IoS letters, emails & online postings (7 November 2010)

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The US copes with having several different time zones, with up to five hours' difference from east to west coasts, so I think Britain can manage being one hour behind central Europe ("We don't want another hour of darkness", 31 October). It will be dark when I get up under GMT in November, just as it was under BST in October. This is in the English Midlands, not the north of Scotland. The extra hour of morning light will, however, allow me to travel to work in the light for a few more weeks, unlike in October. Either way, it would still be dark on the journey home.

It is true there are more afternoon accidents than morning, but reliance on statistics from 3pm–7pm makes no sense. At 3pm it is still light everywhere in the UK, year round, under BST or GMT, and by 6pm it would be dark in winter everywhere under either system. Only the period from 4pm to 6pm is relevant.

Ireland and Portugal are on GMT. Central Europe is an hour behind eastern Europe. Why is it vital to be in the same time zone as France but not Scotland and Ireland?

Keith Bushnell

Chapelfields, Coventry

At a time when the existence of nuclear arsenals is contributing to the crisis in the Middle East, when organisations round the world (including many governments as well as NGOs) are intensifying their efforts to achieve a nuclear weapons treaty, and when the Secretary-General of the United Nations is broadcasting the urgency of a treaty, the British Government has just committed an act which beggars belief. On 27 October, the UN General Assembly's Committee on Disarmament held a vote to have all countries take their weapons off high alert: 144 states voted in favour. Only three state governments voted to retain the high alert status (which means that the nuclear arsenals are ready to launch at the press of a button). One of them was the British Government, an appalling act which has been given almost no publicity.

Jim McCluskey

Twickenham, Middlesex

Reading your coverage of the Yemen cargo-plane terror alert, I note your report of the views of Professor David Menachof of Hull University Business School. The professor it seems is an expert in supply-chain security – someone who has some idea about how to stop things being lost or tampered with as they are moved around the world. I'm sure the professor is a fine chap, but one wonders if this is not really a job that should be done in a commercial environment rather than in an academic institution.

Keith Flett

London N17

Today's hunt is not a traditional country sport but a tally-ho circus of 4x4s and quad bikes driving around country lanes following a rampaging pack of dogs in pursuit of a fox ("Two-thirds of Britons oppose repeal of hunt ban", 31 October). Cameron promises a free vote to repeal the Hunting Act, but the Act was passed by a majority of MPs who were elected by the voters of this country. Polls show that these voters now "want to see the law properly enforced", as you observe, so that law-breakers are sanctioned. The Act is there to prevent a minority from deliberately causing unnecessary suffering and anxiety to a group of animals, not as an opposition to traditional country sports.

Roger Norton

Shrewsbury, Shropshire

I have stopped watching Downton Abbey, not because of the alleged plagiarism, but because the characters come across as modern people with modern ideas and attitudes trapped in an Edwardian scene ("Fellowes denies plagiarism...", 31 October). My wife's late grandfather, a servant, told me there would never have been so much chat between upstairs and downstairs. The young Irish driver who flirted with the young lady, offering her socialist pamphlets, would not have dared talk to his employer like that. The open attitude shown to the gay valet is also far-fetched. Homosexuality was criminalised, and even the well-connected Oscar Wilde, never mind a valet, had been jailed for his sexuality. Downton Abbey is a nostalgia trip for modern, probably white, conservatives, who want a "nice" society, located in the recent past, away from what they perceive to be the nasty aspects of today's society, such as multiculturalism.


Posted online

It is worrying to contemplate the BBC looking at its orchestras when the inevitable budget cuts come ("Don't even think of turning down the volume", 31 October). Considering how rarely the corporation screens classical drama, it would be no surprise if its commitment to classical music were to go the same way. Now that arts organisations too are under the cosh, obliged to spend valuable time and money reapplying for grants, the BBC's own artistic output is more crucial than ever.

Angela Martin

Colchester, Essex

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