SIR – Sir Keir Starmer has insisted that Britain will not diverge from EU regulations if Labour wins power at the next general election – in order to avoid conflict (report, September 22).
I wonder how his conversation with President Macron progressed when he suggested that the EU might follow some British rules and standards.
I suspect the idea never entered his head as a possibility – which gives us a good idea as to how any negotiations with the EU would unfold with Sir Keir in charge.
East Grinstead, West Sussex
SIR – Sir Keir Starmer may deny it, but I fear there is a very real possibility that Britain will seek to rejoin the EU should he become prime minister.
The Labour leader is considering giving votes to EU nationals and 16-year-olds. That’s over 4 million votes. Both categories are more likely to be pro Labour and the EU; in a referendum or election they would overturn the previous majority in favour of Brexit.
SIR – Am I confused? On the one hand we are informed that after Brexit no one takes any notice of the UK. On the other, the Prime Minister makes an adjustment to the timing of implementation of green policies and we are told that all the world is taking notice as we have so much influence.
Lionel H Judd
SIR – Julian Jessop is deluded if he thinks Brexit isn’t to blame for our economic woes (“Inflation, Remainers’ last argument against Brexit, is now crumbling”, Comment, September 21).
Without London the UK is poorer than Mississippi. It may not all be Brexit, but it scuppered our talent supply chain, leaving fruit unpicked and lorries undriven.
SIR – I join Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, in highlighting the wrong policy of the West towards Iran (“The Iranian regime is primed for total collapse”, Comment, September 17).
In Britain, our Government’s failure to proscribe the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, while targeting other groups such as Wagner, demonstrates a clear double standard. The Government is aware of the IRGC’s terrorist nature, as confirmed by the head of MI5.
Living in London has become unsafe for activists like me. The Government must not wait for tragedy to strike before acting against the IRGC. Its proscription is long overdue.
The IRGC’s involvement in human rights abuses, as well as the export of terrorism and crisis worldwide, is evident through its activities in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Ukraine. Despite cross-party parliamentary support, the Government’s resistance to proscribing the IRGC only emboldens terrorists, signalling a continuation of its failed appeasement policy towards Iran’s bloodthirsty regime.
The word mother
SIR – The General Medical Council has removed the word mother from its staff maternity guidance (report, September 17).
For the millions of women who have endured multiple miscarriages, stillbirths and fertility treatment, the word mother is the most precious gift that can be bestowed on them. No amount of pandering to a tiny, vociferous minority is going to take that privilege away.
SIR – Daniel Hannan rightly castigates the present Government for giving handouts to several charities – some of which have controversial objectives (“The Conservatives have become a party of handouts – including to their greatest enemies”, Comment, September 3). He then defines its “proper functions” as providing “defence, policing, education and a welfare safety net”. I would suggest a simpler, but more all-encompassing, definition would be “to provide public services” – which individuals cannot provide for themselves.
Central government should provide, and pay for, nationwide services; local government should provide and pay for local services. But in both cases, it is our money that they are spending (having collected it by taxation). If we want good public services, we must be prepared to pay for them. But we expect them to be run efficiently, and not see our hard-earned cash wasted.
Today too much money is wasted on burdensome bureaucracies that obstruct rather than assist front-line professional workers who are trying to do their jobs. It surely cannot have escaped the notice of our leaders that all the recent strikes have been by front-line public-service workers.
The Government has intimated that these are all about pay; but this is only partly true. Certainly, over many years, pay has fallen behind private-sector pay, and inflation has compounded the struggle; but strikes have also been about an inability to provide proper, safe services to the public.
SIR – I can reassure Howard Stephens (Letters, September 17) that some cyclists do have bells – and use them.
I have had one for many years, as well as a wing mirror fitted to my handlebar. I frequently use my bell, very gently, just to let people know that I am coming up behind them, before wishing them a cheery “good morning” and explaining that I wanted to alert them to my presence.
One day a lady thanked me profusely, having recovered from the shock of me suddenly appearing at her side. She said she heard my bell and wondered what the lovely noise was. At least I tried.
SIR – Most bicycles for hire, like Lime bikes, have no bells. The Highway Code only recommends that bells are fitted on bicycles.
Jeremy Vine makes demands on motorists daily but is silent on the dangers of cyclists who overtake pedestrians without advance warning. The cycling revolution has hit us, but is unaccompanied by education.
SIR – I agree that a bell should be a legal requirement on bicycles. Like many other families in the late 1950s and early 1960s, my parents refused to allow me to cycle on the road until I had passed my cycling proficiency test. I still have the certificate.
Market Drayton, Shropshire
SIR – I live in a rural benefice that has five parishes (seven until two combined recently), eight churches and one congregation that meets and worships in a village hall (Letters, September 17).
The churches are cold with minimal heating and in most cases have neither lavatories nor cooking facilities. The village hall is warm and comfortable and has lavatories and a well-equipped kitchen. Yet a disproportionate amount of effort is made by our incumbents and largely elderly congregations to maintain the ancient churches – to the detriment of efforts to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19).
We are told that these churches are part of our national heritage. Surely it would be better if they were handed over to English Heritage to be maintained.
We are supposed to have a full-time, salaried rector with a house-for-duty priest. Both have just left, and we may face an interregnum of a year or so. When I challenged an archdeacon on this, referring to a nearby parish in an adjacent diocese that seems able to cut these waits to a couple of weeks, I was told rather sharply that “we don’t do that sort of thing in this diocese”.
Corfe Castle, Dorset
SIR – Even if the vast majority of parish churches are unsustainable, as Chris Learmont-Hughes claims (Letters, September 17), many would become sustainable if they were relieved of the diocesan burden and their clergy paid enough to live on.
Donald R Clarke
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Protecting rugby players from head injuries
SIR – A lot of professional thought is going into head protection for rugby players, and a detailed specification exists for a head guard without a hard outer shell that would discourage the use of the head in contact and avoid the associated shock transmission to the brain stem and high spine. Esteemed scientific establishments like Imperial College London, along with manufacturers, have been involved in ongoing developments.
In the 1960s, the Jockey Club faced a similar problem with accumulative brain damage and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. It put together an experienced team and came up with the design of the jockey skull as we now know it. The risk assessment was different, as racing incidents usually involved a heavy blow from a fall followed by a rolling horse compression and sharp penetrating impacts from a horse shoe. In rugby “soft” shock-absorbing padding will help, though there will still be brain movement from big tackles with no head contact.
Perhaps the RFU should also look at substitution laws, as the huge bulk of some forwards cannot be carried through 80 minutes of play, and to change a whole front five means fatigued opposition players could be at greater risk.
West Wickham, Kent
SIR – I trust that broadcasters will choose to continue to transmit religious programmes in the future (“The end could be nigh for religious shows”, report, September 22).
Many people who may be unable to attend church regularly rely, for instance, on Songs of Praise on Sunday afternoon for their worship.
Commercial success is not the ultimate measure of broadcasting merit. The viewing public expect a far-reaching schedule of programmes, including on religion, international affairs and science, to balance the current trend towards a diet of quizzes, cooking, dating and repeats.
SIR – How we would all welcome it if the BBC were to make such gems again as War and Peace (the Anthony Hopkins one), Civilisation, The World at War (produced by Thames Television), I, Claudius, and Pride and Prejudice.
No mumbling, no music over speech, good lighting, fine scholarship – first class.
Floyd in the field
SIR – During training at Mons Officer Cadet School, we were on exercise on Dartmoor living in slit trenches when the smell of glorious cooking (Letters, September 17) wafted across from a trench some yards away.
It was inhabited by Keith Floyd, who had the same one-man compo pack of dried food as the rest of us, but he had added his secret ingredients of onions and marmite.
It made the difference between inedible and edible.
North Woodchester, Gloucestershire
SIR – In the RAF in the 1950s, complaints about food were rare but not unheard of. Butter at breakfast was often only available at weekends, and one Sunday morning a recruit who was given only margarine complained to the orderly officer.
“Stand up, airman,” barked the old sweat of a sergeant who accompanied the orderly officer, “and recite the Lord’s Prayer to the officer.”
“Please, sir,” stumbled the complainant, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name ... give us this day our daily bread and –”
“That’s right, lad,” said the sergeant. “Says b----- all about butter – get on with your breakfast.”
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