COP27 summit

IT’S good to hear that our local MP and now Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will be going to COP27 after all. We appreciate he has a lot on his plate, and we wish him well with that, but – with international progress on tackling climate change apparently stalled – we urgently need our heads of state and government to put things back on track.

A series of key UN reports published over the last few days tell us that current policies, including our own here in the UK, are nowhere near achieving the greenhouse gas reductions needed to keep us below the "relatively safe" plus 1.5 degrees of global warming. Instead, we are heading for a much more dangerous plus 2.5 degrees of warming. In the words of the UK Government’s own Net Zero Strategy, that could lead to "severe and irreversible changes to the planet, the environment and human society". This cannot be the legacy we leave our children.

Credit where it’s due, the UK’s targets are some of the most ambitious in the world. However, as Lord Deben of the Climate Change Committee observed yesterday, its record of delivery – turning those targets into action – is “appalling”. According to a new YouGov poll, nearly 60 per cent of people in the UK think the Government is not doing enough to tackle climate change.

Rishi Sunak has said there is “no long-term prosperity without action on climate change”. We hope this conviction will be translated into a UK push for genuinely ambitious cuts, especially by the world’s top emitters, and funding for adaptation measures in poorer countries suffering terribly from climate change despite their negligible contribution to global emissions.

It’s also crucial to be at the table to seize those massive opportunities, to help forge that green revolution with its promise of energy security, millions of jobs and a cleaner, more sustainable and more prosperous future worldwide – and of course here in North Yorkshire.

North Yorkshire Climate Coalition (Action on Climate Emergency (ACE) Settle and Area, Clapham Sustainability Group, Climate Action Northallerton, Climate Action Stokesley and Villages, Helmsley Green Team, Kirby Misperton Environmental Group, Malton and Norton Environmental Group, Nidderdale Climate + Environment Group, Northallerton Has Heart, North Yorkshire West Federation Women's Institutes Climate Change Action, Pickering Environmental Group, Project Purple Hovingham, Richmondshire Climate Action Partnership, Ryedale Environmental Group, Selby Friends of the Earth, Thirsk Friends of the Earth, Zero Carbon Harrogate), CPRE North and East Yorkshire.

Parking 'chaos'

I AM so glad you placed the word chaos in inverted commas in your article about parking issues on Crosby Road, Northallerton (D&S Times, Oct 28).

Attending sixth form there in the late 1980s I had a friend lived at the opposite end of the road so on an almost daily basis walked its length and travel it regularly even now.

It has never been any different, even before the police moved their HQ there.

It has always had parking intermittently, especially round the school end with traffic having to wait turns to pass parked vehicles.

The associated picture also shows it at what I have seen as one of the clearer days so hardly "chaos".

Ian Wright, Bedale.

Greener travel

THE report about the “chaos” of parking at police headquarters in Northallerton made interesting reading (D&S Times, Oct 28).

The problem could be solved if more people walked or cycled to work.

There must be a significant percentage of those who work at the headquarters who live in or near Northallerton.

Not only would they feel fitter and more alert but it would be much better for the planet and reduce the need for parking spaces.

Northallerton is an easy town to cycle in – much of it flat – and it always surprises me how few people one sees on bikes.

We should be encouraging much greener ways to travel.

Angela Thomsett, Osmotherley.

Sunak appointment

CHRIS LLOYD’S article last week (D&S Times, Oct 28) was, I fear, ill-informed and disrespectful to both Rishi Sunak and the membership of Richmond Constituency Conservative Association (RCA).

The first paragraph refers to Mr Sunak being "parachuted in" to the constituency, a canard that he repeats later in the article. All Conservative party candidates, local as well as national, standing in Richmond constituency are selected and approved entirely by the members.

RCA has a membership in the region of 1,000 who elect an executive committee to manage the association's affairs. On the retirement of William Hague, some 70 prospective Conservative candidates submitted their CVs to the RCA office and the executive committee appointed a small group of its members to trawl through those and produce a long list for them to consider.

That list contained two strong local candidates as well as a few unknown quantities. It is fair to say that Rishi Sunak’s CV was not the first on that list, but made it purely on its strength and the story it told – ability and hard graft – to get where he was from an ordinary background.

Those on the long list had a full day of interrogation and canvassing by the committee, who then selected six candidates to go before a meeting of all members of the association.

Having been involved throughout I cannot for the life of me remember a single parachute appearing anywhere, but perhaps Mr Lloyd knows better, he is far from being the first person to assume they "know how the party works" when in reality they know nothing.

Christopher Bourne-Arton, president, Richmond Constituency Conservative Association.

Democratic process

I MUST congratulate you on the fair and accurate articles regarding our new PM, Rishi Sunak – “The rise of Rishi Sunak” (D&S Times, Oct 28).

What a shame that we did not have this result in September, I fail to understand how 80,000 Conservative Party members could have been so utterly deficient in intelligence and foresight to elect Liz Truss over Rishi.

However, as everyone now says, let us move forward.

What I also fail to understand is how so many people, including two of your correspondents, as well as Keir Starmer and Nicola Sturgeon, seem to have little, if any, knowledge of the British constitution.

We constantly hear the calls "we must have a general election," "Rishi Sunak has no mandate or legitimacy," and "the people should have their say".

The electorate had its say in 2019. Do these people do not realise we are not a presidency, we are a democratic constitutional monarchy.

Boris Johnson did not win the 2019 election, the Conservative Party did.

That party has a mandate which can be carried out (and I have no doubt will be) by whichever MP has the support and confidence of Parliament which happens now, thank goodness, to be Rishi Sunak.

People in Richmondshire have been fortunate over very many years to have had members of the very highest calibre to represent them (Tim Kitson and William Hague in particular).

Many people, I have to confess, myself included, were sceptical when Rishi came in in 2015 and I did, in fact vote at that time for (the late) John Blackie.

I have subsequently met Rishi more than once and seen his amazing work as a constituency MP on the ground.

Even when Chancellor he seems to be up here every week working hard and meeting people.

No doubt we will now unfortunately see somewhat less of him although I cannot believe we will be forgotten – and our loss will be Britain's gain.

John E Howe, Bedale.

Fixing mistakes

SO Rishi Sunak "vows to fix ‘mistakes’” (D&S Times, Oct 28).

Perhaps he will ensure that the many thousands of your readers who rely on oil for their heating will get some financial help commensurate with that provided to those who use gas or electricity.

All we are told is that ministers are discussing the matter.

Perhaps he thinks we will be able to rely on the masses of hot air they generate.

Mervyn Wilmington, Harmby, Leyburn.

The alternative

AS we look at the shambles to elect a new leader of the Conservatives, one is reminded of Churchill’s famous comment that democracy is the worst form of Government – except for all the others.

Before you wring your hands, gloat or shake your head in despair, depending on your political viewpoint, it should be remembered that all three mainstream UK political parties have, in the very recent past, made a complete mess of choosing a leader.

First you had Labour and Jeremy Corbyn, who had sincerely held views but which were completely at odds with the vast majority of the electorate.

Then you had the extraordinary situation in the Lib Dems when their leader renounced democracy by saying she would simply ignore the Brexit vote.

That party had everything going for it at the last General Election, up to that point and they should have made the breakthrough they have always craved.

Then Boris Johnson was forced from office and the Tories elected disaster woman Liz Truss.

She perhaps had the right ideas but tried to implement them at the wrong time.

Readers should perhaps ask themselves, do they want a democracy with all its faults or should we have some form of totalitarian state?

One thinks of Russia where Vladimir Putin was originally elected by a passable democratic system but then eliminated all opposition, or China where Xi is similar.

You may have seen on the TV, a predecessor being forcibly removed from the Party Congress, in full view of the cameras in a manner reminiscent of Spectre.

They are trying to suggest he was ill. I have no doubt he is now!

I vote for democracy.

David Williams, Langthwaite, Richmond.

The way ahead

DESPITE the recent political upheaval, let us assume that we still live in a logical democracy.

Like any medicine, wrongly applied policies can have undesirable side effects.

Recent experience shows that democracy is not foolproof, but that is a price one may have to pay due to the many different opinions in politics and economics.

Whilst the two are close together, their consistency differs; politics is like treacle, economics, a highly-flammable fuel.

Only experienced politicians and economists can engineer what is good for society.

To reduce all views to one, as in China, is not desirable. Since our system is more complicated, we require better quality experts.

Whilst we have finally turned the corner towards normality, some question the new Prime Minister’s legitimacy and policies.

We have all been informed as to what his policies are and, on the basis of our constitution, he has been legitimately appointed.

Since we are in dire straits economically and we have lost international confidence, the last thing we want is yet more turmoil with a general election.

We live in a parliamentary democracy and a large number of parliamentarians have elected our PM; let’s be content with that.

The opposition is not ready, so, no more experiments – the success of the new Government is in our interests and I hope that Jeremy Hunt and Penny Mordaunt remain in their positions.

Bernard Borman, Leyburn.

Small state

WHILE we all look at the wreckage of Liz Truss’s government it is vital that we identify the causes, accept those who caused the wreck and determine not to let them wreck it again.

The Conservatives have run the county for 43 of the last 60 years.

Since 2010 we had five Conservative leaders in succession without any break, they claimed to have taken back control, made us sovereign and into "global Britain".

We will have had three Conservative Prime Ministers and three Chancellors of the Exchequer in 2022.

There is nobody left to blame for this failure of government than the Conservative Party, its MPs and its members especially, who have foisted one failure upon another, onto our country.

The main avoidable cause of this crisis are a failure to accept realities – or denialism, adoption of increasingly un-British extreme right-wing policies – ideological extremism, and a failure of governance.

Denials are legion in Conservative Party thinking – a few are that Britain is not in decline compared to several other emerging states; that we do not need to cooperate with partners; that cooperation is often a better route to success than competition, a failure to identify that our elites have dis-invested in our country; denying that there is a skills shortage; that our best friends and markets are in Europe; that Covid requires urgent measures; and above all, denying that we need a strong, well run nation state to work for our internal and external security, health and prosperity.

The mantra of "small state, low tax, low welfare" is a denial that to survive as citizens and as countries we need a capable state, the right size to do the job of meeting the country’s needs, not one small or large.

But what has shocked and unsettled spectators from abroad, and should shock every citizen, is that the Conservatives have stopped taking government seriously, they have just stopped governing.

David Cameron predicted Brexit would distract them from dealing with essentials, now every single government function has slipped into special measures.

Austerity has created the utopian “small state” already and this is what it looks like.

Dr John R Gibbins, Sowerby, Thirsk.