Tolerance comes at a very heavy price

WE'RE a fairly tolerant and reasonably laid back nation. We let the European Union toss away our historic laws and rights, we accept an elected House of Lords pontificating on what little legislation the Government is allowed to enact, we shrug our shoulders at the huge number of illegals working in the black economy, and the English hardly mutter when they pay taxes which allow the Scots to have free NHS prescriptions and free residential home care.

Graham Dines

WE'RE a fairly tolerant and reasonably laid back nation. We let the European Union toss away our historic laws and rights, we accept an elected House of Lords pontificating on what little legislation the Government is allowed to enact, we shrug our shoulders at the huge number of illegals working in the black economy, and the English hardly mutter when they pay taxes which allow the Scots to have free NHS prescriptions and free residential home care.

We police the world with a diminishing navy and an overstretched army as if we were still imperialists - and this week, it got us into severe trouble.

The murder of two soldiers in Antrim at the weekend reminded us that for three decades, we sent the cream of Britain's youth across the Irish Sea to become cannon fodder in an unwinnable, neo-colonialist civil war. That peace did break out only masked the deep divisions within the loyalist and republican communities which will may not be settled until the current generations have passed on and partition is cast aside.


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If the events in Ulster in the past few days were shocking, then the disturbances as the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment marched through Luton on Tuesday were mind numbingly outrageous and demonstrated the Topsy Turvey world in which we now live under the direction of the politically correct.

British service personnel have served in Ulster, Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan at various times since 1990. Brave men and women died in those conflicts, many of whom were defending the right of Islam believers to live in freedom.

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I opposed from the start the second Iraq war, but supported our armed forces - they had been sent into battle on some nebulous excuse dreamed up by the Blair and Bush governments. In contrast, the attrition being waged in Afghanistan against the Taliban and in the name of freedom is just, but the Royal Anglians have paid a heavy price.

What happened in Luton on Tuesday shamed Islam, but the response of the police to the unrest has bewildered many people.

That banner waving, hated-filled protesters were allowed by Bedfordshire constabulary to get within shouting distance of the Royal Anglians was bad enough. But no arrests were made - even though it's clear that incitement to hatred and public order laws had been broken.

When the anger of the welcome home crowd turned on the protesters, the police waded in and arrested the outraged.

We should respect the religion and beliefs of all minorities. But equally, they should respect the way we do things over here. It's called democracy.

The big fear is that Luton is music to the ears of white supremacists in this country, who will exploit it for their own ends.

By being too tolerant almost to the point of indifference, we Brits are opening the door for the intolerant and that is a truly frightening outcome.

`CLINT' BURNS LETS OFF STEAM

THE good, the bad, and the ugly sides of rail travel were exposed in the Commons this week when Chelmsford West Tory Simon Burns railed against the “exorbitant” cost of commuting to London.

Mr Burns acknowledged improvements over the past 20 years in the service and infrastructure, including the redevelopment of Liverpool Street, the rebuilding of Chelmsford station, and rolling stock upgrades.

“I recall that 20 years ago one could travel from Chelmsford to Liverpool Street during the day and although it might have been bright and sunny outside, the carriage windows were so dirty that one would have imagined it was late evening. That is a thing of the past, and we have seen real and significant improvements and investment,” said Mr Burns.

“There are, however, downsides that my constituents have to put up with day in, day out, the first of which is significant overcrowding on the trains. Not only is it a safety problem but, to my mind, it is unacceptable that having paid through the nose through the fare structure for the service down to Liverpool Street, they all too often cannot find a seat during the rush hours in the morning and in the late afternoon and early evening.

“My solution would be to have longer trains with more carriages during that period to take the overcrowding and to ameliorate that problem. Too little is being done at the moment to solve the problem.

“The other issue of grave concern is rail fares. Because commuters are a captive audience it seems that there are significant increases in fares over and above the rate of inflation, so that the price of an annual season ticket for people going down to London to work makes up an exorbitant part of their salaries.

“Something has to be done to ensure that people get a fair deal and value for money.”

Mr Burns backed plans for a new station on the northern outskirts of Chelmsford which would serve the growing number of commuters who currently drive into the town centre to catch a train. “We can argue about and discuss exactly where a new station should be, but I welcome the fact that it is in the plans and that it is an accepted fact that it should come to pass.”

The debate, which was used by northern MPs to lobby for a high speed rail link from either Manchester or Sheffield to London - or indeed across the Pennines to connect the two cities - was told by junior transport minister Paul Clark that passenger numbers had grown around 40% in the past 10 years.

“That is why we are going to such lengths to upgrade existing track. We want to tackle the major problems that we identified for the control period to 2014: overcrowding and capacity.

“We are investing �5.5 billion in the Thameslink scheme, which will deliver greater frequency and capacity across London services and more than 14,000 more seats on some of the most congested routes in London. Crossrail will give commuters to the east and west of London direct access to the heart of the capital and mean that 1.5 million more people will be within an hour of London's business centres.”

LIBERTAS A DANGER TO THE RIGHT

A NEW political party has been formed which threatens to derail the prospects of both the Conservatives and UK Independence Party in June's European elections.

Libertas which led the successful No campaign in Ireland's referendum on the EU Lisbon Treaty, is to run candidates in the UK on June 4, as well as contesting the ballot in other countries across the EU.

Party chairman Declan Ganley said the Euro-election would provide British voters with their “last and best chance” to send out a message that they did not support the Lisbon Treaty, which has been ratified by the UK and 24 other EU states but cannot enter into force until it has been approved by Irish voters.

Heading the election campaign in Britain will be former soldier Robin Matthews, who has been named as leader of Libertas UK. Speaking at the launch of the new party in Westminster, Mr Matthews said: “If people want a strong and healthy Europe that is democratic and answerable to them, they should vote for a Libertas candidate. If they do not want Europe to succeed or if they are happy with the current undemocratic practices, then they should vote for another party.”

He added: "By building a pan-European bloc of seats in the European Parliament, Libertas offers the only real opportunity for people across the UK to get a better deal from Europe.

“Almost 80% of laws that change the daily lives of Britons come from Brussels, and those laws are drafted by unelected, unaccountable civil servants. Brussels does not want to answer to the people of Europe. We want to bring the EU back to its people.”

If Libertas appeals to middle class anti-Europeans, it could damage the prospects of the Tories and UKIP by splitting the Eurosceptic and Eurohostile vote, a point seized on by Andrew Duff, leader of the Liberal Democrat European Parliamentary Party, and an East of England MEP. “Anti-European voters in Britain are being spoiled for choice.

“Mr Ganley, like (Conservative leader) David Cameron, wants the EU to stick with the present, clumsy and inefficient Treaty of Nice. Lib Dem voters want a stronger and reformed European Union that can salvage the economy and play a leading role in facing global challenges.'

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