IoS letters, emails & online postings (7 June 2009)

Share
Related Topics

In "After the fiddle come the freebies"(31 May), you state that in August 2008, five MPs were taken to Sweden to visit nuclear facilities. All expenses were met by E.ON, who at the time were lobbying the Government to introduce a new generation of nuclear power. In August 2007, five MPs were taken to the United States to visit nuclear facilities, all expenses being met by Westinghouse, who were then lobbying to have their nuclear reactor design included, if the Government approved new nuclear.

In this way, the nuclear industry has encouraged this government and Parliament to reintroduce a long discredited, dangerous, expensive technology.

I doubt that the nuclear industry is the only one that is using freebies to smooth the path for changes in policy and law that suit its business. This is an anti-democratic practice that should be stamped on immediately.

Steve Outhwaite

via email

Almost all the trips whose details you published were paid for by the government of the visiting country or by a sponsoring company, not the British taxpayer.

Stories published over the past fortnight have concentrated on where MPs have bent or broken the rules governing the claiming of expenses. There has been little about the important work that many MPs do on, for example, the Commons select committees, which scrutinise the work of major companies and departments of government.

The public may well be left with the impression that being an MP is a dishonourable job with no relevance or value to society. Hence no one will wish in future to be an MP, or even serve as a locally-elected councillor.

Do we want a public arena in which debate and discussion is dominated by corporations, bureaucrats and well-endowed think-tanks? Do we wish for a relentlessly privatised society in which the words "public service" are little more than terms of abuse?

Shouvik Datta

via email

You suggest that UK cases of swine flu are likely to be 300 times higher than the Health Protection Agency's published figures for confirmed cases ("UK swine flu toll is really 30,000, says leading scientist", 24 May). The estimate is based on the belief that people with symptoms are tested only after travel to Mexico and the US, or contact with the disease.

In fact, a network of more than 100 general practices across the country is testing patients with flu-like illness, irrespective of travel or person-to-person contact. Samples from hospital patients with severe acute respiratory illness are being tested for H1N1, and a proportion of callers to NHS Direct with cold/ flu symptoms will be sent "self-swab" kits to return. Clinical reporting schemes also send an early warning signal when more people start reporting flu-like symptoms.

These systems are not reporting a significant increase in cases of flu-like symptoms, and are working well. While these surveillance systems show some wider presence of the H1N1 virus in our population, they do not indicate that transmission within Britain is continuing and increasing. The watchword, of course, is vigilance.

Justin McCracken

Chief Executive, Health Protection Agency, London WC1

Tim Lott should look over his list of non-English novelists whom he sees as great political and social commentators ("Britain changes by the hour, but our novelists have nothing to say", 31 May). Almost all have mixed the fantastical with hoary realism, satire, surrealism, postmodern textual games, etc.

There are many fine writers, as he points out, who are working on the boundaries of realism and fantasy – Mark Haddon, Susanna Clarke, and the brilliant Ali Smith, whose The Accidental for a trenchant critique of surveillance society.

British culture has a terrible disdain for the fantastical, surrealist and magical. And yet the literary canon is rife with celebratory rites, equivocal ghosts, haunted trees, transmuted creatures, crumbling castles, and green men. More engagement with the fantastical and allegorical, not less, is needed to infuse British literature with ethical and political seriousness.

dlslibrary

posted online

The polo you describe is not in the grounds of the Hurlingham Club but in nearby Hurlingham Park ("Polo for the plebs seeks to shed sport's elitist image", 31 May). This public park was compulsorily purchased from the club after the war, and is part used for council housing, the rest for public sports, cricket, football, running, walking and relaxation. The World Polo Association is giving away 200 tickets for a kind of polo fun day today, not the tournament itself.

Patricia Hicks

via email

Have your say

Letters to the Editor, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF; email: sundayletters@independent.co.uk (no attachments, please); fax: 020-7005 2627; online: independent.co.uk/dayinapage/2009/June/7

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: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Most powerful woman in British politics

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
All the major parties are under pressure from sceptical voters to spell out their tax and spending plans  

Yet again, the economy is the battleground on which the election will be fought

Patrick Diamond
Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders