IoS letters, emails & online postings (18 December 2011)

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Matt Chorley reports that, "For the first time the Government will give a definition of a 'troubled family', comprising seven factors, including having a low income, no one in the family working, having poor housing, and parents having no qualifications" ("Problem families 'costing taxpayers £9bn a year'", 11 December).

This is criminalisation by the back door. Do the 120,000 poor families thus officially stigmatised, listed and subject to probably devastating state intervention know who they are? Or do they only find out when there's a knock on the door, or a letter from whatever agency has been assigned to "help" them?

This is how Tories (of all parties) deal with the poverty, unemployment, ghettoisation and hopelessness that their own policies create. It's the Osbornes, Camerons, Cleggs, Duncan Smiths, Pickleses, etc who are the real problem families.

Katherine Perlo


Prime Minister David Cameron executed the appropriate choice to veto the new treaty. By getting off the Titanic, the UK will be able to survive the currency debacle that is developing. Greece, Italy, Spain along with Ireland will not be able to tighten up their economies, because of cultural identities. I'm not prejudiced: my grandparents were Spanish. The UK will be seen within the next few months as having the foresight to get out before southern nations sink the rest.

Juan P Suarez

Orlando, Florida, USA

You say "Retreat is not leadership", but retreat is a perfectly good military strategy and is generally used to regroup for a fresh offensive in pursuit of a worthwhile, even necessary, goal (Leading article, 11 December). If all we do is lob grenades at one another, either at home or abroad, all we shall have is spoiled land for as far as the eye can see and green agendas will be sunk.

Judith Toms

Trecynon, Aberdare

That the day after he took his ball away from talks on the eurozone, David Cameron hosted a dinner for Tory MPs at Chequers where the claret flowed suggests a considerable irony. It would be very surprising if that claret was not French.

Keith Flett

London N17

I am in complete agreement with Janet Street-Porter's comments regarding Jeremy Clarkson's reluctance to pay for the rescue of injured ramblers. ("Race you to A&E, Jeremy" 11 December).

Clarkson is, as usual, full of contradictions and his latest emission highlights what nonsense he talks. He objects to paying for the rescue of walkers who injure themselves in the course of health-improving exercise and enjoyment of the natural world; however, he had no objections to the considerable costs his colleague Richard Hammond incurred after irresponsibly crashing a jet-driven car for a cheap thrill on Top Gear. He ended up in intensive care in Leeds, the cost of which would have been hundreds of thousands of pounds. I asked the Top Gear team at the time if Hammond's insurance (presumably paid for by the BBC) would pay the NHS bill, or if the taxpayer would, but it declined to comment.

Dr Colin Bannon

Crapstone, Devon

I think Jeremy Clarkson protests too much at how "his taxes" are being spent. As an Isle of Man resident, he is unlikely to pay much.

Phil Chivers

Crediton, Devon

You report that "A million women are missing from Britain's workforce" (11 December). When did politicians stop blaming women for going out to work and neglecting their families, and start blaming them for staying at home and neglecting the national economy?


posted online

Thank you for drawing attention to Captain Scott's No 2, the quiet man, Edward Wilson ("Everybody loves a winner, but we like a trier even more", 11 December). Wilson was a true Victorian polymath – a Cambridge graduate, trained doctor who worked in the London slums, a zoologist, ornithologist and gifted artist. He could take off his gloves for only a few seconds to sketch and paint in the sub-zero temperatures, and said that he conveyed precisely what he saw. His paintings of Antarctic snowstorms look like an Impressionist's work. His fine work will be displayed in the newly restored museum in his native Cheltenham in 2013.

James Derounian

Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

You applaud in sportswoman Sarah Stevenson "the kind of down-to-earth Yorkshire disposition that the country loves", adding, "think of Freddie Flintoff" (Hero or Villain?, 4 December). Freddie – with his disposition – is, in fact, Lancastrian.

E A Benson

Brighouse, West Yorkshire

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