IoS letters, emails & online postings (1 February 2015)


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The Independent Online

“We were heavily briefed,” says Dr Toby Dodge (“What the six wise men told Tony Blair, 25 January). “They said, ‘Don’t tell him [Blair] not to do it. He has already made up his mind.’”

This is assessed by your reporter thus: “So there was no chance of stopping the invasion, or the UK joining it, but what was at stake that morning was the aftermath.”

The “six wise men”, it would seem, were not sufficiently wise to counsel heavily against UK involvement. To accept the “heavily briefed” premise that UK involvement in the war was inevitable was a monumental blunder. The tenor of the article is that at least four of the “six wise men” believed that the invasion should not go ahead, with or without UK involvement, based on their perception of the repercussions alone. If that truly was their opinion, they should have forcefully expressed it and not restricted themselves to arguments about the least worse aftermath.

Eddie Dougall

Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk

Leicester MP Liz Kendall may well have a strong chance of replacing Ed Miliband as Labour leader in the event of the party losing the coming election (“Kendall emerges as fresh rival to Miliband”, 25 January).

Her comments that when it comes to reforming the NHS “what matters is what works” prompts the question, works for whom? The reforms pushed through by the current Government have benefited private enterprise, not patients. The last thing the Labour Party needs is a leader who sees him or herself as a keeper of the Blairite flame.

What the party needs instead is a leader with values based on an understanding of Labour’s history and the people the party represents, and the courage to turn those into concrete policies. Defending the NHS, the creation of which is one of Labour’s proudest achievements, would be a good place to start.

Adam Colclough

Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire 

Your article “25 years – The Independent on Sunday” (25 January), stated that BAE Systems “is more likely to be cutting jobs than creating them these days”. In fact, this year alone BAE Systems will recruit a record 782 apprentices in the UK and 287 graduates; with 275 apprentice and graduate vacancies available in our military aircraft business alone. Furthermore, our commitment to the “Movement to Work” youth unemployment initiative has led to us providing full-time employment to 20 young people to date and we expect to take on many more. We are also recruiting hundreds of experienced engineers and project managers in the UK for our cyber security and submarines businesses.

John Whelan

UK HR director, BAE Systems plc

Your article entitled “100 Days to go”  (25 January) says that it is a “Countdown to a six party election”. Wrong. Plaid Cymru has three MPs, Ukip has two, and the Greens one. Your political editor should wake up and understand, not for the first time, that Wales does exist, and recognise Plaid Cymru as probably the most effective small party in Westminster.

Michael Williams

Tenby, Pembrokeshire.

Isis will stand firm as long as its enemies fail to find a common plan, says Patrick Cockburn (25 January), without suggesting what that plan might be.

If an organisation like Isis threatened to gain ground in the UK the British army would be sent out to eradicate it. The Syrian army should be doing the same job. They cannot do so because, in addition to fighting Isis they are fighting a deadly proxy war with America and its regional allies.

America should give up the idea of deposing Assad and cut off support to all rebel groups. In tandem with that it should work with Russia to bring pressure to bear on Assad to ensure that human rights abuses are brought to an end. Then the Syrian army, with help if necessary, can quickly eradicate Isis from Syria, making them much easier to deal with in Iraq. Is there any other way?

Brendan O’Brien

London N21