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Corrections for Mr Hargreaves

March 30, 2016

This morning I received the LEAVE.EU letter from Peter K. Hargreaves that I believe has been sent to most people in the UK. Being firmly anchored in the other camp, I would not have expected to agree with the content of the letter but I would have expected it to be well-written. It was not. The standard to English was considerably below that which I expected of my children when they were sixteen.

The letter begins by addressing me by my full name including the initial of my middle name. That is incorrect. A letter should either be addressed to title-of-person plus surname or, if the person is one with whom you are on first name terms, the first name on its own.

The sentence which commences in line three states: "You will soon have the opportunity to vote in a referendum, its importance cannot be over emphasised." This should read: "... referendum, the importance of which ..." Overemphasised should be written as a single word. 

Next sentence: "Your vote will determine our future relationship with the EU." My vote will not do that, and it is to me that the letter is addressed. My vote may contribute to determining ... but it can have no greater effect upon the outcome.

The final sentence of the next paragraph reads: "Expect much misinformation over the coming months that you will need to filter." Should I not be expecting much information that I will need to filter for misinformation? 

In the second sentence of the third paragraph, the semi-colon between "freedom" and "E20 billion" should be a colon because the second statement is the explanation of the first statement and contains no verb.

The penultimate line of the third paragraph should have a comma between "and" and "in" because there is a comma after "cases".

In the second line of paragraph four, the EU is referred to as "they". The EU is singular and, being singular without gender, should be referred to as 'it'. The same applies to the use of "them" in the sequel sentence. 

The fourth sentence of paragraph four tells me that I "will be subject to scaremongering by interests..." 'Interests' cannot scaremonger, or indeed do anything else. 'Interests' is a passive noun which requires a subject to carry out the action. 

In the next but one sentence Mr Hargreaves urges me "to listen to real people and entrepreneurs who create wealth, not heads of big institutions whose cushy lives will be disrupted by change." It therefore appears that he is telling me not to listen to him. Until fairly recently, Peter K Hargreaves was chief executive of Hargreaves Lansdown, an enormous public company. In May 2014 The Sunday Times Rich List ranked Mr Hargreaves as the 39th richest person in the UK with an estimated wealth of £2.4 billion. And who are these "real people" to whom I'm meant to be listening? The only people who are not "real people" are the imaginary people who populate the world of fiction, or possibly the darker world of Cartesian philosophy that resides behind 'Cogito ergo sum'.

I am next requested to ask myself: "does the EU benefit you or make your life evermore complicated?" Those are nonsensical alternatives for they are not mutual exclusives. Having children both benefits my life AND makes it evermore complicated. Enforced retirement could greatly simplify a person's life but not have any beneficial effect. 

Mr Hargreaves goes on to state that the EU "certainly adds a huge amount to your grocery bill" but he fails to either substantiate or to reference his claim. I have yet to find anywhere in Europe where I can do a week's grocery shopping for less than I can in my local Tesco superstore. Perhaps it's just that Mr Hargreaves would find shopping in Tesco too demeaning. 

In the second sentence of the final paragraph on the front page of the letter, the definite article is missing. This sentence should read: "The future of THE United Kingdom..." 

Two lines later, Mr Hargreaves tells me that "it is vital that comment is not political." How can any valid comment be anything but political when the topic in question is the main political body of Europe? It's his error for in his next sentence he tells me that he belongs to no political party. So I'll assume he meant to say that "it is vital that comment is not PARTY political."

Further on in the same paragraph, Mr Hargreaves challenges "anyone" to come up with more reasons to stay in the EU than his current 115 reasons to leave it. That challenge is patently ridiculous as not all reasons carry equal weight. A university student may be able to produce a dozen reasons for not wanting to attend a lecture: it's too cold to get out of bed, it's raining, I've lost my umbrella, I can't afford the bus fare, etc.etc. And then only one reason for wanting to attend: I want my degree. That one reason outweighs the sum of all of the reasons on the other side of the argument. 

On the reverse side of the letter, Mr Hargreaves lists some of his reasons to leave. 'Integral' is the correct spelling of the word written 'integeral'. 

And then, in the final paragraph, I am invited to "consider the form below". It is not possible to 'consider' a form. One could consider completing a form or consider sending a form, but one definitely has to consider doing something to it. 

Finally, the final comma should be a full stop because the second part of the final sentence has no connection to the first part. 

If Peter K. Hargreaves wishes to be taken seriously, he should pay serious attention to the construction of the material that he disseminates. 

 

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