Wrong to see Eu­rope as UK’s en­emy

Herald Express - - Letters & Opinion -

I DO not know where Ken Ap­ple­ton (HE, Let­ters, Oc­to­ber 18) went to school or where he stud­ied, but I do won­der from his let­ter whether it had one of those maps show­ing a quar­ter of the globe coloured in pink de­pict­ing the Bri­tish Em­pire hang­ing on the wall.

Sadly time and again we see let­ters from peo­ple who grew up on a diet of over­hyped ‘bull­dog Bri­tain’ and who all too of­ten want to use any ex­cuse to have a pop at our Euro­pean friends and neigh­bours by quot­ing to­tally in­cor­rect facts.

As a for­mer of­fi­cer in the Royal navy, I can as­sure Mr Ap­ple­ton that far from ob­struct­ing the UK’s role in re­cap­tur­ing the Falk­lands, with­out as­sis­tance from France (a close friend and ally, and a na­tion with whom we haven’t been to war with for over 200 years), the Falk­land Is­lands would never have been re­cov­ered in 1982 any­way. It was only thanks to mock at­tacks from French air and naval forces based in West Africa dur­ing the southerly voy­age of the Task Force that our own navy learnt how to com­bat likely at­tacks from Ex­o­cet mis­siles launched by Ar­gen­tinian forces. Yes, France had pro­vided Ex­o­cet mis­siles to Ar­gentina prior to 1982, but it is hypocrisy to im­ply this is a con­ti­nen­tal trait.

Af­ter all, the UK arms in­dus­try rel­ished the sale of arms to Iraq be­fore we top­pled Sad­dam and we still seem rather ea­ger to sell arms to rather mostly regimes such as Saudi Ara­bia for use in its per­se­cu­tion of Ye­meni civil­ians.

Mr Ap­ple­ton is also com­pre­hen­sively wrong to dis­miss the role of the Euro­pean Union in main­tain­ing both peace and eco­nomic sta­bil­ity. While Nato has pre­vented a war be­tween east and west, it is in fact the EU which has pre­vented war for more than 70 years be­tween the states of Western Eu­rope.

It is no co­in­ci­dence either that the EU’s ex­is­tence and years of peace across Western Eu­rope cover the same times­pan that has seen eco­nomic pros­per­ity our grand­fa­thers could only have dreamed of , as well as the foun­da­tion of democ­racy in the for­mer fas­cist dic­ta­tor­ships across south­ern Eu­rope and the end of re­pres­sive com­mu­nist regimes in East­ern Eu­rope rounded Brunel-type win­dows.

How­ever this was not to be and more so now.

At the age of 15 in Septem­ber 1949 I was anx­ious to start my new ca­reer with the rail­way at New­ton Ab­bot Sta­tion although not in this par­tic­u­lar shed.

I en­joyed ev­ery minute of my years with the rail­way. Even at 15 I had a sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity and sim­ply wanted to be a wage earner and bring home some cash.

I am at a loss to un­der­stand why the sup­pos­edly young mo­rons should wish to set fire to this build­ing.

Fur­ther­more, the sur­round­ing res­i­dents and their prop­er­ties were placed in ex­treme dan­ger and even a loss of life could have re­sulted.

Swift jus­tice must seen to be done, a com­plete dis­re­gard for prop­erty and lives among young peo­ple in the town must be re­solved.

Dis­ci­pline needs to meted out to all con­cerned!

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