Letters – Our children deserve a quality education

Dear Editor,

Recent OECD figures rated English teenagers as the worst of 23 developed nations in literacy, and 22nd of 23 in numeracy.  Many of the advantages we have economically in the United Kingdom relate to English as a global language, and our high-tech economy.  If we are to be a 21st-century global leader in an increasingly-crowded field, we need to strive to be the best.

Before I was elected to the European Parliament, I taught Mathematics.  I believe that at every level, the way we educate our young people and future leaders requires a radical overhaul.  Teaching must become less a tick-box exercise and much more about conveying a passion for the subject.  Mathematics contains so much beauty, and we must convey that to children rather than sterile instruction which leads children to describe Maths as ‘boring’.  We need a quality education to be provided, in a disciplined learning environment, and for that education to be valued and supported by all parents.  We need to cater better for special educational needs than we do.  But sometimes society also forgets about the A* students; should we not also be doing more to ensure that they reach their potential if we want future generations to stand out?

At every level improvement is required; a good first step would be admitting that there is a problem.  If children do not pick up key skills in Maths and English at school, then it could impact them in countless ways for the rest of their lives.  We must do better for a generation which will already be burdened by unprecedented levels of national debt and reduced public services.

 

Regards,
Jonathan Arnott MEP

Letters – Our Prison Service is in need of immediate reform

Dear Editor,

Recent figures have shown that the number of serious assaults by inmates upon prison guards has skyrocketed.

The Ministry of Justice said there were 595 serious assaults against guards in the year to September 2015 – up 33 per cent on 2014. Total assaults are up 30% to 4,568.

The government must immediately act to address the serious problems of overcrowded and understaffed prisons.  It is utterly unacceptable that the British Prison system has gotten out of control.  It is vital that the government takes this matter seriously, it should not take a prison guard tragically losing their life (and the media outcry that would follow this) to deliver long overdue reforms.

The government has recently found funding to expand the London bureaucracy (paying some of these staff thousands of pounds per day); if they can find money for yet more be bureaucrats, then they can find money for additional prisons and guards.

 

Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

 

My Column – Make up your own mind about the EU referendum – it is the most important decision we’ll make for a generation

The Labour Party is busy. In amongst the rifts and the factionalism, the Blairites versus the Corbynistas, the left versus the far-left, another fight is developing. This time, it’s about squashing dissent on the European Union. A small but growing band of Labour MPs have dared to put their careers on the line to speak out and stand up for an old Labour tradition of Euroscepticism; they say that Britain would be better off by leaving the European Union. In the days of Clement Atlee or Tony Benn – Hugh Gaitskell even – these dyed-in-the-wool Labour Party giants stood up against the forerunner of today’s European Union.

Today that same charge is led by Kate Hoey, who I respect more than any other Labour MP. There’s Frank Field, the solid Northern MP for Birkenhead. Gisela Stuart MP was pro-European Union until she assisted in drafting the European Constitution [now Lisbon Treaty], and what she saw put her off the EU for good. Then there’s Khalid Mahmood, an MP from the Birmingham area who wants to leave the EU to help his local business community. Kelvin Hopkins wants to leave to boost workers’ rights, and to give the power to renationalise railways and postal services. I might add Graham Stringer, Roger Godsiff or closer to home, Ronnie Campbell – MP for Blyth Valley. Labour’s biggest private donor, John Mills, is putting his money where his mouth is to join the campaign. At the periphery, there’s a former Defence minister in Lewis Moonie.

It’s a pretty solid base considering the vitriol aimed at them by their own supporters. I’ve spoken to senior people in the various Leave campaigns; their experience is that a large number of Labour councillors will privately support EU withdrawal. But very few, if any, dare to go on the record. They’re tearing their hair out with frustration at all the untapped support. I’ve heard words along the lines of “I used to be a Labour councillor. I don’t agree with UKIP on much, but we need to be out of the European Union” many times, often through chance encounters when campaigning. Labour councillors have often turned up to UKIP events, usually because they’re interested in leaving the EU.

But don’t expect them to admit to it. Kate Hoey is branded a ‘serial maverick’ by the deputy leader of Labour’s MEPs. I would have thought that David Lammy MP’s comment that “A million Indians died fighting for us, they fought for the European project” should be considered more maverick not least because he rewrites history and forgets that the EU didn’t exist in any form until a long time after World War 2.

Then one of the North East Labour MEPs attacks the Labour Leave website. As I understand it, the Labour Leave – like Conservative Leave and so on – are all umbrella organisations of Vote Leave. The Labour Leave website was set up by some of the top people in Vote Leave. Cue faux outrage and an absurd leap of logic, the Labour mavericks must be in cahoots with Tories! Spin aside, it’s no more than pro-EU Labour MPs are in cahoots with David Cameron.

Top Labour donor John Mills hits the nail on the head: ‘There are many Labour MPs who do want out of Europe but won’t say so’. He’s right, even if he does confuse the wonderful continent of Europe with the appalling European Union. Indeed, even Jeremy Corbyn was for decades a staunch Eurosceptic. He wouldn’t rule out campaigning to leave the EU until he realised that he might be deposed by his own MPs if he did.

But for now the number of Labour MPs prepared to speak out against the European Union remains small. It’s the tyranny of the majority; rebellion would not be treated kindly. The Labour Party is broadly pro-EU, but it is not united. It’s telling that when Mills called for Shadow Cabinet members to have the freedom to campaign for a ‘Leave’ vote if they wish, no movement was forthcoming. If such a policy applied to the Shadow Cabinet, then other MPs and councillors might follow suit rather than lying low. Ultimately what certain elements of the Labour Party don’t want you to know is that it’s okay to be Labour and to want our freedom back from the European Union. I could say the same incidentally about the Greens; Jenny Jones, former Deputy Mayor of London and one of the Green Party’s three members of the House of Lords, is vocal in the anti-EU campaign.

Why does any of this matter? Why am I, as a UKIP MEP, writing about the Labour Party? Because the forthcoming referendum is the most important decision we’ll make for a generation. I’d urge everyone to look at the issues for themselves and make up their own minds, rather than unthinkingly vote according to what they perceive as the Party line.

This article was originally published in The Journal.

Letters – Well done to Darlington primary school head Kate Chisholm

Dear Editor,

Well done to Darlington primary school head Kate Chisholm who has come out against lazy parents turning up in their pyjamas.

Appallingly this has been a growing trend, not just in Darlington, but all over the country, particularly in urban areas, and it is a disgraceful lowering of standards.

And she has found that they don’t just drop them off at school without washing and dressing first, some even turn up in them at parents’ evenings and shows.

She is spot on to want a good example to be demonstrated to the pupils, and parents going out in their nightwear in certainly not that.

As a former teacher myself I know only too well how easily influenced young minds can be. Expecting school to  be treated with respect is a great way to demonstrate that learning is a valuable thing.

 

Yours faithfully,

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

Letters – Labour Party MP attempts to rewrite the history of WW2 to fit current Labour Party policies

Dear Editor,

Labour MP David Lammy appeared on the BBC today and stated that a million people died fighting for the “European Project” in WW2.

I would like to make something clear to the Labour Party: Britain and our allies did not fight WW2 in the name of the EU, the EEC, the Euro or even the Council of Europe. Millions of British citizens and our allies lost their lives so that we could defeat an evil Dictator and those who supported him. This should never be forgotten or rewritten.

In recent times the Labour Party has had a worrying attitude towards our armed forces and the defence of the United Kingdom and British Citizens. It is clear that there are tensions in the Labour Party – but I am not going to sit quietly and listen while Labour MPs rewrite the history of WW2 to fit current Labour Party policies. Any politician who attempts this should be ashamed of themselves.

 

Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP
UKIP, North East

 

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Letters – £490m train deal has virtually no benefits for British business

Dear Editor,

Awarding Spain’s CAF the £490m contract to build new rolling stock for Northern railways is a snub to British workers and British steel.

I find it very difficult news that no British company was able to compete for the contract to build the 281 new trains for Arriva Rail North.

I understand that a Spanish and a Swiss company were the main contenders for the contract and it is a slap in the face for the struggling British steel industry. The whole point of modernising the existing rolling stock is the create an economic boost to the North East economy.

What I have heard from this deal is that the next benefit is virtually nothing, no jobs for British workers, putting at risk our steel industry and will probably increase the cost of rail travel.

Yours faithfully

Jonathan Arnott, UKIP North East MEP

Letters – Crime statistics must be addressed

Dear Editor,

I was shocked to read that according to recently published statistics, crime has increased by 22% in the Cleveland policing area over the last year. In my opinion there are three simple solutions to this worrying trend. Firstly, we need tougher sentences to deter criminals. Secondly, central government has to give police the resources they need to enable them to act quickly and efficiently. Finally, the money they do have needs to be spent more effectively on front line policing, not being tied up in red tape, bureaucracy, desk jobs and political correctness.

Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP

Letters – Important national issues should be decided by the people via a referendum

Dear Editor,

I disagree with recent comments from Lib Dem Peer Lord Shipley in which he called for people under the age of 18 to be able to vote in North East elections. I believe that the voting franchise should not vary from area to area, we should have one voting age in the United Kingdom that treats all people and elections equally.

If any change to the voting age is made, I believe that a decision of such long term importance should be decided on a national basis by the people in a referendum. This decision should not solely be made by politicians, nor for political gain.

If the voters have an appetite for change in our voting system, then a referendum on this (as with a great many other important issues) would be an ideal way to express this. Personally, before we look at the voting age, I would review the voting system itself and see if we can find a more representative and fair system; however both issues should be decided by the people.

Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East