I am a committed European integrationist and fully support economic and monetary union (EMU), including the euro, which I’d like Wales to have one day following a referendum.
But increasingly I have started to find Ukip’s arguments attractive on the ever increased transfer of sovereignty to the European Union on issues that have nothing to do with breaking down barriers to free movement. And it seems so are other people in their country, considering their electoral performance in England this month.
In 1986 Margaret Thatcher signed the Single European Act, where she created the “internal market”, which has basically meant that the original “common market” is separate from everything else. I got a distinction in this subject on my LLM in EU law – enjoying it because I was learning more about the laws the government can’t make than those they (can)!
When David Cameron has his “renegotiation of powers” I would like him to work towards abolishing every part of the EU except the internal market and EMU – introducing banking union would be a good addition. These mean that we are all so interlocked in terms of trade that we will never go to war against one another. Do we really need to have the EU meddling in nearly every aspect of our lives to enjoy the benefits of these three measures?
I have to agree with the findings of the Office for National Statistics on the difficulties facing young people in Wales today (“Exam stress, cyber bullying and body image – why children today are not happy“, April 4).
Many people say the “Justin Bieber effect” means people thinking they are more important than they are, as the Canadian singing sensation is presented. I would say instead it should reflect the sickness in our own country that any young person who is successful is bullied and abused by those who despise the fact they were not afforded the same opportunities.
We seem to be creating a nation of “narcissists by proxy“. Anyone who is perceived as successful or gifted is forced to defend themselves from abuse, whether on or offline, as the NSO found.
Young people, as I have experienced personally, are put in a position where you have to tell people “how great you are” in order to counteract them telling you “how bad you are”.
Most people in this position will split their mind so like narcissists they can pay attention only to the good sides of them. Is it right we as a nation are forcing our young compatriots to develop psychiatric conditions just because we want to elect parties that need us to be in poverty and resentful of the rich, just so they can stay in power?
I have to challenge the comments of GW Lewis from Mold (Letters, March 27).
He/she claims that the influence of video games and the internet is what leads to abuse of people in society. This is complete nonsense. Equally the claim of introducing a kind of Christian morality into society is equally flawed.
It is morality that means people won’t speak with terrorists, meaning they keep harming others. It is morality that prevents the psychologically disturbed from asking for help, meaning they go on to do the most horrific of abuses.
And it is morality that means people in our communities are marginalised to the point they snap because they can’t take it any longer.
Before video games and the Internet, we had toy guns and swords, we could abuse others on the CB radio or telephone, and for millennia we have been able to throw sticks and stones at one another, just for the fun of it.
Technology may change, but it seems we humans never do.
A recent survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers found that 79 per cent of teachers blamed parents for the lack of ‘pupil discipline’ in schools.
The survey of more than 800 teachers claimed that there was a sharp rise in the number of pupils with emotional and behavioural conditions (EBCs).
A secondary school teacher in RCT even said: “I’m extremely concerned by the increase in mental health issues such as depression and self-harm.
“I’m alarmed by the lack of expert support made available for adolescents.”
I was told by the old Mid Glamorgan Council that I had an EBC, and was even referred to the Ty Gwyn special needs unit in Maesycoed.
Like the digital teens of today, I grew up with ‘information on demand technology.’
When teachers said something I ‘knew’ wasn’t true because of this technology, I would say so.
The teachers would then say I was wrong, and like today’s pupils I wouldn’t accept that. It is the teachers that have behavioural problems and lack of discipline.
Unless they change their behaviour and start accepting that collectively pupils know more than them, then they should expect to feel the wrath of those pupils.
They need to realise that they have been made redundant by YouTube, Wikipedia and Google Scholar, and unless they change, they shouldn’t expect pupils to.
David Cameron’s speech was no shock. The EU needs a new treaty to sort out “banking union”.
Two things are guaranteed from a “renegotiation”. The first is that Tories are divided on Europe and Cameron would not be able to justify the changes to the banking system in the EU, which many would see as “transferring more powers.”
Secondly, Section 4(f) of the European Union Act 2011 the Con Dems introduced requires a referendum on issues relating to economic co-ordination of economic policies – which banking union is.
It took New Labour about two years to renegotiate each of the five treaties they signed – which means this treaty would need to be ratified just after the next general election. John Major got Maastricht through only by threatening his MPs with a general election. Only Iain Duncan Smith defied him!
So at the next election Cameron is promising a referendum he may be legally obliged to give, in order to leave Labour and the Lib Dems to fight for the same pro-EU ground. What might happen, however, is that Cameron will suffer the same fate as Stanley Baldwin – his progressive Tories will go into coalition with the other parties.
Any progressive coalition would be better than the same Old Labour and same Old Tories we see fighting across the benches at the moment!
I write following a critique of my views on the criminal justice system by Jacquie Turnbull (Letters, January 5).
If Jacquie were to read my papers published in academic journals, she would see I am arguing that many of the petty things that go before magistrates resulting in a criminal record and a £30 fine would be better dealt with by non-criminalising methods, such as fixed-penalty notices of £75 or £150.
This would cost the public less money in court time, and not put poor people into the cycle of crime, meaning the police could be tackling white-collar crime instead, instead of preying on the vulnerable.
Finally, Jacquie justifies being working class because of her roots and also says that most teachers and engineers are as well. Most of these are home-owners who are paid a lot more than the national average.
Jacquie therefore seems just like the type of magistrate I’m critical of – those that think being working class is a good thing and something to romanticise. In fact, most genuine working class people want a better life without any “hand-outs” or other support from the state or wealthy.
All too often many burdened with poverty end up before magistrates like her and leave with a criminal record and low job prospects.
I felt I had to respond to the unfairness reported in the Echo about how police are punishing so-called trolls (“Social networks are ‘platform for crime’”, Echo, December 28).
After the Normans invaded in 1066 they got rid of our archaic legal system, which eventually led to the Common Law and Magna Carter.
These reforms created the ideal that we should be judged ‘by a jury of our peers;’ yet it seems the ‘common man’ has not been allowed this.
If one is on benefits and targeted by the police because one is easy pickings, can we honestly say a magistrate is one’s peer? Whilst most magistrates appear uneducated, and ill-informed, more often than not they are middle-class do-gooders who know nothing of the dire poverty some people on benefits are forced into a life of.
For me a ‘jury of my peers’ would be my professional body. For footballers it is the FA or the FAW. Why was Rio Ferdinand fined £45,000 by the former and no criminal action for racism on Twitter, yet Liam Stacey was punished twice for the same thing – by Swansea University and jailed also? Equally, why was footballer Daniel Thomas fined £500 by the latter for abuse against Tom Daley on Twitter, yet Reece Messer was given a caution that will probably stay on his criminal record for life for the same thing also? If some people are allowed to be penalised outside the criminal legal system then all should be allowed to. If MPs get slapped on the wrist for cheating their expenses then benefits cheats should equally be spared a criminal record.
As a former housing benefit claimant, I must say how disgusted I am George Osborne has not introduced a mansion tax, and call on Carwyn Jones to use Wales’ primary powers over council tax to do so.
With Housing Benefit, there are things that can stop you getting it or reduce the amount you get. These include the number of empty rooms you have, and whether you or your family have income from trusts, or whether your home is owned by a relative or employer.
The same rules that restrict the type of house a poor person can have should be applied to determine which properties MPs can claim for as “second homes” and to determine the “surplus” housing landowners have, so they pay more tax for excesses in the same way the poor are docked benefit.
The Assembly has the power to change the rules on council tax. It could make people who have unused properties pay higher council tax, creating a de-facto mansion tax. It could enhance councils’ compulsory purchase powers to force landowners to sell properties they are not using.
Dr Kim Howells always warned, “primary powers means tax raising powers.” I’d hate for him to be wrong!
I felt I had to write to defend the people who set up the Facebook page calling for the release of Christopher McGee, who was convicted of killing teenager, Georgia Varley.
Whilst I was opposed to the abuse of Georgia Varley’s memory on Facebook by so-called ‘trolls,’ this does not mean that legitimate free speech should be denied, even if it is offensive.
Sean Duffy was sent to jail for 18-weeks under the Malicious Communications Act 1988 for abusing the memory of Natasha MacBryde on Facebook, who also died in a railway tragedy. For some reason Georgia Varley’s trolls were not.
But this is no reason to stop legitimate debate about whether the judge made the right decision, or to stop people sharing in a fellowship with those who support their views, even if unpopular. Grossly offensive postings on the internet are illegal.
I read the article in the Echo about Nikki Giant’s views on tackling bullying (“Bullied children don’t want to talk to teachers or parents”, October 23). As an expert on internet trolling I felt I had to respond.
Nikki, who was an anti-bullying project co-ordinator between 2007 and 2010, says the nature of bullying has got worse with the advent of Facebook and Twitter.
Can I ask Nikki whether she knew anything about cyberbullying prior to 2007 before Facebook became popular? Text messaging has been part of this form of abuse for years, and e-mail even longer. New technology just makes bullying easier and all that happens is bullying goes from one means to another.
Having been physically and emotionally abused as a child, it is not so easy speaking out, and even when one does others may not listen or believe you, as in my case. We cannot wrap our children up in cotton wool and should be looking to help bullying victims develop strategies for coping with abuse. That is what my Internet Safety Awareness course at the Crocels Trolling Academy (www.trollingacademy.org) does.
Nikki needs to accept that humans have been abusing each other for the past 200,000 years and we are unlikely to change. But we can change our coping strategies and become stronger people because of them.