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Letters to the editor – January 7, 2021

Tories not responsible for ending slave trade

How sad, a full four-and-a-half years after the Brexit vote and at a time when the Prime Minister is urging folk on both sides to come together, that John Hayes (Hayes in the House, Spalding Guardian, December 31) is still kicking out at those who preferred not to leave the EU.

That presumably includes the million in our own East Midlands region and a good few thousand in his own constituency who voted Remain: Mr Hayes dismisses them all as naysayers, myopic, defeatist and sneers that a “no deal would compromise their Spartan purity”.

All my friends in South Holland – brexiteers and remainers alike – have remained on good terms throughout the campaign, have discussed the issues in good spirit and are still good friends.

We’ve respected each other’s views and, following the vote, those on the winning side were gracious and generous – even modest – in victory, one of the traditional Christian virtues which Mr Hayes so frequently claims to uphold.

Brexit has happened and we all moved on long ago; perhaps, now, Mr Hayes could do the same?

As for his assertion on the letters page, could I just remind him that the anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce was an independent MP, not, as he claims, a Conservative. The William Pitt Tory administration dragged its heels over abolition for many years – for them, the slave trade was just too lucrative. That inhuman trade in the British Empire was finally abolished in 1807, not by the Tories but by the Whig government.

Likewise, the abolition of all slavery in the Empire came into law in 1833, by Earl Grey’s Whig administration, not by the Tories. In any event, full abolition was achieved through humanitarian and religious action, rather than political.

If John Hayes is trying to imply that slavery was abolished thanks to the Conservative party, he is quite wrong: the Tories hindered its progress at every step. They were, as always, trying to protect the vested interests they represented, as they more recently did when the post-war Labour government were trying to set up the 1948 National Health Service: the Conservative party in Parliament consistently voted against new legislation.

Mike Whitley

via email

Reader Jason Richardson took this photo on Saturday evening of a beam of sunlight during sunset. He says: "After looking it up, apparently it is a rare phenomenon called sun pillars, caused by ice crystals."
Reader Jason Richardson took this photo on Saturday evening of a beam of sunlight during sunset. He says: "After looking it up, apparently it is a rare phenomenon called sun pillars, caused by ice crystals."

Union has a plan for 2021

There’s no getting away from it, 2020 has been a terrible year for jobs. With forecasters predicting that 2021 will be just as tough, and unemployment possibly soaring to 2.6 million, UK workers desperately need a plan for jobs.

My union, Unite has a plan for 2021. Here’s how it can be achieved – in seven steps.

1. Carbon Capture Use and Storage (CCUS)

Without CCUS, the UK’s cost of meeting global climate change targets leaps by 138%. Using our North Sea assets would lessen the environmental impact of decommissioning. At least 10,000 new jobs would be created by the decade’s end, with 10,000 more by creating centralised transport and storage in the North Sea. With government support, 68,000 UK jobs could be created by 2050, boosting UK’s output to almost £3bn – with a major slice for workers wages.

2. Automotive

Our world class automotive manufacturing capacity desperately needs investment to deliver greener road vehicles. Central to delivering a green revolution are also 2,735 supply-chain companies which need to survive. Another automotive scrappage scheme would provide job and environmental boosts, but would need strict provisions for UK content. The last scheme saw just 10-15% of cars bought were actually UK built.

3. Gigafactories

Gigafactories are needed to support the batteries that power EVs, and jobs. Building seven new gigafactories would create between 43,280 and 76,600 new jobs by 2040. For the UK’s chemicals sector, the potential from pivoting to green tech is also substantial, possibly creating 12,096 jobs in the manufacture of UK EV batteries.

4. Aircraft replacement scheme

COVID-19 has collapsed
demand for our aerospace capabilities. We also need to green a sector that represents 6% of our CO2 emissions. A programme to replace older aircraft with cleaner models has many green and employment benefits, breathing new life into UK manufacturing.

5. Broadband

Switching from copper to full-fibre broadband will need £30bn investment by 2025. With more reliance on online usage the UK’s infrastructure needs updating. Creating 59,000 jobs in construction, it will also provide almost £60bn in extra wealth, including wages, throughout UK.

6. Renewable energy – offshore wind

Without government support, the potential for UK firms moving to offshore wind will be delayed or missed completely. The UK needs to double the number of wind turbines by 2024. This would create 6,700 construction and installation jobs with another 6,900 in operation and maintenance by 2024. By 2030, 27,000 jobs could be created in the industry, by 2054, it could be half a million.

7. Housing retrofit

The UK’s inefficient housing stock means we need to clamp down on the 14% of the UK’s greenhouse gasses emitted by our 27 million homes. Unite’s retrofit site would mean for every £1 million spent, £1.7m is released into the economy and communities as wages. Initially an annual investment of £470m could create 7,000 jobs every year. This more than pays for itself – generating an extra £800m a year in output and wages, spent by workers locally and in the wider economy.

In these times like no other, we need action like no other.

Rodney Sadd

Union delegate for South Holland & The Deepings Constituency Labour Party

Spalding Guardian cartoon (43848644)
Spalding Guardian cartoon (43848644)

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: Ask St Joseph for help this year

Pope Francis proclaimed 2021 a “Year of St Joseph”. Joseph experienced many of today’s social evils and is there to help us.

We are in lockdown.

Normality has stopped. Christmas was effectively cancelled. Or was it?

We need to unlock what Christmas really means and Joseph is a key.

Life was good for Joseph. He had Mary, but is told by an angel that she is pregnant and the child is not his, but “conceived...of the Holy spirit”. (Matt 1:20)

How would most men react? He could have rejected Mary and had her stoned. Joseph made a leap of faith – he accepted the will of God.

A ruler demands a census. A long journey is involved. There is no room at the inn and Mary is due to give birth. Joseph experiences homelessness. Quiet Joseph doesn’t panic... Jesus is born in a stable.

At the Temple, Joseph hears Mary told that Jesus “is set to be the fall and rising of many... a sign which is spoken against... a sword will pierce your own soul”. ( Luke 2:34-35) But Joseph would surely be there to protect them.

King Herod wants to kill Jesus and Joseph makes another leap of faith and flees, with his family, to Egypt, like the refugees arriving in Kent. Herod slaughtered the Holy Innocents.

The family returns to Nazareth and Joseph teaches Jesus carpentry. Jesus was God – so he could have made tables by miracles, but used his hands. Joseph taught that work was a noble thing.

Joseph died, leaving a one parent family, but he remains part of the Holy family in Heaven.

He has the same role to the body of Christ on earth – his church.

Francis said COVID has made us see more clearly the importance of “ordinary” people who... exercise patience and offer hope... they resemble Saint Joseph, “the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence,” who... played “an incomparable role in the history of salvation.” Ask St Joseph to help you make 2021 a year of grace.

John Petters

Holy Trinity RC Church,


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