LETTERS

I am glad to hear that European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker is looking forward to “a friendly relationship” with the UK

Dear Editor,

I am glad to hear that European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker is looking forward to “a friendly relationship” with the UK after we leave the EU.

He has told the BBC that as well as hoping to have a friendly relationship over the next decades he is not in a hostile mood with Britain. Again I am glad to hear that.

Time will tell, of course, and there’s an awful lot of negotiations to go under the bridge first. One thing he has said that is undoubtedly true is that the EU is not in the best form and shape it could be in.

He admits that if three, four or five more countries leave the EU would collapse but does not believe that will happen.

Again time will tell, but the whole EU edifice is a flawed concept and collapse is its ultimate destination.

Yours faithfully

Jonathan Arnott MEP

Yet another sickening crime against an animal

Dear Editor,

A dog has been burned alive in a bin bag, after a catalogue of recent offences including a nail hammered through the skull of a dog before burying it alive, a horse stabbed in the legs, neck and abdomen, and thugs filming themselves torturing an animal to death. These sickening crimes happen regularly, as readers will know.

Many culprits escape jail altogether. But when was the last time that for any such offence, no matter how horrific, anyone ACTUALLY spent more than 2 months in jail? I honestly can’t remember it happening. The maximum sentence is 6 months, which is discounted to 4 on a guilty plea – and those sentenced to 4 months are released in just 2.

When the very worst offenders spend no more than two months in jail, it’s time to change the law. A 5 year maximum, as recommended by Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, would be a good starting point.

If MPs thought there were a million votes in it, there’d be a Bill on the floor of the House of Commons within hours. Instead, out-of-touch politicians (with some notable exceptions like Anna Turley) continue to ignore this outrage.

Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

LETTERS

Newcastle does not need a congestion charge

Dear Editor,

Local bus companies have proposed introducing a London-style charge on motorists who wish to drive in Newcastle. They claim that this should be done to ‘cut congestion’ but I would not blame some of your more cynical readers if they saw this as a bid to increase bus company profits. London is very different from Newcastle, is much bigger than Newcastle, and has a level of public transport funding that we couldn’t imagine in our wildest dreams.

This charge would add yet another financial burden to already stretched local families and small businesses.  It would also do much to discourage people from visiting (and spending money) in Newcastle. We should be encouraging people to visit our cities, not putting them off.

Frankly I think motorists are already paying enough. We pay 58p a litre in fuel duty, then we pay VAT on the cost of the fuel and the duty. We pay road tax, tax on our insurance premiums, extortionate parking charges and a toll to go through the Tyne Tunnel. Should a driver stray into a bus lane for more than a millisecond, a fine quickly follows. If local bus companies want to increase their profits they should focus on improving their service to make bus travel more appealing rather than launching a war against local drivers.

Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

LETTERS

The North East needs investment, not empty promises

Dear Editor,

New reports suggest that North East schools would get an extra £323 million per year if they were based in London.  The worst thing about this?  I am not even slightly surprised.

Just about everything in the North East is underfunded when compared to other parts of the country (especially London).  Roads, railways, the NHS, ambulance services and schools are just a few examples of public services that have been underfunded in the North East for a very long time.

At every General Election Labour and the Conservative Party come to the North East promising investment, jobs and opportunity. They tell us that the North East has been overlooked for too long – but nothing ever changes and those same politicians  always come back making the same empty promises at the next election.

The North East needs investment, not empty promises – it is a great shame that successive Labour and Conservative governments have shown no interest in providing this investment.
Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

LETTERS

I do not feel that David Cameron is a suitable candidate for the office of Secretary General of NATO

Dear Editor,

The political establishment recently launched a campaign to promote David Cameron as a candidate for the next Secretary General of  NATO.

 

David Cameron oversaw a government that made savage, reckless, shortsighted and damaging cuts to our armed forces – particularly the Royal Navy. As a result of these cuts the UK’s Army, Navy and Air Force all significantly lack equipment, manpower and funding.

 

Given the Cameron government’s failures in this regard I do not feel that he is a suitable candidate for the office of Secretary General of NATO. NATO needs to be lead by someone who is actually committed to defence and will push member states to meet NATO spending targets.  NATO is vital to British, European and global security; its Secretary-General should be someone with a proven track record when it comes to defence.

 

After Tony Blair’s disastrous time as Middle East peace envoy, perhaps our country could do to learn a thing or two about the advisability of ex-Prime Ministers grandstanding on the world stage.

Regards,
Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

The UK foreign aid budget is now so large that the government can no longer even think of sensible things to spend it on

Dear Editor,

The UK government has long been criticised for providing foreign aid to countries with space programmes and nuclear weapons programmes, or to countries in the G20. Tabloid newspapers give us stories of our foreign aid budget being used to support girl bands and the growth of football. And now further media reports reveal that the government is currently considering sending foreign aid to European Union countries like Poland, Hungary and some of the Baltic states post-Brexit.

There is a strong moral case for a sensible foreign aid budget which responds to earthquakes and volcano eruptions, to outbreaks of killer disease and to famine. There is a strong moral case for a foreign aid budget providing clean drinking water and vital medical supplies. There’s also a strong moral case, post-Brexit when we regain the power, for eliminating tariffs for buying goods from some of the world’s poorest nations and helping them through trade which develops their economies. All of these things give a helping hand to those who truly need it. However, whilst so many key services in the UK are being cut due to a lack of funding I think that it is appalling that our government would even consider providing ‘aid’ to relatively prosperous Western nations.

It is clear that the UK foreign aid budget is now so large that the government can no longer even think of sensible things to spend it on. For that reason, I can accept the official UKIP position. I can support trimming our foreign aid budget to remove all the wasteful and unnecessary spending – and at a time of crisis in the NHS, the Party is absolutely right to say that the savings should be ploughed into our NHS to ensure that we provide better care for those who are sick and in the most need in our own country.

Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

LETTERS

HMP Northumberland is not even close to being fit for purpose

Dear Editor,

The recent Panorama investigation is just the latest in a long series of damning reports on HMP Northumberland.  It is clear that this prison is not even close to being fit for purpose; even within a prison system that is in the midst of a widespread crisis HMP Northumberland stands out as a beacon of disorder and mismanagement. Drugs, violence, contraband and disorder are all rife in this prison and its understaffed guards appear powerless to deal with the issue. We need to have some respect for those who staff our jails, and provide them with the resources needed to do their jobs safely and efficiently.

Report after report has stressed that HMP Northumberland lacks discipline, security, staff and funding but Sodexo Justice Services have failed to address the problem.  If private sector organisations are failing, government must take back control and restore order.

Some argue that prisons should focus on rehabilitation, others say that prisons should focus on punishment – HMP Northumberland currently provides neither.

Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

LETTERS

If peers reject the Brexit Bill they will be kicking off a constitutional crisis the likes of which has not been seen in British politics for centuries

Dear Editor,

Last night MPs in the House of Commons passed the Brexit Bill. The Bill will now head to the House of Lords so that peers can debate and vote on it.

Brexit has the biggest mandate in the history of British politics and this Bill was overwhelmingly passed (without amendment) in the House of Commons. House of Lords approval should and must be a formality.

I well remember the furore in 2003 when the House of Lords voted down the bill on foxhunting, leading to a massive public outcry before the law was eventually passed.

On this issue the democratic mandate is even clearer. If unelected peers attempt to subvert the democratic will of both the British people and our democratically elected representatives they will be kicking off a constitutional crisis the likes of which has not been seen in British politics for centuries.
Regards,
Jonathan Arnott MEP,
UKIP, North East
LETTERS

China’s social care system is China’s responsibility, not ours

Dear Editor,

Media reports have revealed that our government has decided to give an additional £1.3 billion in foreign aid to a list of countries including India and China – despite both nations having a space programme.

Every day more frontline services are cut in the name of Tory austerity, yet that same government has just invested heavily in China’s fashion and film industries. Even worse, whilst our NHS is in the midst of a social care crisis, the UK government has just provided money to fund social care in China.

I have no objection to a reasonable foreign aid budget being spent on things like fighting famines and damage caused by natural disasters, providing clean water supplies or countering epidemics like the Ebola outbreak a couple of years ago.

Our social care system (like the entire NHS) is in desperate need of additional funding. It is the government’s responsibility to use British taxpayers’ money wisely, and its first duty is to spend it on the needs of British taxpayers. If China needs additional funding for its social care system I would suggest reallocating some the funding it currently spends on its space programme. China’s social care system is China’s responsibility, not ours.

By mismanaging and overspending on foreign aid, our government provides grist to the mill of those protectionists who would prefer to abolish foreign aid altogether.

Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP,

UKIP, North East

LETTERS

A fair and impartial judiciary must be the cornerstone of our legal system

Dear Editor,

As broadcaster Michael Crick has correctly pointed out, UK media gives huge amounts of coverage to US Supreme Court appointments but virtually ignores appointments to the UK Supreme Court. Thankfully in most situations, British judges have resisted the kind of judicial activism which has taken lawmaking away from democratically-elected bodies in the USA.

Yet we have recently seen just how influential the Supreme Court can be. Once we leave the European Union British Law will once again become the highest law in the land and our Supreme Court will truly become Supreme.

A fair and impartial judiciary must be the cornerstone of our legal system, now more than ever.

Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East