The Conservative education spokesman Nick Gibb claims that the academies programme is too expensive ("Ed Balls attacks Tories for 'office block' schools", 6 September). While the academies programme may well have proved financially expensive, the pupils at such institutions have, typically, been let down by the education system in the past. What "expense" do you attribute to children who are failed at school, gain poor if any qualifications, do not find work, have to rely on government benefits, and in extreme circumstances, offend. Surely such cost to society is far higher? No price can be put on ensuring such children receive a decent education and start in life.
The Foreign Office's exoneration of the British private security company ArmorGroup's vetting procedures just weeks before an ArmorGroup employee shot dead two of his colleagues, shows how much the Government is failing to take control of the murky and dangerous world of private military and security companies. ("MPs demand tighter controls on security companies in Iraq", 6 September). The Government plans to introduce a voluntary code of conduct for these companies. Self-regulation will leave people in war zones exposed to further abuse by mercenaries working for British firms. Legally binding regulation is the only way to hold this industry to account.
Senior Campaigner, War on Want
It was disheartening to read Jane Merrick's statement that Britain went to war with Iraq in the belief that it had weapons of mass destruction ("Tony Blair, and the secret spy meeting that brought Gaddafi in from the cold", 6 September). The truth must never be forgotten. UN weapons inspectors were called off prematurely and Blair duped members of our Parliament into voting for an illegal war whose object was to help the warmongering Bush administration pursue its imperialistic ends. After the death and maiming of thousands of Iraqi civilians and conscripts and hundreds of British soldiers, the misery of Iraq continues, but Bush and Blair have never been brought to book.
Of course there is an exodus from the Tory Association ("Cameron's charm fails to halt slide in party membership", 6 September). I too will not be renewing my local membership. The swing to Cameron is primarily due to the electorate's dislike of Brown. This is an immature way to select the next prime minister. We should be looking at policy and Cameron does not have any.
As a socialist and trade unionist I was proud to protest against the fascists and racists in the English Defence League (EDL) who descended on Birmingham last weekend ("Right-wing demo ends in violence", 6 September). The EDL are thugs who only want to bring violence to Birmingham. We have just marked the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War. We cannot do so by allowing the likes of the EDL to determine who can live in Britain.
Selly Oak, Birmingham
In response to David Irving's reprehensible stance against the Holocaust ("David Irving sparks row over Holocaust 'propaganda', 6 September), you reported that Avner Shalev, the director of Israel's Holocaust Museum, responded to Irving, by claiming "There are subjects about that don't permit a 'for' and 'against'".
This is the same Avner Shalev who, in a televised debate, responded to the Israeli government's proposed inclusive genocidal lesson for schools, entitled "Sensitivity to Suffering in the World", by suggesting that including the Armenian genocide alongside study of the Holocaust would "blur the unique Jewish character of the Holocaust". It would appear that Shalev feels it is fine to be "against" the genocide of others, in the interest of being "for" Holocaust.
Sarah Sands writes, "One has to admire Dame Elizabeth Taylor for refusing to be dead, for dolling herself up as if she were still Cleopatra" ("Death in Hollywood – Cleopatra hunched in a wheelchair, 6 September). So old people aren't supposed to look good? What does Ms Sands want them to do – lock themselves in a coffin in advance?
Giles Bradshaw bemoans the fact that hunting foxes with lurchers has been banned (Letters, 6 September). I think he has got his jodhpurs in a twist. Hunting foxes with lurchers? I don't think so. Lurchers are used to hunt hares, not foxes. A pack of lurchers? ... they are unbiddable, only good over very short distances, and would be absolutely useless in the pursuit of Reynard.
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