There is much more in common between David Cameron’s Sri Lanka visit and his Tahrir Square walkabout than is evident in Joan Smith’s engaging article “Dave does abroad, but as arms dealer or avenging angel?” (17 November).
Shortly after leaving Sri Lanka, Cameron stopped in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he spoke before a selected audience at the BAE Systems stand at the Dubai Air Show, due to open the following day. This was followed by a private dinner with Mohammed Bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. The purpose of this little publicised stopover was to lobby for UAE to enter a billion-pound deal to buy a fleet of Eurofighter Typhoons.
The UAE was rated at 149 out of 167 on the Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Index 2012, and in July saw a mass trial and jailing of dissidents linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, with a similar trial starting in November. In both cases, the accused said that they had been subject to torture. There are also questions over the poor treatment of expatriate workers in the country. There is no evidence that Mr Cameron has taken up the cause of these groups as he has the Sri Lankan Tamils. When it comes to the oil-rich Gulf states the promotion of arms sales is seen as far more important than support for human rights.
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT)
The moves by internet search engines to make it harder to find child-abuse images online do not go far enough (“PM to demand better online protection for children”, 17 November). The measures will do little to stop the people sharing these images, which is done through private peer-to-peer networks. Every illegal image is a crime scene but law enforcement agencies do not have the resources to identify, find and protect every victim, nor to identify and charge every abuser. More resources must be provided.
The internet was designed to withstand serious damage and it treats censorship as damage and provides routes around it. There is no quick technical fix to protect victims – it needs education, responsible parenting and more resources for enforcing the laws that already exist.
Dr Martyn Thomas
Institution of Engineering and Technology
Professor Robert Plomin (“Mr Gove and the question of genetics in schooling”, 17 November) can only argue that the ability to learn is more influenced by genes than experience if he can find students who have similar experiences. But we all know that the sensation of experience varies from one child to another even if they are identical twins. Children take away different things from school life, home life and recreational life. It’s what makes them human.
West Bromwich, West Midlands
I read with interest the interview with Ingrid Newkirk (“It’s bizarre to kill animals for a sandwich”, 17 November). However, her mention of cosmetics testing, without referring to medical experiments on animals, implies that the latter do not come within her scope. This is a pity. The medical or scientific angle on vivisection should be scrutinised for its validity by medical and veterinary people who disapprove of animal experimentation. Yes, such people do exist.
This adulatory piece (“Please keep shoving the royal oar in, Your Highness”, 17 November) misses the point. We are all entitled to our opinions but we don’t have access to government ministers.
This secretive way to influence policy is playing on Prince Charles’s power and privilege and undermines democracy. When we have an elected head of state, Charles will be able to stand for election; until then he should stop abusing his position. Or he could leave public life and then he would be free to voice his opinions publicly.
If we hadn’t privatised the utility companies, energy prices could have been kept down in the first place, as there would have been no shareholders to please in preference to customers (“The big switch”, 17 November).
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