IoS letters, emails & online postings (7 September 2014)

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The parents of those pupils attending free schools, whether new or relatively new, need to be assured of the quality of education their children receive ("Hundreds set to start the year in new free schools", 31 August). It is important that free schools be inspected on the same basis as other schools. Ofsted should draw up a common inspection framework which acknowledges the particular aims and purposes of each school, whatever its type, and provides an overall evaluation of how successful the school is in relation to these. Devising and implementing such a framework will not be easy but fairness demands it.

Professor Colin Richards

Spark Bridge, Cumbria

What happens if most of those in the region of Eastern Ukraine prefer to be associated with Moscow rather than Kiev ("Kremlin takes Kiev to the brink of war", 31 August)? Can someone please explain how any coalition against Russia, based on Ukraine recovering territory in the east of the country, can be feasible when a significant majority of the inhabitants of that region primarily speak Russian and may not wish to be "liberated"? It is high time we ceased to talk about "nations" and "states" and instead worked towards federations and regions that reflect reality and have the potential of a lasting peace.

Michael Meadowcroft


Our leaders seem intent on talking themselves into a war. Russia's President Vladimir Putin is denounced as a cynical and aggressive expansionist. But look at the map of Europe, with 12 new Nato members since the fall of the Soviet Union, and many pushing right up to the Russian borders. General Sir Richard Shirreff ("Nato is at a crossroads", 31 August) wants money poured into rearmament and restructuring of Nato forces so that they can fight "high-end conventional warfare". Of course, as any simpleton knows, these days no conventional war in Europe could ever possibly turn nuclear. It is true that Shirreff does admit that "long term, we have to live with Russia". Unfortunately it seems he believes that in the short term we have to die with them first.

Steve Edwards

Wivelsfield Green, East Sussex

DJ Taylor bemoans the lack of universal stars in this day and age ("Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?", 31 August). Could it be due to the fact that the media is much more fragmented, with individual newspapers and television shows no longer having followings of more than 10 million people? On the other hand, we have a culture which follows the dictum that everyone can be famous for 15 minutes. Not, of course, that today's youngsters would know who said that, despite being aware of the contestants on this year's Strictly Come Dancing!

Tim Mickleburgh

Grimsby, Lincolnshire

Donald MacLeod complains that Scotland's disproportionate contribution to Britain's wars "is never mentioned by war historians" (Letters, 31 August). On the first page of Niall Ferguson's The Pity of War, 1914-18 (Penguin, 1998) the author comments on Scotland's heavy casualty rate – exceeded only by Serbia and Turkey – and its commitment to the war effort in general. Maybe this was the only book on the war Mr MacLeod didn't get round to reading.

Professor Alan Knight

St Antony's College, Oxford

John Rentoul is spot on about the "anti-politics" politics that Ukip and Douglas Carswell are seeking to promote ("Could Carswell be a Trotskyite in disguise?", 31 August). Short of making a revolution, the choices that would confront any Ukip-tinged government, in the unlikely event that such a thing might happen, would be different only in degrees from those currently facing David Cameron.

Some of those differences might well be quite significant – which is why as Rentoul notes, Carswell's talk of it not mattering much who is in No 10 is so cynical – but they would still not be fundamental ones.

Keith Flett

London N17