IoS letters, emails & online postings (23 May 2010)

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It is certainly too soon to see if blue and yellow will make green, as your front page headline asked last week. The coalition agreement between the Conservatives and Lib Dems says nothing at all about farming and food – industries responsible for around a fifth of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions – the same levels as transport or energy.

Farming is second only to air travel in the tiny (and at present, voluntary) contribution it is being asked to make to cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. Farming receives millions of pounds of public money via the Common Agricultural Policy, which is being reviewed over the next two years.

It is vital that all of the cash paid to farmers helps achieve emissions reductions and other environmental objectives. If this really is a green government, it needs to green our countryside and safeguard our food supply, by reversing the decline in farmland birds and putting agriculture on a route that will allow it to produce healthy food in a world where oil-based artificial fertilisers will be a thing of the past.

Peter Melchett

Policy Director, Soil Association


In your article "Campaigners believe war on climate change will be stymied" (16 May) you state "... there is a risk of state subsidy 'by stealth' to achieve the 2017 target by which the private sector and civil servants want the stations to be operational." Do you really have so little understanding of the civil service?

Civil servants do not make macro-policy. They advise, they interpret and they implement (often against their initial advice). Having witnessed civil servants being told by ministers to "... just do what you are being asked/told to..." I can honestly say that the public and journalists would be better advised to direct their righteous ire more accurately. If you voted for them and they are not doing as you wished then chastise them. If you didn't vote for them, then blame them and those who did. But don't blame the honest and hard-working people who are tasked with implementing these policies.

B Phillips


It is only in his last paragraph ("What will nice Nick say to the arms dealers?" 16 May), that David Clark poses the question in the headline. At Campaign Against Arms Trade (Caat) we believe that there is a solution that will satisfy the Lib Dems' quest to rein in arms exports and the Tory creed to cut wasteful public spending.

Let Vince Cable, the new Business Secretary, cut the UK Trade & Investment's Defence and Security Organisation, the government's arms exports body. It employs more staff than UKTI specifically devotes to all the other industry sectors combined. After that he can stop the Export Credits Guarantee Department from insuring weapons exports. There are other savings that we can suggest, but these two would be a great start.

Kaye Stearman

Media Co-ordinator

Campaign Against Arms Trade

London N4

Your article on Gordon Brown leaving office was very poignant (Comment, 16 May). Back in the early 1990s we attended the Edinburgh Miners' Rally where Gordon Brown was the main speaker (after Jimmy Knapp et al). He was lively, inspiring and funny, and the entire audience were on their feet shouting their approval at the end on his speech. He appeared to write most of it himself while the rest of the rally was happening. His smile was genuine, his socialist principles clearly evident and, when the event was over, he stopped and chatted with members of the audience.

He was not at all like the miserable, dour, prudent Scot which New Labour foisted upon us and I would suggest that it was this entirely false image which lost the Labour Party the recent election. That, and the fact that Gordon Brown's socialist principles were buried under a mound of expediency. He was, after all, the man who tried to get a million children in Britain out of poverty and who protected overseas aid to deprived children in the developing world.

Martyn Tuckwell

Shilbottle, Northumberland

It is not at all surprising that there is a workplace stress epidemic (16 May). In my experience, modern senior managers and their acolytes are, in the main, sad, dislikeable misfits who have little else in their lives but work and cannot understand why everyone else does not share their goals and beliefs.

They do not understand, and cannot accept, that the only reason most of us turn up every day is to pay our bills. They exist in a world of targets, tick boxes and buzz words, divorced from the rest of humanity. As if this was not bad enough, most white-collar staff these days work in the soulless, battery farm atmosphere of large open-plan offices where banter and laughter is frowned upon. These are the ingredients for a "perfect storm". And yes, in most workplaces, stress and depression is frowned upon and looked upon as individual weakness.

Jim Allen


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