Your report ("Immigration: the bigger picture", 17 April) and the commentary by Barking MP Margaret Hodge made a useful counterweight to some of the press reaction to David Cameron's speech on the subject. But little reference was made to the worsening economic climate in which the Prime Minister's fears for community "disjointedness" may prove somewhat understated.
It is easy to celebrate the enrichment of our national life wrought by immigration when times are good and work opportunities plentiful. We are rightly proud of these islands historically offering refuge to the oppressed of other lands, those bringing with them energy, insight, robustness and commitment as well as their recipes and new businesses. But even in the relatively affluent period before the banking crisis brought us recession, many parts of this country were already experiencing tensions and resentment, as Ms Hodge acknowledged in her own London constituency.
Pre-crash, work and housing openings were limited and the gap between rich and poor grew remorselessly as our industrial base shrank.
Yet once the coalition's cuts begin to bite, the consequences for community cohesion may prove profound, with even more chasing shrinking jobs and ever scarcer social housing. This will be particularly severe in those many communities where the local hospital or university is the largest single employer, and where there's little left of a healthy private sector to "pick up the slack" of those losing their jobs. Immigrants providing cheap and exploitable labour to the wealthy suburbs will be living cheek by jowl with those scratching by on scraps of work here and there or on shrunken benefits. Tragically, Mr Cameron and his government are doing little to prevent this "disjointedness" degenerating into something much more dangerous.
Ofsted creates more problems than it solves ("Schools watchdog 'too big to work'", 17 April). Teachers and children alike are worried stiff when inspectors arrive, and younger pupils can find the whole experience frightening.
Schools can be tainted for years if the school doesn't come up to scratch – "in the opinion of the Ofsted team". All the comments go into the local press, and the school has little opportunity to give its side of the story. Not that it would be believed, because Ofsted has the authority.
The team also expects all the staff to work to perfection and according to the latest in education policy. If a fraction doesn't conform to this, a "poor", rating will follow. The children, too, are expected to absorb all they are told. The Ofsted report is based on one particular visit. It doesn't reflect all the good work that has been put in by that school throughout the rest of the year.
There must be a better and less traumatic system, if one is needed at all. The teachers are professionals, aren't they?
We are told by some MPs that the proposed AV electoral system is flawed because it undermines the principle of "one person one vote". Yet MPs use exactly the same AV system when they are electing a chairman for a Commons select committee. Similarly, peers use the same AV system to elect their Speaker. Have the precincts of Parliament resounded to cries that it is wrong to use this method of election, and instead it should be "one MP one vote", or "one peer one vote"? Of course not, because they know that the principle of "one person one vote" is fully retained and respected under AV used for elections within Parliament or elections to it.
Two horses died in the Grand National at Aintree this year, and at its Scottish equivalent last weekend at Ayr, Regal Heights collapsed and died and Minella Four Star died from internal bleeding. How can horse racing be considered entertaining when it involves animal misery? Most today oppose the use of animals in circuses. But what is the difference between animal circuses and horse racing? Both use and abuse animals.
Brighton, East Sussex
In the vanguard of male falsetto singers ("Anything you can sing, I can sing higher", 17 April) is Geddy Lee, the singer and tunesmith of the most successful Canadian rock band, Rush, immortalised in the Pavement song "Stereo"and the Hollywood film I Love You, Man.
Note to Mr Cameron on lounge suit vs tails for the royal wedding, and other assorted U-turns: please see speech by Polonius, in Hamlet:
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Wise old bird, the Bard.
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