IoS letters, emails & online postings (12 October 2014)


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The Independent Online

As Paul Vallely says, Ebola has brutally exposed the inequity inherent in global health systems ("Different rules apply in Africa", 5 October). In addition to lost lives, Ebola is dealing a severe economic blow to West Africa, with closed borders and abandoned farms driving up the cost of food. The necessity of emergency spending on health services is drawing money from already cash-strapped government budgets.

The epidemic is reversing years of economic gains. A disease that was identified five months ago and has spiralled out of control, threatening the lives of over a million people, shames the world. This is particularly true when comparing the millions spent on tackling the few cases in the West with what is being allocated to the thousands dying in West Africa. The international response is accelerating, yet ultimately, if the motor of Ebola – poverty – is to be overcome, the world must do more than donate aid.

Mike Noyes

Head of humanitarian response, ActionAid UK

It is "make-or-break time for Nick Clegg" (Jane Merrick, 5 October): well no, it's break time. Some columnists are disinterring their "I agree with Nick" feelings, seeking comfort in collective amnesia for the past four years. It helps assuage the guilt of having been gulled by the Orange-bookers who enabled Cameron to wreak his havoc throughout the NHS. It is wishful thinking to imagine that Nick, or his party, have any chance of rehabilitation in 2015, and way too late for the Lib Dems to don another mask from their impressive collection.

Eddie Dougall

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Last week's front page referred to the ghastly killing of Alan Henning as a propaganda stunt by IS. No one but a psychopath is likely to wish to embrace a belief system based on crude brutality. If IS's reason for carrying out such barbarous acts is to frighten other nations and other Muslims that do not share their warped view of Islam, it has not learnt the lessons of history. Tyranny is the author of its own downfall.

Patrick Cleary

Honiton, Devon

It is often forgotten that, in prosecuting the Marquess of Queensberry for libel, Oscar Wilde was trying to get an innocent man sent to prison (Arts & Books. 5 October).

As I point out in my book, Oscar Wilde's Scandalous Summer, the law took a stern view of those that accused others of homosexual behaviour without proof.

As Wilde wrote himself, much of his testimony consisted of "absurd and silly perjuries". If Queensberry had not had various youths with whom Wilde had had sex waiting in the wings, the trial would almost certainly have ended with Queensberry being imprisoned for criminal libel.

Antony Edmonds

Waterlooville, Hampshire

I was pleased to read Ben Chu (Comment, 5 October) say Jobseekers' Allowance counts for less than 5 per cent of benefits paid to those of working age. For people on JSA, which included myself prior to May, are regularly targeted by a government which wants to portray those unemployed as skivers.

In many parts of the country, the work just doesn't exist for people to go to. We can meet all the requirements, and attend scheme after scheme of cheap labour. But if there aren't the jobs, individuals will remain claiming a dole that pays £72 a week, and whose value has fallen over the past two years thanks to a reduction in council tax support. A two-year benefit freeze to subsidise tax cuts for above-average earners shows again the oxymoron that is compassionate Conservatism.

Tim Mickleburgh

Grimsby, Lincolnshire

Simmy Richman tells us about the greatest haiku ever written (5 October). I wonder how this one would rate; it appeared in the school magazine of King Edward VII School, Sheffield in the late 1960s written, as I recall, by John C Smith:

Many people think/that composing haikus is/such a waste of time.

Dr S Michael Crawford

Airedale General Hospital, West Yorkshire