IoS letters, emails & online postings (26 June 2011)

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It is interesting to read about Dame Judi Dench and the campaign to attract overseas visitors this summer ("Meet Dame Judi, the face of Britain Inc." 19 June). I do hope the well-meaning people at Visit Britain have ear-marked some of their "You're Invited" campaign money for the inculcation of the service culture among those who own and work in hotels, restaurants, pubs, shops and transport systems. While we are not alone in Europe in being surly and rude when waiting on a table or serving in a shop, our tourist visitors must wonder why they have bothered to come to a country that appears not to like them, especially one where the motivation of service providers in the hospitality sector is not civility but naked greed.

Mike Abbott

London W4

Poor Dom Joly. He just doesn't get it ("Welcome to the Hotel du Microwave", 19 June). One of the reasons North Yorkshire is such a "gorgeous part of the country" is because it isn't full of people demanding attention 24 hours a day. If Mr Joly had been courteous enough to tell his host that he would need refreshment at a late hour, his needs would have been more than adequately met.

Judy Charlton

Wakefield, West Yorkshire

Benefit cheats might well be "ripping off our society", but Ed Miliband is wrong to imply that Labour has ever supported such people ("My party. My way" 19 June). Rather, the people's party has traditionally sympathised with those who find themselves claiming welfare through no fault of their own. And at a time of high unemployment, I'd hate to see Miliband align himself with the tabloids who label the jobless as workshy.

Tim Mickleburgh

Grimsby, Lincolnshire

The media is destructively mischievous in its obsession with Miliband family relationships. The leadership election is over, and no matter how much "liberal" commentators would have preferred David, Ed won. It's not now Ed vs David, its Ed vs Dave.

Eddie Dougall

St Edmunds, Suffolk

The Centre for Policy Studies thinks the state should "stop dealing drugs and start doing rehab" ("Failure to help drug addicts is costing Britain £3.6bn a year", 19 June). This simplistic statement overlooks the reality that many drug addicts need support within treatment programmes that may include the legal supply of heroin substitutes. In a perfect world, this would not be necessary. But the world is not perfect, as drug addicts know better than most.

Local pharmacists are on the front line of treatment programmes for substance misusers and support many addicts to live safe, productive and worthwhile lives with the help of maintenance therapy. Good practice is for a range of other health and social care interventions to accompany the therapy. Moving people away from dependency is of course the preferred outcome, but this is a gradual process for most people and must not be rushed. Any erosion of treatment programmes would damage addicts, their families and their communities.

Margaret Peycke

Policy Manager, National Pharmacy Association

St Albans, Hertfordshire

Janet Street-Porter suggests that the solution to boozy Britain is to regulate the price of alcohol, a measure which is mostly an attack on adult drinkers who can't be trusted to regulate their intake. Grown-ups, who should be left to make their own decisions, will thus be penalised for the Government's failure to police existing laws to prevent under-age drinking. Why do we need to "impose a strict price per unit of alcohol, a move demanded by every important medical body in the UK"? Medical organisations might know about the medical effects of alcohol, but they are not remotely qualified to pontificate on how pricing affects behaviour, still less on whether treating adults like children is sound social policy.

Patrick Neylan

Orpington, Kent

I read the article by Andrew Lansley with some dismay and a mounting sense of frustration ("It's been difficult, but the NHS will be better for it", 19 June). Along with most media coverage of the proposed reforms, no mention is made of the role of education in these proposals. This was one of their primary concerns of the NHS Future Forum.

D P Fossard

Emeritus surgeon, Leicester Royal Infirmary

Marcus Brigstocke suggests that Perks, in The Railway Children, could be "the first working-class character in British literature to be drawn in a positive light". He isn't. There may be many others and many earlier but I can offer up the central character in the 1879 novel by Silas K Hocking, Her Benny. Benny Bates, a street urchin, and his sister Nell, from the slums of Scotland Road in Liverpool, were based on children who Hocking, a Methodist minister, met during his time in the city.

Charles Rogan


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