Letters: Voters are tempted by Labour because of the Tories’ dire record on immigration

Passport control at Heathrow Airport
Passport control at Heathrow Airport - Richard Baker

SIR – Lord Hannan of Kingsclere finds it “remarkable” that Labour is ahead in the polls “because people want immigration to be cut” (“Voters know they will regret supporting Labour, but they’re going to do it anyway”, Comment, May 26). 

According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, net migration has grown three-fold since 2010 to reach all-time highs. Few small-boat crossings were recorded before 2018, but since then nearly 120,000 people have arrived. Enforced removals are half today what they were under Labour 14 years ago. 

If Lord Hannan wants to see change, perhaps he should back Labour too. 

Professor Thom Brooks 
Durham Law School

SIR – I write from Telford, which is a nice place to live. We have a major hospital and many secondary schools. The population is roughly 150,000, and the town covers an area of about 30 square miles. 

I have no idea how much it would cost to build a new town like Telford, but it would clearly be a lot. If the Government’s figures are to be believed, net migration to the UK during the past two years is about 1.4 million. This means that, every two years, we need to build the equivalent of nine Telfords – so nine new hospitals, 60,000 new houses and all the associated infrastructure, requiring enormous areas of land. 

Why are the major parties silent on the subject? Why is the impact of mass migration not being openly discussed?

Barry Lovatt
Telford, Shropshire

SIR – We are desperately trying to hire from the UK and also to increase the hours of our part-time staff. However, the most significant barrier is over-generous welfare payments – even for those employees who are on significantly higher rates than minimum wage. As soon as they increase their hours they lose their benefits, so it’s just not worth their while. 

We need a radical overhaul of the benefits system or it will not be possible to recruit UK workers.

Dr Howard Koch 
Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire

SIR – Nigel Farage is probably correct that the Rwanda plan will fail to halt illegal Channel crossings (Comment, telegraph.co.uk, May 27). Reading his article, however, I was unable to discern what his solution to the problem might be, apart from our withdrawal from the ECHR, which is surely a symbolic gesture that would have little or no effect on stemming the flow of migrants. 

A debate on the issue between Mr Farage and Rishi Sunak would certainly be entertaining. It would also force Mr Farage to put his cards on the table and explain to us what he thinks should be done about a problem affecting all European countries as well as the United States.

R B Berry
Bretby, Derbyshire

National Service pride

SIR – At the National Service Officer Cadet School’s passing-out service, held at the chapel of Eaton Hall in April 1953, some 500 newly commissioned officers knelt together to recite a prayer: “That we may serve our fellow men with zeal and sincerity, uphold that which is right and true, and defend the freedom of our land”. Several of those young men fought and died in Korea. I shall always be proud to have done National Service. 

It remains the prime duty of any government to defend the realm. This was Attlee’s objective when he reinstated National Service in 1947. The threats to national security are no less serious now than they were then.

John Harding

SIR – I joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers as a young grammar-school boy and left two years later as a confident electro-mechanical craftsman with skills that enabled me to contribute to a family concern that employed more than 400 people.

Nothing but good will come out of the plan to reintroduce limited National Service.

Roger Collings
Presteigne, Radnorshire

SIR – National Service is all well and good, but I pity the regular Army. 

As a national serviceman myself, I remember soldiers having to cope with a new intake every two weeks, repeating the training programme 26 times a year. 

Those involved seemed most unhappy – including me, after I became a small-arms instructor.

John Huth
Broxbourne, Hertfordshire

Overcrowded prisons

SIR – Many people may not feel particularly sympathetic when reading about the fate of inmates in Britain’s severely overcrowded prisons, although they might spare a thought for the staff who work there (“Inside the powder-keg prisons ready to explode this election season”, City, May 26). 

But the facts are, each person in our prison system costs taxpayers some £50,000 a year (the same as three terms at Eton) and the reoffending rate is in the region of 40 per cent. 

Not only is this terrible value for money, but the overcrowding and warehousing of people in squalid conditions is directly responsible for the growing number of mentally ill, drug-addicted and homeless ex-inmates who are more than ever likely to reoffend. 

This is a huge waste of money and human resources, and makes our communities less safe. For these reasons alone, prison reform must be high on the next government’s agenda.

Diane Hay
Wandsworth Prison Improvement Campaign
London SW4

SIR – If the Government has a problem with number of people in prison, rather than releasing dangerous prisoners early it could resentence some of the many prisoners still held beyond their initial imprisonment for public protection (IPP) tariffs.
An inmate named Martin Myers has spent more than 18 years in prison for trying to steal a cigarette, and as many as 90 prisoners have taken their own lives despite this type of sentence having been abolished in 2012. 

This is a scandal.

Nicholas S Lockhart
Dover, Kent

Attitudes to sex

SIR – Your agony aunts have written a reply to a divorced mother whose sleeping “with a few different men” is giving her a guilty conscience (The Midults, May 26). Their advice is to drop the guilt, not the “healthy and happy” sex.

It makes sense, then, that they remind their correspondent of the right “not [to] be policed about our bodies and our sexual choices”. This language alludes, one thinks, to the “reproductive right” to choose to terminate the inconvenient bundle of cells that can result from such “good sex”. Indeed, our attitude to “safe sex” fosters a culture in which hundreds of abortions happen every day. The rising rate is an inevitable aspect of our sexual libertinism.

The letter writer’s scruples are counter-cultural, arising in the face of ubiquitous Western prioritisation of “free love”. So the agony aunts go way back for the cause of the mother’s guilt: “patriarchal...indoctrination, played out over millennia”. 
But what about something closer to home? Is it really true that this “fun”, fraught and very fashionable lifestyle is “harming nobody”? 

Actually, it prioritises adult lifestyle choices over the very life and happiness of the weakest of our brothers and sisters.

Fr Hugh MacKenzie
Westminster Cathedral
London SW1

The cyclist identity

SIR – I got my first bicycle in 1958. Since then, the only cycling-specific item of clothing I’ve ever had is a pair of bicycle clips (Letters, May 26). 

I think contemporary cyclists feel the need to visibly identify as members of a group, and they aren’t happy unless their pastime costs them a fortune.

As for the price of bicycles nowadays, don’t get me started. I’m content with my 1976 Dawes.

Bill Smith
St Helens, Lancashire

SIR – Interviewed after Ride London last Sunday, Hugh Brasher and Chris Boardman extolled the benefits of cycling and encouraged more people to take it up.

I cannot disagree with their views on the health benefits. However, I was struck by the fact that, while suggesting all and sundry get on two wheels, they made no reference to the need for rider training to learn road sense and the Highway Code.

Stephen Howey
Woodford Green, Essex

Tomato source

SIR – Alan G Barstow (Letters, May 26) suggests banishing the American usurpers of baked beans and hash browns from the traditional English breakfast.

He should also get rid of tomatoes, as they too are invaders from Mesoamerica, arriving in Britain at the end of the 16th century and being regarded as unfit for eating until the 19th century.

Roger Croston

SIR – I was delighted to read Alan G Barstow’s letter from Sweden praising the addition of kidneys to the English breakfast. 

I would go one step further and suggest the quite delicious devilled kidneys.

Justin Tahany
Reading, Berkshire

SIR – What about the incomparable kipper with toast and marmalade – not necessarily all together?

Anthony Beattie
Warminster, Wiltshire

SIR – The diet of the “wild” chickens of Snettisham in Norfolk (Leading Article, May 27) will make for very flavoursome eggs. My own four chickens live off whatever they can find in the garden and surrounding fields, and the resulting yolks are a beautiful, deep yellow – great for breakfast and baking. 

Locals on the lookout for where they are laying will need to get a move on, however, as badgers and foxes will soon clear them out. What a shame to miss out on such a gorgeous free feast.

Kevin Murphy
Blacksnape, Lancashire

Trunks on trains

SIR – Your Leading Article, “A seat for a suitcase” (May 10), put me in mind of my boarding school days in the 1960s. 
At the end of term our trunks would be sent home by rail. I remember seeing them piled up on the platform at Sileby station. Porters would be involved. I wonder if it is still possible to travel by train accompanied by a large trunk.

Paul Duggins

SIR – You ask: “Whatever happened to guards’ vans?” A good question. The last time we travelled from Edinburgh to London, even the lavatories were stacked full with passengers’ luggage, creating the most obvious problems.

John Tilsiter
Radlett, Hertfordshire

The enduring popularity of Dame Vera Lynn

A mural painted in 2021 by Dave Nash, also known as Gnasher, in East Ham, London
A mural painted in 2021 by Dave Nash, also known as Gnasher, in East Ham, London - alamy

SIR – J T Fillingham (Letters, May 26) recounts how his father, posted to Ceylon in the Second World War, became so sick of listening to Vera Lynn that he threw his copy of We’ll Meet Again into the Indian Ocean on his voyage home. This would not be the only time that people have failed to appreciate Dame Vera’s enduring popularity. 

In 1962, her recording of Land of Hope and Glory was released in Europe and quickly earned a gold disk. However, as she noted in her autobiography, EMI refused to release the record in England, “maybe feeling embarrassed that such an unfashionable song should have any appeal for the cynical, trendy sixties”. 

It is the music of that decade that, it is assumed, most older people now want to hear, rather than that of Dame Vera. But as someone who grew up with that decade’s music, I fear that being forced to listen to it all over again in my dotage would finally finish me off. 

Eddie Lewisohn
London N6

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