Cameron’s Europe reform drive in deep trouble

These letters appear in the Friday 27th issue of The Independent

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It appears that the Prime Minister’s European reform agenda has stalled (“In four-letter words, what senior EU politicians think of David Cameron”, 24 June). If Britain cannot carry with it a known Anglophile like Radoslaw Sikorski then the Government’s attempt to get Europe to embrace the reform agenda is in deep trouble.

In a remarkable show of unity, all three party leaders have opposed the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker and stressed the importance of reform. We need to extend that consensus to an agreement on a clear agenda for change. This is a big opportunity to work together to ensure that reform takes place, and we can start this process with the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party matching the Conservatives’ offer of an in-out referendum.

Keith Vaz MP (Leicester East, Lab), House of Commons

Why should David Cameron take umbrage at the prospect of Jean-Claude Juncker being appointed President of the European Commission? Mr Juncker is a former Prime Minister of Luxembourg, one of Europe’s most prosperous, yet smallest, countries.

Could this issue be  giving Mr Cameron pause as to what could happen if Scotland votes Yes to independence? Scotland one day holding the EU presidency? Now, that may be the way to entice Scots to vote Yes.

This could give them the chance of a resounding voice in Europe as an independent nation, along with other European countries, rather than the muffled representation for Scotland that Westminster would continue to provide.

Bob Harper, Anstruther, Fife

 

Cuts loom for leading  psychiatry school

The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN), a School of King’s College London, is facing a potentially devastating round of compulsory redundancies, with 50 of its academic staff “at risk”. The IoPPN has been at the forefront of research and teaching in psychiatry and mental health for over 50 years and has a superb reputation across the world.

These cuts, to be decided today (27 June), are not driven by any decline in productivity or excellence, but by changes in funding following the introduction of “full” tuition fees, which disadvantage medical schools; the withdrawal of access to central capital funds; and deficiencies in financial projections. As a result, the King’s College Council has decided to ring-fence a capital fund of 6 per cent of its income, requiring, it says, a 15 per cent cut in salaries to staff of its health schools.

The IoPPN and its NHS partner, the Maudsley, carry out clinical research in psychiatric disorders from autism to Alzheimer’s, the leading cause of disability and healthcare costs in the developed world. While there are many areas of strength in UK psychiatry, IoPPN and the Maudsley have played a leading role in the battle to combat stigma against mental disorders and to train future generations of psychiatrists, psychologists and other clinical scientists to translate scientific advances into new therapies. 

Mental health has long been a poor relation within UK research funding and staffing. It is not just the IoPPN or Maudsley that will suffer if these job losses materialise, it will also have a devastating impact on UK psychiatry as a whole.   

Professors Richard Brown, Noel Buckley, Anthony David, Patrick Doherty, Sir David Goldberg, Francesca Happé, Matthew Hotopf, Corinne Houart, Robert Howard, Philip McGuire, Declan Murphy, Sir Robin Murray, Andrew Pickles, Martin Prince, Mark Richardson, Sir Michael Rutter, Emily Simonoff, John Strang, Sir Simon Wessely, Steven Williams,

Til Wykes, Institute of Psychiatry, London SE5

 

Suarez’s only victim: himself

Thank goodness for Glenn Moore and the perspective he brings to the Luis Suarez affair. Viewed rationally, Suarez did no harm to anyone but himself.

In a moment when a flaw in his psyche took control, he almost certainly ended his World Cup participation and did great damage to his future career. No one else was affected: not the pundits who have been so vociferous in their condemnation (Ian Wright was an honourable exception), not the Italian team who were already down to 10 men, and not Chiellini, who hadn’t been knocked out by a head butt or had his leg broken by a vicious tackle. Suarez could have hoped to gain no conceivable advantage to his team by his action. The victim of the “outrage” was Suarez himself.

Suarez is a supremely gifted footballer who brings far more to the table than he takes away. Off the field he is recognised as a genuine “good guy”, as committed to the life and community spirit in Liverpool as he is committed to the welfare of their team on the pitch.

And far more sickening than Suarez’s bite is the hypocrisy of it all. We’re not talking about tennis, or snooker, or golf, three sports whose participants play by the rules and show full respect to their opponents. We’re talking about a “sport” where shirt-pulling, diving, “professional” fouls, and career-threatening tackles are so rife that they now often go unpunished and often unnoticed. I’m not a Christian but the commandment “Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone” seems apposite.

Stuart Russell, Cirencester, Gloucestershire

Uruguayan man bites Italian man in Brazil. Surely this is the most boring story since the legendary Times headline, “Small Earthquake in Chile. Not Many Dead.”

John Naylor, Ascot, Berkshire

 

Academy quango open to claims of abuse

With the Government making so many major changes in education, it is easy for announcements of significant changes to slip out with barely any attention. One such was last week’s announcement that over 160 headteachers have applied to help run new regional schools commissions, which are intended to oversee academy schools.

This matters. The Department for Education cannot properly oversee 4,000 academies to make sure they are run properly and their funding is not misappropriated. The National Audit Office has said so, as has the Public Accounts Committee, and now even Michael Gove has realised this, which is why he is setting up regional schools commissioners in England.

But this is one more nail in the coffin of democracy. Another government quango of unelected people. Academy heads, either elected by other headteachers or appointed by the regional schools commissioners, will advise on the performance of the other academies in their area run by the heads who elected them. Nothing about this is open or transparent, and it is wide open to accusations of cronyism and abuse.

I fail to see how this will improve the governance of academies, or more importantly, children’s education. And it is hard to see how this will improve academies’ accountability to parents. Yet you can be sure it will not be cheap to run.

Dr Mary Bousted, General secretary, Association of Teachers and Lecturers, London WC2

 

Where is the ‘race bias’ at the BBC?

Unless Lenny Henry has evidence of bias in the BBC’s recruitment or promotion practices (“BBC’s ‘race problem’ gets worse as ethnic-minority staff quit”, 26 June), I am not interested. Equality has nothing to do with equality of representation and everything to do with equality of opportunity.

If only a small number of minority people are applying for jobs there, then only a small number will be represented. To be calling for an artificially inflated minority representation, probably at the cost of quality, is blatant discrimination and should be opposed at every level.

Paul Harper, London E15

 

The science of spelling

Thank goodness the AQA is not as confused as Leslie Rowe seems to be (letter, 19 June). Neither sulfur nor kilogram are Americanisms but the correct English spellings of these words as determined by the Royal Society of Chemistry in 1992 and the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures in 1960.

Christopher Anton, Birmingham

 

Nonsensical NHS titles

I could not agree more with Dr Anthony Ingleton’s view (letter, 24 June) that we should trim the NHS budget by doing away with jobs with nonsensical titles, such as “Director of the Patient Experience”. So here are two more for the list: “Homoeopath” and “Hospital Chaplain”.

Stan Broadwell, Bristol

 

Pay close attention

If an employer is one who employs, and an employee is one who is employed, then surely an attender is one who attends, while an attendee (letter, 25 June) is one who is attended, that is to say accompanied or waited upon.

Jenny Macmillan, Cambridge

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