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No hiding place from our Government's hypocrisy.

Sir, - The train crash in East Sussex, following the Paddington disaster two weeks ago when 30 people died, once again highlights the crucial point that safety standards are relegated to a secondary position while the rail companies drive towards accumulating wealth.

The fact that the privatised rail companies failed to meet the pounds 2 billion investment required to introduce comprehensive safety regulations merely reinforces this belief.

However, the directors of the privatised companies are not alone in disregarding public safety as such neglect is also practised and most rampant at Government level.

This Government, as with the one before it, trades heavily with oppressive and brutal states such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait among others.

The Queen's guest was none other than Jiang Zemin, the President of China. China's government is notorious for its swift capital punishment verdicts upon its citizens who, in most cases, do not even receive a fair trial.

The vital information is ignored as our Government has already cemented deals and established a pounds 10 billion business linked with China which consequently positions the UK as the largest European investor in China.

As with all capitalist nations, any given opportunity to trade and invest will manifestly always override the cries of misery, suffering and pain of innocent people living in exploited countries.

Mr Cook said: "We hold it as self evident that everyone has the right to live without fear of violence sponsored or tolerated by the state." (Post, Oct 20). However such a statement has absolutely no practical manifestation in reality as Britain has clinched deals with China despite the oppression its government imposes.

Mr Jiang's visit reveals to the people in China that he is treated seriously, even by British Royalty, regardless of the atrocities occurring in China.

The Monarchy and British Government's open and ardent embrace and acceptance of Mr Jiang, as well as the recent train crashes, reveals that the underlying basis on which the Government bases its policies is money, money and money.

The Government may have shielded Mr Jiang but they cannot shield the public from their hypocrisy.

SHEMEZA KHANIM

Al-Muhajiroun (Birmingham Branch),

Bordesley Green,

Birmingham.

pounds 76 and still

no Virgin seat!

Sir, - To assist John Prescott's environmental aspirations I left the car at home and travelled by train to Euston.

Mr Branson may be a successful entrepreneur in the record and airline businesses amassing a pounds 1,500 million fortune; he cannot, however, run a rail company efficiently.

I paid pounds 76 day return to Euston, plus pounds 3.50 car park fee. I eventually found a crowded seat and had an uneventful journey.

At 17.45 the return was a farce. I walked the whole train and couldn't find a seat - the train packed with dozens of passengers standing precariously in the carriage link area - surely contrary to Health and Safety rules?

Apparently this main line service doubles as a Milton Keynes commuter service - a third of the passengers departed there, freeing up much needed seats.

There was no trolley service on the train. We were treated like "cattle" from Euston to Milton Keynes, a grossly overpriced service with little attention to minor details like "a seat" on the train.

Sorry Mr Prescott, this won't do.

MICHAEL KELLY

Kings Heath,

Birmingham.

Tell us the real

story Mr Prescott

Sir, - "The public wants somebody in this job making sure that people take the decision to make the railways safe" (Post, Oct 24). Well said John Prescott, after the catalogue of disasters that he has presided over since taking on his two Jags job.

Is this the same Prescott who told the Labour conference "Railway privatisation will be quickly and effectively dealt with and be returned to public ownership"?

I think we should be told!

STEVE KIRKHAM

Kings Heath,

Birmingham.

Slimeball on

the agenda

Sir, - I note that Mr Jeff Rooker is looking for the definition of "slimeball" (Post, Oct 25) - perhaps I can help.

The word originated in the USA and is applied to a person, usually a politician or other public figure, who is smarmy, obsequious, sycophantic and patronising in their demeanour.

In some States the use of the word is also extended to a person who is sly, devious and shifty with more than a "touch" of cowardice.

Examples of a "slimeball" in this case would be the child who, with the protection of its parent, unfairly continues to taunt and provoke another, knowing full well that they (the provoked) cannot respond (you know the type of child I mean).

Likewise the term could also be applied to a person that abused a privileged position in order to viciously and unfairly slander another, knowing that they (the slanderer) were completely beyond the reach of the law.

The word is easily added to your spellchecker by clicking "add" in the dialogue box and I suggest you do this now as it's a word that may well pop up from time to time, given the current Government line-up.

DAVID REYNOLDS-LACEY

Hartlebury,

Worcestershire.

'Disgusting'

definition

Sir, - Jeff Rooker will find a definition of slimeball in the family dictionary "a disgusting person".

F A CHAMBERS

Tividale,

Oldbury.

Plenty of them

around

Sir ,- Jeff Rooker MP can't find a definition of "slimeball" in his dictionary (Post, Oct 25).

He doesn't need to. This is a well-known unpleasantry applied to unprincipled and/or repulsive individuals.

These can be found in every walk of life and in his job, Mr Rooker surely must meet at least one nearly every day.

TREVOR BARNARD

Sedgley,

Dudley.

Look no further

than Westminster

Sir, - As a former constituent of the Honourable Member for Perry Barr (Post, Oct 25, in which Jeff Rooker questions Moira Martingale's text) I am only too pleased to be able to assist his research into the meaning of the word "slimeball".

My PC was able to produce the following information: slime (n) fr. OE slim: a repulsive or odious person and also lime (vt) fr. OE lim: to smear or to entangle; ball (n) fr. ME ball: often used interjectionally (pl) to indicate derision and also sleaze.ball (n) (slang 1981) a sleazy person.

So, "slimeball" is a rude comment about an unpleasant person who is often engaged in Machiavellian activities. Now, if he were to seek to inquire where he might find an example of such a person, he could begin by scrutinising the benches of the Palace of Westminster where, popular opinion holds, several representatives of this genus can be found.

HARRY GROVE

Chaddesley Corbett,

Worcestershire.

Oh dear, thrashed

at rugby again

Sir, - I've only just recovered from last weekend when the Southern Hemisphere duly demolished the Northern Hemisphere at Rugby Union and League.

And while Union is a major sport in NZ and RSA it is a minority sport in Oz, yet they seem to turn out world-beaters with consummate ease.

Wales and Scotland tried really hard and gave their all but frankly England were a huge disappointment even though they were still only 25-21 behind with 15 minutes left.

Although I just could not see how our static backs were ever going to breach the "thick green line" (and that is not an insult to RSA backs' intelligence).

What's happened to our backs' coaching? We had a New Zealander coaching the forwards but - oh dear - an Englishman coaching the backs.

And Anzacs dominate coaching in our Rugby League at club level.

So, where do we go from here?

I'm afraid to say that our proposed Institute of Sport, to copy the Aussies, is too little, too late.

And this will undoubtedly be dogged by political in-fighting as in all our sporting organisations.

But the major issue which needs to be resolved (although I know it never will as money talks) is that there are too many foreigners in our club teams.

This includes soccer, the two rugby codes, and cricket (which is really paying the price of decisions made years ago where top county bowlers and batters were all from overseas).

Our fans may well enjoy paying to watch these foreigners (many of whom are "journeymen" who should not really get work permits except for being European).

But they are then the same fans who stand in the pubs and bemoan the continuing poor performances of our national teams.

Last weekend was really depressing for our rugby especially when the TV commentators seemed to dismiss the British so deftly.

They commented "well, they can all look forward to the Six Nations later in the year".

After watching the Southern Hemisphere take us apart in Britain, who's going to bother to watch the Six Nations or am I too much of a cynic/realist?

BRIAN R DISBURY

Birmingham.

Resurrect that

Devil campaign?

Sir, - I think on balance John Major was right in 1997 to resist a Conservative publicity campaign portraying Blair and Mandelson as Faust and the Devil (Post, Oct 25).

Whether it would be appropriate now is another matter!

The unused election material that I think should have gone out was a picture of smiling Tony, and the question:

"What lies behind the smile?"

DR PETER GOODERHAM

Media Officer,

Leominster Conservative

Association.
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Title Annotation:Letter
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 30, 1999
Words:1523
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