Today’s letters are all about the current political climate – from Brexit to the leadership race. Were you impressed by Monday night’s Tory leadership TV debate? Join the debate by joining in the conversation in the comments section or by emailing email@example.com for a chance for your letter to be published in the Western Daily Press.
We’re still waiting for the benefits of Brexit
The excellent letter in Monday’s paper from Don Frampton spells out in some detail the enormous cost of Brexit, so far. It runs into very many billions of pounds. Of course, there are so many other huge costs… too many to list in one letter. So we await the benefits of Brexit. Mr Rees-Mogg tells us it could be 50 years before we’ll see these benefits – a very long time indeed. Yes, we have some control on immigration but, unfortunately, it was quite obvious that we actually need many of the people who went back to Europe. Just ask the care homes/NHS/hospitality/farmers/ airlines etc. The trade deal with Australia is claimed to be a big success. I don’t think that our farmers would agree. The only real benefit goes to Boris Johnson. His lifelong ambition to be Prime Minister was largely achieved by his very late conversion to that cause. Finally, I do take exception to being referred to as a remoaner. I’d settle to be known as one of the millions of people who think Brexit has been an extremely bad move for our country, especially for our children and their children. Time will tell.
Gary Hunt, Chippenham, Wiltshire
Political leaders need the common touch
“Blessed are the peacemakers” – like the recently deceased Lord David Trimble (1944-2022) who died this week and the late John Hume MP (1937-2020). The Good Friday Agreement in 1998 set the scene for political progress in Northern Ireland and drew together former foes of various shades. The power of patience, in huge abundance, was shown by Hume and Trimble, who thoroughly deserved their 1998 Nobel Peace Prize. The pair of political giants showed intellect, charisma and steely determination, so that their memory will be celebrated when the names of terrorist villains have long been forgotten. Lord Trimble had trained as a barrister, and as well as this role had been a law department academic, before committing totally to a career as a politician. Both men had immediate and clear connections to the communities they served in multiple ways. This gave them credibility and electability, when tough or challenging decisions needed to be made or a difficult course steered against opposition. Do today’s Tory leaders look isolated from the population they claim to serve, with very many coming from elite schools or colleges, with a career in banking or business carved out (or lubricated) in early adult years, so that an understanding of common people or their difficulties is never on their radar? The gigantic achievements of Trimble and Hume show the importance of having politicians with the common touch, who understand the everyday frustrations and problems of the people who elect them. The Tory Party are reeling from the Boris Johnson debacle and may take decades to find credible leaders who look as if they have authentic links to ordinary people.
J T Hardy, By email
Political outlook was never so gloomy
Unfortunately I cannot remember another time in my life when the political outlook and repercussions for the UK were so gloomy and desperate. The problems and debt caused by Covid have been enhanced by the war in the Ukraine, Brexit is definitely not working for anybody, and climate change is hanging over all of us. The NHS is officially in crisis, and this is now causing unnecessary deaths and seriously affecting confidence and quality of life for many. The rising cost of living, and roaring inflation are making life very difficult, and the inevitable rises in interest rates will hit mortgages even further, and cause rent increases. This in turn understandably puts pressure on wage demands, and will further fuel unrest in union membership across many sectors. The slogans, lies, and hyperbolic promises made by the outgoing PM were not backed up by good governance and performance, and he is leaving things in an almighty mess. What will happen when the squeeze really comes on in the winter months seems to be in the lap of the gods. To crown it all, the two candidates emerging from this failing Government to take over the reigns will be selected by the aged cronies of the Conservative party membership, and that gives me no confidence whatsoever. Party politics is failing the country, and perhaps the time has arrived for crisis talks and a cross party coalition should be considered, as surely the problems are approaching wartime proportions.
Geoffrey Turner Hewish, Somerset
Now is the time for constitutional reform
Like a good democrat I’ve watched all the Tory leadership election stuff from the start to the Sunak-Truss BBC TV show on Monday. As it proceeds to the actual Tory membership showdown vote, it’s been both fascinating how the contenders have moved noticeably to the political right to attract members’ votes and yet very worrying how, in this final analysis, the moves on many important current issues have been to the far right, even topping Johnson’s pile of anti-democracy bills… For those in the political ‘know’ the whole essence of politics in the left-right divide lies in where you see the dividing line between public ownership and services, provided publicly for the good and benefit of all, contrasted with private ownership and privately run businesses and services, provided for the profits of those individuals who happen to be rich enough to have sufficient capital funds to start and maintain the whole corporation. Funny how this vital divide – like the halfway mark on sports pitches – gets conveniently side-lined in modern media-driven, personality cult, nationalistic populism, to the point where the big questions about the need for real democracy at all levels, backed by a written constitution, vanish. Conservatives, the so-called ‘party of the rich for the rich’ (sometimes referred to as the privately educated, privately looked-after, ‘ruling class’) have been very good at telling people that the hard working ‘haves’ deserve more, and the struggling ‘have-nots’ deserve less unless they work harder. In fact, this is the way the so-called ‘British establishment’, also using heavy cultural conditioning into blessing our extremely rich monarchy and our ‘almighty father’ and ‘heavenly abode’ in the sky, maintains the obscene levels of inequality witnessed in our daily lives – both here and globally – and despite all religions praising self-sacrifice and damning self-indulgence. The Labour Party is the political movement for people who have to work for a living with not enough big capital to set up in big business on their own, or to invest in stocks and shares to provide enough income not to have to work. Trades Unions and Co-operatives are the workers’ rights and goods provider wings of the Labour movement which historically – and still try to – provide for all workers ‘from cradle to grave’. Surely, the time has come for political education and constitutional reform to be as vital parts of our democracy as the three ‘Rs’!
Alan Debenham Taunton, Somerset
Cost of Rishi’s clothes is totally irrelevant
So the Tory candidates’ supporters are squabbling over the cost of Rishi Sunak’s wardrobe compared to Liz Truss’s cheapo earrings, whilst the candidates are competing over who can be the nastiest to refugees. Our incumbent ‘PM’is off cosplaying soldiers once more. There are unprecedented queues of holidaymakers and freight along the Kent coast; nothing to do with Brexit we are told or, if it is, it is the fault of the French. Our precious NHS is at breaking point due to lack of staff, again nothing to do with the loss of freedom of movement, the climate is imploding, we face an unparalleled cost of living crisis, unions are threatening a summer of strikes and Putin is still raising Hell in the Ukraine. May I ask who is running the country? They say we get the politicians we deserve but what have we done to deserve this?
Catherine Pickles Devon
Thanks for wonderful care in nursing home
Over the past few years we have heard and read many disturbing stories concerning nursing homes. I now feel very strongly that in our local area we must have the best one in the county, i.e. Combe Lea in Midsomer Norton. Some two and a half months ago, my wife Mavis (in her late 80s) suffered a fall while walking back home from the local shop, she fractured the top of her humerus. A passing car (carrying an occupational therapist and a physio therapist) stopped to assist her, and brought her home. They then found that with no available ambulance for some time, they took her to the Bristol Royal Infirmary. She eventually ended in the Royal United Hospital in Bath. A few weeks later, she was transferred to Combe Lea nursing home for re-enablement. What a place, she was given a room on the second floor which would have graced a decent hotel. She had an en-suite, a wonderful view and staff who, without exception, were absolutely marvellous when attending her needs. The food was good, and in the eight weeks she was there we became concerned that she would not want to come home. A few days ago she was discharged to home. As a couple of advancing years, our life experience allows us to really appreciate the care and attention the staff of Combe Lea showed to my wife, and really we cannot praise them enough. Furthermore that standard of care has to come from the top management.