Check out today’s YEP letters
Many residents aghast at earnings
Alan Chapman, Bingley.
Revelations concerning the exceptional income of the former Labour MP David Miliband rising to £680,000 are currently in the public domain, and will leave many UK residents aghast!
Mr Miliband is employed by the American charity International Rescue Committee (IRC). But why does he get paid so much?
The IRC carries out humanitarian work in central Africa where average wages are £300 a year.
Why is Mr Miliband getting 2,000 times as much? He even gets over six times that of our Prime Minister, why?
Using levers of power to support Remain
John Wainwright, by email
SOME people suggest that the problems agreeing the draft Brexit Withdrawal Agreement are proof that it was never going to be possible to do so in the way we were told during the referendum, but the truth is somewhat more sinister.
After 29 months of convoluted and staged ‘negotiations’ managed by those with their hands on the levers of power, we have arrived at the stage they planned to reach where whatever deal was on offer would be guaranteed by the EU and its British collaborators to be so bad that those same people could then say “there, we told you so, we would be better off staying in”.
That is why the real negotiations were known only to the PM and her small clique of ‘advisors’, even to the extent that the rest if the Cabinet and even the designated Brexit Secretary (twice) were kept in the dark until the last minute so as to spring the trap without revealing how much was being given away.
This is all made clear when, after all her earlier encouraging words, Theresa May now says “it’s my deal or no deal or no Brexit”.
‘Norway Plus’ model is our best option
James Bovington, Horsforth
I agree with Andrea Jenkyns that Brexit must now go ahead but that is where I part company from her since I firmly believe that our best option is to remain in the Single Market and the Customs Union - the ‘Norway Plus’ EEA model - and that the choice in any second referendum should be between the Theresa May deal and the EEA option.
MPs would rightly never agree to put a disastrous ‘no deal ‘ option to the vote and while I would very much have liked Britain to be a full participant in the EU project with membership of the Euro and the Schengen agreement I realise that these are unlikely to happen.
The EEA option would allow us to ditch the common agricultural policy and the common fisheries policy which are of dubious worth. It would retain the right to freedom of movement which already benefits millions of British people and gives young people in particular the right to a life-enriching social and cultural experience as they move freely around their continent.
This option also means that the whole problem of the Irish border would disappear and makes Scottish independence less likely, which is important to me as a strong supporter of Britain’s nuclear deterrent much of which is housed on the Clyde. Furthermore the EEA, which is like associate membership of the EU, would mean that the UK would never need to commit to any further European integration or ‘ever closer union’.
It’s not the first choice of either side but politics is best defined as the art of the possible. Andrea Jenkyns argues for a complete economic and social break with Europe. Not for me the nonsense of the good ship Britannia cast adrift in the ocean looking for a safe port to anchor and I am cheered to hear that the politician who I most generally would despise DUP boss Arlene Foster also sees the potential benefits of the EEA approach.
The country is divided on this more than on any other issue that I am aware of in my almost 60 years. No one is going to get all they want and me least of all. But membership of the EEA would have seen Leeds get EU funding for its 2023 culture bid and more importantly it would enable my students to continue to benefit from opportunity to make practical application of the languages we teach as they make friends with other young Europeans through the freedom of movement the European project makes possible.
That they can meet in such a way and not as previous generations did in living memory on the battlefield is something that we should prize and value. So the way to move forward is to put EEA membership and Theresa’s deal to a vote in which anyone 16 or over could participate.
This would not be a re-run of the previous referendum as we would have left the political structures of the EU but would allow us to make a clear choice in full knowledge of what is available. I look forward to the debate.
TV licence is good value
Ivan Kovacks, by email
There has been much said over the past few weeks about the free TV licence for the over 75s and what will become of it from 2020.
At the moment it is funded by the government and the BBC is consulting about what is going to happen when 2020 comes.
I think the BBC licence at about £3 per week is exceptionally good value for money, especially considering all the local, national and world radio and TV put out, along with all the material on the iPlayer etc.
However, if the BBC were to fund in full the continued across the board free licence to the over 75s it would represent about 20 per cent of the current income of the BBC and as the population rapidly ages and lives longer it would only be a few years till that gets up to 25 per cent and no company can take such a vast hit without a major loss of services and quality. I believe that it represents more than the amount taken currently to run all the BBC radio services. All of this I would not like to see and think it should be prevented at all costs.
If the government want this to continue they should keep paying it in full, it was them after all who instigated it and not the BBC. Whilst I am well over ten years away from potentially getting it, I know many who do and greatly appreciate it.
According to an interview with a senior person at the BBC I listened to last week, there are a number of options and at the moment, ranging from scrapping it altogether to raising the threshold to 80 or even means testing it.
I’d prefer to see it scrapped than see the loss of quality and service and the thought of means testing is clearly unfair, like all current forms of means testing are.