IoS letters, emails & online postings (12 May 2013)


Any of the benefit built up by our military intervention in Afghanistan has been undermined by the incomprehensible attitude of our government towards the interpreters, without whom the job of the soldiers on the ground would have been impossible.

The Taliban are simply waiting in the wings for our departure, and no mercy will be shown to anyone who has helped the British forces. They and their families genuinely need asylum, and should be offered it, without a moment of hesitation, as a gesture of gratitude.

When David Cameron indicates that he is, in essence, willing to abandon them to their fate, it erodes all faith in the integrity of the British nation, and shames the soldiers on the ground who must walk away from their colleagues, at the behest of their government, knowing full well what reprisals await the men who have risked their lives beside them in the hope that their country will benefit in the end.

Public outrage brought about a change of heart regarding the Iraqi interpreters, and, with the help of the press, may be brought to bear to do the same for our Afghan helpers.

Sierra Hutton-Wilson

Evercreech, Somerset

While the first phase of the High Speed 2 rail line from London to Birmingham has been given the go-ahead by the Government with the announcement of a hybrid Bill in last week's Queen's Speech, there is still no certainty on the second phase of the project from Birmingham further north or to Heathrow.

Progressing with the HS2 project in this piecemeal fashion creates a large amount of uncertainty and risks Phase 2 never getting further than the drawing board. This risk is important to minimise, as only in Phase 2 will the main benefits of HS2 be delivered.

The Government must commit itself to the entire route if HS2 is to have any chance of being the much-needed spine for successful transport integration.

Prof Phil Blythe

Chair, Transport Policy Panel

Institution of Engineering and Technology

London WC2

John Rentoul says that the recent local election results suggest that "Labour is doing less well than the polls would have predicted". But that's because of the lower turnout at local elections, which always benefits the Tories whose supporters are more likely to go out and vote.

Here in the constituency of North East Lincolnshire, this was shown most clearly at the general election of 2010. Labour's Austin Mitchell saw his 7,654 parliamentary majority cut to just 714, while at the same time the higher turnout saw the number of Labour councillors jump from four to 10, despite only a third of the seats being up for grabs. I don't think Ed Miliband needs to be worried yet.

Tim Mickleburgh

Grimsby, Lincolnshire

Amol Rajan explains that he has converted to only part-time vegetarianism because he has to write restaurant reviews (The New Review, 28 April). Amol could be 100 per cent vegetarian and still do restaurant reviews, by observing how well restaurants cater for vegetarians. That would encourage those who don't cater for vegetarians so well to pull up their socks.

Sandra Busell


In Margareta Pagano's article last week on tax avoidance by Google, she stated that it is not as easy to boycott Google as it is to avoid buying coffee from Starbucks. That's true, but it is possible to significantly reduce one's use of Google's search engine. I use search engines quite a lot, and I find that for two-thirds of my searches DuckDuckGo does the job perfectly well. I'm not sure about Bing, as that is owned by Microsoft which I believe is also accused of tax avoidance. I'm sure readers will have other suggestions.

Patrick Cosgrove

Chapel Lawn, Shropshire

Amused and entertained as I usually am by Janet Street-Porter, I wonder whether she got her Boots confused with her colourful footwear last week (Editor at Large, 5 May). I think she'll find that Kate Swann has just stepped down from WH Smith rather than Boots. Boots is headed up by Stefano Pessina.

Alan Dorey

Verwood, Dorset

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