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Letters: Abuse not 'Asian' but thoroughly British

These letters appear in the September 1 edition of The Independent

Although sexual abuse of children has been widely reported recently, in children’s homes, by men in positions of power, in the entertainment industry, and within families, I have not seen a suggestion that these cultures needed investigation, as the British Pakistani community was targeted after similar criminal activity.

When British Muslims travelled to Syria and Iraq to take part in war-making and obnoxious activities, their community was again under scrutiny, which did not happen when white British soldiers were involved in torture, or when white British persons led us into illegal war.

In the UK, for decades at least, there has been a tolerance of child abuse in many situations. We also live in a culture in which war is glorified, assassination normalised, soldiers trained to kill idolised, and dehumanising and killing of “the other” in games played by children rewarded.

I don’t see it as surprising that some individuals from many backgrounds, all products of our British society, have turned to crimes such as illegal war-making, murder, and child abuse. Isn’t it time we looked at “traditional British values” to see how these contribute to attitudes of those who grow up with a distorted vision of what is normal, attracting a minority of British people to behave in an inhumane and criminal manner.

Dr Judith Brown
Farrington Gurney, Somerset


Following Rotherham and other cases of a similar nature, we need a complete retraining of all police officers and social workers.

 They cannot be allowed to continue without being given detailed training in child development, conflict resolution, survivor empathy, trauma and recovery, and the social effects of inter-generational trauma patterns.

This is now a matter of extreme urgency.

Corneilius Crowley
South Harrow, Middlesex


It is 18 years since I retired from the public service, but I can still recall vividly the obsession with “political correctness” that engulfed the Probation Service at that time; therefore I am not at all surprised by what happened in Rotherham.

Given that the perpetrators were not European they would have been untouchable because anyone making a complaint would have been considered a racist. Let us hope that from now on reason might prevail and “political correctness” is consigned to the rubbish bin.

D Sawtell
Tydd St Giles, Cambridgeshire


Cameron rallies the Yes vote

Alex Salmond has described David Cameron as “the No campaign incarnate”.

It seems to me the Prime Minister is doing a great job persuading people to vote Yes by stating that the Conservatives (so loved and respected north of the border) are deigning to consider giving Scotland more powers in the event of a No vote. Of course if, when and how that happens will be completely up to Westminster to decide.

This makes it clear what a nonsense it is for Scots to have their country run by a government they have not elected. Why would they even consider voting No to independence? If only I could vote in a referendum which could guarantee never again having to live under Tory rule.

Dominic Horne
Ledbury, Herefordshire


Peter Milner (letter, 29 August) foresees trouble if the Scottish referendum produces a narrow result. However, a very narrow majority will suit the Government.

The Government wants Scotland to stay in the UK. Suppose the “No” vote is 51 per cent. The Government will breathe a sigh of relief and say, “End of story”.

But suppose the “Yes” vote for independence is 51 per cent. Referendums are not legally binding on governments; they are there to test the water. The Government will say that there is no way it would be proper to grant independence on such a slender majority, as it would offend too many people and destabilise a newly independent country.

So on a narrow majority either way it will be heads the Government wins and tails Alex Salmond loses.

I would prefer Scotland to remain in the UK, but for some inexplicable reason I have no say in the matter although I am a UK citizen.

David Ashton
Shipbourne, Kent


If the Scots go independent they will no longer have any say in English politics, English finance, English membership or not of the EU, no longer be able to use the pound sterling, no longer be members of the EU (lucky things), but Scottish football managers will remain, doing their dour, cautious best managing English clubs and making many English fans miserable for another season.

Simon Icke
Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire


Language dilemma

With regard to the inexorable rise of Spanish at GCSE, which is made all the more conspicuous by the decline in the number taking GCSE French and German, you quote the chief executive of the AQA exam board, Andrew Hall, as saying that the pupils opting for Spanish are “savvy students” who are thinking “This language will really help me”, because it is “one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world”.

You also quote the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, Brian Lightman, as pointing out that Spanish is a language that English pupils “find fairly easy to learn”, because it is “very similar to our own language in some ways” (“Spanish to replace French as most popular language”, 22 August).

I would argue that students opting to avoid German are not particularly savvy at all. The number of speakers of German in Europe puts the language well ahead of English and French, not to mention Spanish. Germany is the UK’s leading trading partner, and it is a major investor in UK industry (Bentley, Rolls-Royce cars, the Mini, Siemens). Many UK pupils will accompany their parents to supermarkets bearing the name Aldi or Lidl.

All of those companies are major UK employers, of course, and some include training placements in Germany as part of their recruitment strategy, in which connection a knowledge of German is a major asset.

As for Spanish being popular because it is “very similar” to English, it is worth drawing attention to the fact that English is, alongside German, the most widely spoken Germanic language. Not surprisingly, it contains a huge number of similarities with German.

If the level of advice being given to secondary schools pupils about which modern foreign language to study is as superficial as the comments made by Andrew Hall and Brian Lightman, it is not at all surprising that German languishes scandalously in third place as a GCSE level foreign language subject.

David Head
Navenby, Lincolnshire


Cot deaths and bed-sharing

Rebecca Hardy’s article of 18 August recommends bed-sharing by parents and young children. In 1991 Peter Fleming led the way in promoting “Back to Sleep” in this country, which resulted in a 70 per cent reduction in the numbers of cot deaths.

Cot death rates have again levelled out and more that 50 per cent of the deaths are now occurring when bed-sharing. Analysis suggests that most of these deaths would not have occurred had the babies not been bed-sharing.

Although the risks may be small in ideal circumstances, Nice has followed the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Dutch in recommending that parents should be made aware of the association of bed-sharing and the occurrence of sudden unexplained infant death. My hope is that the message is taken seriously, and that we see a substantial further reduction in these tragic deaths in the next few years.

Professor Robert G Carpenter
Department of Medical Statistics
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine


Art is one thing, real life another

I read with the usual interest Howard Jacobson’s article (30 August) in which he explores the cathartic release that vicarious grief brings.

Once I would have agreed with him. Yes I cried at Othello’s plight, at Romeo’s distress, at the sadness of Tristan and Isolde. Then my beloved wife died and I realised that the emotions experienced through art can in no meaningful way prepare you for the sadnesses of life.

Stuart Russell


Terrorists or victims?

I am concerned about the presumption that all the young men coming back from Syria are terrorists. It is likely that some are suffering post-traumatic stress and need help.

Some will have come back disillusioned, having gone out to fight for a cause and found barbarity and cruelty instead. I hope they are being treated individually and humanely rather than demonised. 

Mary Barnes
London NW5