IoS letters, emails and online postings (22 March 2015)


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Let’s hope that “keeping an open mind” on Ed Miliband hasn’t caused John Rentoul too much stress (Comment, 15 March). We doubt that the effort was done with any conviction. Perhaps he should read Peter Oborne’s article in The Spectator from a few weeks ago to see how it’s done. In that piece he said that many Blairite commentators were secretly hoping for a David Cameron win at the election. Is it possible for Rentoul to finally come clean? Would he rather see David Cameron or Ed Miliband in No 10 after 7 May? We would like in other words, as a certain lady from Lincolnshire used to put it, a straight answer to a straight question.

PS: Had Tony Blair shown as much “chronic indecision” as supposedly afflicts Ed Miliband, we would have been spared the Iraq debacle.

Geoffrey Darmon


There is a concerted campaign by the right-wing press to ridicule Ed Miliband and influence the electorate to vote against its own interests (“Damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t: Miliband’s trial by media”, 15 March). Labour should dare to be bold and go for policies that suit the majority, for example rail in public hands, abolish non-dom status, make the rich pay the proper amount of tax, stop NHS privatisation, pay a living wage. This would go for making a more equal society.

Jenny Bushell

Wimbledon SW19

Are they serious about having tests for children just four years old (“Revealed: the ABC of tests for four-year-olds”, 15 March)? At that age there is serious doubt about whether someone should even be formally educated, let alone starting them on the examination cycle which can be used to discriminate against those deemed to be underachieving.

We should let our youngsters enjoy their early years without putting undue pressure on those who have responsibility for their welfare.

Tim Mickleburgh

Grimsby, Lincolnshire

Tanith Carey gives a graphic description of how pornography is affecting our young people (“Children’s innocence has a time limit”, 15 March), but I don’t agree with her that just talking about what pornography is, does, and distorts will stop young people being affected by it because, being curious, they will have a look.

A better solution is to look at the Dutch sex education videos, which legally explore many of the issues affecting young people in this area in a public way, and having teaching staff who are not embarrassed by it.

Kartar Uppal

West Bromwich, West Midlands

Mahatma Gandhi would spin in his grave if he knew there was a statue of him outside Parliament (“Gandhi finally stands face-to-face with Churchill”, 15 March). Gandhi believed in truthfulness, non-violence and vegetarianism. Westminster believes in deceit (expenses scandal), violence (illegal wars) and animal exploitation (animal testing, fishing, shooting, meat, dairy and eggs).

Mark Richards

Brighton, East Sussex

Ellen E Jones, perhaps unwittingly, appears to reinforce the very idea of smoking as “cool”, which she believes will have to be countered in any future campaign, by identifying anti-smoking with being risk-averse, and, of course, by referring to Humphrey Bogart; this last point is reinforced by the photograph of Bogart in fedora and trench coat, cigarette in hand (“It’s an image question”, 15 March).

Bogart died, let us not forget, of a smoking-related illness, cancer of the oesophagus.

As for being risk-averse: some risks are worth taking, some are not; unlike drinking alcohol, there is no level of smoking that can be considered safe; nor are there any benefits which make the risk worthwhile. And in fact, the anti-smoking measures taken already have paid off; smoking has actually declined in the UK.

John Dakin

Dunstable, Bedfordshire