Tim Lott appears to enjoy good old fashioned racist stereotyping, using the attack on Celtic manager Neil Lennon as an example of "that cussed, narky country" ("Good riddance to this unequal union", 15 May). There is an irony in an Englishman taking the high ground on football hooliganism, but I do not believe every English soccer fan is a hooligan, or that EastEnders is a realistic depiction of life in London. I know that people are varied and unique, regardless of postcode or popular myth.
I am Scottish, yet do not eat haggis, unless made by my daughter in her cookery class. I do not drink whisky or Irn-Bru, or eat deep-fried Mars bars. I do not read Robert Burns, nor own any Simple Minds or Wet Wet Wet. I find Braveheart largely a piece of fiction and do not support Scottish independence. The world is getting smaller, and in the 21st century we should be breaking down barriers and borders and embracing unity, not attacking people for their religion, colour, or the country in which they have been born.
Politics and politicians come and go, but the people can move forward, if not quite as one, then as many, with mutual respect, not letting the sins of the past colour a future we have yet to make. And, it is to be hoped, we will leave behind bitter old dinosaurs, from both sides of the border.
No English reader who has made the effort with Burns's gritty Scots dialect would deny that he is a great poet, with a unique voice, and a man full of powerful humanity. But greater than Shakespeare? Come on!
It is self-evident that the Foreign Office needs offices in foreign countries, but we have not been increasing our "global property empire" ("Foreign Office expands its £2bn global property empire despite the cuts", 15 May). Changes in value have been largely due to changes in sterling, not to an increased estate. The "increase" in buildings is because we now count each property, rather than compounds. We are, indeed, expanding a programme of property sales overseas, replacing property that is no longer cost-effective and getting rid of buildings. We share property at 164 of our missions overseas with other government departments, and are looking to do more. In the lifetime of this Parliament we will reduce our presence in central London, moving to a single building in the capital, not two as now. Rather than a global estate spending spree, we will sell £240m of property in the next four years and reduce running costs by £34m.
Minister of State for Europe
As illness costs firms billions of pounds, investing in promoting good health among their workforce would be sensible ("Failure to tackle depression at work costs firms billions", 15 May). The total economic cost associated with working-age ill-health is put at £100bn. But while good work undoubtedly promotes health, the reduction of much work to repetitive, programmed activity in the name of efficiency, is hardly conducive to good health.
Is it possible that some work makes people unwell? The answer might offer a clue to what is needed to make the business case for promoting healthy work.
Professor Desmond Sheridan
Newton Abbot, Devon
A classic argument against soaking the rich will soon be dead ("Salaries for top executives are rocketing...", 15 May). If 1 per cent of earners take a big enough slice of the pie, then taxing the rich will no longer be just a symbolic act of class envy – it will raise enough to make a difference to public services. The rich who don't want to emigrate should, in their own interest, be trying to stop the runaway pay train. The greater the inequality, the more radical the politics it will be used to justify.
One reason that only 22 per cent of voters think Ed Miliband is a good leader of the Labour Party(15 May) is that it is hard for an opposition politician to get any kind of media coverage when faced with a coalition in power. Normally you have two main party leaders challenging a prime minister. Today we have two leaders in government and only one opposed to them.
The real tragedy relating to the amount of money paid to Catherine Meyer for her work on behalf of the child abduction charity Pact is the loss of needy funds to worthy causes (Diary, 15 May). Those who kindly donate to charity have limited funds, and believe that their money will go towards assisting those in need. They do not expect a substantial proportion of their cash to be paid out by trustees on salaries.
A beggar claiming to be "homeless and hungry" may not be telling the full truth as to why he wants donations, but at least he is being honest as to who will be the recipient of any donation.
Michael N Ezra
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