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Opinion: Treatment of Kate Middleton, benefits system and 'extremist' views among topics tackled in this week's letters to the KentOnline editor

Our readers from across the county give their weekly take on the biggest issues impacting Kent and beyond.

Some letters refer to past correspondence which can be found by clicking here. Join the debate by emailing letters@thekmgroup.co.uk

The country is becoming a nation of shirkers, says one reader. Library image
The country is becoming a nation of shirkers, says one reader. Library image

Benefits system encourages laziness

Isn’t it time that the benefits system was sorted out?

It horrifies me to think that 9.25 million people deemed to be of working age are currently not in employment or seeking work, with a third of that number being under 25, with many supposedly with mental health problems.

This country has become a shirkers’ paradise and it’s no wonder immigrants are coming across the channel in their boatloads.

It’s about time this farce was stopped. I for one do not believe that someone with ADHD, for example, is incapable of doing any work at all, when I know from experience that they are.

Also, why should someone not be looking for work? Until they do, their benefits should be stopped. Those not working should be made to report daily to the benefits office.

Those who go sick should also be further medically examined to see if they are indeed fit for work and their sick notes dismissed if found to be otherwise.

It’s unfair to the millions of hard-working people in Britain all working their socks off to keep the shiftless in the style they are accustomed to. I can fully understand how those who drag themselves out of bed every morning to go on the treadmill of work feel when they look around them to see so many getting everything for nothing and living the life of Reilly.

It’s the duty of every MP in the country to put forward proposals to stop the racket of benefits for those who simply have no intention of going to work.

Sid Anning

‘Extremist’ views have changed history

Not content with trying to drag us into World War 3, the clueless, clownish clique that purports to be the UK government now wants to set up a dictatorship as well.

The new buzzword is ‘extremist’. You don’t have to commit any crime to be one - simply thinking the wrong kind of thoughts is enough to make you a ‘threat to democracy’ (according to Michael Gove) and you could end up being a non-person with no rights at all.

Only totalitarian states scapegoat and dehumanise people this way.

The fact is that the biggest threat to democracy comes from the politicians themselves, not from ordinary folks. On many issues now, eg - Covid, climate change, the war in Ukraine - only one view is tolerated. Everything else is dismissed as ‘fake news’ or ‘disinformation’.

There is nothing liberal or democratic about this liberal democracy; nothing conservative about the modern Conservative Party, and there is no opposition from the so-called Opposition. On the contrary, this country is moving away from democracy and heading in the opposite direction towards totalitarianism.

As for the absurd ‘extremist’ tag, these have been the movers and shakers of history.

Yesterday’s ‘extremists’ are usually today’s mainstreamers. Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, Keir Hardie, Nye Bevan, Margaret Thatcher were so-called, likewise the early trade unionists, chartists and suffragettes. And if Jesus Christ were alive today, he would probably be barred from the country or banged up.

John Helm

Speculation over the Princess of Wales is ‘a shameful attempt to hurt a woman who is much admired’
Speculation over the Princess of Wales is ‘a shameful attempt to hurt a woman who is much admired’

Shameful ‘fit of morality’ over princess

The totally unwarranted condemnation of the Princess of Wales, because she had the temerity to make a few minor alterations to one of her own photos, only goes to prove the truth behind the observation made by the 19th century politician and orator, Thomas Babington Macaulay, when he wrote: “We know of no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodic fits of morality”.

This ridiculous tempest-in-a-teapot, is a shameful (and I suspect deliberately engineered) attempt to hurt and embarrass a woman who is much admired here and around the world.

As for the newspapers who pulled the photo from their later editions - shame on them for their unmitigated hypocrisy. No one ‘manipulates’ what we read and see more than their spineless, ‘woke’ editors. This whole unsavoury episode is the epitome of fake news.

Bob Readman

National Insurance is income tax in disguise

I fear that Ralph A. Tebbut has a somewhat nostalgic view of National Insurance (letters last week); I suspect that, like many of us, he grew up believing that this was us somehow saving for our old age pension, but unfortunately that has never been true, it really is just taxation under a different name.

Like the NHS, National Insurance has been flawed from the start; both were devised by the coalition government during the Second World War to be introduced once the war was over, they were as much Conservative babies as Labour ones but they turned out to be unfulfillable hopes.

The NHS has been underfunded from its outset, it underestimated demand and overpromised on delivery. National Insurance was to pay pensions but not immediately; as I recall the aim was to collect contributions for 20 years to build up an invested pot of money which would pay out pensions from the mid 60s. The post-war Labour government decided that in all equity it could not and would not do that, I'm not sure any government could have done that at that time.

So pensions had to be paid out of government annual income, ie. by taxation, whatever you wish to call it, NI became just another form of income tax cunningly concealed by a lack of public knowledge. This has suited governments for the last 80 years who can claim to be keeping taxes low simply because people do not add NI to their tax bill to calculate what they are really paying in taxes.

If we wished to be really honest in calculating our taxes and linking them to those responsible for them we would simply roll NI into general taxation, which appears to be the Chancellor's ambition, and then reduce taxation by reducing those on the public payroll, we wouldn't need so many after all if we were not administering two systems.

We would then cut tax further by cutting grants to local authorities who would become responsible for raising their own incomes; that is not without its problems and we may have to embrace the Liberal idea of Local Income Taxes but we've introduced that in Scotland and Wales and the roof hasn't fallen in.

We could also look again at grants to charities, which surely ought to rely on public support and if the public don't support them, you have to question whether the public value them. I'm sure there are a lot of non-governmental agencies the public wouldn't support either.

I fear I'm much too old to go back into politics and I'm not sure the touchy-feely world we live in is ready for real politics anymore, all the major parties seem to have congregated around a vaguely left of centre position; where will we find a new Maggie to rescue us!

Bob Britnell

‘Yesterday’s ‘extremists’ are usually today’s mainstreamers... Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, Keir Hardie, Margaret Thatcher were so-called’
‘Yesterday’s ‘extremists’ are usually today’s mainstreamers... Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, Keir Hardie, Margaret Thatcher were so-called’

Tories have turned against their own voters

As the next general election approaches we hear warnings from the Conservatives that votes for Reform would be wasted, and would only let the Labour party win a landslide.

Yet this is to ignore the fact that those who voted Conservative at the last election have been ignored, and indeed betrayed, as the government has reneged on almost all the promises made at that time, and pursued policies which have been in direct contravention of those for which their supporters voted.

The government has done nothing effective to stem the tide of illegal immigration, apparently actively encourages the numbers entering by legal routes, while failing to provide the additional infrastructure necessary to absorb such an influx, in areas such as housing, the NHS and education. Even the defence of the realm is being neglected, as the Armed Forces shrink. Their tax policy is penalising wealth creators and weakening the economy.

The authorities wring their hands over antisemitic actions perpetrated by pro-Palestinian marchers, yet do little to oppose them, while activists in public institutions are permitted to obstruct the policies put forward by our democratically elected representatives without any sanctions being applied. The woke virtue signallers run riot, undermining the gains so hard won by women over decades and promoting the application of medical procedures to youngsters.

The roads become ever more pitted with potholes, innocent people fall victim to online frauds, which a more vigorous effort to prevent could be instigated, and attacks on free speech increase by the day, without anything practical being done to oppose them.

It is the height of arrogance for the Conservatives to claim that they own the votes of those they have so shamefully neglected. If only the silent majority would turn to a party which stands for what they believe in, the former could be rendered redundant.

Colin Bullen

Budget was a con trick

The Chancellor’s grandstanding over his budget announcement was as empty as the nation’s coffers after 14 years of low growth and crashing living standards.

Conservative MPs trumpeting the paltry forecast of 0.8% growth this year need a desperate reality check, one I am sure voters will give them at the ballot box whenever an election is called.

A change in direction is desperately needed, to turn around the nation’s economic prospects, generate prosperity right across the country and secure the funding to fix our broken public services.

While any cuts to personal taxation are welcome, people will see the NI cut for the con-trick that it is.

With tax thresholds frozen once more, the Chancellor isn’t actually following through with his claim that he wants people to keep as much of their own money as possible.

Where is the plan to fund the GP and dental services we are lacking? Where’s the funding to fix the sorry state of our roads and provide vital infrastructure we desperately need? Where’s the support for those being clobbered by higher mortgage rates which followed the failed Liz Truss project?

Once the noise from the budget settles, the question still stands: are you, your family and our public services better off now than they were 14 years ago?

Ashley Wise

CCTV cameras are taking the place of police, says one correspondent. Picture: istock
CCTV cameras are taking the place of police, says one correspondent. Picture: istock

CCTV cameras taking place of police

There are now said to be 5.2 million CCTV cameras in the UK, which places us third in the world behind China and the United States.

There is one security camera for every 13 people in the country.

In spite of some members of the public being opposed to them on the grounds that they are intrusive and an infringement on civil liberties, most surveys suggest that people, overall, are in favour of them.

There is no denying that CCTV cameras can improve public safety and deter crime and provide evidence for legal cases and insurance claims.

However, on the downside, they can be abused or hacked into by unscrupulous individuals for malicious purposes.

Now homeowners have the option of installing cameras to their doorbells as a means to safeguard their property. And home or private use cameras do not need to be registered, especially if they are self-installed on private property.

The absence of police on our streets, has made it a pressing requirement by citizens, to make provision for their safety and technology is an efficient method to achieve this.

M. Smith

In defence of the National Anthem

M. Smith bemoans the drab and uninspiring National Anthem and many will agree with his comments (letters last week).

Personally, I like the brevity, the conciseness and the emphatic tune. By focussing on the Royal Family it is pointedly British and doesn’t take us on a tour of our landscape as do the anthems of Brazil and Denmark, nor gorily threaten enemies as does the Marseillaise.

It’s easily sung by anyone and doesn’t go on forever because all the verses are rarely sung - another sensible British anthem-related custom.

As for ‘choosing’ another, God Save the King has been sung as the primary national anthem since 1745. Jerusalem was a poem written 1808 and the tune added in 1917 and the words and music of Land of Hope and Glory appeared in 1902, so there would have had to be an upswell of public opinion to reject a century or more of the one anthem and adopt another.

It’s worth remembering that it’s only the choruses of Land of Hope and Glory or Rule Britannia that are easily sung by anyone other than a professional or a choir, leaving you with a very short anthem.

I believe M. Smith is not alone in their opinion and a change is not impossible even now but do we really need to bother?

Margaret Hanlon

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