IoS letters, emails & online postings (10 January 2010)

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On behalf of ActionAid in the UK and Pakistan, I would like to thank readers of
The Independent on Sunday who donated to this year's Christmas Appeal to help those in need in Pakistan. Thanks to your generous donations ActionAid is able to continue its work with hundreds of thousands of people in Pakistan who have been displaced by fighting between the army and the Taliban. Innocent citizens were caught up in this conflict: hundreds were killed and two million had to flee their homes.

Most people have now been able to return but are facing a harsh winter, as homes have been damaged, crops destroyed and schools and medical facilities closed. ActionAid is working to help the people featured in The Independent on Sunday over the past six weeks, such as farmer Sher Ahmed Khan, whose four-year-old son was killed in the fighting and who now has to live with his family in one room of their damaged house, and 10-year-old Hasina Shah, who was left traumatised after the Taliban bombed her school.

Thanks to your donations, we will be able to help even more people build new homes, start farming again, go back to school and recover from the trauma of the conflict.

Richard Miller

executive director, actionaid

London N19

The Independent on Sunday Christmas Appeal is now closed, but donations can still be made to ActionAid at

For years I wrote for several prime-time shows, mostly action dramas, mysteries and cops ("Muslim writers say La Plante attack on BBC is 'insulting'", 3 January). Then BBC2 offered me an entire series. With around two million viewers a week, it was a hit beyond expectation, and a second series was ordered. But, as the writer of Babyfather, I hit a glass ceiling – I had "outed" myself as a Black Woman. Goodbye mainstream.

The BBC's multicultural remit has manifested itself mainly in the encouragement of white writers to attempt ethnic-minority characters. Unfortunately, this opportunity does not readily flow both ways.

When Lynda La Plante says that if she were a Muslim boy and her name was Usafi, the BBC would call her in to talk, does she mean "Asian"? Does she realise our proverbial Muslim boy would have to write about terrorism and that "Usafi" would probably only get one shot before he was back working at the corner shop?

Avril E Russell

London SE1

Andrew Johnson describes the dinner in the Thirties, at which Enid Blyton's then husband walked out "in disgust" because there was talk of appeasing Hitler, but Blyton stayed put ("Revealed: Enid Blyton and the Hitler appeasers' country-house dinner", 3 January). But I cannot agree that this proves she was an appeaser. Everyone over the age of 30 in this country at that time had such vivid recall of the industrial slaughter of the Great War, just 20 years before, that nobody wanted to contemplate the idea of a repetition. A very long way from appeasement.

Richard Foster

Angmering, West Sussex

Mark Seddon, in his otherwise informative article, is, in fact, accepting Tony Blair's escape route (How Labour was pushed into war", 3 January). Yes, the perspicacious knew, before Iraq was invaded, that there probably weren't any WMD to speak of. But let's not pretend it was ever really about "regime change" per se. If Iraq had had no oil, does anybody think the neocons would have cared about the bad Saddam? But whereas Mr Blair may claim that "regime change" justified the slaughter, not even he could claim that grabbing control of Iraq's oil was a good justification. Still: oil grabbing was the only conceivable logic in the neocon strategy.

Ian Kirk

Cheadle, Cheshire

"I judge people not by how well off they are, but by their values." Is your correspondent certain that what Peter Mandelson said wasn't, in fact: "I judge people not just by how well off they are, but by their property values"? ("Mandelson uncut", 3 January) I only ask because you never see him socialising with people outside the top drawer.

Liam O'Huigin

posted online

Those who visit local museums are not tourists but OAPs and children ("Museums hit by perfect financial storm", 3 January). As local residents, they have already paid towards the museums via council tax. Charging would most likely reduce usage. We should accept the benefits of a healthy museums sector and be prepared to fund it. Museums didn't binge on Heritage Lottery Fund money, but used it to improve long-neglected buildings and services.


posted online

Excellent news that "Catalonia votes to ban bullfighting" (3 January) How appalling, then, that this country could be just months away from re-legalising stag hunting, hare coursing and fox hunting – should the Tories win the election.

Chris Gale

Chippenham, Wiltshire

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