12 August 2013 Leaves

I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark The gang are all invited to the Admirals off wheree something terribly top secret is going to take place, Priceless
We are both tired but get a few things done I rake up some leaves
We watch Yes Prime Minister quite good
Scrabble today I win but I get under 400. perhaps Mary might win tomorrow.


Kenneth Dancy
Kenneth Dancy, who has died aged 88, was a tugboat first mate who made headlines in January 1952 when he braved huge waves to leap aboard the stricken freighter Flying Enterprise, listing in heavy seas off the coast of Ireland.

4:49PM BST 11 Aug 2013
The plight of Flying Enterprise, which kept the media on both sides of the Atlantic gripped for two weeks, began on Christmas Day 1951 when the 6,700-ton New York-registered Liberty Ship sailed into the worst storm to hit the Atlantic in 35 years. It was en route for New York from Hamburg with a cargo said to consist of pig iron, coffee and furniture. On board were 40 crew and 9 passengers.
The ship was 300 miles off the southwest coast of Ireland when, on December 27, it developed a stress fracture across the deckhouse and down one side; one of its holds filled with water and it began to list badly. Its captain, 37-year-old Danish-born Kurt Carlsen, radioed for help and two US Navy vessels rushed to the scene. The crew and passengers jumped into the freezing seas and all but one were rescued. But Carlsen refused to abandon ship.
On New Year’s Day, the newspapers featured a grainy photograph, snapped from a British Navy observation plane, of Carlsen, alone on the afterdeck, clinging to a railing and waving, as the ship, its port decks awash and its starboard propeller out of water, seemed about to be swallowed by the mountainous seas. Even so , Carlsen radioed that he was happily dining on currant buns, beer and Rhine wine. He was “a little tired”, he admitted, but otherwise everything was “fine and dandy”.
On January 2, the Turmoil, a state-of-the-art tugboat which had been busy towing another storm-hit vessel to safety, set off from Falmouth to try to rendezvous with Flying Enterprise. A new storm began to blow up as the tugboat set out, but by January 4 it had drawn up alongside the stricken cargo vessel.
Several attempts were made to throw a line to Carlsen as he leant perilously over the rail – but to no avail. Then, as the tug edged as close as possible, the 27-year old Dancy, not wearing a life jacket, jumped the gap between the two vessels, taking the tow line with him. The headline writers went wild and newsreel reports of “Dancy’s leap” were soon drawing crowds into the cinemas.
With the line attached, the two vessels set out for Falmouth, followed by a small flotilla, while an army of reporters and photographers converged on the Cornish town to report their arrival.
But Flying Enterprise’s ordeal was not over. Early in the morning on January 10, 40 miles short of Falmouth, the tow line snapped amid worsening weather, while the ship began rolling so badly her superstructure barely showed above the waves.
A few hours later her stern plummeted, her bows pointed skywards, and just 39 minutes before she succumbed, Carlsen and Dancy hauled themselves up the funnel and jumped into the sea . The two men were picked up by Turmoil.
Carlsen had become an international hero. He was feted in London and greeted with a ticker-tape parade on 5th Avenue in New York . On a smaller scale Dancy, too, was given due recognition. In his home town of Tunbridge Wells 20,000 people turned out to give him a hero’s welcome .
But the story of the Flying Enterprise left a lot of questions unanswered – such as why Carlsen had decided to stay on board at such enormous risk to his own life .
In 2002 a Danish television documentary speculated that the ship had not been carrying pig-iron as claimed, but zirconium rods (zirconium is a metal of vital importance in nuclear technology), suggesting that it was intended for use in the world’s first nuclear submarine, USS Nautilus. The documentary reported that, despite the intervening years, information about the cargo remains classified. The loss of the rods, it claimed, had put the launch of Nautilus back by a year.
The second of four boys, Kenneth Roger Dancy was born in North London on December 1 1924. His father was a businessman and the family later moved to a small village in Kent where Kenneth’s parents ran a sub-post office and general store.
He attended grammar school in north London until 1938, then the Skinners’ Grammar School, Tunbridge Wells, until 1941, when he joined the Merchant Navy as a Navigation Apprentice. He served on his first ship, Blackheath, for two years, and took part in convoys around the globe, winning an impressive clutch of campaign medals.
On one occasion, in the English Channel, when both the ship in front of his and the one behind were torpedoed, he reckoned he had survived because the U-boat crew were reloading their torpedo tubes as his ship passed. On another occasion in the Indian Ocean his ship was attacked by a Japanese submarine, but he was off-watch and slept through the action.
Dancy obtained his Master’s Certificate in 1950 and for some years was captain of a large tanker. He was on leave from his ship when the first mate of the Turmoil was taken ill, and he was asked to take his place to help in the rescue of Flying Enterprise. He had never been on a tug before.
In 1956, he married Petronella van den Tempel, a Dutch woman, and two years later he gave up sailing and settled in the Netherlands, where he worked for Phillips Radio and latterly for IBM.
Kenneth Dancy’s wife and two sons survive him. Captain Carlsen died in 1989.
Kenneth Dancy, born December 1 1924, died August 3 2013


I was amused to read Tina Patrick’s letter about men apparently having learned to multitask (9 August), as evidenced by her witnessing a man urinating while withdrawing cash from an ATM. I can only assume such men have learned these skills from the women who, being mistresses of multitasking, have been simultaneously urinating and falling over drunk in our town centres for years. Hapless drunkenness is ingloriously gender non-specific.
Nik Holmes
Uttoxeter, Staffordshire
• Marina Hyde (10 August) asks whether good Christians would prefer aircraft carriers to dignity for such people as parents of disabled children. Well, Christ can be quoted on the matter in St Matthew’s gospel (10:34): “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword”. And continued (10:37): “He that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me”.
Denis Cobell
• Re cherry harvest (In praise of…, 9 August): my husband has picked 8lbs of cherries from two local roadside trees, attracting some attention from passers-by. Among the comments were “What are they?” “Are they edible?” And more aggressively, “Leave those apples alone!”
Eileen Hanson
Halifax, West Yorkshire
• Twitter trolling (Report, 8 August); Belfast riots (Report, 10 August); school holidays. Coincidence?
Brian Robinson
Brentwood, Essex

I couldn’t believe it when I eventually learned what the government has proposed for parents of under-fives (Report, 5 August). At first, I believed they were proposing a blanket voucher scheme to all parents to help with the not inconsiderable financial burdens of having a family – £5,464 in the bank before you even start, we are told. But no: it appears that this subsidy will only apply to working parents. Mothers who stay at home are told that this is their choice – a “lifestyle choice”, like drinking or smoking.
Many studies have demonstrated that children who spend long hours in substitute care may develop behavioural problems and become more difficult to teach in school later on. The campaign group Mothers at Home Matter has argued strongly that most children are emotionally better off when cared for by a sensible parent or close relative. And why shouldn’t parents be free to exercise their choice of childcare – home or away – without this heavy social engineering? We have other freedoms in this country: freedom to worship (or not), freedom to educate our children as we see fit, freedom of speech etc. But the freedom to raise one’s own offspring is denied to all but the extremely wealthy.  
People on modest to middle incomes have no option but to toe the party line and farm out what is most precious to them to strangers. I sincerely hope the Tories are trounced at the next election and that a fairer political party emerges. I have heard that in Germany – a more successful economy than ours, I gather – children stay at home till they are six, when they start school, and mothers by and large stay at home to raise them. If Germany manages it, why can’t we?
Sally Greenhill
Beccles, Suffolk

Enschede, Deventer, Oslo, San Jose, Chicago, Boston, New Orleans, Cozumel, Toronto … these are places I would most likely never have visited but for friends made through online interaction. Over the past 10 years, matching Rowena Leder’s example timescale (Letters, 9 August), I’ve acquired memories I wouldn’t give up for the world. All of humanity is to be found online, the good and the bad.
This August bank holiday I and many online friends will unite in grief to mark a year since the day a friend was torn from us by a drunk driver in Los Angeles, an exceptional young woman I feel privileged to have known, even for a brief time. Our loss is none the less for having lived an ocean away.
I would ask Rowena Leder to lift her eyes to more and distant horizons.There are wonders there, even if there are also those we know and loathe as “trolls”.
Greg Brown
Bromborough, Wirral
• There is one sure way to end social media abuse (Report, 7 August). All social media should demand that users write only in their full and legal name (verified by the network) with attributable contacts. If you have things to say, have the guts to say who you are – and this must be enforced by law. Until very recently anonymous communications (“poison pen letters”) were seen as contemptible. I am baffled as to why it is now acceptable to write anonymous messages across the broadest ever field of communication, and why the media seem so lenient to this magnet for spineless and warped inadequates.
Ian Flintoff

Andy Burnham’s views (Decca Aitkenhead interview, 10 August) closely reflect my discussion a couple of days ago with (previously) committed Labour supporters. We are extremely frustrated at the party’s failure to defend us against the destructive policies of the coalition, and to present the obvious counter-arguments against privatisation and the “hollowing-out” of our public services.
As a retired public sector worker (probation) I witnessed the early stages of the sell-out, whereby the dominance of IT systems led to down-grading of professional practice in favour of tick-box processing, easily priced and bid for by the private sector. We in the public sector were let down by the jettisoning of any responsibility for their employees by local and central government. We know that the level of services necessary for a fair and caring society costs money and do not agree that effective savings are made by squeezing the livelihoods of workers.
We are angry – but this disillusion is in danger of fading into apathy unless a radical and publicised reinvigoration occurs within the Labour party. Please keep trying to convince your colleagues, Mr Burnham – you do not want to lose our votes in 2015.
Alison Barkley
Youlgrave, Derbyshire
•  Andy Burnham is kidding himself and exaggerating the importance of his party if he thinks that the Tories “were prepared to spin against the NHS and troubled hospitals to get at us”. They spin against the NHS and wreak havoc because they want to sell it, or – as Burnham admits – continue to sell it. They trash the Post Office and the BBC for the same reason. If Labour wants to defend our common heritage then good luck to them, but they’ve got a long way to go to convince anybody that they’ll fight for anything.
Jim Cook
Reading, Berkshire
•  Yes! We do desperately need a party that has big ideas. Only radical changes are worth while now: not just a health service that caters for all our social and care needs but one that gives priority to preventive medicine, helping people to stay well. Essential to this is a radical revision of housing policies, so as to relieve us of the present stress. Every person should have a decent home they can afford, with security of tenure. That would immediately help the nation’s health.
Susan Hannis
Totnes, Devon
•  Andy Burnham should consider scrapping private finance initiative (PFI)-funded NHS capital investments to fund his plans to integrate social care into the NHS. Such a strategy would not see the hostility of a new tax, while removing the long-term debt that is masked by favourable Treasury calculations that underpin the business case for NHS PFI projects.
Neil Macehiter
•  This ageing child of the Raj, who has lived in Gibraltar as well as the UK; graduated in Ireland, and served in mission hospitals in Africa, has no desire to live in a mean-spirited, xenophobic, neo-liberal, and outsourced hellhole of a country. In addition, a former office-holder for the constituency Liberal Democrats cannot help but feel a sense of betrayal over the treatment of the NHS and most public services. Yet Andy Burnham is right. Unless Labour’s leadership puts its collective head above the parapet, making itself heard loudly and clearly against the machinations of Lynton Crosby et al, that which I most feared will come upon me, my children and my children’s children.
Dr H Windsor
Hanworth, Middlesex
•  Labour only states the obvious decline in living standards. With just under two years before the general election, where are the bold policies – the return of council social housing projects to provide homes and jobs, the proper regulation of the utility and rail companies, a 50p tax rate? Yes, borrow to invest and be proud of it. These are some of the policies that should be hammered out publicly week after week. The current Labour leadership have no fire. They must show their hand now before it is too late.
PM Sewell
• ”Labour must shout louder.” But what about, I wonder.
Geraint Thomas
Llangefni, Ynys Môn


Jacques Rogge, head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), is in large part missing the point in his strong statements about the possible “persecution of athletes” attending the Sochi Winter Olympics.
The draconian anti-gay legislation in Russia concerns primarily LGBT Russians who have to live each day under these iniquitous laws.
I acknowledge that his first concern must be for the athletes – and in that case, what alternatives are open to him? If he truly believes that a boycott would be an extreme measure – a disaster and a disappointment for the athletes – there are two options.
The first is to transfer the games to another resort in a country where human rights are respected. Indeed, if President Obama were to suggest Colorado, that would be an excellent retaliation in what appears to be a new cold war, as well as an expression of the US’s disgust at Russia’s new laws.
It would also be an excellent opportunity for the President to give a concrete expression of his support for the LGBT community. If that is deemed too extreme a measure, the IOC should insist that every single participating athlete, gay or not, wears a very visible rainbow armband.
Darryl Seibel’s statement on behalf of the British Olympic Association that it is a “more powerful statement to go and compete than not” is valid only if the participation of athletes is accompanied by a demonstration of their support and solidarity with gays worldwide.
Dr Michael B Johnson, Brighton
This time last year we learned all about the problems with next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi.
A troupe of Circassian dancers graced our carnival and explained that there had been environmental degradation, restrictions on movement, other infringements of civil liberties, and an overweening disregard for the indigenous peoples of the Caucasus.
The choice of the site of the massacre of Circassians 150 years ago for major construction work is politically calculated, and the crackdown on civil liberties is harsh.
The crass homophobia of Putin’s regime is reason enough to question the validity of this edition of the five-ring circus.
But there are other equally serious attacks on the rights and liberties of minorities in Russia, specifically those who live around Sochi, that should also engage us.
Mary Pimm and Nik Wood, London E9
David Cameron and Sebastian Coe think that a boycott of the Winter Olympics wouldn’t achieve anything.
Margaret Thatcher thought that about boycotting South Africa, but it worked eventually. What the Russian government is doing to gays is no different to apartheid in South Africa.
Robert Pallister, Sydney, Australia
Food bank need fuelled by benefits misuse
In your report “Summer of hunger: huge rise in food bank use” (10 August), the Trussell Trust can only say that this increase is “anecdotally” to do with recent welfare reforms.
Even if this is the case, one still needs to question why so many parents cannot feed their children without the need to go to a charity food bank.
Welfare benefits to those with children, in or out of work, are today much higher in real terms than they were even just a few years ago.
We now give an unemployed childless couple £112.55 a week plus housing costs. A similar couple with two children get £261.19 and housing costs – more is given to support the children (£148.64) than for the needs of the adults themselves.
Even in work, a single-earner couple with two children on just £18,000 get around £147 per week in child benefit and child tax credit.
Children are more likely to be at real risk of food poverty in households where they are not getting the full advantage of child benefit/tax credit payments.
This may be where the parents have excessive expenditure on inessentials, or where they have loans taken out which they cannot afford to pay back without “borrowing” the payments they receive for their children.
It is these issues of ensuring that state benefits paid for children are actually spent on them, and that they are not  instead absorbed into general household outgoings, that charities and Government should be addressing.
Paul Ashton, St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex
The need for food banks in a nation promised prosperity is not only disgraceful but an indication of deceit and contempt for those requiring them.
Their main purpose, of course, is to ensure that people who are struggling get to eat, but let them also be a reminder of (and protest against) the failure of our Government.
How many of those donating food to charities such as the Trussell Trust will vote for the Coalition next time?
Emilie Lamplough, Trowbridge, Wiltshire
While food banks undoubtedly alleviate hardship and suffering for those left destitute, by their own admission they are often only a sticking plaster; and this Victorian form of welfare is stigmatising due to its conditionality and discretionary nature.
We may be sleepwalking towards an American form of welfare based on food stamps and soup kitchens. George Osborne can then pat himself on the back and exclaim: “Mission accomplished.”
Richard Bridge, York
£22,500 bag must have been a joke
It is understandable that the interpretation of the incident in which a shop assistant (presumably white) is reported to have suggested that a very expensive crocodile-skin handbag would be too expensive for Oprah Winfrey has been interpreted as an instance of racism (“So what was it about Oprah…?”, 10 August).
Perhaps, however, there is an alternative, and much more charitable, interpretation. Is it not conceivable that the shop assistant, quoted as stating “No, you don’t want to see that one… because that one will cost too much” was expressing disdain for the fact  her employer was prepared to pander to the minute and spoilt proportion of the world’s population that might be induced into perversely spending £22,500 for a handbag?
Perhaps it was displayed at that vulgar price as a rather poor joke, albeit at the expense of the huge number of the world’s inhabitants who cannot conceive of such an amount of money.
The shop assistant might have been embarrassed at her employer’s joke and credited Miss Winfrey with the intelligence to recognise the price as a joke – and Miss Winfrey as a person likely to share her opinion.
Sidney Alford, Corsham, Wiltshire
Shooting animals reduces suffering
If people are unwilling to accept that eating meat causes death, they shouldn’t eat it (letters 10 August). Additionally, for non-meat-eaters to enjoy their lifestyle, animals must be culled to protect crops from damage.
But what would all these activists who sit behind screens in London know about countryside and rural life?
I enjoy shooting. It’s fun and provides game which is otherwise unavailable in our shops, also ridding the crops of unwanted pests.
I take great care in making sure my shots are accurate, and kill on impact to avoid unnecessary stress and suffering.
How can taking a plentiful species in a respectful manner for the table be anything less than responsible? Shooting is a culturally important part of British life and brings in over £1bn a year to the rural economy. City-dwellers, educate yourself and take note.
A Tunstall, Windsor
Victory for pointed humour
While amused to see Dave Brown’s riff on Stanfield’s painting HMS The Victory Bearing the Body of Nelson Towed into Gibraltar after the Battle of Trafalgar  (Rogues’ Gallery, 10 August), I fear it may not be well-known enough for most people to realise it showed that ship dismasted and disabled after confronting the Spanish in 1805 – but perhaps that underscores his point.
The spectacular original, at Somerleyton Hall since it was painted in 1853, will shortly make a rare London appearance in our Turner and the Sea show at Greenwich (from 22 November).
Pieter van der Merwe, General Editor, National Maritime Museum, London SE10
Death and choice
I have no fear of death but dying is another matter (letters, 5 August). In my 80th year and suffering the painful effects of pulmonary fibrosis, in addition to other ailments, I long for the relief death will bring me but lack the guts or the means to achieve this end.
Is it not in society’s interest to set up a process to allow sane adults to decide for themselves when enough is enough?
Robert Redman, Oxford
Drop the charges
The argument that patient charges are nothing new because we already pay to see the dentist only highlights how wrong the situation is with regard to NHS dentistry. I “accept” the charges, but do not like them, and would much rather there were parity by there being no fee to see a doctor or dentist.
Owen Ralph, Manchester
Honourable MPs?
While watching Parliament on TV, I was at a loss to understand who the speakers were referring to. They kept saying “the Honourable Gentleman” or “the Honourable Lady”. Do they think we could take these terms seriously after seeing with what contempt most of them treat the general public?
Dave Croucher, Doncaster
Choc ice doubt
Barbara MacArthur (letter, 9 August) asks whether her occasional choc ice consumption might improve her memory. If the reason for the lack of memory-enhancing cocoa in her larder is that she keeps forgetting to buy it, I would suspect not.
Linda Skilton, Forest Row, East Sussex


Although it may not be perceived as ‘traditional’, the practice of women speaking at their own weddings is increasing and to be welcomed
Sir, It’s not new for brides to speak at their weddings (“Unaccustomed as they may have been, modern brides will no longer be silenced”, Aug 9) . I spoke at mine in Cape Town in May 1984 about the new enlarged family that was forming and the joy that gave to me.
A practice that I hope will grow is one where both parents — whether united or apart as a couple — walk their child together down the aisle. My friend and her husband walked their daughter down the aisle recently; it was a significant expression of the presence of both parents in the bride’s life.
Sue Stewart
Horley, Surrey
Sir, “Do you not know I am a woman? When I think, I must speak” (As You Like It). Thus I began my speech as a bride in 1973, 40 years ago this summer. The MC wrung his hands a bit. “This is most irregular,” he muttered under his breath. The assembled guests didn’t bat an eyelid. Lucy Bannerman took my breath away. Surely, the “silent bride” vanished an age ago. Speak up girls.
Jo Noble
Ardington, Oxon
Sir, Modern women are well educated and often better public speakers than men, so it is no surprise that brides now give wedding speeches — and their mothers.
When my daughter married in 2001, nearly 18 years after her father left me, I gave the “bride’s father” speech, as the sole parent who had looked after my children continuously since birth. My ex-husband gave the bride away and toasted the happy couple, and the bride’s musician stepfather organised the wedding car and a dance band. So everyone played their part in a happy occasion.
Lynne Faulkner
Elstow, Bedford
Sir, In your leading article (“Speak Up”, Aug 9) you deplored the absence of the bride’s voice at traditional weddings. I am very pleased to say that some years ago my youngest daughter broke the usual conventions both by making a speech at her own wedding and in the course of being the best man at a male friend’s wedding. Nevertheless, my view of such occasions remains traditional to the extent that the irreducible and unchangeable elements at a wedding include the bride’s mother’s new hat and the bride’s father’s speech.
Sandy Morrison
London NW7
Sir, I was married in 1993 at West London Synagogue and not only broke with Jewish tradition by breaking a glass alongside my husband (in memory of my father), but also found my voice by making a speech. I didn’t think of myself as a pioneer of new ritual, only an active participant in my life.
While women’s equality and feminism is suffering a cultural backlash with new forms of violence against women (for instance: the current Twitter misogyny), brides finding their voice is surely an idea whose time has come.
Bev Cohen-Gold
Caldecote, Cambs
Sir , At the wedding of my son, his bride did not make a speech. But later on, with the help of her father on strings, she sang the most moving love song to her new husband. It left the gathering stunned and many in tears. Beats a speech any day!
Charles Pointon-Taylor
Penn, Bucks

Government has put new money into cyber security and the policing of organised crime — the UK is doing much to protect its citizens
Sir, Matthew Parris painted a gloomy picture of cyber crime and wondered whether the police should admit defeat (My Week, July 31).
My force and all those across the country will do no such thing, especially now that we are starting to get our hands on the tools that are enabling us to properly engage with this new breed of criminals.
Any victim of an internet fraud, or any type of fraud, can report directly to the Action Fraud call centre, knowing their report will be analysed by my force’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) and potentially used as the catalyst for an investigation by a local police force, or to form the basis of a public or private sector fraud alert, and at the very least to enrich the national intelligence picture.
In 2012-13 Action Fraud received more than 100,000 reports of fraud, of which more than 50 per cent had been committed using the internet.
The National Security Strategy of 2010 estimated that by 2015 there will be more interconnected devices on the planet than humans, so Mr Parris is right to highlight the scale of the threat we face, but we are not sitting idly by. In the autumn there will be a new National Crime Agency and within it will be a National Cyber Crime Unit and a dedicated Economic Crime Command, both of which are already forging partnerships in conjunction with industry. This will be well supported by the City of London Police, the national policing lead for fraud and other agencies who are already working together within the new Economic Crime Command of the National Crime Agency to target organised crime gangs and the means by which they launder their money.
Government has put new money into cyber and intellectual property security and the policing of organised crime, and the UK is doing as much if not more than most other countries to protect its citizens. In September the City of London Police launches a dedicated police unit to tackle online intellectual property theft.
Adrian Leppard
Commissioner of the City of London

The Government and central bank are not worried about inflation as it reduces the real value of the huge nominal stock of national debt
Sir, There is a trade-off between unemployment and inflation known as the Phillips Curve. By tying interest rate policy to a specified target of unemployment, Mark Carney (report, Aug 8), is going to allow inflation to rise, hitting savers and pensioners. The Government and central bank are not worried about inflation as it reduces the real value of the huge nominal stock of debt that the state has accumulated. This is an undeclared tax on all users of the currency, which is being used to punish the prudent and enrich the spendthrift.
James A. Paton
Billericay, Essex

Surely an easy and sustainable way to professionalise the Reserves is to recruit experienced former officers and soldiers
Sir, May I correct your assertion (“New era for reservists dawns at Sandhurst”, Aug 9) that the new eight-week course replaces the one-year course. The one-year (48-week) course I undertook is for regular officers. The new eight-week course for reservist officer cadets replaces the three-week TA Officer Course in an attempt to professionalise the Reserves to meet the demands of a smaller (regular) Army post-Army 2020 restructuring.
I recently left the Army in the rank of Captain after a seven-year career, and two tours of Afghanistan, but I was not asked if I was interested in joining the Reserves — surely an easy and sustainable way to professionalise the Reserves is to recruit experienced former officers and soldiers.
My experience in this regard is echoed by several captains of my acquaintance who have left the Service in recent months.
Ollie Thomas
Heckington, Lincs

Turkey’s customs union was intended as a step towards EU membership. It is not suitable for the UK as a step away from EU membership
Sir, The suggestion from Business for Britain that we should leave the EU in order to form a customs union is somewhat surprising (report, Aug 9). Turkey’s customs union was intended as a step towards EU membership. It is not suitable for the UK as a step away from EU membership. The agreement would cover only goods, not services or financial services, which account for three quarters of UK GDP. Services companies would shift their activities across the Channel to access EU markets. We would still have to apply EU regulations on goods and have no say over what those rules were, and would have to apply almost all the same external tariffs for imported goods as the EU without being able to set their level. We would lose the chance to push for a deeper single market — or for ways to enhance the City’s role as the EU’s financial centre or to push for free trade deals between the EU and US. So we wouldn’t just lose a lot of what we have; we’d lose the opportunity to make things better.
Roland Rudd
Chairman, Business for New Europe


SIR – As someone who has been pregnant twice, I am fed up with your judgmental headlines regarding Zara Phillips and her decision to continue riding during her pregnancy (report, August 4).
It’s her decision and hers alone. As a highly-accomplished rider, I’m sure she is considerably safer on a horse than most of us, pregnant or not!
Lynda Robertson
Mirfield, West Yorkshire

SIR – Even if François Hollande had pledged his full support to helping David Cameron renegotiate Britain’s relationship with Europe, there would still be the small matter of securing agreement from the remaining 26 EU states. This would be virtually impossible, and would take years.
There is, however, a relatively simple way for Mr Cameron to secure the changes he desires. He could create a Select Committee on the Review of EU Legislation, which could make recommendations to Parliament as to which EU legislation is contrary to the interests of Britain. Pursuant to any such recommendation, Parliament could adopt an Act amending and/or repealing the EU legislation in question. The principle of parliamentary sovereignty would ensure that any such Acts would be immune from challenges before the British courts.
Naturally, this would result in a host of decisions from the EU’s Court of Justice against Britain in respect of such legislation, but what, in practice, could the EU authorities do about this? They have no powers of enforcement against recalcitrant members, and no powers of expulsion.
Walter Cairns
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SIR – Given that François Hollande has said “non” to David Cameron, Mr Cameron should now say “au revoir” to the European Union.
There is no point even starting to renegotiate the terms of our relationship with other members. The politicians who Mr Cameron will be fighting against either benefit massively from our contribution at the expense of the British people and Government, or are so blindly fixated on the European “project” that they will not budge on the most important powers that we want to repatriate.
James Adam Paton
Billericay, Essex
SIR – Peter Marshall (Letters, August 4) believes that we should continue to deploy the outward-looking entrepreneurial spirit that has long defined us in the quest for a reformed EU.
We have been in the EU for 40 years and in all that time we have been trying to reform it from within with a singular lack of success. Tony Blair gave up our rebate for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, yet it remains unreformed. The definition of madness is doing the same thing and expecting to achieve different results. We are one voice against 27 at the current count. As more net beneficiary nations – sorry, member states – join, the odds will only worsen. It is time for a radical solution; cite Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and force the EU to negotiate with us as is laid down therein.
A C Allen
Sedgeford, Norfolk
SIR – The pros and cons of leaving the EU will be discussed endlessly until the referendum.
There is only one certainty. If we don’t leave, Britain will be finished as the sovereign state which by its fortitude in 1940-41, allowed the rest of Europe ultimately to recover. I have never heard a modern Eurocrat give us credit for that fact.
Dr Ross Watkin
Chipstead, Surrey
SIR – David Cameron’s promise of a referendum in 2017 is a bribe to win back Tory defectors from Ukip, and he will use every trick in the book to avoid taking Britain out of this deeply flawed union.
Roger Hopkins
Eastbourne, East Sussex
SIR – Raj Ganguly (Letters, August 4) is scaremongering when he suggests that foreign businesses will shun Britain if we leave the EU. In fact they will have an additional incentive to invest here. In Britain they will be free of the petty and anti-business regulations that will remain in force in the residual EU. Trade will go on as before.
They will still be able to sell their British-made products in EU countries. The idea that a metaphorical Berlin Wall would be erected to separate us from our continental neighbours is preposterous.
Frank Tomlin
Billericay, Essex
The economic benefits of HS2 are minimal
SIR – Having read the interview with Nigel Wilson, Chief Executive of Legal & General (Business, August 4), I think this man should immediately be recruited as an advisor by David Cameron, to return some common sense to Government thinking on investment and infrastructure.
The HS2 project is a complete waste of money. Our islands are simply not large enough for the time saved to be economically worthwhile. Even if we could have 800 miles of high-speed rail lines from North to South, the time saved over our current trains would hardly be more than half an hour, and the “economic benefits” of saving that half hour are tiny.
As for saving 10-15 minutes on a journey from Manchester to London – on the one occasion in a million when those few minutes would prove important, charter a helicopter!
Robert M Berry
Epworth, North Lincolnshire
Arts funding
SIR – Your leading article (“The arts can flourish without state funding”, August 4) rather misinterprets Mark Ravenhill’s thoughtful speech. The point of arts funding is for the artist to take us wherever they will, as Keynes wrote – to places that surprise, delight, shock and challenge and that encompass every kind of bias or passion, political or otherwise.
As funders, we enable, not prescribe, and we are not obsessed by targets. Which is why funding at arm’s length from politics is a good thing, and why the arts here are lively.
Since 2010, the funding the Arts Council receives from taxation has been cut by 35 per cent in real terms. Our Lottery income complements our investment of Grant in aid, but cannot replace it.
We do not complain about cuts, but make the case for our uniquely British mixed funding model, which ensures that neither political nor private interests have undue influence – a danger Mr Ravenhill warns of, but which is not currently the case. Public investment is the bedrock that allows the arts to contribute to our quality of life and economy – the latter to the tune of £5.9 billion pounds a year.
Alan Davey
Chief Executive
Arts Council England
London SW1
Energy supply
SIR – The electricity supply scandal could be one of the most serious events to hit this country (“We could soon be paying billions for this wind back-up”, Opinion, August 4).
The National Grid has now come up with the answer to all our worries. In the event of wind turbines failing to deliver, thousands of diesel generators will spring into action up and down the country at the press of a button.
Just imagine the vast cost of all this planning to the consumer. What, in the name of sanity, do the Government think they are playing at?
Seamus Bestic
Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire
SIR – I wait with bated breath to hear from the eco experts that the way to improve wind turbine efficiency is to build fans adjacent to wind farms.
Brian Burton
Bala, Merioneth
Social workers
SIR – When social workers “miss the nut” (Opinion, August 4), this is most likely to be down to bad management and targets.
Like the police, their success is measured by the number of cases they deal with. It is far easier for the police to boost their figures by targeting motorists than to give adequate time to the more difficult cases.
With social workers, the cases they miss frequently involve violent, controlling males. No doubt it is so much easier to go after the softer targets, with less personal risk attached.
R Lindeck
Lancing, West Sussex
Badger cull
SIR – It is an inconsistent government policy that will allow a landowner such as Derbyshire County Council (Letters, July 28 and August 4) the liberty to pick and choose over a possible future badger cull on their land.
Farmers whose cattle fail a tuberculosis test are not afforded this choice. They have to be slaughtered. A proportion of these will prove to be negative.
We will need a serious unifying and mandatory policy to beat this debilitating disease which affects cattle and several species of wildlife.
Dickie Green
Bishopstone, Wiltshire
Child care brainwave
SIR – The Coalition’s proposals for child care vouchers to be given only to those households where both parents work has already stimulated an imaginative response.
Sharon and Tracy are two married sisters with children who, currently, do not work. Each has decided to set up a child care business: Sharon will look after Tracy’s children and Tracy will look after Sharon’s children. They think they will both be better off under this scheme and I have no reason to doubt them.
J Alan Smith
Epping, Essex
Dangerously empty
SIR – Oliver Pritchett (Lifestyle, August 4) asked who would move house and take the loo roll holder with them.
Friends with boys aged four and 10 bought a £400,000 house. Not only was there not a sheet of loo paper, but every light bulb had been removed, and incredibly (the vendors had family too) the battery had been removed from the smoke alarm.
Helen Davis
Bradpole, Dorset
Not again, Dad
SIR – I have found a solution to Lynne Truss’s sandal dilemma (Seven, August 4).
She should do as Dad does and wear socks. We still get the farty noises but have eliminated the footwear as a potential source.
Joanne Lawson-Chilcott
Portbury, Somerset
Remembering the First World War
SIR – The Sunday Telegraph should be commended for the work it has done to highlight the plight of hundreds of monuments in urgent need of repair in time for the centenary of the First World War, and on its publication of a photograph showing what Folkestone memorial arch will look like on completion (report, August 4). Ten million men went through the town to embark from the port to the Western front, and so many never came back.
The arch is uncannily like the iconic St Louis Arch on the banks of the Mississippi which is 630ft high and known as the Gateway to the West. This symbolises something rather different: the great pioneers seeking their fortune.
Derek Cowan
Straiton, Midlothian
SIR – A year from now, this country will be marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. We will mark it, we will commemorate it but one thing we will not do is celebrate it. This morning on BBC radio this is the word I heard. I hope it will be the last time.
Judith Evans
Liss, Hampshire
Shorts story
SIR – It’s what one wears with shorts that is the key (“The long and the shorts of it”, report, August 4). Everyone, with the possible exception of David Cameron, featured in your piece looked scruffy because of what else they were wearing: t-shirts (never a good look) with no shoes, or trainers!
Tailored, well-made shorts, with a pressed shirt (Oxford cotton) and a pair of loafers is a great summer look on men of all shapes and sizes.
Bharat Jashanmal
Fairford, Gloucestershire
SIR – The editor of Esquire claimed that “most Englishmen have pale, skinny, chicken legs which are not a pleasant thing to force on other people” (report, August 4). This is nonsense –my husband, an English gentleman, has great legs; they are well tanned with an excellent muscle structure, so shorts are definitely for him. I am very proud to walk with him along the beach or down to our local pub on a summer’s evening.
I will continue to encourage him to wear shorts as he approaches his 80th birthday next year.
Anne Hales
Oulton Park, Cheshire

Irish Times:

Sir, – Your Editorial (“Dealing with drink”, August 2nd) makes for depressing reading for the many people in Ireland who are hoping for Government action aimed at tackling alcohol misuse – one of the most serious social problems facing the country at this time. As you correctly pointed out, the core issue relates to the fact that the drinks industry in Ireland continues to target the young and impressionable by linking sport and physical prowess with alcohol consumption. You also note it is five years since a government task force recommended, among other measures, a ban on outdoor advertising and a phasing out of sports sponsorship by the drinks industry; but it will be at least 2020 before the process of phasing out sports sponsorship is completed.
It beggars belief that the drinks industry is still allowed to stymie an action that would help to protect the most vulnerable citizens. In contrast to other nations that have taken measures to protect their populations by curtailing the promotion of alcohol, successive Irish governments have shied away from taking action on an issue that is of central importance to the lives of its citizens.
The World Health Organisation recently pointed to the fact that the OECD countries that impose a ban on alcohol advertising have significantly lower alcohol consumption and lower numbers of traffic fatalities than countries that do not impose advertising restrictions. Yet, in a year in which drink-related traffic accidents among young people are on the increase, our Government continues to bow to the dictates of a very powerful industry.
Between now and 2020, how many more young people will die as a result of traffic accidents and how many will be disabled for life; how many will be killed or injured as a result of drink-related violence; how many children will be scarred psychologically by drink-related domestic violence? For a Government that prides itself on “grasping nettles”, it might be time to ponder on these questions. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – The Labour TDs who wrote to your newspaper (August 2nd) that they were not “austerity junkies”, and the many supportive responses this statement has provoked, raises an interesting question for opponents of “austerity”.
The Government strategy to date has been aimed at not increasing an already catastrophic budget deficit but managing it downwards, preferably with as little damage to social cohesion as possible. Opponents of what is called “austerity” rarely spell out a realistic alternative.
If we discount fantasies of pots of untapped revenue gold out there, the only alternative is increasing the national debt and the budget deficit. There is the much repeated refrain: “Austerity doesn’t work”. But it now seems that the opponents of “austerity” actually don’t believe this themselves. As the Labour TDs put it, they were not “austerity junkies”, but would “do as much austerity as is needed to secure recovery”. Is this an admission that “austerity” – if admittedly only a certain amount of it – does work after all? – Yours, etc,

A chara, – While Pat Mullen (August 9th) is technically correct in stating that Ireland is part of what some refer to as the “British Isles”, his letter seems to suggest that he misses the point of the objection made by Keith Nolan (August 7th).
It is not a question of whether or not Ireland is among these islands, but rather a question of whether or not one is happy to prolong the use of this anachronistic and offensive term, which even our own Government, itself hardly a bastion of nationalism, does not recognise.
I suspect that Mr Mullen is perfectly aware of this, notwithstanding his mischievous attempt to hide behind semantics. – Is mise,
Sir, – Once again a public transport initiative announced for Dublin and the surrounding counties (Home News, August 8th) by a so-called “national body”, which really should be renamed the Pale transport authority because its remit appears to be for this area only.
Certainly over half a million people living in Cork do not count, as the so-called public transport here is poor outdated and not fit for purpose.
There won’t be any “national” announcements to rectify this blatant disregard and second-class treatment of a sizeable number of this so-called Republic’s citizens.
We are only good for paying our taxes to ensure the Pale always gets the best of everything, while we here in Cork have to endure poor roads,poor street lighting and a lack of meaningful investment by this and previous governments.
Those who fought for our freedom did not give their lives so we could be a country where one area gets preferential treatment over everybody else. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – It was with mixed, but largely pleasant, emotions that I read Frank McNally’s account of his recent (re)visit to Gaughan’s pub in Ballina (An Irishman’s Diary, August 1st).
My experience of this incomparable establishment pre-dates Frank’s by a couple of decades. For five or six years in the 1970s I plied my trade in Ballina and came to know Gaughan’s as a pre-eminent model of an Irish public house. I would not describe myself as a “regular” during those years but as a frequent visitor, who often drank “not wisely but too well”! The premises at that time was presided over by Edward’s indomitable mother, who ruled the place with a genial but very firm hand, ensuring that atmosphere of ease and conviviality which gave the Irish pub its international (if illusory) reputation.
At that time Edward was just beginning his career and quickly established himself as a landlord of warm welcome, cordial authority, and firm control. One of the courtesies Edward offered, as a supplement to the sale of a wide range of plug, cut, and rubbed tobacco to the discerning pipe smokers of the town, was a free pipe-cleaning. This facility could not be asked for but, if offered, was always accepted with alacrity. While the pint of plain was settling (always room temperature; icy stout was a futuristic nightmare), Edward would vigorously ream your bowl and thoroughly cleanse your stem so that enjoyment of the pint was immeasurably enhanced by a sweet smoke.
Time is a thief of pleasure: friendships and acquaintances fade and disintegrate; but time cannot diminish the recollection of companionable cheer and edifying conversation in this oasis of tranquillity. May I, through your columns, wish Edward Gaughan a happy and long retirement, and tip my cap, across the decades, to those whose company made the experience of Gaughan’s instructive and unforgettable . – Yours, etc,

Irish Independent:

Madam – The undoubtedly flawed Irish State nonetheless set up four independent, public tribunals [Beef, McCracken, Moriarty, Mahon] to examine allegations of systematic corruption involving elected representatives, and also commissioned four independent judicial reports into gross abuse of power and children by the Roman Catholic Church.
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This State also investigated allegations of Donegal Division Garda corruption, and the Smithwick Tribunal is ongoing, in contrast to the failure of the State to investigate the founding, funding and arming of the Provisional IRA under Haughey and Blaney in 1970.
The Church rulers, however, while themselves committed to not only preach but also to live and exemplify values such as truth, justice, love and peace, did no such thing, set up no enquiry, and key elements among them even tried to delay or frustrate the judicial enquiries.
No children were raped by any corrupt politicians. None tried to conceal rape of children or protect serial rapists. No police officers were murdered or maimed – on either side of the border – by the 14 politicians named by Mahon. No citizens, North or South, were kidnapped, tortured, maimed or murdered by those 14.
In 2013, do Irish politicians deserve more censure or suspicion than bishops [including the one in Rome], or the godfathers of terror – or bankers – all of them still characterised by total secrecy, absolute power, and absence of accountability?
And in the case of bankers, Provos and bishops, still free to reign, and hold on to their buried assets, in spite of their semi-exposed betrayal of our people and values.
Tom Carew,
Ranelagh, Dublin, 6
Sunday Independent
Madam – I refer to Colum Kenny’s article, ‘Monuments to our national lack of self-respect litter the country’. (Sunday Independent, Aug. 4, 2013).
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Mr Kenny is angry and so am I. With him and the sub-editors who were responsible for such a biased and negative piece of journalism.
Let me start with where I agree with Mr Kenny. It is a total disgrace that Yeats’s Tower is deserted and overgrown. That this is true is testimony to the lack of cultural respect (not to mention lack of commercial sense) of whoever is responsible for this.
He is also right about the condition of O’Connell Street and Parnell Street, despite the best efforts of Dublin City Council.
However, we have some of the most beautiful city parks in Europe. Ardgillan Castle, Newbridge House, Malahide Castle, Marlay Park, Bushy Park, Herbert Park are beautiful places, so well looked after by the local authorities in Dublin and respected by the citizens too. No doubt there are many others of which I am not aware.
On the day before Mr Kenny’s article appeared 30 amateur footballers from Dublin and Cork provided superb entertainment to over 70,000 people in Croke Park. Where else in the world would you get this?
I don’t have a sense of self-loathing and I’d appreciate it if Mr Kenny or your sub-editors didn’t attribute it to me, or to anyone else.
In fact I am so proud to be a Dubliner and to be Irish. With all its faults, I wouldn’t live anywhere else.
Declan O’Donoghue,
Artane, Dublin 5
Madam – I couldn’t agree more with Colum Kenny’s contentions about the sense of decay and self-loathing one gets when walking through Dublin’s city centre.
Is there no one in Dublin City Council with eyes that see? One only has to look at the premier street in our so-called fair city to wonder if DCC ever employed people with proper eyesight to begin with. It is heartbreaking to look at photographs of Dublin city centre from as late as the Fifties before DCC allowed the wrecking ball to lay waste to O’Connell Street.
DCC initiated a ‘One City, One Book’ campaign to acquaint citizens with their literary heritage by promoting James Joyce’s Dubliners as the book to read in 2012. In keeping with that aspiration I wrote to the city fathers suggesting they might erect an electronic book of Ulysses in the city centre and possibly along the route that Leopold Bloom took on his odyssey through Dublin city. They could employ it rather like the Book of Kells turning one page at a time each day. This, I thought, might also act as a tourist attraction. The reply I received still stiffens my heart: “There’s enough clutter in O’Connell Street,” it said.
That there’s clutter in O’Connell Street is undoubtedly true but to equate Joyce’s masterpiece with unctuous burger joints, vulgar gaming emporiums, the architectural carbuncles at the northern end of the street that are the former telecom building, the CIE building, the county council offices (now closed), and that homage to Dublin’s drug culture (the Spire) takes an imagination that I thought only the Taliban were capable of.
Eddie Naughton,
The Coombe, Dublin 8
Madam – Eoghan Harris (Sunday Independent, July 28, 2013) denies the neutral status of the Irish State. According to him, “We are not neutral: We are non-aligned”. But we are also non-belligerent. Ireland has never made war externally.
Your columnist may miss the point. Non-alignment (no alliances) together with non-belligerence (no wars) equates to military neutrality.
Although Bunreacht na hEireann never mentions military neutrality, it underpins neutralist values. Thus, Article 29 alludes to the “pacific (ie non-military) settlement of international disputes”. Hence a constitutional commitment to the “ideal, for peace”.
JA Barnwell,
Dublin 9
Sunday Independent


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