Let the people decide over EU
Dear Editor, 2008 will prove a crucial year in the history of Great Britain. We know our MPs want a 10 per cent increase on their £60,000 a year wages yet they no longer make our laws. Seven out of 10 are now made by unelected commissioners in Brussels, so perhaps a 70 per cent reduction for our MP's would be more appropriate.
Our Prime Minister is refusing to let us vote in a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, in spite of a promise to let us do so, but as this will link us permanently to the continent, we should have an opportunity to vote on it.
The 13 most important points in the Lisbon treaty are: 1. The EU to have a Head of State. 2. The EU to have a Foreign Minister (or high representative). 3. The EU to have a diplomatic service representing all member states. 4. The foreign policy is to be on a majority vote. 5. EU representation on major international bodies instead of national representative. 6. EU to have to have sole power to enter into legally binding treaties and international agreements. 7. EU to have a public prosecutor. 8. New powers to harmonise civil and criminal laws and legal proceedings throughout the EU. 9. Powers to define criminal offences and set minimum sentences. 10. Extension of EU police force (Europol) and increases to its powers. 11. Co-operation between armed forces of member states leading to a common defence policy. 12. New powers over health and public services. 13. No British veto on key issues.
Our membership of EU now costs us around £60 billion per annum, or approximately £1,000 for every man, woman and child.
I think we do need a referendum and a chance to stop further incursions. My preference would be for associate membership, by which we could reclaim our fishing grounds and North Sea oil and gas, but still be in the common market.
COUN PETER HOLLINGWORTH, Harbone
Well-deserved praise for Post
Dear Editor, The praise heaped on the Post by Benjamin Zephaniah and Richard Branson is well deserved. I bought my first Post about 20 years ago (after it was recommended by a friend) and have done so for six days a week ever since. I peruse every page with the exception of the Business pages.
The rugby coverage is excellent - always has been - with Michael Blair and Brian Dick two top bods. My main interest over the last 10 years has been the Post's knowledgeable and fair reporting on the great British tradition of hunting.
The Post's continuing interest in everything rural means that most urban dwellers get told the truth and now realise that the attempt to ban hunting (700 hours of parliamentary time wasted) was a disgraceful and illiberal act against a minority.
The bigoted Labour backbenchers that helped to push through the so-called hunt ban have since admitted that it had nothing to do with animal welfare and everything to do with class warfare, just one of the reasons why the 2005 hunting act is "dead in the water".
Your coverage and photo of the Boxing Day hunts was again excellent and I have to tell you it is much appreciated by your many new rural readers.
DANNY KEANEY, Stratford-upon-Avon
Metro doomed by funding constraints
Dear Editor, Is anyone actually surprised that the Metro plan is unlikely to be extended? (Post December 31).
We still haven't been awarded the much-anticipated money for New Street station yet, so the chances of the Government forking out £400 million for the Metro was never really going to happen. The Department of Transport has neatly side-stepped the issue by announcing the cash must come from the Government's Transport Innovation Fund - money set aside to encourage road pricing schemes.
Bearing in mind our seven West Midlands councils have so far failed to agree on anything - including a name - the chances of them agreeing on congestion charging hovers somewhere between "when there's a blue moon" and "when hell freezes over", and without congestion charging, we won't win the Metro prize.
Call me a cynic, but the Government - used to dealing with our West Midlands metropolitan councils - must be well aware that this is the situation. In fact, it's probably already earmarked the money for another part of the country.
For a Government looking to save money, what real incentive is there to fund Birmingham's Metro plan?
ROBERT WARD, Birmingham
Misplaced faith in church-going public
Dear Editor, I admire the faith Gavin Drake obviously possesses, although he might do better to wake up and smell the incense.
The Church of England is currently undergoing a major financial review, with a view to cutting the number of its bishops by as many as one in five.
Mr Drake, director of communications for the Diocese of Lichfield, boldly states this won't necessarily lead to those bishops in question being sacked, as they can still be funded by "parish donations".
Although there has been a rallying in the number of church worshippers in the last couple of years, the prevailing trend over previous decades has been one of decline, so much so, centuries of history are being lost as churches can no longer maintain their beautiful buildings and many are forced to close and even sell up.
Does Mr Drake think the parishioners who have failed to come to church for the last 10 years or so will suddenly start filling Anglican pews and throwing £5 and £10 notes onto the collecting plate? I'm afraid I don't have his faith.
I refer him back to the article he wrote himself: "It's not surprising that the general public have little or no idea what a bishop does, yet alone who their bishop is."
Is this the same "general public" he hopes will be coming to the aid of those four bishops who could be facing the sack from the Diocese of Lichfield?
They had better start becoming more visible if they want the public to make up the likely £200,000 shortfall in their combined income.
MIKE WALL, By email
Promises by Labour have hollow ring
Dear Editor, The New Labour Party has made so many promises to the electorate I think it should be renamed The Promising Party or the Party of New Promises now that Brown is in charge.
However, perhaps the Browned-off Party would be more appropriate?
More promises by Brown for 2008? He has done so much damage to the face of England, I am intrigued to find out, what cosmetic surgery he is planning to fulfil his latest promises of change?
After 11 years of wear and tear, heavy taxes, deceit, wars and heavy debt, he has drained us dry.
So why does Brown bother to keep on promising and ignoring all of our concerns?
Is he so obsessed with the trappings of power, he will promise anything, say anything, to retain it, knowing how gullible the English electorate is?
Scotland has awakened to his threat and changed its allegiance after very many years. He has wasted and spent the money, he has nothing now in reserve. Benefits to all and sundry has cost us dearly.
I don't admire the gall of New Labour politicians and Brown must know that he hasn't the talent, nor has his Government, to change us for the better.
DOUGLAS WATHEN, Salford Priors
No easy ride for Bhutto son
Dear Editor, You have to feel sorry for Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Plucked from his first year at Oxford University, not only has he lost his mother (suddenly and violently), but he's been plunged into the political turmoil of a state far away from the place he has come to regard as his home - Dubai - both in distance, culture and ideology.
When he quotes his mother as saying "democracy is the best revenge", his heart is no doubt in the right place.
However, how much democracy can he instil in Pakistan when he is appointed leader of the opposition - the Pakistan People's Party - by virtue of his birth alone?
Let's hope he doesn't follow in another family tradition, and become the latest Bhutto martyr.
DAVID LEAR, By email
Festive monster in the oven
Dear Editor, There's enough pressure at Christmas to provide the perfect dinner without having to contend with the 12-bird roast.
Enough to feed 125 people, the huge turkey is filled with meat from a range of other birds, in a tradition dating back centuries.
Let's hope it doesn't take off - I have enough problems timing the roast potatoes without having to worry about cooking this monster.
Imagine forgetting to defrost it in advance - it takes ten hours to cook.
MELANIE DAWES, Kings Heath
Don't stifle imagination
Dear Editor, Little boys have always played with toy guns, whether they be cap guns, water pistols, or simply two fingers squeezed together, and nothing any pc school or nursery can do will make any difference.
I remember taking a toy gun into school on the last day of term - a day when children were encouraged to take a toy or game into the classroom to share with friends. I'm an adult now and I haven't run amok in a school, supermarket or town centre with a shotgun and, if I'm allowed to make a prediction, I will not do so in the future.
There is sadly a very, very small minority of people who will kill. It is important we try to limit the sales of guns to the wrong people.
However, it is also important we allow children's imaginations to run wild.
GILES TURNER, Birmingham