IoS letters, emails & online postings (14 November 2010)

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Harry Patch, the British First World War veteran who died last year aged 111, described war as the "calculated and condoned slaughter of human beings", and said that "war isn't worth one life". He urged that disputes be settled by discussion and compromise rather than fighting.

The governing institutions that we devise are extremely influential in determining whether contentious issues can be resolved by legal and judicial means, rather than by military conflict. Germany and France were at war during the time of Napoleon, then again in 1871, again in 1914 and once more in 1939. Today, as part of the EU, these countries participate in a shared currency, enjoy open borders, and elect representatives to a common European Parliament. The threat of a general European war has receded to practically nil.

On the international scene, we can similarly start building the institutions and consciousness of a global community by supporting the establishment of a Parliamentary Assembly at the UN. Building the next generation of governing institutions would be a much wiser focus for our resources and intelligence than a fatalistic resignation to violence, and a never-ending search for ever more destructive and insidious techniques of warfare.

Larry Kazdan

Vancouver, British Columbia

Many serving and ex-military personnel will take offence at the action of Celtic FC in seeking to ban from their ground those who expressed a negative opinion towards the Poppy Appeal and the UK's armed forces. My father fought two world wars to allow people to be free to express themselves. If he were still alive, he would take on Celtic too.

John Eoin Douglas


It was known in the 1980s that benzodiazepines caused brain damage ("Drugs linked to brain damage 30 years ago", 7 November). Sadly, millions more were given the drugs after this information was known. I don't understand why a million or so people who were prescribed benzodiazepines after 1985 aren't suing. Those individuals were severely damaged by the drugs. And doctors knew of the dangers.

Dr Vernon Coleman MB ChB DSc

Via email

The reason that vigorous support for voting reform is dying is the behaviour of the Lib Dems in the coalition ("Here lies electoral reform. RIP", 7 November). AV [alternative vote] is a mechanism purely designed to give them more MPs. It is just a shame that the price of moving Nick Clegg 20ft across the floor of the House is the almost complete dismantling of Britain's welfare state.

Paul Harper

London E15

Keith Bushnell argues against us moving to central European time, but in fact we would benefit enormously (Letters, 7 November). Central European time is what we would call summer time in the winter, and double summer time in the summer. This means colder, darker mornings and lighter, warmer evenings. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents says the change would be likely to mean 80 fewer road deaths per year. And lighter summer evenings would lead to reduced lighting needs, lower fuel bills and lower carbon emissions.

Richard Mountford

2% for the Planet

Hildenborough, Kent

"One, two, three, four – Nick Clegg is a whore." This was the chant of one very young man on his way home from the protests against university fees in London last week. Putting aside the fact that there were children nearby, and whether one agrees with his sentiment or not, I hope this lad does get to college, if only because he might learn to couch his sincere feelings in words of more than one syllable – Shakespeare's "Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows", perhaps. Doesn't have quite the same ring, though, does it?

Rachel Henry

London E17

What next from Iain Duncan Smith? Workhouses? Slave camps? Chain gangs ("Jobs, not threats, get families off welfare", 7 November)? How easy it is to kick the poor and the unemployed. Hitler did the same, making certain sections of society scapegoats for all that was wrong with the nation's economy.

Simon Icke

Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire

Oxymoron of the week – "compulsory voluntary work".

Gina Keene

Ely, Cambridgeshire

I am 49. I don't see "older women" when I watch the likes of Miriam O'Reilly; I see myself ("Who said the sisterhood is dead?", 7 November). If you don't have such women on screen, you are telling me I don't fully exist, don't have to be considered. I don't want to watch blank-canvas women all the time. When will someone force the BBC to be representative of its viewers?

Penelope Else

Posted online

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