IoS letters, emails & online postings (3 March 2013)

Patrick Cockburn mentions Bill Gates's contribution to the campaign to eradicate polio. However, the programme was started by the Rotary Clubs 25 years ago ("Polio must be eradicated. It's a crippling disease but it can be beaten, as I should know", 24 February). Bill Gates's financial contribution has been a great boost, but the actual work on the ground is still being organised and carried out by Rotary Clubs around the world. Rotary and its partners are on the brink of eradicating this tenacious disease, but a strong push is needed now to root it out once and for all. Rotary alone can't fill this gap, but continued Rotarian advocacy for government support can help enormously. As long as polio threatens even one child anywhere in the world, children everywhere remain at risk.

Roger Foreman

Rotary Club of Chelmsford Mildmay


I taught history at secondary level for over 30 years ("We must be honest about our role in slavery", 24 February). In every school I worked in, we outlined the Triangular Trade System and other facts about slavery, including the use of Irish, Scottish and English slaves. We looked at conditions for the slaves and at Britain's role in suppressing the trade. Dr Nick Draper is close to suggesting that the Industrial Revolution was down to slavery. That's not what most economic historians believe. There was certainly some benefit from the colonial trade, including slavery, which helped capitalise industrialisation, but most of what underwrote the Industrial Revolution came from the earlier Agricultural Revolution and other forms of pre-industrial development.


posted online

Good for Harriet Harman, a mature female politician standing up for the mature female broadcaster against the ageism and sexism that glare so blindingly from our screens night after night ("Harman demands audit of older women in broadcasting", 24 February). She's right to name and shame the broadcasters who ditch female presenters when they hit 50. Look at the chat shows, where a Judi Dench or a Helen Mirren sits alongside a young vamp from the latest girl band. Who is the more interesting? Who has wisdom on her side, and knowledge, and compassion, and screamingly funny anecdotes?

Broadcasters are missing a big trick here by pandering to youth culture. They have tremendous power that they could use to change the entire perception of society; they could reinstate older women as the respected figureheads they should be. I won't hold my breath, but in the meantime, go Harriet!!

Pippa Driver (aged 55)

London E17

Why is the British Government the only one in Europe that thinks limiting bonuses up to 100 per cent of salary, plus other incentives such as shares, is draconian and unjust? Leaders from across the political spectrum support a limited cap, but not the free-market fanatics of the coalition. If it were not for the public purse, RBS would not be getting bonus payouts but cardboard boxes. It is fair for profits and business success to be reflected in pay, but until these financial institutions are no longer being supported by corporate welfare, it is wrong to expect the public to directly fund jackpot payouts at the same time as labouring under the weight of depression economics.

Chris Lenton


The wet year we've had makes it sound odd to appeal for water saving. But when an excess of water goes into the sewers, they overflow and pollute the rivers and streams. If you care about ecology, it is necessary to be careful with water at all times.

David Kay


Andrew Martin provides a good explanation of the wall-to-wall media coverage of the Oscar Pistorious trial ("The baffling case of murder most irresistible", 24 February). Society may have changed in a number of ways since the 19th century, but the fear of the dangerous classes and the melodrama involved in murder cases still seize the popular imagination. Society remains an uncertain place for many, and so who knows what might occur – even murder?

Keith Flett

London N17

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