Letters week of 13th June


EDF bills set to rise

“Re the EDF electricity bills increasing. Why is it that EDF is cheaper in the UK than in France. After all, it is generated here.”

[Varying exchange rates can make a massive difference. According to our information from the end of May 2016, France is still slightly cheaper than the UK. France is 0.160 per kWh, and the UK is 0.180 per kWh. Does the forthcoming price hike take it the other way? Ed]

Airlines – the good and the bad

We recently reported about a successful claim from Easyjet. 

One reader asks “Has anyone had any luck claiming money from Ryanair for delays/cancellations?”  

Another reader wrote in with a different good news story about Easyjet.

“Further to your news articles about the strikes, we experienced some very good service from Easyjet yesterday. As this doesn’t always get reported on, we thought we should share it with others. Our flight from Gatwick to Montpellier was cancelled due to the repercussions of “holes on the runway”. Probably the worst part was queuing for an hour and a half to speak to someone in Easyjet’s Customer Services. However, once there they couldn’t have been more helpful.

“There were no more seats available from Gatwick until Thursday, however there was availability from Luton at 7.00 am this morning. Easyjet then immediately organised a taxi for four of us to the Hilton hotel Luton where they booked two rooms. We were provided with meals and a taxi to the airport, which was five minutes away this morning. We then waited with baited breath to see if our flight would be affected by the air traffic strike today, however despite a delay of one and a half hours, we eventually arrived back at Montpellier later this morning. We couldn’t fault the service we had been given by Easyjet and wondered if things would have been quite the same had we been travelling with Ryanair?!”

[Bravo Easyjet.]

Giving blood

Following a call to give blood in the region a reader wrote to us in frustration.

“That’s all very well saying give blood but they don’t want ours until, I think, we have been here 12 years. Ridiculous that it can’t be screened in this day and age!”

“Further to the article about low blood stocks. Like so many others, I always gave blood in the UK but am disappointed to find that in France it isn’t possible. Please see the blood donation site –www.dondusang.net

[Apparently blood donation is prohibited for people who have lived in Great Britain for over 12 accumulative months between 1980 and 1996. This is because there is a theoretical risk of transmitting bovine spongiform encephalopathy or “mad cow’s disease”. With this prohibition France is “applying the principle of precaution.” Agreed, such a shame that it can’t be screened, especially in light of the need for more blood. Ed]

EU referendum

Following the two excellent articles by Languedoc Living readers and contributors, we received lots of letters.

The E.U. Referendum – Nothing Ever Changes

The Mangelwurzels in Norfolk 

“I would like to congratulate you on the excellent coverage of the EU debate. What I see on the TV and hear on radio isn’t raising the level much above an anti -immigration rant, and the Blue on Blue political fight is distracting from the issues which are important but hardly addressed. Everything is being debased by claim, counter claim, and downright lies. I despair! However I particularly enjoyed if that’s the right word, today’s mangel-wurzel article.

“I stood for parliament twice in mangel-wurzel country and managed to put the LibDems in second place rather than the usual third, but I now hear that the constituency is likely to return a UKIP MP . This seems to be largely because of the increasing numbers of Eastern Europeans who now do most of the agricultural work in the area, which as was remarked in the article, is too menial for the indigenous Brits.

“My husband came to the UK in 1961 to join the RAF. He tells me that the English were banging on about immigration then, and are still at it.

“I look forward to more articles which raise the tone of the debate, but I am ever more fearful of the outcome after June 23rd as the Brexiters tap into uninformed xenophobia back home and over in Spain and here in France, and tip Europe into something all of us will surely have cause to regret.”

* * *

“I regret to read in your article about the Brexit that Ronnie Smith endorses that the EU is a non-democratic institution.

“Having worked WITH – not FOR – the Commission in my capacity as a civil servant of a EU-member country, I can assure you that we, as technicians, only rarely achieved the 100% of what we wanted. And that’s perfect, as the European parliament very often changed substantially our projects, that then had to be changed accordingly by the Commission, before they were presented to the European Council, who very often only approved them after having amended them.

“So, if the European Commission has the “right of initiative”, it has no decisive power at all. These remain, rightly, with democratically elected bodies, both the European Parliament and the democratically elected politicians of the member states constituting the European Council.

“Would explaining this democratic mechanism to the public not help to unvalidate the misleading arguments used by the advocates of all anti-EU sentiment?

* * *

“I would just like to say that today’s article by Ronnie Smith is by far the clearest objective assessment of the referendum issue that I’ve read or heard. The rest is simply dangerous superficial rhetoric – on both sides but more extremely by the Brexit supporters – and demonstrates just how low our politicians have sunk in order to further their own personal aims without the slightest regard to the future welfare of UK citizens. We have no doubt that for Messrs Johnson, Farage and Gove the British people are simply pawns in their political game of power chess. We were frightened yesterday to read that the major bookmakers’ short-priced favourite to become the next Prime Minister is the bumbling buffoon Boris Johnson! How would posterity judge such a backward step in such a civilised country? The image of such a popinjay even sitting at the same table as distinguished world leaders fills us with disgust – and sadness. 

“We will be voting to remain in Europe, but ultimately for selfish reasons that we cannot justify, since no-one has actually been able to say with total conviction how our lives would change. For us, staying in is the ‘safe bet’, but we do resent the lack of democracy and the abuse of power of unelected bureaucrats in the E.U. For weeks we have witnessed a media frenzy, including Z-list ‘celebrities’ being brought out of hibernation to express their uninformed views. Touring coaches exhibit slogans calculated to appeal to our patriotic side e.g. ‘Let’s get our country back’ without the slightest guarantee to back up their appeal to the emotions. The circus has come to town. If Johnson, Farage and Gove are its joint ringmasters, they are also its most garish clowns. I wonder what strategy clowns would use to solve the immigration problem.

“We will all be exposed, no doubt, to some fearful revelations on the 22nd from both sides in a last-ditch attempt to procure our vote. These will be difficult to avoid, but if we do manage to find an oasis of calm in the desert of hype, it won’t be attending a travelling circus.”

* * *

“I was fascinated with Ronnie Smith’s article. He was very critical of the ‘Leave’ side but sadly offered no solution. He praised the Congress of Vienna of 1814 which was successful for the powers of the time. It allowed them to get on with establishing colonies worldwide. However, it was intolerant of republicanism, revolution or the concerns of other countries which they felt might threaten the status quo, so inevitably by 1914, Europe had changed.

“The 20th century provided an awesome cataclysm and changed the world order. It also provided new opportunities which inspired the Schuman Declaration and led to the EU. It has, of course, its faults but has been very successful in its main objective; peace in Europe.

“I agree with Mr Smith that the standard of the arguments of both sides in the British Referendum debate is deplorable. Never have I heard of the EU objectives or successes over 70 years. I have only heard negative and fearful reasons.

“Accordingly, I think that Britain should leave the EU for a time to reflect on the developments of the 20th century. This period would also allow the EU to concentrate on its program of unity, economics, refugees and the Eastern European countries that had to be taken-in prematurely to avoid a dangerous vacuum after the collapse of the USSR.

“This could be a very beneficial period for both the EU and England. Perhaps then, after 30 years, England may apply to re-enter the EU.”