IoS letters, emails & online postings (1 June 2014)


I’ve just read your Happy List (25 May) which cheered me up no end. What amazing people. Let’s have more of these inspiring stories about people whose selfless efforts are tackling many of the problems being caused by our elected representatives. What a pity they are not running the country.

Wendy Mustill

via email

By definition, as a member of the Royal family, Charles is at odds with Joan Smith’s political views (“Can Charles get laws changed? They won’t say”, 25 May). Just existing, he is political, without saying anything. He, as the heir to the throne, isn’t in line with her republican views. This means that she will further, or over, politicise anything controversial he is overheard to have said.

I do not think his conversation was “private”; anything he says at a public function he has to accept as public. However, as a man, even a publicly owned man, he has an opinion. If he is influencing laws, as implied, that is different, and should not be happening.

This was an off-the-cuff remark that has no serious impact and was not meant to influence foreign affairs in any manner. By condemning it so severely, Joan Smith is politicizing Charles and the situation more than it demands; she is using the remark to air her own disdain for the monarchy, and the system within which we live. So it would seem, anyway.

Helen Brown


Our elected representatives should show some grit and stop Prince Charles’s meddling and playing at politics. He is damaging our relations with other countries and undermining our democracy. The monarchy is in receipt of a lot of taxpayers’ money and other privileges and Charles’s actions are making a mockery of this institution.

Jenny Bushell

Wimbledon SW19

Hamish McRae (25 May) writes about still having “the intractable problem of long-term unemployment” while elsewhere there are skill shortages. One reason for this is that those jobless are living in northern towns that suffered from the collapse of their traditional heavy industry – such as my home of Grimsby, that lost its deep-sea fishing trade. Meanwhile, the newly available work is predominantly in the South-east. Given the fact that you can a buy a terrace house here for under £60,000, who can afford to move for work, especially as there isn’t the social rented property that used to exist?

Tim Mickleburgh

Grimsby, Lincolnshire

D J Taylor (“For £9,000 a year, you expect to stay awake”, 25 May) is certainly right that if you are paying £9,000 in university fees a year you should expect competent lecturers. Whether that has much to do with anything that might be defined as education is another matter.

When I did my first degree (in the late 1970s) I spent far more time occupying college premises in protest at various issues than I ever did in lectures. There I learnt organising, public speaking, and media skills that have served me well in later life.

Keith Flett

London N17

D J Taylor’s article reminds me that when I went up to University College of North Wales, Bangor, in 1960, I was told by a research student, when I grumbled about the teaching: “ You came here to read for a degree not to be taught – a university is not a school.”

Philip Johnson

Clifton, York

I can understand North Korea recruiting soldiers at 16, because it is important that they have impressionable minds to indoctrinate with the regime’s ideology (“UK under fire for recruiting an army of children”, 25 May). But the British Army has no need to indoctrinate or rule by fear, so should raise the age of entry to 18 and show that it can create competent soldiers, who have ideas of their own.

Kartar Uppal

West Bromwich, West Midlands