Your Letters – Friday September 21, 2018

Cut Lords to save cash, not our MPs

Letter of the Week: Garry Kitchin, Batley

I write regarding the final Boundary Commission findings published last week.

The Boundary Commission was tasked with reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600, and ensuring the electorate in each constituency was no more than 78,507, but above 71,031.

The commission is entirely independent, with no political bias. The rationale was to ‘cut the cost of politics’ – more of that later.

The current boundaries were contested last year. 

The average size of electorate in the seats Labour won was 70,578. This was much lower than the average size of Conservative won seats – 74,436. 

Labour seats were won with a larger majority too, an average of 28 per cent of the total electorate, compared to an average 23 per cent majority for Conservative won seats.

This shows that Labour MPs represent a smaller electorate than typical Conservative MPs, and have typically bigger majorities.

This demonstrates the fact that Labour voters are condensed in a smaller number of seats. This is why the new boundaries, more even in size, are worse for Labour – Labour’s vote is not distributed as broadly as the Conservatives. 

I do think reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600 is wrong. 

MPs have a large caseload, and this would make it worse.

Also, Labour constituencies are typically poorer and have larger transient populations – two demographics less likely to register to vote.

The bread and butter of the work of an MP is housing, issues accessing services and so on.

Just because people don’t register to vote doesn’t mean they don’t have issues that fall onto an MP’s desk.

I’d much rather the census numbers were used when calculating constituency size.

If the purpose was ‘cutting the cost of politics’, I’d start by reducing the House of Lords from a grotesque 800+ to around 250-300, more than enough for a revising chamber.

Each peer gets £300 per day for just turning up.

Finally, if people are really worried about the number of MPs not matching the votes cast, tell your MP to campaign to dump the first past the post system. That’s the real issue.

A system of proportional representation ensures the number of MPs in parliament closely matches the real votes cast.


Dementia is not contagious

From: Donald Hirst, Dewsbury

From previous letters you will know that I am 90 years old and reside with my wife, who has suffered with dementia for eight years.

I would like to send a message to all those long-gone absent friends. 

Old age and dementia are alike – there is no known cure.

However, you would not have had to wear a hat, mask or gown had you made a visit. 

Dementia is not contagious.

The price of a telephone call or the cost of a second-class stamp on a Christmas card would not have made you bankrupt.

All these things would have created some pleasure if done. 

In conclusion, I feel like a lucky man. I no longer worry about these things.

I can still sit with my wife, hold her hand and watch the time go by. 

In her lucid moments I say these words to her:

“I love you more today than I did yesterday, but not as much for tomorrow.”

My reward is her smile, which is priceless.


Time to grasp the nettle?

From: David Honeybell, Heckmondwike

The border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland is a major obstacle in the Brexit talks, but the problem goes much deeper than Brexit.

The whole situation in Ireland could be resolved once and for all, if the British Parliament grasped  the nettle and returned the six counties that make up Northern Ireland to the Republic, where they belong.

Just on the Brexit shambles, the people of Northern Ireland voted almost 100 per cent to remain in the EU, so they would get their wish if the island of Ireland was united.


EU doesn’t want a deal

From: Derek Cartwright, Batley

I am in favour of Brexit but I am still waiting for Europe to offer the terms and conditions for a deal.

I suspect that for European politicians, they do not really want a deal, so are not putting any terms on the table.

I think that they believe British politicians will get their knickers into such a twist that Europeans do not have to do anything.

Further, they may suspect that the opposition will argue that the government failed to get an acceptable deal, and they could have done a better job.

Of course, they will not have to put down any evidence that they could.

Next year, the opposition will then argue for an election on other issues than Brexit, but argue they could have got better terms.

But it is too late, especially if the next election is not until 2022. Why have one before, if still after we have left Europe?

For me Brexit is still about the EEC we joined in the 70s. Politicians in that election did not tell the truth, they never mentioned that part of the deal was giving up our fisheries.

Did they really explain about wine lakes, beef mountain, subsidies to small French farmers? Then we are nett contributors, we pay to be in a club, but its rules have changed since we joined. Does it benefit us?

It was put to me the other day that over 1m people could lose their car industry jobs. 

So next year some 186,000 people employed directly in manufacturing will lose their jobs and in excess of 856,000 across the wider automotive industry will also immediately go. 

Err, hang on a minute, Europe can immediately have trained staff to do these skilled jobs. Then we are not giving grants to foreign firms to be here.

Jobs may go as the Europeans make the supply chain difficult for their firms and cut their profits. Talk about cut your nose to spite your face, they probably will. 

What are we getting for our billions of contributions? 

It was put to me that our civil servants are unemployable and our Government Ministers not capable of making deals or running departments. 

That’s part of my argument for coming out, they are running rings round us.

Our lot cannot use the regulations to our advantage, they also out-vote us, because our economy does not run or work like theirs.

Then we should spend money on projects to increase employment, to bring in immigrants to do the skilled jobs ... err, how about training people here to do the jobs?

It was argued to me that we should change our culture, our firms should be more like theirs. 

Why we should was not presented, other than that we do not win the votes on our arguments. No, because they want us to borrow money to give to them.

Then we need to stay in the declining market of Europe and watch what’s left of our export market decline because we are not trying to export more to the rest of the world, because Europe will not let us make deals.


About time we got some facts

From: Leonard Gardner, Batley

Soft Brexit, hard Brexit, Boris Johnson’s Brexit, Theresa May’s Brexit – I didn’t know there were so many Brexits.

There is one more – the most important of them all – Britain exits the European Union because, by a democratic vote, this nation decided to do the people’s Brexit.

All the politicians, commentators and news readers talk about soft, hard, Theresa’s and Boris’s Brexits – they never mention the people’s Brexit.

I challenge our MP Tracy Brabin to tell me the exact difference between hard and soft Brexits. How can anyone give an opinion on something we don’t know about?

I believe our nation is intelligent enough to decide our path, so tell us the facts – not your own opinions but the facts.

After seven or eight years of austerity, leaving us with poverty – the like of which we’ve never known – it’s about time politicians gave us some honest facts to base our opinions on.

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