Letters in March

238

April Fool

How many of you spotted the April Fool’s article on Friday?

“Baa…rmy – I enjoyed your vandal/sheep story in spite of my early morning woolly thinking, l hope most readers don’t end up feeling sheepish.”

How much more idiocy?

“I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that I can’t take many more news items like these. I’m in danger of having a heart attack brought on by a mixture of incandescent rage, apoplexy and sheer incredulity as yet another wave of incomprehensible Gallic behaviour threatens to engulf us all. I have several questions to put to Ed:

“1) Do you think the time is ripe for the government to agree a ‘6-month on and 6-month off’ deal with all workers and put a stop to all strikes forever? After all, that’s just about what we’ve got now. Imagine – no more uncertainty, and angry scowls on faces would be replaced by permanent beatific smiles. Less stress all round, eh?

“2) In the light of the revelation that Senor Tavares’ salary at Peugeot is to be doubled, can’t we just ask the air traffic controllers to work 2 days a week instead of one (see 1 above) and double their salary too? (The phrase ‘air strikes’ has always made me feel uncomfortable and continues to have a double meaning.)

“3) If smoking is now going to be allowed on school premises in order to protect our poor drug-ridden schoolchildren from the risk of being blown up by terrorists outside the school walls, does this mean that the school walls are so terrorist-proof that they everyone inside them can feel completely secure? Wow – isn’t that reassuring? (That’s not 2 questions by the way – the latter being an attempt at hyperbole which can’t be far from ‘hypodermic’ in the dictionary.)

“4) On the basis of the fallacy in 2), is domestic violence in the privacy of one’s own home to be condoned as a lesser evil than exposing one’s spouse to the certainty of a terrorist attack on the pavement outside it?

“You would be justified in asking why we bother to continue to live in France. Our answer is unequivocally simple: restaurants never go on strike.”

UK / EU politics

“I enjoyed your editorial rant about David Cameron. A light-weight, with no real vision. I read both the Economist and the Financial Times and both have published several highly critical articles and editorials on his performance, or lack of. All mouth and no trousers!”

Recently we published an article about the right to vote after 15 years away from the UK, and the actual petition is here.

We received an update from the UK government, which we are publishing in full here. 

As an issue of national significance, the Parliamentary franchise is the appropriate starting point. This includes UK citizens abroad if they were registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years.

The franchise for the EU referendum is based on the franchise for Parliamentary elections, with the addition of Members of the House of Lords; and Commonwealth and Irish citizens who can vote at European Parliamentary elections in Gibraltar.

Both the 1975 EEC referendum and 2011 Alternative Vote referendum were based on the UK Parliamentary franchise. The franchise is also similar to that set for the referendum lock on transfers of power from the UK to the EU required under the European Union Act 2011.

The UK Parliamentary franchise includes British citizens overseas who were registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years. This means that many British expats will be able to participate in the referendum. The Government is committed to scrapping the time limit on voting from overseas at parliamentary elections, and intends to bring forward an Overseas Electors Bill to achieve this. This will need to be debated and approved by Parliament before it can become law, and it is highly unlikely this will be in time for the EU referendum.

The European Union Referendum Bill received Royal Assent on 17 December 2015 and is now an Act of Parliament. The question of the franchise was debated in Parliament during the passage of the Bill and this approach was agreed by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

Click this link to view the response online:

The Petitions Committee will take a look at this petition and its response. They can press the government for action and gather evidence. If this petition reaches 100,000 signatures, the Committee will consider it for a debate.

The Committee is made up of 11 MPs, from political parties in government and in opposition. It is entirely independent of the Government. Find out more about the Committee: https://petition.parliament.uk/help#petitions-committee

Thanks,?The Petitions team? UK Government and Parliament

Feedback from travel chaos due to strikes recently

“Arrived at Luton airport at 4.30am Monday to find that the Ryanair flight to Beziers had been cancelled. It was a classic mushroom scenario (i.e. kept in the dark and fed s**t ), with no Ryanair rep in sight. The Easyjet rep was helpful but had no idea what was flying outside of the London airports. All flights to France that were flying out of London already booked through to next week. Solution – hire car, drive back to Bristol and book seats on the late Thursday flight to Toulouse. As it arrives too late for connections we need a hotel overnight and train Friday morning to Beziers, then taxi to the airport to retrieve the car before the parking fee cleans out what little is left in the bank account. Grrr.”

“The strike certainly affected Carcassonne airport for a long time. All flights were delayed. Ours was two hours late arriving, then we sat on the plane for three hours after boarding. So, we ended up more than five hours late landing.”

“The effects at Carcassonne Airport were far worse than you state. Flights were delayed on average about four hours.”

Films

“If only the quiz questions at the end of the Film Buff’s articles were easier – I can’t get any of them!”

“Kill Bill wasn’t mentioned by Film Buff – sacrilege in my book!”

Eating on your own

“Your article about women dining on their own took me back to the 80’s when I was a tour guide in Paris… my clients would happily potter off on their own, leaving me to dine alone in various restaurants on the 5 day tours I did. I see nothing has changed from those days from what you’ve written… yes, I was put near the toilets, yes, I used to get a book out (no laptops in those days!) just to annoy them, and generally was made to feel incredibly uncomfortable for being ‘a woman on her own’… Incredible how nothing has changed in some 36 years!”

“I like the article about women eating alone. Very nicely encapsulated!”

Democracy

We’ve had a few comments about recent letters we have published.

“This letter reminded me of one of Trump’s ‘low education’ supporters when the writer ended with ‘move elsewhere such as Africa or Russia.’ While Russia is a country, Africa is not – it is a continent made up of 54 countries. Most are actually excellent democracies too.”