Letters, Tuesday, January 22, 2013

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Labour soap opera about to resume

THE soap opera that was the Labour Party at Westminster during the Blair/Brown years could be about to resume, only this time starring some of their junior followers. 

Now in charge we have the ex-Brownite Ed Miliband, but he has a big problem because his second-choice Shadow Chancellor and fellow ex-Brownite Ed Balls is not only useless and unpopular, but also a daily reminder to voters of why Labour suffered one of its worst election results in 2010 and should never be trusted again to run the economy.

 Balls recently seemed to obtain some insight as to how the political wind was blowing, by, through a friendly journalist, making it clear that if sacked as Shadow Chancellor, he would not accept a lesser post and would retire to the backbenches. Some have concluded that this was a possible “threat” to cause trouble. I wonder why?

 The reason for this disquiet by Balls is that David Miliband, is starting to put himself about a bit more – politically that is.

 It is doing the rounds that David is being considered by his brother as a future Shadow Chancellor. Ed added to the creeping doubts by refusing to confirm that Balls would be a future Chancellor if Labour happened to win the next General Election.

 However the issue is even further complicated as Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary, is the wife of Ed Balls, so presumably her husband’s possible demise would not go down too well with her.

 The idea of David Miliband taking over from Balls would give the Labour Party an opportunity to say, at last, it made many mistakes that left the country in an economic mess, something Balls and his leader have failed to do.

 But to say sorry and be believed you have got to mean it and Labour’s continued reputation with the voters as the party of deficit deniers will be a very hard one to lose before 2015.

Michael Dixon,

Sunderland

Fairness missing

I WAS under the impression that the European Union – Common Market – was created to allow all member countries to trade fairly with each other. So how is this possible when European truck drivers pay the equivalent of £1 per litre for diesel and UK drivers pay £1.38 ?

 Most European trucks are fitted with two 500 litre diesel tanks equal to 1,000 litre, 38p x 1,000 equals a saving of £380 every time they fill up.

 How can any UK haulage company compete with this when you have trucks doing six to eight miles per gallon. The difference is criminal.

 Fair trade, I don’t think so.

 The politicians are killing this country and do not care.

 Will the last one out turn off the lights?

Alan Cooper,

Dundas Street

Adding up figures

I HAVE been following the articles concerning percentage rises for the unemployed and workers.

 It reminded me of an account related to me by my late father, who worked in the General, as opposed to the Royal Hospital, which was situated on Durham Road at that time, concerning a pay rise that was offered by the NHS back in the mid 70s. The workers were offered a weekly rise of about £4 say, but the union heard of an offer of four per cent (all figures are approximate by the way) to the management and the union basically said: “We want a four per cent rise in line with management as well.”

 Now my father tried to point out that four per cent of their wages was a lot less than that of the management’s wages but the union went ahead with the fight and subsequently won the percentage rise.

 When Pater pointed out that the rise they consequently received was almost £1 less than the £4 initially offered compared to the money increase management received he was pooh-poohed by the union and by some colleagues as they surmised that they were now treated as equals with the management.

 Now we come to today and while Parliament is wanting a 32 per cent wage rise, people on benefits have to receive a one per cent which will equate to 72p a week, not even enough to cover the £1.10 a week council tax that is heading this way thanks to the Government changing the way council tax is to be paid. We now have some papers stating that the unemployed and people on other benefits have had 20 per cent rises while workers wages have only gone up 12 per cent in the same period, but let us look at the figures. As it is quite a while since I have had to use percentage calculations, for my own benefit, will use simple figures, say £10 a week for unemployed and £100 for wage earners.

 Now we come to the crux of my missive in that we have the figure of 20 per cent rise for benefit earners which has given them a £2 a week rise, and when we look at the 12 per cent rise for the wage earners we come to the figure of a £12 a week rise over the same period. I know which rise I would prefer.

Alan “The Quill” Vincent,

Old Penshaw.