Surely it is obvious that all these clever people who “knew” that the Royal Mail shares were cheap would have known they were cheap before the sale, and would therefore have kept them for a week or so to watch the shape of the rising or falling curve of market prices before rushing to sell.
That rush is the surest evidence that the price was low on the sale day, yes. But that the rush continued and others started to buy is an indicator that those early sellers were not so very confident, agreed with Vince Cable’s assessment, and so were not taking the risk of holding on for a bit.
That fact of large immediate sales is evidence that the original purchasers of the shares did not expect to discover that they were so under-priced as now appears. If they were so smart they would certainly have held on – and done a whole lot better. Their race to get out betrayed a serious doubt about the risk factor even in the price that had been asked by the Government.
Let’s stop grousing. It’s all over; Cable was wrong in his expectation of strikes and loss of value being a cloud over the sale, and that’s that. Perhaps we can blame it all on those who threatened to strike?
Kenneth J Moss, Norwich
Why make a big mistake when you could make a small one, and learn from it? In these days of electronic market-making, the Royal Mail shares could surely have been sold off in 1 per cent tranches, over an extended period, adjusting the price on the basis of uptake. Yes, by all means let some overpaid City mystic come up with 330p to launch the first 1 per cent, but let the market decide the price for successive tranches.
Peter Champion, Bognor Regis
Landowners may sensibly employ poachers turned gamekeepers, but that is unwise if these new gamekeepers continue to drink with their poaching friends down at the Dog and Duck. So, why would the Government appoint advisers on the Royal Mail sell-off who are part of the same City breed as those who are out to make a killing at the taxpayers’ expense?
It could just be bad judgement; but given the Government’s attempt to prevent revelation of the fund managers’ names and its refusal to answer questions on the matter, the expression “they’re all in it together” comes to mind.
Peter Cave, London W1
Ann Maguire’s vocation
In your editorial of 30 April you rightly point out that the country should learn from the life rather than the death of Ann Maguire. Your correspondent Jonathan Brown also observes that Mrs Maguire saw “her job as a vocation”.
A vocation is a specifically Christian concept, that makes no sense within a metropolitan secularist framework that emphasises achievement and success. Your metropolitan commentators continue to argue for a secular society and a secular state.
In such a society Mrs Maguire and others like her would have no place. This essential point (rather than base political calculation) is perhaps the real motivation for David Cameron’s Easter remarks.
James Whitley, Cardiff
David Cameron’s asserts that this is a Christian country.
The policies of the new Old Tories are lifted off the shelf from the US Republican Party. The relevance of the “Christian” issue is the so-called “religious right”, who are the backbone of Americas reactionary politics.
I do not think the Prime Minister is one of that number, but the American consultants that all big political parties now employ will have advised him to make a play for this constituency.
I doubt if he will find a significant mass of climate-change ( and evolution) deniers but the Tories urgently need a new crutch, what with the Lib Dems fast-evaporating and some key supporters defecting to another right-wing party.
Julyan Holmes, Liskeard, Cornwall
Philanthropists in the City
It is fantastic to see Royal London boss Phil Loney is donating 25 per cent of his bonus to charity (report, 28 April).
Many senior executives give generously to help those in need, without any desire for recognition. In fact, some of CAF’s most generous donors work in financial services and top businesses and find great satisfaction in giving to causes they care about.
Last year the bankers’ bonus pool hit £13.3bn. If 10 per cent of this was given to charity and gift-aided, it would equate to £1.6bn. To put this in context, it could pay for around 107 million people to have access to a safe, lasting source of drinking water. Or it could pay for 200 million food parcels, or 533 new oncology units in hospitals, or more than 64 million hours of support through the NSPCC helpline.
Although it is entirely legitimate to debate remuneration in corporate Britain, it is important to celebrate the fact that philanthropy is alive and well in the City and focus on how we encourage more executives to give generously and to inspire their peers to follow suit.
David Stead, Director of Philanthropy
Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), London EC4
Heads inspecting other schools
I agree with Russell Hobby, the National Association of Head Teachers’ general secretary, who shares Ofsted’s desire to involve more serving headteachers in the inspection process. I welcome his call to members that it should be a duty to take part in the inspection process and agree with the 80 per cent of members surveyed who said this would be a good idea (“Improve standards by allowing heads to inspect schools, Ofsted told”, 28 April).
Already, well over half of school inspection teams include a serving head from good or outstanding schools. This proportion is getting bigger. Last month we announced plans to further increase the proportion of inspectors who are serving school headteachers when we outlined proposed changes to the way we inspect good and outstanding schools.
Serving heads know what works and how to spread best practice. I look forward to developing our proposals with the National Association of Head Teachers.
Michael Cladingbowl, National Director, Schools, Ofsted, London WC2
Ofsted must not be left to focus solely on struggling schools, while serving headteachers inspect the rest, as the National Association of Headteachers seems likely to suggest. A national inspection service involving government-appointed inspectors (HMI) visiting all schools is necessary to provide an overall view of standards and quality and to provide publicly available information as to the effects of government policy.
This latter function has not received enough emphasis by the teachers’ professional associations, by the Department for Education or by Ofsted itself. It was one of the functions of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate from its inception in 1839 to its demise in 1992. It needs to be revived. How else are results of the education policy of any government to be evaluated?
Professor Colin Richards, Former H M Inspector, Spark Bridge, Cumbria
Remember the Armenian dead
The Independent should be commended for taking the lead in lifting the fog of misinformation and feeble rationale offered by successive British governments defending the idea that present-day Turkey has nothing to answer for over the genocide of Armenians by Ottoman Turkey during the First World War (“The Turkish Holocaust begins”, 29 April).
The centenary commemoration will be on 24 April 2015. The recent turn-around by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister of Turkey, in offering sympathies to the Armenians for their dead undercuts the basis for the British Government’s support for Turkish denialism.
Armen Sahakian, Armenian Genocide Centenary Commemoration Committee, Chessington, Surrey
The private life of Ryan Giggs
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (28 April) says she “can’t forget” Ryan Giggs’s sex life, which she recapitulates for the benefit of anyone who may have thought he is currently in the news for his considerable sporting achievements.
His private life and the pain he undoubtedly caused others are surely none of our business now that the super-injunction no longer exists.
Beryl Wall , London W4
Chris Forse (letter, 30 April) criticises the way economics has been taught over the past 30 years. I believe a neoliberal economist has been described as someone who worries that what works in practice may not work in theory.
John Naylor, Ascot, Berkshire