Your correspondent Les Arnott has stood as a local UKIP candidate a number of times, and contributes regularly to your Letters Page. However he has really surpassed himself in his most recent letter (October) 29 in comparing the UK with a battered female spouse being beaten up by a bullying male. Given UKIP’s record of terrible attitudes towards women – remember Godfrey Bloom? – it was probably not a wise analogy to make, quite apart from its sheer silliness.
Like all EU members, the UK is represented by its Prime Minister in the Council of Ministers, and has directly elected Members of the European Parliament.
All those representatives have votes to help to shape policies and laws.
I know Nigel Farage and his colleagues think being offensive to colleagues from other countries is the way to behave, but actually, it is by working cooperatively with colleagues that progressive legislation which benefits everyone gets passed; we now have much stronger rules on clean water and air quality, (yes, VW broke the rules and are now paying the price), consumer protection, food safety, workers’ rights such as entitlement to paid holidays and pensions for part-time workers, particularly benefiting women.
When we visit other EU countries we can expect these standards, and have an absolute right to redress if this is not the case.
Millions of UK citizens, like my son and his family, live and work, or retire, in other EU countries, enjoying all the rights and benefits of those countries.
I remind Les Arnott that in the 80s, when South Yorkshire was devastated by the closures of the mines and steelworks, it was not our then government that put extra money into the area; indeed Mrs Thatcher kept cutting council grants.
It was the EU that used its Regional and Social Funds to build new infrastructure like the new roads and factory buildings in the Dearne Valley to give new jobs with access to the motorway system, and provided funding for retraining of redundant workers.
In Sheffield, our theatres, for two years Regional Theatre of the Year, our refurbished station, the Millennium Gallery, the Peace Gardens and the rest of the Heart of the City improvements were all underpinned with European money.
The Advanced Manufacturing Park and our Universities benefit from EU Research Programmes.
South Yorkshire has benefited more than almost any other part of the UK from our EU membership.
The UK should be playing a full and leading role within the European family of nations, as befits its status as a major economy within the biggest trading block in the world, rather than attacking it with the highly unpleasant, untrue ranting in Mr Arnott’s letter.
He and his UKIP colleagues actually undermine our nation’s reputation by their boorish behaviour.
We are much better than he gives us credit for, and could be better still if his MEP colleagues were working as hard and constructively as those of other political parties to build a better Europe for us all, whichever country we live in.
Northfield Court, S10