Film, EU, House of Commons and others

Related Topics

Film archive should preserve the unique, not the 'significant'

Sir: British Film Institute employees are not the only individuals concerned about the organisation's strategic review ("Britain's film heritage at risk", 12 June). Having dealt extensively with the BFI over three decades, as a professional researcher specialising in archive-based television documentaries, I endorse the view that, while there has long been a need for change, many of the changes now being proposed are the wrong changes.

The core responsibility of the BFI towards our film heritage can be expressed in a nutshell. Resources should primarily - if not exclusively - be dedicated to preserving and restoring (for the enlightenment of all, from academics and media students to National Film Theatre audiences and social historians) those cinema features and television programmes which reside only at the National Film and Television Archive, Berkhamsted, and nowhere else. Any other criterion is totally irresponsible. Arbitrary value judgements which prioritise titles of "cultural significance" are not merely arrogant (and historically discredited) but threaten the survival of any work not conforming to a BFI-ordained "party line".

An inevitable result of the BFI's obsession with "evaluating" or "rationalising" its holding would be to major on established classics of cinema and television, erasing from our history the low-budget movies and modest situation comedies that reveal just as much about contemporary mores as do the epics and masterpieces of an era.

The backlog of such non-classic, but nevertheless important, material is so immense that the National Film and Television Archive should be increasing, not decreasing, its personnel. Only by making such a commitment can it sustain its unique character as the "adoptive parent" of the industry's "orphans", those film and television productions whose makers are no longer in business. For example, the output of London commercial television franchise holder Associated Rediffusion from 1955 to 1968 - even now, more than 30 years after being deposited in good faith with the NFTVA - is neither comprehensively catalogued nor wholly available for use and study in a compatible format.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is recommended to monitor with the utmost vigilance exactly how increased government funding for the BFI is spent from now on.

London W10

EU rules will cramp Britain on world stage

Sir: You claim that our position on foreign policy and defence will not be changed by signing the new EU constitution ("A battle between reality and myth", 21 June).

Your usual high standards of journalism have slipped, as you have failed to understand the radical shift represented by the creation of a European Foreign Affairs Minister, the abolition of the intergovernmental pillars of the EU and the clear assertion of the primacy of European law.

Article 15 says: "They [member states] shall refrain from any action contrary to the union's interests or likely to impair its effectiveness". This means that any time a UK Foreign Secretary wishes to make a statement, support an ally or take action, he will need to clear it with lawyers and the EU Foreign Affairs Minister. We will be subservient to the wishes of the EU minister and the Foreign Affairs Committee in all matters.

Let us suppose we wanted to support US action in some Arab state. The EU could tell the UK that such action would be against EU interests, or against a common policy, and so we would be unable to take action. The veto over a new common policy on something is useless - this clause gives the EU complete control of our actions.

Similarly, it is true we keep our seat on the UN Security Council - but we lose our voice. The EU Foreign Affairs Minister can decide when he will use our place to put the EU point of view - instead of us putting our point of view.

It is game, set and match for the federalists when it comes to foreign policy. The EU will decide on war and peace, who our friends and enemies are, and ultimately on when and how our forces will be deployed.

(Wokingham, C)
House of Commons

Sir: Bruce Anderson (21 June) says that a parliament plus civil service plus anthem plus flag equals statehood. The UN has an assembly, a civil service and a flag but no one considers it a state.

The truth is that the EU has none of the characteristics of a "superstate" and your front page debunked many of the myths being propagated by the anti-Europeans. There were and are some federalist aspects to the new constitution and it is a pity that the debate in this country has not focused on a rational evaluation of the benefits of a federal constitution.

It is depressing but understandable that most of those who knock the draft constitution offer no alternative. At least Kilroy-Silk was open when he said he wanted to wreck the system. I share with him a desire for change but, in my case, within the structures of the EU, a voluntary association of nation states who have ceded some sovereignty in order to strengthen their economic and political position in the world.

The EU institutions need reform to ensure greater accountability to the people and transparency as well as enhanced efficiency. The anti-Europeans oppose such reforms because they will result in an EU in which the people will feel a greater sense of ownership of this unique achievement.

Deal, Kent

Sir: So The Independent, a newspaper claiming to report news without a political axe to grind, sums up the Eurosceptic viewpoint as "fiction" and the Europhile viewpoint as "fact".

On giving away sovereignty you say "in all sensitive areas ... Britain cannot be outvoted". To a Europhile only Tony Blair's red lines were sensitive areas. To me every area of government, including those already handed over such as fisheries, is sensitive. Just because you are not bothered that the EU rather than Westminster will, according to the new constitution, control energy does not make other people's concerns "fiction" nor does it make your lack of concern "fact".

The European debate would function much better if you lost your feeling of cultural and mental superiority to those of us who don't agree with you.

Tenterden, Kent

Right to palliative care

Sir: My father was given only weeks to live at the end of April this year. He displayed many of the symptoms listed by Dr Nick Maurice (letter, 21 June), and worsened quickly. The pain and his weakened state left him telling everyone that he just didn't want to wake up.

Although my mother, previously a nurse in an old people's home, was administering medication according to prescription, advice from a palliative care doctor adjusted the timing of his pills. Where my father was fed-up and resigned to imminent death, he is now pain-free and more independent than he has been this year.

Having seen the result of just one consultation in palliative care, I believe that in addition to the right to euthanasia, good palliative care should be a standard specialist service for everyone requiring it - well before such final "sentences" are passed.


Sir: It is outrageous if, as your story on living wills (19 June) implies, the Roman Catholic Church was singled out by the Government for "lengthy discussions ... on safeguards against euthanasia". Catholics should be protected from having to participate in voluntary euthanasia, but the Catholic Church has no right to prevent the rest of us from making decisions about how or when we die.

I hope to read one day that the Government has had "lengthy discussions" with the British Humanist Association on safeguards against interference in our lives by Roman Catholic and other religious organisations.

Education Officer
British Humanist Association
London WC1

Critical condition

Sir: Just a couple of footnotes to Bill Hagerty's otherwise commendably fair summary of the internecine warfare currently preoccupying the Drama Critics Circle (Media, 15 June).

I have in fact been writing "overnight" (as well as weekly) reviews of plays for most of my life - most recently for five years on Teletext.

Journalism may well be, as Hagerty says, "a cut-throat business", but I have never wanted to be associated with that aspect of it. Only when I was assured by the Daily Express that Robert Gore-Langton had no liking for overnight reviewing, and that he had been offered (though apparently declined) several other roles on the paper, did I agree that it would make sense for me to restart the overnights which had once been a pride of the paper. Indeed my original suggestion, as the Express will confirm, was that the paper should have two drama critics, in line with common Fleet Street practice - count up how many, Sir, are in your columns.

That way I would have taken care of the overnights, and Robert of the weekly round-ups: we could also have split the work when there was more than one play opening in London on the same night. Through no fault of mine or the paper's it did not work out, but I still object to the adverse publicity.

London SW11

Arrest warranted?`

Sir: One paragraph in your report on the Gary Mann affair ("I'm an innocent victim, says riot 'ringleader' ", 22 June) is of more general importance: "The Home Office said yesterday that it was waiting for the Portuguese legal process to be completed before seeing whether a European arrest warrant could secure Mr Mann's return to Portugal to serve his prison term."

Those of us who have been concerned at the opportunities given by the European arrest warrant system for abuse of process by forum shopping and intergovernmental conspiracy appear to have had our fears confirmed.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of this particular matter the basis of the arrest warrant system, so we were told, is that it is up to the country where the trial took place to decide to enforce its judgement and have it recognised. The citizen's country of residence has no status or powers at that stage. The statement would appear to be gratuitous interference in Portuguese affairs.

Director, Fair Trials Abroad
Richmond, Surrey

Stigma of poverty

Sir: Are travellers "invading" High Ham? ("Prescott will give councils new powers to curb travellers", 17 June). Or are they just migrating?

You say villagers are "angry" and suffering "torment". At no point do we hear the travellers' views. Having grown up near a common used by travellers, I've grown sick of the casual, acceptable discrimination meted out to people whose worst crime is poverty. The "gypo" taunts and the "no travellers" signs on pubs are no better than the signs that said "no blacks, no dogs, no Irish" a generation ago.

I'm shocked that The Independent should reinforce such prejudice. If you want to cover this issue intelligently you could look at the scandalous centralisation of land ownership enjoyed by a wealthy few since the legalised theft of the Enclosures Acts. That would be preferable to scapegoating a group of people for the sin of clubbing together to buy a field to live in.

London N16

Vatican prejudice

Sir: I was shocked to see, in your report (16 June) of the Vatican summit to combat " 'New Age' religions and fads", that along with ancient Egyptian occult practices, medieval alchemy etc, the Vatican includes the Sufi strand within Islam, Buddhism in its Zen form, and Celtic Christianity.

This shows deplorable ignorance and/or prejudice in the Vatican. Sufism is the most tolerant form of Islam - as in Rumi's famous saying about the religions, "The lamps are different, but the light is the same." Zen meditation has proved successful in many lives in transcending the grasping ego point of view which lies at the root of hostility and violence. And the rediscovered spirituality of Celtic Christianity has much to teach other Christians.

Professor JOHN HICK
Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Research in Arts & Social Sciences
University of Birmingham


Democracy in danger

Sir: Politicians already enjoy enormous power to bully broadcast commentators, especially those on the state-funded BBC. Once they vote themselves powers to bully opinion pollsters too ("MPs claim opinion polls are used to 'fix' elections", 22 June), we should really worry for the future of our democracy.

Director, Adam Smith Institute
London SW1

Speed cameras

Sir: Christopher Parker (letter, 21 June) repeats the canards about lack of public confidence in speed cameras and "the real damage ... being done between the police and the public". The use of the phrase "the public" when in fact he's talking about people who get caught breaking the speed limit is dishonest. The arguments are not between public and police but between bad drivers and the rest of us. The more the bad drivers whinge, the more convinced I am that speed cameras are doing a good job. I wish there was one on my road.

Ditchling, East Sussex

Breath of air

Sir: If Carolyn Beckingham (letter, 15 June) could take a bike ride in the Netherlands from Rotterdam to the Kinderdijk, she would see at least seven windmills "in the same neighbourhood". And a charming sight it is, especially on summer Saturday afternoons when the sails turn.

Peebles, Borders

Take no notice

Sir: Two notices have puzzled me. The first is on a park gate on Richmond Hill. It says: "These gates are closed one hour before the advertised time." The second I saw in a shop window in Enniskillen: "Bargain basement on the first floor."

London SW6

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a security software com...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketing / Sales Co-ordinator - OTE £25,000+

£10000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of staffing and r...

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen Porter

£19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the four inns of Court is seeking...

Recruitment Genius: Chef De Partie

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the four inns of Court i...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A memorial to the1982 war between Great Britain and Argentina in Buenos Aires  

Argentina poses no military threat to the Malvinas Islands. So why is the UK ratcheting up tension?

Alicia Castro

Daily catch-up: religion, politics and roads named after dictators

John Rentoul
War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?