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Letters «TheGuardian»

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Mon, 10 Dec 2018 06:37:05 GMT
Letters | The Guardian
Latest Letters news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice [ + ]
Mon, 10 Dec 2018 05:55:35 GMT
We call on Labour to back remain | Letter

Politicians, campaigners and union members say that the ‘anti-working-class disaster that is Brexit’ must be stopped

With Theresa May’s deal likely to be defeated on Tuesday, and a number of key parliamentary blocs losing confidence in the Tory government, we are facing a period of political crisis and upheaval, and a general election looks increasingly possible.

As Labour members and supporters, we want our party to fight in the months ahead, including in any general election campaign, to stop the anti-working-class disaster that is Brexit.

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Sun, 09 Dec 2018 17:47:07 GMT
Tackling fuel poverty would cut winter deaths and costs to the NHS | Letters
Readers discuss ways to ease the pressures on the NHS, including the role played by volunteers

The appalling statistics on excess winter deaths in England and Wales (Last winter’s NHS crisis worst since 1976, with 50,000 excess winter deaths – ONS, 1 December) demonstrate the extreme hardship so many people face living in our dreadful, leaky homes during cold weather. For every death, probably five people had emergency admissions to hospital and 27 had additional visits to their GPs. The cost to the health service is enormous. If you could afford to keep warm, the effect of influenza would not be so serious.

There have been three recent reports from the government or its advisers setting targets to deal with the problem of the poorest people living in the least energy-efficient housing. But the rhetoric on fuel poverty is not matched by adequate policies. Worse still, no government money is going into making these leaky homes more energy efficient – that task is left to the utilities.

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Sun, 09 Dec 2018 17:46:55 GMT
Act now to prevent an environmental catastrophe | Letter
100 academics, authors, politicians and campaigners from across the world call for action to address climate change

In our complex, interdependent global ecosystem, life is dying, with species extinction accelerating. The climate crisis is worsening much faster than previously predicted. Every single day 200 species are becoming extinct. This desperate situation can’t continue.

Political leaders worldwide are failing to address the environmental crisis. If global corporate capitalism continues to drive the international economy, global catastrophe is inevitable.

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Sun, 09 Dec 2018 17:46:40 GMT
Brexit: the road to Norway is a dead end | Letters
Joining the EEA and Efta is no solution, says Paul Tattam, and Peter Neville highlights differences between the May and Chamberlain governments

If, as Simon Jenkins writes, “all roads lead to Norway” (Opinion, 7 December), we’d better inform ourselves about the nature of the destination and the European Economic Area (EEA) and European Free Trade Association (Efta) that Norway belongs to.

Would we control inward migration from the EU? No, because Norway is part of the EU single market.

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Sun, 09 Dec 2018 17:46:09 GMT
Asylum seekers must be allowed to work | Letter
Banning asylum seekers from working doesn’t make economic sense, says Catherine West MP

Banning asylum seekers from working is not only a great social injustice, it’s economically illiterate. An asylum seeker receives £5.39 a day to live on – an allowance that needs to cover clothing, transport, food, personal hygiene and often the cost of their asylum application.

Last month’s Equality and Human Rights Commission report revealed the shocking reality asylum seekers are being forced to choose between medicine and food – a chilling vision which has no place in civil society and should be consigned to the pages of a Dickensian novel.

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Sun, 09 Dec 2018 17:45:42 GMT
Don’t give up – lefties are not such a rarity | Brief letters
Technical education | Hope for lefties | First woman to host Question Time | David Szalay | Monarchy referendum

There is a direct correlation between immigration and the loss of places in technical education (Letters, 8 December). Go to any building site and many of the workers are immigrants. If we are not training plumbers, electricians, bricklayers, carpenters etc then of course builders are going to employ foreign workers. There is probably a connection with rising crime rates. If non-academic young people are not given skills for employment, it is hardly surprising if they turn to crime.
Val Spouge
Great Notley, Essex

• Further to Jill Wallis’s letter (8 December), my parents lived in a bungalow for over 20 years in Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire, and were avid readers of the Guardian, with my father a card-carrying member of the Labour party from the age of 23. My advice is to definitely stand for the local council, ensuring electors know exactly what you are standing for in regard to the council’s housing policies. Don’t give up. There are other “lefties” out there.
Jacqueline Angell
Letchworth Garden City, Hertforshire

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Sun, 09 Dec 2018 16:31:15 GMT
Letters: Monica Sims obituary

was wonderfully receptive to programme ideas outside the usual formats. I was keen to bring John Gielgud’s great fund of theatrical stories to a national audience, and proposed taking him into the radio studio every day for a fortnight to get them all down on the record.

When my producer colleague John Powell took the proposal to her, Monica accepted it immediately, and the 11-part series was so popular that we had publishers queueing up to turn the broadcasts into a book. That led to my new career as a theatrical biographer. So I will always be enormously grateful to Monica for her faith in that unusual idea.
John Miller

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Sun, 09 Dec 2018 05:59:07 GMT
Stressed teachers need more support | Letters
Teachers aren’t averse to carrying out parental duties in principle – but only if they are given training and resources

Amanda Spielman states that teachers “shouldn’t have to carry out parental duties” (“Schools can’t be substitute parents, warns Ofsted chief”, News).

When I started teaching in London 50 years ago, thousands of teachers were shouting that from the rooftops.

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Fri, 07 Dec 2018 17:00:21 GMT
Grave concern for electoral monitors facing jail in Spain | Letter
More than 400 academics in the fields of political science, law and other disciplines express their worries that electoral monitors in Spain are being threatened with jail over their role in Catalonia’s independence referendum

Following the decision of four Catalan political prisoners to go on hunger strike (Report,, 4 December), we write to draw attention to the plight of many others who remain under the radar of international attention. As academics in the fields of political science, law and other disciplines, we are particularly concerned about the decision by the Spanish judiciary to prosecute two political science scholars and two law scholars based at three different universities in Barcelona. The four academics, (Jordi Matas, Tània Verge, Marc Marsal and Josep Pagès) along with a lawyer (Marta Alsina) were appointed members of the electoral commission in September 2017 by the parliament of Catalonia to monitor the 1 October 2017 referendum.

Even though the Spanish constitutional court forced them to resign through fines of €12,000 per person for each day that they remained in their position, the Spanish judiciary has charged the electoral monitors with the offences of “disobedience” and “usurpation of functions” and they are facing the very real possibility of up to two years and nine months in prison.

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Fri, 07 Dec 2018 16:44:15 GMT
Further education sector has been failed across the board | Letters
Readers respond to Polly Toynbee’s article about skills training in Britain

Polly Toynbee (Britain’s skills failure gives the lie to May’s migration pledge, 4 December) laments the damage that has been done to the further education (FE) sector through funding cuts, neglect and lip service to its importance, on the part of successive governments.

She is right. As a former FE principal for 13 years, I well remember the promises of successive secretaries of state, from Kenneth Baker on, that the time had come for Cinderella (FE colleges) to go to the ball. Although this always proved to be empty rhetoric, FE colleges, particularly after incorporation in 1993, often conspired in undermining their own position.

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Fri, 07 Dec 2018 16:40:48 GMT
Brexit is about more than immigration | Letters
John Whitley says anger over austerity should be directed against the UK government, and Danny Tanzey thinks simplistic explanations do not apply here

Dan Rainey letter (6 December) on immigration accurately reflects some of the perceptions about immigration. But perceptions are not evidence when they are not supported by facts. Most studies show that immigration has not reduced wage levels and has actually increased economic activity since immigrants are typically younger and pay more in taxes than they take out in benefits.

The lack of housing is not from extra demand from immigrants but rather a decade-long failure of housing policy to increase the number of homes available. More importantly, the reason why incomes of the average worker have stagnated is not immigration but the effects of austerity. Immigration is the wrong target.

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Fri, 07 Dec 2018 16:38:08 GMT
Making good progress towards a more diverse magistracy | Letters
John Bache of the Magistrates Association says good progress has been made, but James Keely sounds a note of caution regarding coroners

While 7% of the judiciary as a whole is from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background (Police, military and courts lagging decades behind on ethnic diversity, 6 December), the equivalent figure for magistrates is higher, at 12%. This reflects progress – in the last decade the proportion of magistrates who are from BAME backgrounds has increased from 7% – and is particularly important given that magistrates deal with more than 90% of all criminal cases.

We should not, however, be in any way complacent. There is still significant work to do to improve diversity and recent progress will not necessarily be sustained without ongoing work to ensure that opportunities to become a magistrate are advertised to everyone. This requires a proactive approach that ensures that the role of the magistracy and the benefits of becoming a magistrate are widely understood, and that specific activity is undertaken to actively engage underrepresented groups.

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Fri, 07 Dec 2018 16:29:44 GMT
Profound and prosaic uses for the iPhone | Brief letters
Turner prize | Bad sex | Cornish literature | Housing crisis | Dr Wendy Atkin | Corbyn’s cunning Brexit plan

I was interested to read that the chair of the Turner prize judges has declared winner Charlotte Prodger’s work the “most profound use of a device as prosaic as the iPhone camera that we’ve seen in art to date” (Video clips shot using an iPhone win Turner prize, 5 December). I am finding my iPhone very useful for holding down the wrapping paper on the Christmas presents, when I need both hands to wrangle the sticky tape into submission. Does this use count as profound or prosaic?
Fiona Collins
Carrog, Denbighshire

• I thought of an answer to Sian Cain’s question “Bad sex: why do only famous white men get to write about it?’’ (Opinion, 5 December). In my experience, and that of many of my women friends, few men have any notion of what good sex for a woman might mean. This might affect male literary endeavour. Moreover, vis-a-vis your Bias in Britain series, presumably fewer non-white male authors are getting published. Voila!
Pippa Richardson

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Fri, 07 Dec 2018 15:07:21 GMT
Children with respiratory conditions face a twofold threat this winter | Letter
Paediatric wards could soon be filled with wheezing, spluttering children who are struggling to battle cold weather and toxic air, say health experts

As our NHS prepares itself for a winter crisis of hospital bed shortages and emergency admissions, it is our mandate to flag an issue that is continually overlooked. We know that the elderly are susceptible to ill health caused by the drop in temperatures, but the impact on young children with respiratory conditions, such as asthma, is often disregarded.

Admissions for people with respiratory conditions almost double during the winter – and the majority of those admitted are young children. The UK is home to more children suffering from respiratory conditions than anywhere else in Europe. Emergency admissions and mortality rates linked to these conditions are also the highest: a child experiencing an asthma attack is admitted to hospital every 20 minutes.

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Wed, 28 Jan 2015 12:09:16 GMT
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