that is available both for post-night shift recovery sleep, but also to prepare for the long day immediately following. More commonly, a minimum of two nights of normal sleep following a nightshift to permit re-adjustment would be recommended.
Frequent rapid shifts between day and night working have significant consequences not only for workers’ health, but also – vitally – on their ability to function effectively and safely. These ill-considered proposals run a real risk of creating increasingly jet-lagged doctors, more likely to make mistakes while carrying out tasks which often require high levels of attention, judgment and response time – all negatively affected by poor sleep quality. Patient safety will almost inevitably be put at further risk.
Would Jeremy Hunt or colleagues be prepared to undergo objective testing of attention, judgement and reaction time while following this suggested pattern of wake and sleep? I urge NHS employers to reconsider, taking into view evidence collated both by the Health and Safety Executive and the Royal College of Physicians.
Dr Michael Farquhar
Consultant in Paediatric Sleep Medicine,
Your report that the majority of police forces are not recording when incidents involve Gypsies and Travellers (18 February) is concerning. If there are no records, then it is impossible to identify trends, spot problems and take action to address potentially discriminatory behaviour on the part of the police; it is extremely disappointing if police forces are routinely adopting a “minimum requirement” approach, rather than being proactive about ensuring that they police these ethnic groups fairly and transparently.
As a policy officer at the Commission for Racial Equality, specialising in Gypsy and Traveller policy, and in my current role as a lawyer, bringing complaints and civil claims against the police on behalf of clients, I have seen a number of incidents where police use excessive force when attending incidents on Gypsy/Traveller sites. It is my experience that police officers tend to use more heavy-handed tactics and are deployed in greater numbers when policing these communities. There are other issues of concern, such as the seemingly disproportionate occurrence of vehicle-related checks, often seemingly as a pretext to identify other potential offences.
Many people still see Gypsies and Travellers as people making a lifestyle choice rather than members of protected ethnic groups; stereotyping Gypsies and Travellers is still acceptable in a way that is no longer true of other ethnic groups. We can only know how widespread the problem is and whether the experience of my clients is repeated across the country, if police record relevant incidents using their ethnic monitoring systems. I hope that by bringing this issue to light the Traveller Movement effects a policy change that will mean we can better ensure these communities are being treated fairly by our police force.
Civil Liberties Partner, Hodge Jones & Allen, London NW1
When banks leverage their assets and equity eight times, 12 times, or in some cases as much as 50 times, they are in effect borrowing from the public and the state, at no interest and without consent. (Ben Chu, “We’ve made banking reform more complex than it needs to be”, 18 February.) And when the results come home to roost from their own investment decisions, the resulting bailout is a draw-down on that loan. The banks owe the country, not the other way around.
Kuno van der Post
I was not the producer of the Brits awards show in 1996 (“The Brits at their best … and worst”, 13 February) and would never have allowed security breaches such as Jarvis’s stage invasion. I was the producer in 1992 (and in 1990 and 1991) and was not “furious” about the wonderful KLF – indeed, I was so delighted by them, and got on so well with them, that Bill Drummond asked me to manage them the next day!
You report that (17 February) that Starbucks’ hot mulled fruit drink contains the equivalent of 25 teaspoons of sugar. A spokeswoman said the chain had “committed to reduce added sugar by 25 per cent by 2020”. So this fruit drink would now contain just 18.75 teaspoons of sugar. Well done Starbucks!
Isn’t it time that food packaging showed the quantity of teaspoons in each pack?
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Letters: Dump Europe and lose Scotland as well – The Independent