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Letters: Saving on the slices to fund a royal yacht

Education secretary Michael Gove’s call for a new royal yacht to mark the queen’s diamond jubilee is grotesque (Give Queen a new royal yacht for the jubilee says minister, 16 January). It’s impossible to believe that Gove could think people would support such a move, let alone see a £60m price tag as money well spent, in the midst of the economic crisis.

Monday’s Guardian was packed with examples of just how broken Britain is. Amelia Gentleman’s article (Below the breadline: the harsh reality of life on Liverpool’s workless estates, 16 January) on mass unemployment in Liverpool, the city top Tories wanted to abandon to its fate in the 80s, showed the poverty and despair that the government’s cuts are causing. The case of Thomas Bebb shows the price of the austerity offensive.

The same paper contained a justification of the government’s attacks on disabled people through its benefit “reforms” by Paul Goodman of ConservativeHome (We can’t duck this reform, 16 January). Even Goodman’s defence of this policy admits that some of the most disadvantaged will suffer terribly.

A cabinet of millionaires seems to see no problem in offering gifts to the super-rich while its policies leave people like Thomas Bebb counting the slices of bread they can afford to eat each day.

This government has no answer to the present crisis except cuts in services, pay, pensions and jobs. Sadly, Ed Miliband and Ed Balls seem to be rubber-stamping the same message of despair. As we’ve seen in Greece and Ireland, the results of austerity, far from bringing economic recovery, will simply destroy more lives.
Michael Bradley
Right to Work steering committee

• Michael Gove’s suggestion that we should “mark the significance” of the diamond jubilee celebrations by presenting the Queen with a royal yacht was an extraordinary glimpse into the mindset of some members of the cabinet. Yet Gove’s idea could serve to spark a necessary debate about these planned celebrations – and Nick Clegg’s rejection of the yacht proposal was a good start.

The government should now go further. In order to make it clear that “we are all in this together” the cabinet should abandon the lavish celebrations planned, and instead mark the occasion with a single, more limited and restrained ceremony. Of course Britain’s leading politicians will be fearful of suggesting any such cutback without the Queen’s prior approval. However, perhaps the Queen herself could make the gesture? It would be a real sign that our head of state understands, if not exactly shares, the growing economic problems facing British households.
Professor Stephen Haseler

• Michael Gove has extensive form in spending our money on his bizarre ideas. As an expert in buttering up his betters, he must be unrivalled.

In 2005, he spent more than £7,000 of our money on furnishing his London home, including charging us for such essentials as a Manchu cabinet, a pair of elephant lamps and a Loire table. A few months later he moved, and flipped his second home allowance to a house in Surrey – for which he claimed over £13,000.

Last year, it was revealed, the Department of Education handed £500,000 to the New Schools Network, headed up by one of Gove’s friends, to promote free schools. There was no competitive bidding process.

Gove’s own political career was no doubt boosted by the fact that about one third of his home spending in 2005 was with a company run by the prime minister’s aristocratic mother-in-law. Now he is courting royalty, but – as always – landing the taxpayer with the costs of his questionable taste.
Nigel Gann
Chiselborough, Somerset

• Whilst I look forward to celebrating the Queen’s long reign, I do not support the idea of a new royal yacht to mark the occasion. I would much prefer the public, if it is inclined to contribute to something, to provide a laptop and a broadband connection for every child that doesn’t have one. This important tool would enable all children to access the wide world of information and provide a vital boost to the social mobility to which the coalition government is dedicated. A fitting tribute to Her Majesty which has the potential to improve the lives of some of her most disadvantaged young subjects!
Baroness Walmsley
Lib Dem, House of Lords

• As public services are cut, unemployment rises and real wages fall, it is hard to think of anything less appropriate to spend government money on than a new yacht for one of the world’s richest people. A more traditional way to celebrate a jubilee is to release prisoners. The UK locks up far too many people for non-violent offences, and the jubilee would be an appropriate time to change our approach.
Richard Mountford
Hildenborough, Kent

• The queen needs a new yacht the way Cameron needs a new war. This, of course, is the other traditional way besides pageants, processions, jubilations, bread and circuses, that those in power have used to distract citizens from their legitimate concerns – Iran beware.
Jim McCluskey
Author, The Nuclear Threat

• Excellent idea, Michael, but why stop at the Windsors? Freezing teachers’ pay for the next 20 years would mean you could afford tax rebates for other fiscally hard-hit families, like the Greens, Goodwins and Hesters.
Bernie Evans

• Just a quick note to congratulate your picture editor on finding such an appropriate image to accompany the article about Michael Gove’s suggestion for a new royal yacht.
Helen Waldie
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