IoS letters, emails & online postings (30 May 2010)

Related Topics

For a school to achieve "outstanding" status, there presumably has to be something outstanding about the way it is run. The coalition proposes to "fix" what is so categorically not broken (everything else is, apparently) by converting such schools to academies. In doing so, it will place them under the control of "sponsor"-heavy governing bodies, thus ensuring that any other voices can always be outvoted, and removing democratic accountability through local authorities.

At the same time, it proposes to take money from the education mainstream and invest it in ideologically driven "free" schools run by whom, exactly? The number of hard-pressed parents with the time, expertise or inclination to set up and run their own school is likely to be small. Jostling for position at the head of the queue are likely to be religious organisations, maverick individuals with a religious axe to grind or a bloated ego to nourish, and for-profit organisations keen to, well, make a profit, even if that means economising on facilities for pupils and insinuating advertising into the classroom.

The coalition's schools policy threatens the fabric of our education system far more even than Labour's regrettable infatuation with academising schools at the other end of the league tables.

Mike Lim

Bolton, Greater Manchester

Peter Melchett is right to push for money from the Common Agricultural Policy to help farmers reduce carbon emissions (Letters, 23 May). However, a more effective way to reduce farm carbon emissions would be through processors and retailers paying a fair price for produce at the farm gate, thereby generating farm profits that can be invested in technology and techniques to permit this to happen.

On my extensive and low-carbon red poll cattle-rearing system, it takes four years from conception of a calf to that animal weighing 520kg and going to slaughter for beef. It costs me an average of 50p a day to keep the cow during pregnancy and then to look after and raise her calf. This gives a cost of £730. Were I to have sold this animal commercially, l would have been paid (at last week's average price of £1.43 per kg liveweight) a grand total of £743.60, giving me a profit after four years of £13.60.

Sadly, other than at a niche level, producing healthy and low-carbon food just doesn't pay at present.

Huw Rowlands

Mickle Trafford, Chester

Paul Vallely makes a faulty assumption that you can equate age with wisdom: wisdom is acquired through first-hand experience, not longevity ("The Lords is not perfect, but it works", 23 May).

He asserts that an elected senate would lose its independence of judgement and ability to resist the "executive" from over-hasty and ill-advised legislation, but in the United States, the Senate regularly challenges Presidential legislation and forces the "executive" to think again. The Lords has been past its sell-by for years. Piecemeal change won't do. The case for real change is overwhelming.

Richard Denton-White

Portland, Dorset

If a recreational drug, having been taken by 14,000 people on but one occasion, resulted in one death and 15 hospitalisations with over 150 requiring the attention of paramedics, the press and public would quite rightly be seeking for it to be made illegal.

Yet I hear no such clamour about the Edinburgh Marathon which achieved the same dismal record of pain and injury while making our city virtually impassable to the non-sportive majority.

John Eoin Douglas


In your piece on me last week "Coalition asks Hooper to look again at Royal Mail sale" (23 May), there were two errors. First of all, I am not a knight. Second, last year's strike at the Royal Mail was not caused by my recommendation to part privatise the Royal Mail.

The strikes were caused by a dispute over the 2007 pay and modernisation agreement. You also said that the Royal Mail is "hugely successful" having just reported "a pre-tax profit of £404m, up 25 per cent on the previous year". Huge strides in modernisation and significant improvements in the finances have been made by the management and workforce. But in fact the Royal Mail made a pre-tax loss of £262m in the year, the £404m figure being for operating profit before exceptional items – a big difference. Net trading cash outflow was £517m. With the prospect of a £10bn pension deficit, the finances of the company could not today be described as hugely successful.

Richard Hooper

London N2

According to the US Census Bureau, baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. I hope that Dawn Airey, Neil Morrissey, Toby Young and Jean-Christophe Novelli won't be upset to discover they are not Generation X slackers but privileged overachievers.

David Stansfield

London E14

Have your say

Letters to the Editor, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF; email: (with address; no attachments, please); fax: 020 7005 2627; online:

React Now

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

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Analyst / Helpdesk Support Analyst

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is the UK's leading ...

The Jenrick Group: Finance Manager/Management Accountant

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: The Jenrick Group: Finance Manager/Manag...

Recruitment Genius: Manufacturing Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a rare opportunity for ...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Letter from the Political Editor: Mr. Cameron is beginning to earn small victories in Europe

Andrew Grice
Pakistani volunteers carry a student injured in the shootout at a school under attack by Taliban gunmen, at a local hospital in Peshawar  

The Only Way is Ethics: The paper’s readers and users of our website want different things

Will Gore
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'