Parties should put the country first

Dear Editor,

Brexiters claim that as an EU member we lost national sovereignty, political accountability, and control. Untrue. In freely signing up to shared democratic values, human rights, standards and protections, we gained much, and sacrificed nothing. Benefits to the arts, sciences and education were as crucial as those for trade. National parliaments retained sovereignty as well as having full representation through elected EU MEPs. The European Court of Justice (ECJ), painted as the monster of undemocratic diktat, actually upholds the rules that we made, and ALL have agreed to. Britain now has no vote, no power and no representation with our most important trading partner, or with America, China, India or any other nation we’re now dependent on for trade. The deals brokered from a weak, desperate position will inevitably be to our disadvantage, as recent appalling deals have proved.

The Brexit argument is that for 47 years Westminster was a puppet and Britain a powerless, vassal state dancing to the EU’s tune. What sane person would believe that Thatcher, the Iron Lady, who for so many was the epitome of British patriotism, would have bowed to this? Britain was at the top table making the laws that others obeyed! We had international status, respect and influence. We were seen as honourable and trustworthy. But Brexit has turned us into an object of derision, neither liked nor trusted by the friends we’ve shunned, and increasingly irrelevant to the superpowers on whom we are now reliant.

For those like Johnson, Farage, and their best buddy Trump, Brexit promised to be a cash-cow. Signing up to best practice is anathema to Brexit free-marketeers who can’t make their billions when bound by ‘suffocating’ protections. Since this is an embarrassing truth, and a hindrance to the Brexit project enjoying profiteering without conscience, a different cause for leaving had to be found. The EU became the bogeyman stealing our sovereignty and besmirching our patriotism. Fascism uses the same tactic.

Brexit serves a populist agenda dished up in sound bites endlessly repeated to a patriotic electorate, the fall-guys of rogues they thought they could trust. Dominic Cummings’s Leave campaign was reliant on, and contemptuous of, those he was manipulating. He gambled on Brexit and to hell with the consequences. He and Boris won. So what do we do now? Some say we must honour the referendum whatever the cost, but that is handing winnings to cheats and villains. We must do the courageous and morally honest thing, and give the choice back to the people - a choice, truth-driven, fully informed, and based on fact not on killer sound bites from The Jokers.

This can only happen if our weak, colluding opposition parties finally put the country first. In their acceptance of a fraudulent referendum, they’ve doomed us to a never-ending spiral of Tory corruption – and our Brexit downfall. Supreme Tory power is democratically catastrophic. Brexit, their defining cause, is the only thing that will remove them.

Jennifer Godschall Johnson (Address supplied)

Tilting the balance in party’s favour

Dear Editor,

Whilst our focus is justly on the Chancellor’s budget and the government’s lack of action on protecting our environment, the Government’s illiberal new Election Bill introduces a raft of changes to the rules of elections rules that will make them less accessible, less independent and less fair.

The changes only benefit the Conservatives.

If we believe in British liberal values, our elections should be independently-run, free, fair and accessible to all those who wish to vote. As liberals, we have long campaigned for a proportional voting system, one where all votes are important, not just those in a few select marginal constituencies!

Naturally the Conservatives want to stick to First Past the Post (FPTP), where they can win a minority of the votes yet gain power. They know that in a proportional voting system they will lose seats and have to work harder for constituents to maintain them.

Shockingly Labour also just voted against a proportional representation at their conference this October. The Conservatives are going even further to protect their minority rule.

The Elections Bill is designed to tilt the playing field in their favour further.

The new bill introduces a raft of changes, including: mandatory voter photo to combat virtually non-existent electoral fraud. in the pilots, hundreds of voters were turned away; ministerial influence over the strategy and policy of the independent Electoral Commission; FPTP to be introduced in mayoral and Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections and new rules for third party campaigners (which may inhibit the ability of Unions to donate to Labour).

Furthermore, long-term expats will be allowed to vote and donate, even when they have lived abroad for over 15 years (the Conservatives’ biggest donor at the 2019 election, the theatre producer John Gore who gave £1.5m is based in the Bahamas)

The Elections Bill is about tilting the playing field in a party’s favour and little to do with improving the fairness of our elections. Meanwhile, foreign interference in our elections is not a priority for the Government. A democracy is not dismantled in a day, it is slowly and quietly chipped away at.

Councillor Luigi Gregori

Liberal Democrat parliamentary Spokesperson

North West Hants

Excited about golf course

Dear Editor

I should like to begin by thanking Mr Hills for his wide-ranging, interesting letter - 22nd October, 2021. His late father’s picture hangs proudly in Basingstoke Golf Club’s (BGC) professional shop, a reminder of his many years of service as our professional.

From his historical perspective, his letter rightly acknowledges Basingstoke’s past - golfing and generally - but seems to perceive some progress, development and growth for criticism.

Around 500BCE, Heraclitus observed: “The only constant in life is change.” Change in motion is rarely comfortable.

Basingstoke town’s dynamic growth over decades is a credit to many councils and the energy of its inhabitants.

Even in this demanding post-Brexit and Covid period there is regeneration of our Basing View business area bringing new businesses and people to the area, people who will need housing of all types.

Having encountered cancer four times, I cannot speak highly enough of our stretched medical services in Basingstoke and Guildford.

The as-yet-unknown but much needed doctors, nurses and other staff will all require housing.

The “relentless ‘urban sprawl’” Mr Hills mentions is a vital sign of growth, renewal and Basingstoke’s expanding family. “Growth and renewal” are encouraging signs, much better than their opposite – an absence of vital signs. When the Winds of Change blow, some build windmills.

I have been a member of BGC for over thirty years – “joined at the hip”. I was privileged to be its 2016 Captain, former Director and Chair of Green in charge of course development. In my limited time, we made below grass changes James Braid - its 1928 designer - could not have dreamt.

The techniques and materials - which I am sure he would have welcomed - had not been invented.

Currently, I am Chair of the Course Working Party with responsibility for the new design and development.

His assessment of BGC, Kempshott’s parkland course, omits to mention increased water incursion caused by housing on the site’ boundary had altered on-course ground conditions making the predominately clay soil muddy in Winter. Former Dummer Golf Club’s (DGC) free-draining, chalk-based geology is one reason for the move.

Neither the recent ground staff nor the original designers require his defence. With their annual course budget, DGC’s green staff did (and continue to do at BGC) a great maintenance job under the circumstances.

Peter Alliss and Clive Clarke - the original designers - took an unpromisingly flat tract of land and built a challenging downland golf course using 1992’s specifications and standards for that level of course. Many changes occurred over the years.

I met golf’s voice, Peter Alliss, several times. In a forty-minute, Saturday morning telephone call he made, we discussed his Dummer design and the proposed alterations, e.g. re-building greens to modern specifications. Far from considering the changes a criticism, he seemed delighted at the prospect of Dummer’s new lease of life and wished us the very best. He accepted my invitation to the opening day but added - “If I am still around”. Sadly, he is not.

As a committed golfer from age thirteen (on a James Braid course), I have no doubt the late James Braid and Peter Alliss would revel in the exciting opportunity to re-build. Weller Design of Farnham, BGC’s course architects, and the current committees are working hard to give BGC another hundred years to meet the demands created by modern equipment and golfers who expect to play every day of the year.

It is hoped BGC will provide a great sporting and social facility for our new businesses, doctors, nurses, other workers and our members. Much medical research indicates golfers live longer. We hope BGC (New), our yet-to-be-constructed golf facility, will once again be the premier members’ club in the area, a magnet course and a healthy, vital sign of Basingstoke’s life.

This is a personal view not an official statement.

Ron Waller, Axford

Effect of fireworks on our pets

Dear Editor,

With fireworks season upon us, I am joining Blue Cross in urging the public to consider the devastating effect the bangs and flashes can have on pets and people and to be considerate of their neighbours this Bonfire Night.

In the UK 70% of owners report their pets being affected, some being physically sick and too frightened to leave the house for days after the fireworks have stopped.

Please consider using low-noise fireworks or sparklers this year in your back garden where possible or give neighbours advance warning if you’re planning to set off fireworks for the sake of pets and people across the country who may struggle with them across the country.

Advice on how you can help prepare your pet for fireworks season and what to do if they are fearful on noisy nights is available from the charity's website. To find out more visit

Pam Ferris

Blue Cross Rehoming Ambassador

Blue Cross