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A fair, low-work UK needs Universal Basic Income

As Andy Burnham has been recently saying, UBI is a nettle that Labour should grasp, suggests one reader

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham. Photo: PA

Boris Johnson can blather about a high-skills, high-paid workforce as much as he likes, but an element of Universal Basic Income is necessary if we are to lessen the impact of increased automation, as discussed by Paul Mason (“Working out the impact of a world without work”, TNE #293).

I was struck by a recent report from University of York researchers which outlined a UBI system that would reduce child and pensioner poverty by half and cut working age poverty by a quarter. Weekly incomes would be £63 per adult of working age and £41 per child, giving a family of four a guaranteed annual payment of almost £11,000.

The plan would be fiscally neutral with no net overall increase in taxation, although people earning more would pay more.

As Andy Burnham has been saying recently, UBI is a nettle that Labour should grasp.
Kelly West

Paul Mason offers a positive view of a low-work future. Start sharing all the profits made through automation with sacked employees, and there might just be a glimmer of hope. But, looking at the way the top brass and shareholders currently feed at the trough, it is an extremely unlikely scenario.
Benedict Marshall
Via Facebook

Having just forked out an extortionate amount for summer family rail tickets to visit relatives around Britain ( journeys that because of industrial action may never take place), I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read Paul Mason discussing Austria’s €1-per-day travel schemes.

Even better, or worse if you have just been relieved of several hundred pounds, is Germany’s new €9-a-month ticket promotion, which starts on June 1 on all modes of city and regional transport, nationwide. Our rail prices are a disgrace.
Carrie Kennedy

Tunnel vision

I meant to write to praise your recent report on legalising cannabis in the EU and UK but forgot (not stoned; just old). But the article on prisons (TNE #293) by Angela Kirwin made me determined to see it through this time. It was fascinating and revealing.

Like legal pot, a humane prison system would bring with it huge benefits, of which the headline is obviously a reduction in crime. But I can’t see either coming in my lifetime, while we have a government and a national press that is obsessed by small-minded punitive measures and not big-picture thinking.

This is one of the tragedies of modern Britain: Instead of devising and selling radical policies to fix broken systems, we reinforce old prejudices and offer more of the same. Something has to change. But who in our politics will have the courage to stick their necks out and make it happen? Does anyone seriously think that the big ideas that have defined our society and made it better – the NHS, the welfare state, the BBC, a fairer education system – would be enacted by the current bunch on either side, with the jackals of Fleet Street howling their disapproval?
Don Flynn
Milton Keynes

Crazy in gov

Stefanie Bolzen asks, “Are the English crazy?” (TNE #293). Yes, we are. Crazy for allowing Johnson, crazy for allowing Brexit, crazy for allowing all the crazy laws he’s introduced, crazy for allowing the pollution of the rivers, crazy for allowing the destruction of standards of safety, the environment, food, employment and crazy for allowing the dismantling of our democracy and all his lies.
David Barron
Via Facebook

Isn’t it strange how in the Partygate photos, Boris Johnson’s hair doesn’t have that backward hedge look he so carefully cultivates in public?
David Pollard
Via Facebook

One of the worst fall-outs from Partygate is that the police, who have been put in a very difficult position, are having their credibility undermined by having to constantly explain their decisions.

I now start to disregard what authorities say if I disagree with them. My trust in them has diminished significantly. The moral damage Boris Johnson has caused this country and its citizens is immense.
Tony Howarth
London SW3

So, Johnson’s bringing back pounds, pints and gallons in time for the Jubilee in yet another populist move designed to shore up his waning popularity. Presumably bushels and pecks will be next. What price a return to LSD, or is that what he’s on?

The fact that the former never went away and were allowed under EU regulations as long as standard EU measures were also indicated is clearly irrelevant – very small beer and therefore not worth the candle.
Phil Green

German bite

Alastair Campbell (Diary, TNE #293) reports that the reputations of Angela Merkel and her predecessor Gerhard Schröder are being trashed because of the way they handled Vladimir Putin.

Quite right. That is why it is now the moral responsibility of Germany to enact the toughest sanctions and provide the weapons Ukraine needs.
Peter Todd

Alastair Campbell should make room in his life for the celebration of birthdays. They are precious. Which reminds me that when my kids first sang “Alice the Camel has one hump” in playgroup, I thought they were singing “Alastair Campbell has the hump”. Happy birthday, old man.
Faye Love
Via Facebook

Rogue island

Whilst I entirely accept that it is within the spirit of the island’s desire for no publicity (“Welcome to the capital of culture, now bugger off”, TNE #293), I feel it necessary to point out that the fine photograph heading the article on Procida is not actually of the island itself. It is instead of Cape Miseno, the closest piece of the mainland to the island, with the Faro Capo Miseno on the cliffs closest to the photographer.
Claire Bowden-Dan

Slave states

Bonnie Greer is right to say that White Supremacy is the baseline of the USA (“White blight”, TNE #293). The slave states joined New England in the Declaration of Independence because, in 1772, an English judge had decreed that slavery was odious and that the enslaved James Somerset should be set free.

The slave-owners were terrified that Britain would abolish slavery. But all European imperialism was based on the assumption that all non-European non-Christians were savages needing to lose their territory and be ‘civilised’.

Going even further back, the bronze-age cowboys who carried the Indo-European languages over almost all of Europe, Iran and northern India, managed to replace most of the original languages and cultures.
Philip Stewart
Boars Hill, Oxford

Brexit benefits

Re “In the leper lane” by Jonty Bloom (TNE #293). I am lucky enough to have an EU passport and I love it. Arrived in Rhodes, bypassed a huge queue of Brits, through passport control five minutes after getting off the plane. Thank you Brexiteers, you’ve improved my travel experience beyond recognition.
Lawrence Chadfield
Via Facebook

“In the leper lane” was timely and depressing. Important though that we all begin to see the fruits of Brexit through things like this. They will hasten the day when a more sensible government is able to command support for ending this pointless war of attrition with the EU and finding pragmatic solutions that will satisfy the sovereignty brigade while making everyday things like travel much easier.
Holly Parker

Acute accents

Is what sounds like a terrible New York Jewish accent by Anthony Hopkins (“Wrong end of the shtick”, TNE #293), any more offensive than, say, Tom Cruise’s Irish accent in Far and Away or Julia Roberts’ Irish accent in Mary Reilly? Blackface is rightly unacceptable, and has been for many years now, but surely this is just a great actor playing a part?
Geoff Tatum

Home truths

Re: Multicultural Man on dual nationality (TNE #293). So Will Self, one of the grumpiest men on the planet, does not feel at home anywhere? I am surprised. Mike Smith Re: Will Self on the n-word (TNE #292). This topic comes up a lot in writing groups on Facebook and the response from groups that are predominantly white nearly always takes the form of a 50/50 split, between “write what you like” (a kind of unknowing, visceral appeal to authenticity), and “don’t go there” (there’ being the n-word).

In a more balanced group, the majority opinion is “don’t go there”. In a group oriented toward writers of colour, and writers who want to engage in race issues, it’s 100% “don’t go there”.
Jeremy Newman
Via Facebook

I don’t get why you’d want to use the n-word in the first place. It’s a vile word with a terrible history. And no, not tolerating intolerance or bigotry does not make you intolerant or a bigot. That’s an insane argument. The minute you start allowing intolerance and bigotry, you live in an intolerant and bigoted society by default.
Peter Horner

Going to pot

Re: “Legalising cannabis won’t get rid of drug dealers” (Letters, TNE #292). Who would buy cannabis of unknown quality, purity and weight on the black market if they could buy goods that were subject to quality and weights and measures control from a legitimate source?
Mark Palmer
Via Facebook

Entitled role

In “Such Sweet Sorrow” (TNE #292), Juliette Binoche says “I don’t need to take a menial job to understand tough working conditions. Being an actor is hard enough.”

I recall from when I was a student, Linda Ronstadt saying that The Eagles worked harder than coal miners. The NME wrote of this ludicrous comment that The Eagles got paid a lot more than miners too. Juliette Binoche, an entitled actor, has fallen into the same trap.
Lynne Owen
Via Facebook

Hate Mail

Mandrake’s report of Daily Mail owner Lord Rothermere’s speech to the likes of Boris Johnson and Priti Patel at Claridge’s (TNE #292) really turned the stomach.

The old-style Mail and Sun would have dumped a liar and liability like Johnson by now. But because of the B-word, they are all yoked together, heading towards a grim fate. Good.
Brian McQueen

Lord Rothermere says the Daily Mail is “calling out charlatans”. He’s actually employing them. There is a big difference. Rudi Konrath Either Lord Rothermere is a complete cynic or else he really believes what his newspapers have made up. It doesn’t look good in either case.
Aline Tayar

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