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

LETTERS

Heathrow? Gatwick? One thing is certain, the current status quo is the worst solution of all

Dear Editor,

The debate surrounding plans to build a third runway at Heathrow seems to have been going on for a lifetime.  It is crystal clear that the UK needs to expand capacity – and an extra runway there will also help regional airports such as Newcastle and Tees Valley. The proposed increase in capacity would certainly provide a knock-on boost for our airports and other businesses across the North East.

Expansion of either Heathrow or Gatwick would help our airports, though a Heathrow extra runway would probably have a greater benefit.

The rate things are going, by the time we get started they’ll need two extra runways. Less talk, more action is needed. Heathrow? Gatwick? Both?  One thing is certain, the current status quo is the worst solution of all.Get on with it!

Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP

LETTERS

Fishing must not be an afterthought in the Brexit negotiations

Dear Editor

I’ve just read the government’s White Paper,  which sets out some of the UK’s position on Brexit. The entire 77-page document contains only one paragraph of weasel words on fishing, something which disappoints me because we live in a coastal region with a huge fishing tradition. In the run up to the EU referendum I met many North East fishermen who told me they were voting to Leave because Brexit represented a fantastic opportunity to take back control and create jobs in the fishing industry.

Fishing must not be an afterthought in the Brexit negotiations; it is vital that we take back full control of the UK’s waters and fishing policy so that we can revitalise our fishing industry and protect our fish stocks from being overfished by foreign boats. Flawed EU policies have caused unprecedented amounts of fish dumping (at one point we were dumping more fish than actually landed) and we must ensure that this stops.

Theresa May must not be allowed to sell British fishermen down the river.  They need guarantees that our government will not once again let them down in the way that they’ve been let down every year since 1972.

Regards,
Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

Saying that the dualling the A1 “continues to be a priority” is just not good enough

Dear Editor,

Confirmation from Transport Secretary Chris Grayling that the A1 is to be dualled from Northumberland to Scotland is to be welcomed.

But forgive me for not getting too excited – there is still no firm timetable for the work to begin.

I appreciate that the work will need to be carried out in stages to minimise the inevitable traffic delays it will create but frankly just saying that the dualling work “continues to be a priority” is just not good enough.

I have been personally pushing for the A1 improvements for many a year, as have many others, and the announcement of a firm date for work to begin is beyond overdue. And I am also keeping an eye on the A19 improvement plans.

All government departments are under budget constraints and what is a priority today can easily get kicked into the long grass. I shall do my best to ensure this does not happen.

Yours faithfully

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

LETTERS

Does Newcastle City Council exist to serve local residents or their highest paid and most powerful staff?

Dear Editor,

I was amazed to read that the Labour-controlled Newcastle City Council has given Chief Executive Pat Ritchie yet another pay rise.   This latest pay rise will reportedly put Ms Ritchie’s (who was already paid more than the Prime Minister) salary at  £160,000 per year.

This Labour council have spent the last few years threatening local residents with cuts to everything from healthcare to school crossing patrols ‘due to a lack of government funding.’  Whilst there is no doubt that Tory austerity has made life difficult for councils, I admit that I find it curious that  even in the midst of savage cuts to frontline services, Newcastle City Council seem to have a limitless pot of money available  to fund pay rise after pay rise for senior council staff.

I for one cannot blame your readers for questioning whether this council exists to serve local residents or their highest paid and most powerful staff.

Regards,
Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East