Letters: A question of judgement

These letters appear in the 3 November issue of The Independent

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There are no doubt many lessons to be learnt from the failure of the Government thus far to find an acceptable chairperson for the new committee on abuse. However, one question a lot of people will want to have answered is: how were the individuals recommended for this job chosen?

It very much looks as though our upper-class, Old Etonian masters just look down their Christmas card lists and stick a pin in. No way to run a country, or indeed a committee on a very sensitive topic.

Andrew McLuskey

Staines, Surrey


To misquote Lady Bracknell: “To lose one head of an inquiry,  Mr Cameron, may be regarded as a misfortune.  To lose both looks  like carelessness.”

Having failed to get Baroness Butler-Sloss accepted as the head  of the child-abuse  inquiry, because her late brother was Attorney General during a key  period the inquiry will investigate, the Home Office should have  ensured her replacement had no connection  with anyone associated  with allegations about  the mishandling of child-abuse reports.

Fiona Woolf denies that she is “a member of the Establishment”. For the Lord Mayor of London to make such a remark is laughable and shows just how out of touch she is  with ordinary people.  There is no problem  with the head of the  inquiry being a member  of the Establishment, indeed it is unlikely that many people with the necessary qualifications  or experience would not  be a member of the Establishment. There is  a problem with any member of the Establishment who has any personal links to any of the main “players” in  this whole sorry saga.

Julius Marstrand



With your extensive coverage of Fiona Woolf’s resignation (1 November), I spotted the story of the senior Family Court judge Sir James Munby laying into the Government about cuts in legal aid to support families challenging proceedings to remove  their children.

With his experience  of the family courts, and demonstrating that he  is someone happy to  cock a snook at the  Department of Justice,  he looks like just the  man for the job.

Paul Jenkins

Abbotskerswell, Devon


I wonder if Fiona Woolf realises that there are members of the UK society other than the Establishment and hermits. There are a great many who are neither,  and who are quite intelligent enough, to chair the inquiry independently.

David Moulson

Scunthorpe,  North Lincolnshire


The mess of Thatcher’s council-house sell-off

Ever since 1979, when Margaret Thatcher introduced the “right to buy”, it was as plain as a pikestaff what a massive societal mess it would end in. And now we are reaping the whirlwind (“The great council house sell-off scandal”, 1 November).

The poor have nowhere to live, while some of those who bought their council properties on the cheap are now letting them out at high rents to the same councils they bought them from.

A case of rampant capitalism taking advantage of a situation caused by the political ambitions of all political parties. And who cares? Certainly not those who profit from this, nor, it seems, anybody else.

Ray J Howes

Weymouth, Dorset


November sun is all wrong

This is November this remarkable weather is not right. When is the penny going to drop that something is going seriously wrong?

Howard Pilott

Lewes, East Sussex


The warmest Halloween on record? Now that is scary!

Sierra Hutton-Wilson

Evercreech, Somerset


Let’s not go back to the Middle Ages

I agree with Jean Calder (letter, 1 November) that abuse of girls and women is rooted in contempt, due to large-scale immigration from cultures whose attitudes to women are even worse than our own.

As a mental-health nurse in Walsall a few years ago, I was shocked that in a middle-class British Asian family I visited, the men (born and educated in Britain) would not talk to me during the three years I visited their female relative. One day, I took a male student nurse with me and amazingly the men wanted to speak to him.

Also, my then teenage daughter was harassed by young men in Bradford who told her to “go home and cover your legs” when she was dressed conservatively in a knee-length skirt. She did report this to police, who took it seriously.

It’s bad enough that there is evidence that women are not receiving equal pay in this country (despite the Equal Pay Act 1970) but as Jean Calder says, if local authorities and police do not take this seriously we will all be back in the Middle Ages and the contributions women make in our society will be lost.

Linda Dickins

Wimborne, Dorset 


Any move towards UKIP is a concern

Michael Forster (letter, 30 October) says he has always voted Liberal but now supports Ukip because, thanks to them, the political agenda is at last being set by the voting public.

There’s some truth in this, but in a way that is a cause for concern, rather than rejoicing: if they’re selling political crack cocaine and it’s popular, we’d better stock it, too.

Our system elects MPs to Parliament as representatives, not delegates; that is, as proactively wise counsellors, rather than reactively obedient servants. It is a tricky circle to square, between paternalism on the one hand, and mob rule on the other. For too long, the balance has been tilted too much towards the former; hence the regrettable rise of Ukip, sending the balance lurching towards the latter.

If MPs were merely delegates, abolishing hanging would have been considered a hanging offence, and still would be today. For more accountable governance, what we need is not Ukip, but to make our Parliament more truly representative – which means breaking the hegemony of the public-school elite.

We need reform of the electoral system so that not just the outcome of elections but the choice of candidates for each party is done by public vote, not private cabal. The Conservative Party did this in 2009 at Totnes, and the public voted out the sitting member, choosing instead a woman (shock horror) who went on to win the election and seems since to have proved an excellent MP.

If Mr Forster wants a more progressive democracy, he really should stick to his former allegiance.

Bob Gilmurray

Ely, Cambridgeshire


Peer-to-peer lending is here to stay

Far from being a “craze” (James Moore, 30 October), peer-to-peer lending has become a fundamental part of Britain’s wider financial landscape and is here to stay. It will be a $1 trillion global industry by 2025,  and is already worth £1bn in Britain.

At Funding Circle we fully appreciate the responsibilities this bestows on us. As a founding member of the Peer-to-Peer Finance Association, we actively sought FCA regulation and continue to look for ways to set and improve industry standards.

James Moore was right to point out that peer-to-peer lending carries risk. It is not a bank or savings account, and should never be treated as such. We continue to be transparent about that, and are entirely committed to protecting and educating our customers. As part of this we publish details of every single loan originated on the marketplace, and show past performance of our loan book.

Samir Desai

CEO, Funding Circle

London EC4


When ‘scary’ is not a term of admiration

Guy Keleny finds fault in the sentence: “‘He’s so capable, it’s scary,’ says [Jessica] Chastain admiringly of [Christopher] Nolan.” (Errors & Omissions, 1 November.)

“The reader doesn’t need to be told that Chastain’s words are an expression of admiration, so just cut out ‘admiringly’,” he says.

Not so. “Scary” is not a natural expression of admiration, and without knowing the tone in which the words were spoken, the reader might suppose the actress is implying the director is intimidating or difficult to work with. The writer sets the record straight, explaining that Chastain is speaking in complimentary terms. What’s wrong with that?

John Hudson

Stroud, Gloucestershire


Branson’s space tourism is a waste

Richard Branson would serve humanity better if he were to focus his resources on a worthwhile project, perhaps the Ebola crisis, rather than developing space tourism. Firing his rockets into orbit serves only to pollute further the atmosphere and enable a few people with more money than sense to give themselves a quick thrill. What a waste it all is.

Steven Williams

Dartmouth, Devon


Most of us keep our clothes on, Janet

Janet Street-Porter in her column (1 November) claims: “Using our phones we take pictures of ourselves with nothing on all the time.” If that is how she spends her spare time so be it, but I can assure her that I have never been tempted to do the same, and I suspect that I am in a large majority.

Andrew Lee-Hart

Wallasey, Merseyside