Obsessed because I care

SIR – I refer to Mr Painter’s letter (July 14) that was in answer to my earlier letter to your columns. I do thank him for taking the trouble to both read my letter and to respond. That after all is what free speech and open debate is about.

I do regret his personalisation however. A left-winger I may be, but I rather think he uses the term as a vituperative rather than a description of my politicial leanings.

I was confused by Mr Painter’s description of himself until I read his last paragraph and his desire to return to, ‘core values that made this country the envy of the world’.

I just wonder what period that was? A return to imperialism, perhaps with gunboat diplomacy the mainstay of our greatness?

Not for me Mr Painter.

Perhaps he means the period when workers could be kept well and truly in their place and the bosses could sack at will and dock workers’ pay, with others having to queue outside the gates to see if they could get hired for the day. And always with a government that was prepared to send in the troops to put ‘strikers’ down.

No National Health Service of course and an education system that favoured the few.

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No I don’t think so Mr Painter.

The world has changed and like it or not, tugging the forelock has gone forever.

I am not attempting to be an apologist for the Labour Party, but neither will I accept the idea that this current Government will be the panacea of the country’s ills.

Mr Painter should remember that in 1997, the new Labour Government inherited a failed Tory administration. The nation had experienced the highest levels of unemployment. Inflation had topped 15 per cent and schools and hospitals were crippled through lack of investment.

In its term, the Government invested in the police force so that crime came down substantially and more police came into the force.

It also started to redress the balance between rich and poor.

Whether they lost the election because of policies that were not popular or because they had been in for too long will be matter for history to judge.

The Tory Liberal party seeks to persuade us that it has changed it spots.

Well we shall see.

But since Mr Painter mentioned the sale of gold reserves it should be remembered that this was done at the time when several other countries had decided to rebalance their reserves also. The UK converted 415 tonnes realising �1,999 million that was converted into dollars, euros and yen that went back into the reserve.

The Euro Central Bank sold of 50 per cent of its gold reserves at the same time.

Britain didn’t take a unilateral decision because the cupboard was bare, but because at the time gold was failing to keep pace with inflation.

Whether or not the decision turned out to be the best is speculative, but 20:20 hindsight vision is always the best weapon when there is little evidence.

One thing that can be certain, if Labour got rid of the gold, the Tories certainly got rid of the silver and a lot more of it. All the public utilities were sold off; gas, electric, water, all now owned by foreign investors.

Coal mines that were producing the cheapest deep-mined coal and still had years of production life were closed. We now import all our coal from overseas mines.

Steel producers, shipbuilders, all victims of the Tory silver sale.

Worst of all, the sale of council houses left the nation bereft of an affordable supply of accommodation and forced many people into a housing market they couldn’t afford. It was a policy that contributed eventually to the crisis in the banking system.

Well Mr Painter, you cap the bankers’ bonuses and see if they care. They have a captive audience of people that need houses who have nowhere else to turn to borrow and buy a place to live except from the bankers.

These bankers will not have cause to be alarmed at minor tweaks to their earning opportunities.

My obsession with one parent families incidentally extends to anyone who is poor. A group that I fear will grow much larger under this ‘bash ’em with a bit of hardship’ policy currently being pursed by the Government.

My obsession is because I care.

Dave Ingram,

Fulling Mill Lane, Welwyn.