Letters to the Editor, June 30, 2016

As the Brexiters’ euphoria subsides, they are faced with the harsh reality of what to do now. And, unsurprisingly, they don’t seem to know. Yet the country desperately needs leadership.

If Boris Johnson and the other Leave people can give a proper assessment of what Brexit means to this country in terms of the details – none of which came out in the campaign – then they might be able to show that they have control. But if it’s a continuation of how they behaved in the campaign: dissembling; knowing they were dissembling; not really caring about the consequences; dismissing all that’s actually happening now as ‘Project Fear’ – then it’s never going to happen.

And Johnson’s other problem is that he’s gone overnight from being a lovable rogue to a hate figure amongst many young (and not so young) people. Furthermore, he’s someone in the Tory party who’s incredibly divisive despite planning, ironically, to run on a ‘unity’ ticket.

Having utterly split his party, the country and probably wrecked the union with Scotland he now seems to be thinking ‘did I really mean to do that’? Because the Leavers know they don’t have the answers. They are already rowing back on their pre-election promises to re-invest the mythical £350million weekly European Union (EU) contribution into the NHS, lowering expectations on immigration and leaving the EU single market. Because, ultimately, this was not about Europe, it was a battle for control of the Tory party.

Once David Cameron had taken his immense political gamble by calling a referendum, it’s said that his opponents wanted him to win by a narrow margin – something like 49/51 per cent. That way he’d be fatally wounded, someone like Johnson could knock him out and yet we’d still be in Europe with no harm done.

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That’s what the Leavers wanted but look at the immediate consequences. Share prices and the value of sterling have plummeted, some by up to 20 per cent so the cost of living will rise for us all with petrol already more expensive. And what will replace the many generous EU subsidies to agriculture (crucial in this area), infrastructure investment and social projects around the UK? This country’s special relationship with the USA as a link to Europe will be compromised and we will lose power on growth and jobs – who will invest in us now?

We have become a country of confusion, recrimination and retreat but not everyone is disheartened by a weakened Europe. It’s no coincidence that warm words of support for our Brexit have come from some unwelcome sources, including the nasty far-right’s Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders.

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Last, but not least are a very happy Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. Is this shambles what people voted for?


Church Road, Winscombe

Democracy? Not in Ruritania

Now we have our country back, what are we going to do with it?

We have a deeply divided country, the beginnings of separatist movements in Bristol, London and Brighton, and a much more advanced independence campaign in Scotland whose desire to remain in the European Union (EU) must be respected. The current House of Commons was not elected to deal with any of this, and does not have a mandate to appoint a new Government.

The only way forward is to hold new elections in the autumn to a new parliament. At these elections, every party must have identified a party leader and a clear policy. Every individual candidate must also say where they stand on our relationship with the EU and the future of the UK. Then the voters can have their say, and let a fresh Parliament hold the reasoned and complex debates that the shrill Referendum campaign made impossible.

And locally, are we in or out? It appears that the small cabal of the North Somerset cabinet has ruled that we should remain out of the new West of England reason, apparently so that their own parochial powers are not overruled by an authority which might act in the best interests of the wider region. Nobody has asked any of us about this, and nobody seems likely to. Democracy? No sign.

And so, to protect the positions of councillors Ashton, Ap Rees and co, we are doomed to remain as Ruritania on Sea, split off from the large city with which we so many of us interact; and for reasons I cannot understand also split off from our partners in Europe on whom so much of our economy and prosperity depends.

Personally, I want my country back, I want my county back, and I want my continent back.


Wood Lane, Weston

Time to heal a reunited kingdom

An open letter to John Penrose MP...

As MP for constitutional reform I would urge you to consider this proposal. There is a groundswell of opinion that, other than our amazing Queen who has rolled up her sleeves and is in Northern Ireland, healing ‘broken Britain’, the majority of our leaders are running around looking after their careers, not country.

Scotland and Northern Ireland voted against Brexit. Their voices must be heard. Let us look at the option of moving toward for genuine Parliaments for Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England with an over-arching United Kingdom Parliament, loosely based on the House of Lords/American Senate model. Each Parliament to have appointed cabinets responsible jointly for matters of international import.

Let us act in a measured but assured manner to heal our United Kingdom please.


West Street, Weston

Irrational hatred trumped reality

I think that Wendy Ackroyd ‘Is the Mercury taking sides?’ June 23, was a little unfair to the Mercury. Clearly, it received more letters in favour of Leave than in favour of Remain, and it had to reflect that.

The Mercury was much more balanced than the regional paper, the Western Daily Press (WDP), whose letters pages a couple of years ago were referred to in one letter as the voice of North Wiltshire UKIP, on account of how many letters it published from two North Wiltshire UKIP members, whose letters were in the paper almost daily. Although the editor of the WDP denied any bias, the number of letters he published was probably in excess of 100 to one in favour of leaving the European Union (EU). Given that so much of the WDP’s circulation area voted for Remain, I cannot believe letters in favour of Remain were not received.

I’d like to endorse what Geoffrey Marsden wrote about the illiterate view of history. When I was campaigning in Weston and Worle for a Remain vote, I was saddened by how many older people’s views were coloured by hatred of Germany. What made it particularly poignant was the closeness of the 100th anniversary of the horror and madness of the first Battle of the Somme. Irrational hatred of modern democratic Germany, with EU as a proxy, trumped reality.

If the vote leads to the break-up of the EU, it could reawaken ancient rivalries across Europe over borders which led to the Great War, which in turn brought about World War Two and the Cold War. The younger generation might never forgive their grandparents.


Priory Road, Weston

Let’s get on with what we do best

Well, the great European vote is over – and what a wonderful result for this nation of ours. We can now get on with what we do best – invent, make and trade world-wide.

My thanks to our local paper the Mercury for printing a very fair selection of opinions. There must be a lot of very worried Europeans in Brussels, Berlin and Paris to name but a few, for they have just lost our £20billion and any deals made will be in our favour. Our £2million to help the Turks join will stop, and hopefully our £12billion in aid will be reduced, helping only those who need help; our pensioners for one thing.

I hope Scotland and Northern Ireland take advantage of our decision, and become self-governing… a further saving for us. After all, Scotland has moaned about independence for hundreds of years.

Very interesting times ahead – let’s hope we take advantage of it. Still if we don’t like any Government we can at least vote them out, something we could not do as part of the European lot.


Addicott Road, Weston

British democracy the real winner

With over 70 per cent of the electorate casting their votes, the clear winner of the EU Referendum is British democracy.


Constable Drive, Worle

Upset by ‘vulture-like’ demands

In the past seven days I have seen two very different sides of the care infrastructure in North Somerset, all the more startling for the insight it has given me into the culture and priorities of the organisations involved.

My 88-year-old mother died a week ago after two years of wonderful care at Mount Elton Nursing Home in Clevedon.

She was admitted to Weston General Hospital’s A&E department on a Saturday night – a time when we are led to believe care is of a lesser quality to that administered on a week night. She was treated with the utmost kindness, dignity and gentleness by the doctors and nurses caring for her.

That night she was admitted to a quiet room in the Waterside Suite where she died peacefully after three days, having received wonderful nursing care.

In sharp contrast, I received from North Somerset Council’s finance department, before she was even laid to rest, a letter, misspelling her name and demanding money for shortfalls in her nursing home funding, based on inaccurate information.

While typographical errors can be attributed to sloppy administrative systems, the vulture-like way in which the bones of my mother’s financial affairs were picked over in order to claw back money with such indecent haste, cannot so easily be excused.

In my capacity as a communications professional, I would advise North Somerset Council to invest a little of the surplus funds sitting in their bank account, in some PR and communications training advising its operatives on how to behave towards people who have recently been bereaved.

I am a pretty tough individual more than capable of fighting my own corner. How such a letter, at such a time, would have affected an elderly person, does not bear thinking about.


Dial Hill Road, Clevedon

Important piece of social history

I was saddened to read your report in last week’s Mercury how renowned watercolour artist Rosie Smith, who created five unique tile artworks of Weston scenes are at risk of being boxed up for decades.

I hope Rosie will not lose heart because Rosie and Howard Smith are truly amazing. Their magical books are filled with wonderful watercolours and have been a runaway success.

I hope the paintings will be put up on a new site in the town to view instead of gathering dust in boxes. They are an important contribution to the social history and the landscape of the community.


Victoria Park, Weston

Not an AONB in council eyes?

I reported fly-tipping in Christon Plantation, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) on May 18 via the appropriate online council site. They have still not tidied up despite the fact I keep phoning every week.

Is it the fact that they just wanted to wait for the hedging to grow to cover it up – which it has to some extent – or they just can’t be bothered? Why provide a site to report fly-tipping and just completely ignore it?

It looks horrible, dumped clothes and bric-a-brac as you walk up Bridwell Lane to the plantations – certainly not an AONB as far as the council is concerned.


Flagstaff Road, Christon

A thank you for excellent care

Having been told I had breast cancer was a shock to say the least, but I must say I had the most excellent and quick treatment anyone could wish for at Weston General Hospital.

I had an examination, mammogram, scan and biopsy, all in one morning which made a speedy diagnosis and saved weeks of worry. Every doctor and nurse and the surgeon I encountered at the breast clinic was excellent, so I thank Weston General Hospital for their care and compassion.


Uphill Road South, Weston

Read more letters online at www.westonmercury.co.uk

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