IoS letters, emails & online postings (16 June 2013)

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It is naive of D J Taylor to conclude that independent schools' superiority in sporting contests rests in "desirable abstracts" such as "team spirit, motivation, collective will", and that state schools could level the field by a "mass implantation of esprit de corps" ("Why private schools do better", 9 June).

To quote privately educated Molesworth, "as any fule kno ..." young people of social and financial advantage whose experience of life is to mix with others of such advantage are powerfully convinced of their own superiority. Moreover, when these young people find employment in fields dominated by the kind of people they went to school with, they perpetuate this dominance by favouring the appointment of new colleagues from that school.

No amount of esprit de corps will enable other social groups to oust them on the playing fields they dominate, for example, the judiciary, the Government or the civil service. In areas where the privately educated cannot use social advantage to rise to the top, they tend not to do so.

We should educate our children together in community schools supported by the kind of income that independent schools enjoy, funded by a focused tax regime.

Pauline Wilcock

Halesworth, Suffolk


Jenny Gilbert wondered how the live stream of Swan Lake from St Petersburg was received in Redditch or Rhyl (The Critics, 9 June). Well, I don't know about them, but in Leigh, near Manchester, it was fabulous. I especially loved the extra bits that you wouldn't normally get to see. I'm now booking for Shakespeare live from the Globe and opera live from New York, all at my local cinema for £16. I guess the purists will say it's a poor replacement for being there, but for those who would have a long trip to a good theatre or without the financial wherewithal to fly to New York or St Petersburg, it's a joy.

Jean Williams

Warrington, Cheshire


Ed Miliband's pledge to limit welfare spending may be part of Labour's pre-election campaign ("Longest election campaign starts now", 9 June), but it's an unwise strategy to say he will stick to Tory plans in order to win the floating voter. For Tony Blair did this before 1997, only to see turnout fall from 72 per cent to 59 per cent four years later, as people became unhappy with a party that wasted its massive parliamentary majority. Miliband should have stressed job creation, saying that benefit spending is high because 2.5 million are out of work.

Tim Mickleburgh

Grimsby, Lincolnshire


To answer Adam Abbot, excess wind energy can be stored (Letters, 9 June). The energy can be used in hydroelectric schemes to pump water back uphill; it can be stored as compressed air; it could be used to make synthetic fuels, and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility to use it to charge batteries. Such ideas may be in their infancy, but the more they are applied, the better we'll be at putting them into practice.

Terence hollingworth

Blagnac, France


I disagree with Katy Guest ("Nepotism? I blame the children", 9 June). If a parent offers help into paid work in a time of austerity, it would be a strong-minded young adult that turned their back on such a first step.

But what really gets my goat is the failure to question whether James Caan is "morally respectable" in seeing a daughter into a "job with Caan enterprises", while telling the rest of us "not to give their kids a leg up the career ladder". The arrogance of doing as I say, not as I do!

James Derounian

Principal lecturer in local governance

University of Gloucestershire


The new Black Sabbath album, 13, is not "the first Sabbath album without estranged drummer Bill Ward" (Simon Price, The Critics, 9 June). In fact, the Sabs have recorded eight studio albums without Ward, the first of which was 1981's Mob Rules, which featured Vinny Appice on drums.

Martyn P Jackson

Cramlington, Northumberland

Corrections and clarifications

Last week we described Baron Williams of Baglan as the UN special co-ordinator for Lebanon. That post, which Lord Williams held from 2008-11, is now held by Sir Derek Plumbly, We apologise to both men.