IoS letters, emails & texts, 2 August 2008

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Feargal Sharkey makes an emotive appeal on behalf of session musicians ("Noises Off", 27 July), but the main beneficiaries of any copyright extension, as always, will be the record companies. When he talks of session musicians' rights being "bought out" at the time of recording, this usually means they are assigned to a record company in exchange for a sum of money. It is the record company that benefits from future airplay.

The board of Mr Sharkey's organisation, British Music Rights, reads like a roll call of vested interests, and not much like a union for session musicians. Perhaps he could help poor musicians by campaigning for higher royalty or "buy out" payments now, instead of in 95 years' time when they are all likely to be dead.

Given his statement that only 5 per cent of British performers earn more than £10,000, then presumably 95 per cent live off other sources of income and can make pension provisions like the rest of us.

Or perhaps he could campaign for everyone, not just musicians, to continue to be paid for work done many years ago.

Nick Baird

Cheltenham Gloucestershire

Insisting on a 5 per cent biofuels element to current fuel has had a devastating effect on food prices, and billions will go hungry. I suggest the biofuels target is dropped in favour of a national speed limit of 60mph. This would save as much carbon, save motorists' money, save lives, and reduce congestion. Given the devastation caused by taking food from the mouths of the world's poor to put into our fuel tanks, a few extra minutes on our journey times is not too high a price to pay.

David Powell

Moseley, Birmingham

I have never seen such a concerted and merciless campaign against any prime minister as that being conducted against Gordon Brown ("Finished? Maybe. Should he be? No", 27 July). This is a man of great seriousness and commitment to doing the "right thing" for the country. I find his slight awkwardness and lack of slick presentational skills refreshing. However, he is subjected to a relentless barrage of truly vicious personal insults by a media pack that seems to be engaged in a kind of bloodsports frenzy.

What we are seeing is a deliberately engineered campaign, quite unlike the genuine disenchantment felt over time by the public for, say, John Major. Meanwhile, David Cameron's credibility has not been scrutinised, the press concentrating on which side he is parting his hair, or his staged web-cams and bicycling stunts – the tone being indulgent and criticism-free.

I hope the voting standards of the electorate have not sunk to the level of a Big Brother phone-in vote.

Penny Little

Great Haseley, Oxfordshire

You report that a demonstration was being planned in Southwold against Gordon Brown and his government's "policy of retreat" on coastal erosion. This policy was put in place by John Gummer, a Tory minister. "Managed retreat is the best policy" was Mr Gummer's response to an emergency meeting on Easton Bavents cliffs, the site of which has long disappeared beneath the waves.

At the same time, the Conservative government, aided by local Tories, closed the excellent local high school, forcing children over the age of nine to be bussed up to 22 miles a day. The school's closure accelerated the sale of family homes to second-home owners.

Under a Labour government, the neglected Southwold beach has been remodelled, with new groynes, repairs to the promenade, and new access steps. This part of East Anglia is heavily dependent on the tourist trade and we welcome Gordon and Sarah Brown and their two boys, as we do all our visitors.

Sue Langley

Southwold, Suffolk

Wigton in Cumbria, and not Redruth in Cornwall, was the first town to impose a curfew on its youthful population.

Alison Thompson

Thursby, Cumbria

The Readers' Editor gave us a policy statement on the "f" word in the same edition as Janet Street-Porter's article calling jellyfish "bastards". With my two boys (one aspergic and prone to the inappropriate), I've tried to inculcate that if one must swear, only do it at things, and be mild.

John A Mills


The Hague Tribunal was set up by the same people who pulverised Yugoslavia's civilian infrastructure in 1999 ("If Britain had had its way, Karadzic would be a free man now", 27 July). It served as a finishing instrument of war, ensuring absolute victory for US policy objectives.

The cowboy and ethnocentric approach to international justice that Brendan Simms advocates will not do. No indictment will have credibility until there are also indictments against those responsible for the murder of Jelica Munitlak, the shoppers in Nis, the retreating troops incinerated on the road to Basra, the massacred civilians in Fallujah, or against the former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, who declared the deaths of half a million Iraqi children were "worth it".

Peter McKenna


The battle to run Bayreuth Festival is between "glamorous young Katharina Wagner and two elderly relatives" (The New Review, 27 July). The relatives are 63. Can we look forward to news of "elderly actor Helen Mirren"?

Gordon Elliot

Burford, Oxfordshire

It is untrue to say "none of the cast" of Dad's Army is still alive (The Feral Beast, 27 July). Ian Lavender, who played Pike, Clive Dunn (Corporal Jones), and Bill Pertwee (the ARP warden), are with us still, as are many others.

Bernard Chambers


Berwick-upon-Tweed is an English, not a Scottish town (Get the Picture, 27 July). It has been since 1482.

Martyn Jackson

Cramlington, Northumberland

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