Your Letters – Friday March 8, 2019

Half-truths, urban myths and prejudice

Letter of the Week: Garry Kitchin, Batley

Following the controversial vote at Huddersfield Town Hall last week, where approval for a traveller site was made at the back of the Junction 27 Retail Park, a petition was quickly launched to try to stop the site being developed.

Thankfully, in my lifetime many of the old prejudices that I remember from the 1970s are just an historical footnote. 

Sadly, prejudice against travellers remains as strong as ever. 

Reading the comments about this potential traveller site on the petition and elsewhere was depressing:

“Horrible people.”

“We don’t want them! It’s as simple as that! They are detrimental to civilised society, and anybody with an ounce of common sense will know this!”

“This is not an appropriate place to put travellers. They lower house prices, break into houses and steal pets and anything not tied down.”

“Crime rates are one of the highest in the region already and evidence that some of this is from the existing traveller site nearby.”

Half-truths, urban myths, lies and prejudice.

There are criminals among all groups in society, and travellers are no different. 

Sure, some have probably caused anti-social behaviour (just like many of the teenagers who live on the Wilton Estate, smashing bus shelters, burning bins and tearing up the park on illegal motorbikes). 

However, to tar the whole community with the same brush is nothing more than prejudice based on crude, out-dated stereotypes. If anyone described Muslims, Jews, Christians, or any other group with comments like the above, they would be utterly condemned far and wide for them, and possibly face prosecution. 

However, it appears that travellers don’t seem to count. It seems anything is fair game when it comes to unpleasant and abusive comments aimed at travellers. 

I really hope this petition fails, and Kirklees Council make decisions based on facts, not lies, distortions and general abuse.

The doom-mongers are wrong

From: Colin Walshaw, Scholes

“One way or another we will all die, probably at 0900 hours on March 30, gasping in agony … huge mutant fire-eating lobsters will invade the country as a result of Brexit … there will be no Mars Bars … flaming chunks of satellites will fall on our heads and kill us ... planes can fly no further than Manchester … your homes will be worthless. There will be nothing to eat. And no lavatory rolls. But as there will be nothing to eat, we won’t need them.”

But seriously...

In the last few months of the Brexit negotiations it would seem we have repeatedly heard all the scare stories surrounding ‘just-in-time’ supply chains, and the scourge which Brexit will bring to big business. 

Every day there seems to be a new story suggesting the UK would descend into misery and starvation should the current order be disrupted in any way. 

Somehow leaving the economic institution of the EU will leave our business completely crippled. 

This is what the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and other self-interested big business groups are peddling to us. 

Just like they told us the UK would fall into the economic abyss if we did not join the Euro back in 1992 – they were wrong then and they are wrong now.

In reality only five per cent of UK businesses trade with the EU. It is also true that many of these are large multinational companies which dominate bodies such as the CBI, have huge war chests which allow them to hire PR and lobbying firms to get their stories and agendas across to Government departments. 

As a result, a World Trade Organisation ‘No Deal’ Brexit would in fact leave the majority of British businesses unaffected. 

However, what we are seeing portrayed at the moment is, in fact, the lobbying of a few large and established businesses who don’t want to go through the process of changing how they trade with EU member states. 

In their minds this is more important than the basic principles of what is best for Brexit Britain, such as taking back control of our sovereignty, not MPs, and protecting British workers.

What seems to have been forgotten or is ignored by much of the broadcast and some of the print media, is the existence of ‘just-in-time’ supply chains outside the EU.

This is not a new phenomenon, they already exist across the world where there is not a supranational federalist body. 

In order to supply the UK with all it needs, and trade with the rest of the world, we do not need to be inside this political EU ‘federalist’ project.

While there could be concerns if all supply lines to the UK were cut, and goods took days to cross borders, no-one is suggesting this is what will actually happen after Brexit. 

Even the mayor of Calais the man responsible for the running of the port, has said that even in the situation of ‘No Deal’ lorries and cars will continue across the border as they do now.

In the event of a WTO ‘No Deal’ Brexit, the UK would be able to enter into Article 24 protocol of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. 

This states two countries – or members – can enter a special status, meaning current trade laws and tariffs would be applied for a reasonable amount of time, while new trade agreements are negotiated. The WTO have already indicated they would be receptive to such an arrangement. This is, of course, barely mentioned by the media or big businesses currently benefitting by our EU membership.

We must be allowed to leave the EU properly – not tied into the restrictions of the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement, or even worse, the ‘Malthouse Compromise’ which would tie us into the transition period for three years instead of Mrs May’s two.

We would still be expected to pay huge sums of money to the EU, despite not being a member and, according to the House of Lords European Union Committee ruling as published on March 4 2017, having no legal obligation to do so. 

We would also have to preserve the current level of trade tariffs, and would have no freedom to sign new trade deals with the rest of the world. This is the very opposite of ‘Taking Back Control’.

There is a whole real world outside the EU, and not simply a self-interested federalist project across the English Channel, seemingly determined to drain us of every penny they can get their hands on, only to give little in return.

Listening to both sides

From: Paul Midgley, via email

On Saturday February 23, I made a train journey to ‘the dark side’ in more ways than one...

I travelled to a Tommy Robinson rally in Lancashire.

A pleasant enough sunny trip from Mirfield Station to Manchester via train and then a slightly squeaky tram out to the massive Media City BBC buildings at Salford.

I’m a great believer in freedom of speech and having been shocked by what I had read in Tommy’s book ‘Enemy Of The State’ I was interested to hear what he said with regard to the BBC and his alleged slander by them.

I generally listen to both sides of any story and fact check it to come to some understanding of where the truth lies.

Tommy Robinson was saying he believed the BBC were part of ‘The Establishment’ and/or ‘The Elite’ and were telling lies to discredit him.

At Media City, right outside the BBC, Tommy had erected a large stadium TV screen to show a film he had made to the assembled thousands who had traveled from all over the country.

These people seemed normal enough, couples, families, with some groups of lads treating the day like a Saturday Ale Trail out to Marsden (maybe they missed their stop). 

With me having a general attitude of support for the underdog and the Davids over the Goliaths of this world, I felt it important to give Tommy Robinson the chance to put his case.

The film documentary he showed was about an hour long and called ‘Panodrama’, a simple search will find it on YouTube.

It was highly entertaining, principally because it turned the tables on the BBC’s Panorama, who were trying to do an exposé on Tommy Robinson with secret filming, but ended up having their preparations secretly filmed by Tommy Robinson’s friends.

The famously shouty Panorama reporter John Sweeney was then shown his own drunken attempts at getting a young lady ‘informer’ drunk (on over £200 of BBC expenses) while he appeared to make some racist, homophobic, and snobbish comments.

One of which was about The Press publisher and commentator Danny Lockwood!

The rally was peaceful and good-natured and my conversations with police officers on the way home revealed that there was no trouble and no arrests. 

This was a pleasant surprise given previous reporting of ‘Tommy Robinson’ events over the years.

Last Friday I collected my copy of The Press with great anticipation and immediately turned to the Ed Lines page. 

I was disappointed when I didn’t find Danny’s explanation of why as a white working class male he was neither a ‘cannibal’ or ‘a creature from outer space.’ 

Come on Danny, watch the ‘Panodrama’ film and do tell, are you cannibal or alien to the BBC elite?

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