<i>IoS</i> letters, emails & texts, 10 August 2008

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The Independent Online

The vaccine lobby is active again with its "potentially deadly measles" warnings. There are no cases in recorded medical history of any child, in reasonable health to begin with and with properly managed treatment, being harmed by measles.

My daughter had measles when she was five. She developed a high fever and then came out in spots and felt poorly for a few days. She was kept warm but given fresh air and water, and she emerged with a cleansing of inherited and acquired toxins, an enhanced immune system function and immunity for herself and her, now five-year-old, son.

This is, precisely, what the common childhood eruptive diseases are for.

Pat Rattigan


It is time higher-paid public sector workers woke up to the real world that the rest of us live in. A mass walk-out by 150,000 council workers on 20 August in Scotland, where the unions are demanding a 5 per cent salary increase, will create havoc.

There are now 262,600 Scots employed by councils, 12 per cent more than in 1999. They all have final salary pensions expensive to the taxpayer. This is unsustainable. Councils should now freeze all new or replacement jobs as they regularly do in the private sector. Savings from staff economies could then be distributed to those who deserve it.

Clark Cross

Linlithgow, west lothian

In discussing how to "trigger" the election of a prime minister, Alan Watkins ("A new Labour PM is sure to be a loser", 3 August) overlooks the mass resignation by the Cabinet or a threat to do so. Were this to happen, it would just show – yet again – that politicians are people who manage to get around the rules.

Frank Desmond

Cork, Ireland

The Conservative Party should not be surprised by its housing study ("Shocking rise in homelessness among women", 3 August). This crisis is a direct result of Tory government policy to sell off council housing. Through the 1980s, homelessness exploded as more and more councils homes were sold off. New Labour only added to the misery faced by homeless people by building, over the past decade, the lowest number of council/ social housing homes since the end of the Second World War.

Daisy Draper

Cowes, Isle of Wight

What a pleasure to read a column that was witty, wise and informative ("Miliband – heir to Blair the smiley Emotibot?", 3 August). Jane Merrick is to be congratulated for alerting us to the "sophisticated" – to me, rather sinister – team backing a man whose much-hyped promise has yet to deliver any hopeful change.

Naomi Beck

Harrogate, north Yorkshire

In his bizarre review of Tom Waits's Edinburgh show, Simon Price ("You're your own worst enemy, Tom...", August 3) remarks on the growling Vaudeville man's "Joey Deacon impression" , referring to the cerebral palsy sufferer who used to appear on Blue Peter. He goes on to call the dancing a "grotesque schoolboy parody of a cripple" that "has to be some sort of stupid and insulting joke". Such a thought never crossed my mind – and I bet the rest of the audience felt the same. Waits's dancing is not in any way referring to, let alone mocking of, disabled people, but a pretty explicit nod to mime artists like Marcel Marceau, whom the bluesman himself discussed in a recent Independent article. Price's parting advice is "less of the spazz-dancing", rushing superfluously to the defence of the disabled. If a harmless old genius ever "mocks" any of my afflictions, I'll pass on having Simon Price stick up for me.

Colin Cooper

Rusholme, Manchester

It's all down to taste, but the percentage of World music on Radio 3 is relatively small ("Enough of the Malian flute – bring back Beethoven", 3 August). Give me the grit and earthiness of Bassekou Kouyate over Beethoven or Mozart any day. Perhaps the clue is in the sentence "switch on Radio 3 and stretch out... with a good book"? Kouyate's blend of ngoni music demands to be listened to, and that's important in today's mix of soporiferous or commercialised content available elsewhere.

Graham Duff

Pirton, Hertfordshire

Stephen Brenkley is a fine cricket correspondent, but his report on last Saturday's play in the Third Test contained a second snipe at the so-called dumbing down of A-level results, which seems inappropriate, given its close proximity to the publication of this year's results. It is in seemingly innocent places such as cricket reports, rather than in the mouths of politicians, that untested prejudices such as these are able to enter into public opinion. John Parham

Faculty of the Arts, Thames Valley University

Amazingly, I felt nothing. No shaking as the earth shook. But it had to have happened sometime recently, or at least since the last time I was over in Britain, because I remember I had to get a ferry home. What happened? The great earthquake that moved the north of Ireland over to Britain. "Secret Britain" (3 August), included a piece about Rathlin Island, an integral part of the north of Ireland. The UK consists of the island of Britain and a part of the island of Ireland. Britain consists of the island of Britain only. The people of Rathlin, while flattered that their little island was mentioned, would rather you didn't call them British. They are Irish.

Patrick O'Gormley

Co Fermanagh

Informative as "Secret Britain" was, Bedford Purlieus is not in Bedford, or even in Bedfordshire, but in north-east Northamptonshire, about 60 miles from Bedford.

James Leigh

Oundle, Northamptonshire