Readers' letters - February 8

Divorce from EU will be difficult

Wednesday, 8th February 2017, 4:39 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th February 2017, 12:34 pm

The letter from UKIP President Philip Griffiths (Guardian January 31) contains a telling Freudian Slip. He says “Labour, the Lib Dems, SNP, Greens and many Tories are doing their best to frustrate the democratic outcome, with the Lib Dems wanting a second referendum – exactly what the EU does when it gets the wrong result”.

Exactly – it WAS the wrong result!

I have no problem whatsoever with people who thought about the issue, weighed up the pros and cons, and decided to vote Leave.

What I do have an issue with are those people who decided, without any knowledge or justification, that they wanted out regardless. The vox pop interviews on TV in the days after the referendum said it all – some wanted to give Cameron a bloody nose, others thought the bankers were too greedy, still more thought the ‘toffs’ down south needed teaching a lesson, and, of course, we don’t like ‘Johnny Foreigner’ in this country, do we?!

The oft-repeated mantra is that the country has spoken, and we must respect the wishes of the people.

All well and good, but I would bet my bottom dollar euro pound that the slim majority in favour of Leave was more than made up of voters in at least one of these categories. Furthermore, only 37 per cent of all those registered voted Leave, a figure which falls to less than 30 per cent if you count those eligible but not on the electoral roll.

The ignorance of the ‘Man on the Clapham (sorry, Coppull) Omnibus’ was amply illustrated by one of your correspondents last October, who said that: “June 23, 2016 was divorce day, and divorcees are not forced to cohabit for three years after decree nisi. Brexit means out now”. What incredible naivety and lack of understanding of the issues involved. To think that our country can unilaterally abrogate all its ties with the EU, built up over the past 40 years, and walk away in just a few short weeks without anything to replace them with, beggars belief.

The analogy with a divorce does have one notable aspect. Many people believed that we could ‘have our cake and eat it’ – leave the EU, keep all the things we like (free trade etc) and ditch the ones we don’t (immigration from Eastern Europe, EU laws – which incidentally have done wonders in protecting workers’ rights and livelihood – and so on). Now imagine, you’ve decided to walk away from your spouse and you say you’re divorcing him or her. Do you really think s/he would be reasonable and accommodating in letting you cherry-pick your joint assets? Not a bit of it. He or she would screw you for every penny they could get out of you, and make your decision to leave as unpleasant as possible. I don’t know where we will be in five or ten years’ time, when it is all over. But one thing I do know. Whatever we have then won’t be as good as what we have now.

Democrates via email


Punish abusers of the elderly

At Action on Elder Abuse, we were disgusted to read about the case of Lillian Buttery, who was filmed being dragged along the floor by her ‘carers’ (Guardian January 31).

The details of the case were particularly harrowing, but what we found especially shocking was the fact that no criminal prosecution has been brought against the perpetrators of this crime against a defenceless woman with advanced dementia, despite the whole incident being caught on camera and shown to police.

Sadly, this is part of a wider pattern, whereby those who commit crimes against older people get off scot-free.

Our research shows that, despite an estimated 413,500 people aged 65 or over in England and Wales experiencing some form of abuse each year – ranging from neglect and fraud to physical and sexual assaults – in 2015/16 there were just 3,012 successful criminal convictions. This means it is likely that 99 per cent of those who abuse older people are going unpunished and, as we have seen in this case, even if they are prosecuted, all too often perpetrators do not receive a sentence commensurate with the gravity of their crimes. For this reason, Action on Elder Abuse is campaigning for abuse of older people to be classed as an aggravated crime, so the police and our justice system are forced to take it more seriously. To find out, visit

Gary FitzGerald,

Chief executive,

Action on Elder Abuse


No buses, no visitors to town

Oh dear! Now it looks like the planned Chorley town centre improvements and Market Walks extension are going ahead at the expense of ‘bin’ collections, for which we are now going to be charged!

But there is another problem looming here. Further changes to local bus services mean that fewer people will now be able to get to the town centre to enjoy these improvements. Those being deprived of these important bus links will also have difficulty in accessing other vital services, including doctors, libraries, opticians, hospitals, etc.

Don’t even think abut blaming the ageing population with their bus passes, who are already carrying the can as ‘bed blockers’, overloading the NHS and subsequently causing the closure of our 24- hour A&E services. I’m certain that, given the choice, the majority of those with bus passes would willingly pay the going rate for fares to ensure that these bus services are still available to them. Unless the council can bring pressure to bear to ensure these important bus links remain, they may as well ‘bin’ any expansion to the town centre.

Graham Archer, Chorley


End bullying
in politics

Re: your article on the conduct of Conservative councillors, I wish to raise the level of debate (Guardian, January 17).

Public service is a privilege. The voters put their trust in their representatives to do the best they can to promote the well-being of all citizens in their area. Democracy is a fragile concept. Unless it is vigorously defended, it can soon fall apart. That is why those who step into the political arena must do so with the highest of motives, with compassion for all and with no self-interest in gaining financially.

It is also important in a democracy that our representatives reflect the whole of society, and this means encouraging people to stand for office regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender or disabilities.

Bullying behaviour is corrosive – it undermines an individual’s self-esteem and confidence. It should have no place in democratic politics.

However, we now have one of the most powerful political leaders in the world who is, on record, making light of his sexual assaults on women – “locker-room talk”.

Let us all strive to rise above this. I urge all people in politics to discourse fully and passionately and with due respect for their colleagues. I urge all political parties not to condone bullying and to take allegations of bullying seriously. I urge all political parties to ensure women have an equal and respected voice.

Susan E. Riley,

Women’s officer

Ribble Valley Constituency Labour Party