Letters – Our justice system is failing victims

It is reported that a young mother was attacked by her boyfriend who forced his way into her home, threatened her with an iron bar, dragged her from her house, drove her to an abandoned quarry, made her strip naked and tied her to a tree – because she said she wanted to go home to bed and not spend the night with her attacker.  The attacker even threatened her life by saying ‘there’s already a hole dug for you.’  Unbelievably the attacker was sentenced to a mere 20 months in prison, a sentence  of which it is likely only half will actually be served.

Leaving aside the obvious point that the punishment doesn’t even come close to fitting the crime, one of the key principles of the justice system is that it should adequately protect the public from further offences.  If this were a single, isolated example of a failure within the system then it would be too much, but it is not: it is symptomatic of a much wider problem of victims being failed by our soft-touch sentencing policy for such violent offences.

We need to get a grip on the shattered justice system in this country.  We need to make sure that punishments fit the crime – and that sentences are meaningful, with an expectation that time will be fully served so that countless criminals do not get released without serving the sentences they were given.  Parole should be available on a case by case basis, not an expected aspect of the system.

Rehabilitation should always be a core priority for our justice system, but punishment and protecting the victim should never take a back seat role.  In the UK, the right-wing have traditionally been pro-tough sentences and the left-wing have been pro-rehabilitation.  In my view, and that of my Party, they should be two sides of the same coin.  The criminal justice system should be tough enough to act as a deterrent, making sure that no-one who has been to jail wants to go back.  Within that framework, every possible support should be provided for those in prison who wish to turn their lives around.  So I was also disgusted last month when a criminal released from jail, who had found an honest job on the outside, was returned to jail because of an administrative mix-up on the part of the prison relating to his job.  

Our system is failing victims and letting them down badly.  It is failing in attempts at rehabilitation during and after sentencing.  Society must not continue to sweep these issues under the carpet. 

 

 

Letters – The education system needs to be fixed now, not in 2025

Dear Editor,

Nick Clegg has declared that if the Liberal Democrats are still in power after the General Election, no child will be illiterate by 2025.

It is an absolutely damning indictment of Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems that any child can leave school illiterate.  This is not the pre-Victorian age, this is the year 2015.

Every child coming through the school system in this country should have a good standard of education – no excuses.

 

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East.

Letters – Schoolchildren deserve better

Dear Editor,

I am stunned to learn that Central First School in Ashington has gone from teaching students in buses to making use of converted toilets and cupboards.

Our children deserve to be taught in fit for purpose classrooms, they simply should not be taught in buses – or worse toilets.  Again, I credit this school for finding ways to make the most of what they have available to them, but the point is they should not have to.  Our population is constantly rising, so the long running school places shortage may go from extremely serious to the point where it could be causing significant issues for an entire generation of students in this country.

Labour and the Conservatives have combined to drive the education system in this country into the ground and as a former teacher I hate to learn about children’s education being impacted so recklessly.  We need to get a grip on this issue, which has been allowed to fester for years with nothing being done to seriously address it.

We have seen governments aiming to build “cathedrals of learning,” spend millions of pounds on beautiful buildings and grounds, hiring armies of middle managers and investing in unnecessary technology.   What schools need is more classroom space and more teachers – and that needs to be the main priority from now on.  Don’t push for this because it’s what UKIP want, push for it for your children’s sake.

 

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

 

Letters – We must build a stable, value for money NHS

Labour’s Scottish leader has boasted of plans to collect money in England to fund Scotland’s health service.  This is the sort of political and economic absurdity that has put the NHS and the country in the state we have found it in recent years; there are only so many ways that Labour can claim they’ll spend money from their so-called Mansion Tax.  Labour do not know how much money this tax (if ever implemented) would raise and counting on that money to provide key services is reckless.

Here in Hartlepool we well know the dangers of ill-conceived healthcare strategies.  The solution to many of our local and national issues (especially the NHS) is not just how much is spent, but how the money is spent.

We must sit down and look at our NHS, from top to bottom, see what is being spent and ensure waste and mismanagement is removed so that we can have a stable, effective health system.  The solution is not just adding a few more billion to the budget every year but making sure that the NHS provides value for money.

Letters – A new year, but there’s nothing new about Labour’s hypocrisy

Dear Editor,

We’ve seen and heard a host of smears on UKIP in recent weeks, which presumably, are set to increase further in the coming months as we get closer to the General Election.  The latest has come from Richard Bulmer in Sheffield, who suggests UKIP are out to protect big business.

If he takes a look at ‘Policies for People’, freely available for all to see at ukip.org, it clearly states ‘UKIP will set up a Treasury Commission to design a turnover tax to ensure big businesses pay a minimum floor rate of tax as a proportion of their UK turnover’.  Ultimately, this would work as a back stop for the tax system and ensure that every big company pays a fair share of tax.  

Only last July it was revealed that one of Labour’s biggest donors had poured millions of pounds into banks and energy companies that Ed Miliband had publicly condemned.  Back in October, Labour’s biggest individual donor, John Mills, was criticised for donating in shares rather than cash, since they can be gifted on a tax-free basis. 

If Labour wants to cosy up to big business then that is their prerogative.  But they can’t do that, and at the same time invent false attacks on UKIP claiming that we’re doing the same.  

The saying ‘people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones’ springs to mind.  It may be a new year, but there’s nothing new about Labour’s hypocrisy.

 

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East.

Letters – Correcting yet more tired Labour spin

Dear Editor,

Labour Councillors Lambert and Stockdale stated in the Journal (5/1/15) that they do not believe in negative campaigning – yet in the same letter launched into precisely that kind of negative tirade against UKIP.

They claimed we want to charge people to use the NHS.  As my last column in the Journal demonstrated, this is untrue.  Our Policies for People document states “UKIP will ensure the NHS is free at the point of delivery and time of need for all UK residents.”

They claimed that we want to tax families to fund millionaires – another lie; in fact we would take those on the minimum wage completely out of tax, scrap the bedroom tax and set up a Treasury Commission to ensure big business pay their fair share.

Their ‘no negative campaigning’ extends to attacking Nigel Farage’s ‘expenses’.  Actually, the figure refers to allowances.  Over a fifteen year period, Nigel has employed staff, maintained a constituency office and travelled to France and Belgium every month just like any other MEP.  This costs money; it costs money for all MEPs – and yes, there are parts of the system which aren’t right.  That’s what I stand against in the Budget and Budgetary Control Committees, why I tabled amendments to the EU budget to change the system.  But ultimately if they don’t like their taxes subsidising the unfair EU system, the logical answer is to support UKIP and get us out of this unreformable mess.

The answer to their tired old allegations against Nigel Farage was already in the public domain.  So is the answer to their accusations on policy.  UKIP’s Policies for People document is not hidden; it is in plain view on our website (it’s actually the top link) for all to see – readers can check for themselves whether the Labour councillors’ attacks are accurate or not. Finding out what we actually stand for would have taken up just a few minutes of Lambert and Stockdale’s time but instead they chose to resort to smear.

Isn’t this kind of distortion and disingenuousness from Labour exactly what gives politicians a bad name?  How often do you hear people say “I don’t trust politicians”?  We’re supposed to be working for the future of our country; Lambert and Stockdale would do well to remember that instead of using a style that would be more suited to a Punch and Judy show.

 

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

Letters – We must be able to defend ourselves

Dear Editor,

Recent reports highlighted that an unidentified submarine could be lurking off the coast of Scotland and the UK lacked the resources to react to this potential threat. Indeed, allies had to send planes from as far away as France, America and Canada just so we could search our own coast. If we ever did face a real threat I highly doubt resources could be moved from Canada quickly enough to do anything but access the damage.

The world is an uncertain place, with powerful nations and organisations pursing aggressive agendas.  We need to be able to defend our borders, coasts and airspace at all times.  The threat may be remote but we must be prepared.

The British army must be supported by our politicians, and we need to reconsider successive governments’ hawkish involvement in expensive foreign wars which has often – as in the case of Iraq – proved to be counterproductive.

Jonathan Arnott

UKIP, North East

Letters – Praise for local football fans

Dear Editor,

As an avid football fan, and a football commentator for a hospital radio station, I completely understand the intense rivalry between local football clubs.

Therefore, as an ambassador of this region, it fills me with pride that fans from both Newcastle United and Sunderland AFC have met together at the Bridge Hotel in Newcastle recently, in an attempt to look at ways for fans to keep the passion, but lose the hate, between the two clubs.

Those who participate in endless bouts of violence before, during and after games, who know full well they run the risk of being banned from the stadium in future games, are thugs, not fans.

These people not only affect other fans at games, but often their local communities too.

Football has moved on since the dark days of frequent outbursts of violence and hate on the terraces, let’s work together, and push forward for a safer environment for all.

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

Letters – Cut waste not key services

Dear Editor,

We’ve already seen frontline services in the North East crippled in everything from the NHS to road repairs, and are now told things are going to get worse under future governments.  Labour bankrupted our country and now the Liberal/Tory coalition has somehow made things worse.

When you consider the tens of millions of pounds which we throw down the drain every day, it is appalling that we face more years of under-investment in our local areas.  I’m a realist; I understand that times are hard – but the government is choosing the wrong areas for tightening our belts.

Before we make more cuts to key services, perhaps we should get our house in order?  We pay the EU 55 million pounds every single day and in recent years we have paid foreign aid to a list of nations which includes China, Russia and Argentina.

Perhaps we should start to look out for the thousands of parents who struggle to feed their families here in the North East, before we fund India’s space programme?

 

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP North East

Letters – Hartlepool foodbank shame

Dear Editor,

It is devastating that in the 21st Century foodbanks still exist and that vital food handouts are given to families on an average of every three minutes in our town.  I support the wonderful voluntary work that is going on, and thank all members of the public who have donated towards collections.  Having seen for myself the sterling work done by Hartlepool Tesco in getting food for local foodbanks, it’s encouraging that people are able to come together in support of a worthy cause.

The last time I visited a local foodbank itself, the number of in-work people seeking assistance was startling.  How can it possibly be right that people go out to work, attempt to make ends meet, but are still reliant on rescue packages from foodbanks?

It’s grossly unfair that those who manage to find a job, on the minimum wage, are taxed immediately by our greedy Islington-obsessed career-class politicians.  UKIP want to lift those who are on the minimum wage out of income tax altogether; ensuring work really pays.  We also need to make our benefits system fairer, more accessible and flexible. Too often deserving people miss out on what they are entitled to due to our overly complex benefits system, whilst the minority who abuse the system often go undetected.

These two changes alone would go a significant distance in supporting the lowest paid in the land, and helping those who need it most.

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, Elwick Road, Hartlepool.