A foreigner’s perspective on integration
Letter of the Week: Mrs Anna B Briggs (nee Sieroslawski), Dewsbury
Following comments about immigration on last week’s BBC Question Time programme from Wakefield, I thought it was time someone gave an opinion from a foreigner’s perspective.
My parents and grandfather settled here after World War Two, fleeing the Communist regime which had imprisoned both male members of our family and taken over our native Poland.
Unfortunately, we did not live near the Polish community in Dewsbury, so our only contact was confined to Sunday mass, Saturday Polish school, at which mum taught, the odd concert and annual outing. Surrounded by British neighbours, we spoke fluently and were fully literate in the English language. So you would think we were classed as fully integrated? But this was not the case, we were not accepted, merely tolerated, and there were times when we were still ‘b****y foreigners’. We played with English children when outside or in school, but their parents did not encourage the formation of closer friendships.
We were isolated, having a support system in the form of relatives or the friendship of cousins, but we survived to become strong, well-rounded individuals.
Panellists on previous programmes extolled the value of immigrants and how they enriched British society.
The audience would applaud in agreement – yet scratch the surface and the intolerance is still evident. Maybe you disagree with my comments, but first ask yourself would you a) like to live next door to a foreigner; b) invite them into your home; c) allow your children to befriend theirs or d) form a romantic relationship or even marry? If your answer to all or most of the questions is no, then it’s you who are intolerant and have no wish to integrate.
The gentleman who made the comment that he and others felt intimidated by the influx of foreign-speaking children and parents who came to his school could so easily lead by example and instead teach his pupils to respect and tolerate others.
Why study the ‘soft subjects’
From: Mr KR Dransfield, Mirfield
As a former physics teacher, I just cannot understand why so many young people are studying ‘soft subjects’, such as media studies, sports science and some of the ‘ologies’, on three-year courses at inferior universities.
There is a difference between a degree in the above, to one in maths, applied physics, engineering, chemistry or architecture etc, from such as Leeds University, Manchester, Sheffield, Durham etc, to a degree in media studies from Teeside, Central Lancashire, North East Lincolnshire (Grimsby), or Sunderland.
The first ones would give a very good job chance at the end of it; the second often leads to a job in a call centre or catering.
Both will incur debts of around £30,000-£40,000.
One ex-pupil of mine said he would have done the course in a year, never mind three.
Many ingredients of success are common focus, determination, endurance and some luck.
I know two pupils who left school without a single qualification and are now millionaires.
A good book is “What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School”, for budding entrepreneurs.
“EDUCATION! EDUCATION! EDUCATION!” was the cry from Tony Blair’s government, partly to keep the dreadful youth unemployment figures as low as possible.
Thousands of youngsters joined the ‘Uni’ generation, no matter what they studied.
The sad thing is that many parents couldn’t advise because they couldn’t understand the pros and cons.
No tolerance of criticism
From: R Spreadbury, Liversedge
With regard to recent events worldwide, UK-wide and on our doorstep, I have concluded that something creepingly insidious is taking place.
This is how criticism is somehow becoming non-PC and unacceptable.
This is another unhealthy hidden consequence of social media.
The internet spawned ‘Godwin's Law’ (or Godwin’s rule of Hitler analogies), an internet adage asserting that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1”. That is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Hitler.
This has spilled out into society in general and in so doing has morphed into making general criticism of anything unacceptable, by the fact that someone will compare someone or something to a range of terms which have now become demonised. For example:
Criticism of any aspect of a culture – racist;
Criticism of radical feminist ideas – misogynist;
Expressing a pride in England and Britishness – fascist;
Expressing a desire for independence and national sovereignty – xenophobic;
Expressing disquiet over the increasing influence of LGBT values – homophobic;
Risque banter between adult males and females – misogynistic, again.
If you notice all these terms are most frequently used by left-wing commentators in an attempt to shut down criticism by getting into the collective psyche, that criticism is somehow wrong, and to be stamped out.
This zealous censorship has now taken hold with the social media-savvy youth, student unions, Momentum, etc.
To this end, socialism has lost its way.
We are now left with two choices:
1 Jeremy Corbyn’s reinvented Communist Utopia, where all the above nasty words will no longer need to be used because we will all think and behave the ‘right’ way.
2 What looks like a resurrected New Labour, led by a rehabilitated Toxic Tony (now he has made enough millions from exploiting his Whatsapp contact list of despots).
Unless there are some socialists left out there who have the guts to join the Sensible Socialist Party, UKIP should have no problem storming to victory in the next election. Unless of course they are completely useless.
Or else it’s socialism RIP.
I’m worried about Donald
From: Robert Cowan, Sandal
As 2017 draws ever closer, and with it Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th President of the USA, I am left wondering what political shambles and crises may lie ahead for America and the wider world in the New Year.
Setting aside Trump’s misogyny, Islamophobia, impulsiveness and propensity to deal in insult – to mention but a few of his shortcomings – I think we have every right to be worried that the next arguably most powerful man on the planet is one who has never held any political office and whose grasp of diplomacy and foreign affairs appears at best to be rudimentary.
His inexperience in political protocal and international affairs was starkly illustrated recently when, in accepting a congratulatory phone call from the Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen, he apparently broached subjects such as domestic economy and defence matters with her and addressed her as ‘President’.
In making this communication, the first between a US President-elect and a Taiwanese leader since diplomatic relations between the two countries were severed in 1979 and thus indicating a possible policy change, Trump has undoubtedly angered mainland China, which regards Taiwan as nothing more than a renegade province to be reunited eventually with the mainland.
Indeed, friction between mainland China, known as The People's Republic of China, and Taiwan, whose formal name is The Republic of China, is so great and America’s policy towards the ‘two Chinas’ so intensely scrutinised, that some political pundits believe the likeliest cause of a war between China and America could be some crisis or other involving Taiwan.
Whether Trump’s telephone conversation with Tsai Ing-wen turns out to be a mere faux pas or a political blunder of historic proportions, remains to be seen.
Either way, it is clear that as he takes on the mantle of US President, Donald Trump will need to surround himself with the finest experts in international relations if he is to avoid further potentially dangerous gaffes.
More to the Castro story
From: John Appleyard, Liversedge
Danny Lockwood (Ed Lines, December 1) tells a small part of the story regarding Castro and Cuba.
Before Castro took power, Cuba was run by Fulgencio Batista’s corrupt and dictatorial regime, a centre of Mafia gangsterism and known as ‘the whorehouse of the Caribbean’.
Even the US Government stopped providing support for a dictator it feared was going to fall.
Castro’s small army which entered Havana in 1959 had the support of all social classes in Cuba, but Castro couldn’t support one class without antagonising the other. He was doomed to failure.
On the positive side, he brought about land reform, the provision of a welfare state, health care and an improvement of literacy.
Cuba was dominated by US industries and when they refused him the right to sell cheap oil to the Soviet Union, he nationalised them.
The US tried many times to have him assassinated and we had the build-up to what became known as the Cuban Missile Crisis, which is the nearest we have ever been to a nuclear war.
On the negative side, Castro can be seen as a ruler of a repressive and unequal society, but that has never stopped democracies in the west propping up the brutal Saudi regime and others as they do today.
Prince Harry observed a minute’s silence on hearing of Castro’s death, Brits live in Cuba and holiday there…does that make them fascists?
I don’t think so, Danny!
Vexed about council costs
From: Mr KS Parkinson, Dewsbury
People are concerned about Kirklees Council’s inability to run the children’s services properly.
An independent investigation reported in The Press last week revealed ‘widespread poor practice’. The result? £450,000 of taxpayers’ money to bring in better staff from outside.
Aren’t massive salaries enough to attract sensible, capable staff?
If chief executive Adrian Lythgo is on approximately £200,000 per year, and, say, five lesser souls are on £50,000 per year, that’s a grand total of £450,000 – the same as the new expenditure!
My knowledge of how councils operate is only what I read, and I hope it stays that way because it makes me very vexed!
I do remember though, in my grammar school days, the strugglers in the lower echelons of the class seemed to go after jobs in local government.
I wonder why?
Manage the money better
From: Arthur Roberts, Dewsbury
Generally it is successive governments, both Labour and Conservative/Lib Dems who bring on most of the problems we have today.
Are they ever going to get elementary things right?
We keep hearing cries from the NHS and councils that they need more money.
Managing the money they get already in a sensible manner would be a good start. Not long ago there were massive adverts in newspapers for politically-correct new jobs with giant salaries, and councils wonder why they are needing more funds.
If there were no benefits for people who have come to this ‘soft touch’ country of ours over the last 50 years, and who have hardly ever worked, the huge amounts running into billions would solve a lot of problems.
The figure would run into tens of billions which, I’m sure, would give senior citizens (OAPs), who have worked, say over 40 years, double the amount of state pension they get now, and well deserved too!
Have your say on Local Plan
From: David Hallas, Birstall
The ‘Publication Draft of the Kirklees Local Plan’ has been published and comments from the public are invited. Previous consultations have asked for our views on council strategy, especially with regard to the allocation and/or rejection of specific sites.
This latest consultation is to invite opinion on whether we think the plan is ‘legally compliant’ and ‘sound’.
From a layman’s viewpoint, the legality or otherwise attending specific sites, whilst certainly of great significance, may well result in us getting bogged down in grey areas subject to claim and counter-claim.
However, the contention as to whether a particular site allocation is ‘sound’ allows for a much more pragmatic approach to objections, based on the viability, the practicality and the consequences of building on a specific site.
Whilst I would certainly encourage input from those with a legal grasp, I’d suggest those of us with serious concerns about the ‘unsound’ aspects focus on those as a means of addressing the relevant requirement of this public stage of the consultation.
Living, as I do, in the vicinity of the plan allocated as H761, Raikes Lane, Birstall, my obvious concern relates to this particular project. It should be noted that although this site has been given the provisional go-ahead, there are no less than six significant reports still to be considered, not least of which is the problem of access to and from Raikes Lane and the nightmare scenario that would result from a housing complex in the immediate vicinity consisting of 74 homes.
From Thursday, December 8, there will be a display relevant to this part of the Plan in the Birstall Library and Community Centre, together with submission forms for your comments. For those driven to distraction by frustrated attempts to post their comments online, here’s how to do it:
1) Google ‘Kirklees Council Local Plan’.
2) Click on ‘Read and comment online on the local plan’.
3) Click on ‘PDLP Allocations and Designations’ (this is the second link down on the list with a green tick).
4) Click on ‘Read and comment on document’.
5) Click on ‘4 Housing Allocations’.
6) From the list, click on ‘4.3 Batley and Spen Sub-Area’ (or whichever area is of concern to you).
7) Scroll halfway down this page to find site H761.
8) At the top right of the site corner of the site description, click on ‘Add Comments’ (if you haven’t commented on this site before, you’ll get a request to register – this takes only a few moments and you’ll receive an immediate acknowledgement, it’s that simple).
9) Complete the form and click 'Send'.
Closing date to submit your comments is December 19, 2016.
Finally, the site at Raikes Lane is acknowledged as being among those which has inspired the largest number of objections within the Local Plan.
If you care about the retention of the rapidly diminishing areas of historical value and aesthetically pleasing green spaces within the boundaries of our small and vulnerable town, then I implore not just those who live adjacent to this site, but the many who will surely be adversely affected in the wider community, to make a last push to prevent this one from disappearing forever.
Patients are being ignored
From: Christine Hyde, Dewsbury
If the Government said the jet aircraft you were about to travel on had a weighty engine and needed to lose some parts, you would expect the people removing the bits to be engineers who understood aviation mechanics, not alternative short-haul companies and Joe Public.
Not so with the NHS cuts. The ‘engagement’ event in Batley with the North Kirklees CCG last Wednesday stressed how important the assembled delegates were to coming up with ‘a good plan’.
So alternative health service providers and a few members of the public, with whatever prejudices they held, voted on who should get treatment.
It is disgraceful that people will be discriminated against because a voter who would have promoted their best interest was struggling with a handkerchief in the five-second window open for the vote.
The North Kirklees CCG’s claim that patient voices are listened to is hollow. https://nhspublicvoice.wordpress.com/ shows that NHS England have removed patients’ rights in that respect.
It should be experts in that illness, ie sufferers, who decide! But it isn't.
I won’t be going to town
From: Di S Gusted, Dewsbury
Re: Kirklees Bonanza Christmas Parking: Oh what joy when I saw what Kirklees had finally done regarding parking in Dewsbury over the festive period.
This means I do not have to go to the outlets, or travel to get the last of my Christmas shopping. There is so much in Dewsbury: I can go to M&S and get the last of my Christmas bits and bobs and I can get my new outfit for the big day from the many clothes outlets in the town, amongst the other big shops.
I am being a little sarcastic here, of course. There is absolutely nothing in Dewsbury that would tempt me over this period to even go into town and use the offer of free parking.
It is such a shame.
There will be lots of merriment I am sure – the people sat in the town square drinking their cans of beer from their plastic carrier bags and hassling people for money as they walk past.
We will see what happens in the New Year but I will not be holding my breath!
I am surprised they have made such a large gesture, putting them so much out of pocket and putting all those traffic wardens off the streets.
Do something radical ... now!
From: Mrs CM Westwood, Cleckheaton
How long are standards being allowed to drop before something radical is done about it?
There was a woman on one of the ‘benefits’ programmes who had seven children by four different men. None of the fathers contributed anything; they’d apparently vanished.
She ran around in a decent people carrier car and had no thoughts for taxpayers who were paying for her.
Where else in the world could someone land with their seven kiddies and get a large house, benefits, health care and schooling for their brood?
Has the government’s plan to pay no child allowances after the second child been dropped, or kicked into the long grass until they’ve dealt with other matters?
A great day
From: Pat Crisp, Batley
What a great day at Heckmondwike Christmas market and lights switch-on. It’s the best of the local towns.
Simon Thirkill – well done, it's all your own work, your team worked very hard and we’re proud of you. More businesses in town should get involved, not leave it to one person.
It's a community, everybody should work together, not think ‘what can I get out of it for myself?’.
Too many people think that way now.