Letters: British grief at the Glasgow crash

These letters were published in the 3 December edition of the Independent
  • @IndyVoices

The tragic events in Glasgow have not been reported or received as a foreign occurrence. We were watching things that happened to our compatriots.

A bit of localism, and even opportunism by the SNP, is easily understandable – but this disaster happened to us as Britons. 

I am proud of Watt and Maxwell, I hope Scots are proud of Newton and Shakespeare. Yes I want England to beat Scotland – but no more than I want Northampton to beat Leicester. I love Burns – not like Dante but like my fellow Brummie, Shakespeare.

I am British, and it is deeply important to me; Alex Salmond wants to rob me of this.

John Wheaver, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire


S Garrett (letter, 2 December) questions the need for politicians to express their apparently sincere thoughts in statements issued on their behalf, following events in which people are killed or seriously injured.

The reason is simple: any politician, sincere or not, who doesn’t will be perceived as uncaring and will risk losing votes at the next election.

After the Glasgow helicopter crash there will have been frenzied activity involving special advisers, overnight duty press officers, chief press officers, ministers’ private offices and No 10, all of it aimed at showing caring ministers, and the governments in Westminster and Scotland, in the best possible light. I know. I’ve been there.

What I find more intriguing, however, is the wider public response to these events. If only one person had been killed, would he or she have been remembered in a packed service in Glasgow Cathedral?

Every human life is sacred, but it seems that the public display of grief depends on the number of deaths. Can anyone explain why?

D Stewart, London N2


Privatised energy faces its crisis

Now the Conservatives want to use tax revenue to help poorer families pay energy bills; in other words, some of our tax bills must go as profit to private energy firms. Why does that make me furious?

I used to work for the Central Electricity Generating Board, and before it was privatised it wasn’t allowed to make profits. Any surplus either went to the Exchequer or towards new generation. It planned to build 14 nuclear stations like Sizewell B. These were cancelled by a Conservative government. It would not burn gas because the rise in demand would force up prices – exactly as happened after privatisation.

The solution to affordable and reliable energy is decades-long investment in cost-effective generation, mainly nuclear and tidal. That is just what privatised industry cannot achieve, as it is too long-term. Hence, the UK is now condemned to decades of power shortages with an added insult of exorbitant prices.

Time to abandon the nonsense of privatisation and put competent people in charge. The nationalised companies made major investments in training and retaining skilled British workers, who supported other branches of British industry (and the tax system). 

Dr N Drew, Bristol


I can understand the call to renationalise the energy industry but even if there were the political will, financially it could not be afforded. Better for the Government to enable a “not for profit (or loss)” enterprise that would be run on a commercial basis. The Big Six would have to either compete or go out of business.

David Winter, South Cadbury, Somerset


The Government has swallowed the myth from across the pond that fracking transforms energy security and fuel prices.

Recent studies by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration measured a stunning 6 to 12 per cent methane leakage over one of the country’s largest gas fields – which would gut the climate benefits of switching from coal to gas. The IPCC reported recently that over a 20-year time frame methane has a global warming potential 86 times greater than CO2.

Protesters need to demand that the Government imposes strict regulation on methane emissions, making directors and shareholders think twice.

Canon Christopher Hall, Deddington, Oxfordshire



Victory for the badger-huggers

The badger culls have ended not with a bang but a whimper. The badger-huggers will see this as a victory, and to a certain extent it is. Their interference has undoubtedly made a hard task harder.

The Government has been leaning over backwards to placate the badger lobby and it hasn’t worked. The only thing that will placate them is a complete end to culling, so why bother to use such an expensive, time-consuming and ineffective method of culling when there is a tried and tested method that is cheaper, more effective and much less prone to “perturbation” than shooting individual badgers in the dead of night?

I refer of course to gassing, a practice that was abandoned decades ago in the face of determined opposition from the badger lobby. If gassing had continued as the preferred method of eliminating diseased badger setts, not only would the problem of bovine TB have been largely solved by now but far fewer badgers would have had to be killed to solve this distressing problem and far fewer badgers would have ended up being infected by their own kind as the disease spread remorselessly from badger sett to neighbouring  badger sett. 

The continued good health of the majority of the badger population that is still TB-free depends on culling the diseased minority.

Roger Chapman, Keighley, West Yorkshire


Banks still up to their old tricks

In the Eighties, under Thatcher, it was clear to me that banks were deliberately ruining their customers in order to seize their assets. This happened to someone I knew who had a perfectly viable business that was receiving orders, but which needed some investment in order to carry them out. Their bank refused them a small loan and took their workshop.

At this time my husband’s bank wanted him to give them a charge on our house. I think it was my refusal to allow it that saved both his firm and my home.

Sadly, I am not surprised to hear that enforced bankruptcies are policy (“RBS told customers to stop paying tax”, 26 November). My only surprise is that now this is being recognised as not “good business practice”. God knows, it’s taken long enough.

If I could see it 30 years ago why has it taken so long for the regulators?

Sara Neill, Tunbridge Wells, Kent


How better for New Labour to discredit the idea of nationalisation than for the state to take over a collapsed bank and leave its managers to run it just as unscrupulously as before? As some of us pointed out at the time.

Michael McCarthy, London W13


Nature becomes a commodity

Opposition to plans to ascribe a financial value to nature stems from much more than a belief that the natural world is beautiful beyond price (“The price of nature”, 22 November). Once something is given a price in order to protect it, there will always be someone willing to pay that price in order to destroy it.

If access to the natural world is determined by the ability to pay, the people with the greatest reason to protect an ecosystem – say, an indigenous people who depend on a forest for their every need – are the least likely to have the cash required. If, on the other hand, forests, soil and air are recognised as the common resources they are, and strong regulation is introduced to protect our rights to these resources from the corporations that would control them, the natural would be in safer hands.

Finance has hardly proved itself a trustworthy guardian of the global economy: we should reduce, rather than increase, its influence on our lives.

Miriam Ross, Campaigner, World Development Movement, London SW9


Reaching out to elephants

When I saw that you had chosen elephants as the subject of your Christmas appeal I felt a surge of relief and uplift that you were prepared to reach out to our fellow creatures, beyond purely humanitarian preoccupations, and make such a bold statement in the face of their humanly induced plight. I shall certainly support your appeal.

Dominic Kirkham, Manchester


Health and safety at the batting crease

Under the Work Health and Safety Act, in Australia, an employer can be fined if workplace bullying occurs in their workplace. The next time an English cricketer is “sledged” – bullied – maybe they should use the Act and make a complaint.

Robert Pallister, Punchbowl,  New South Wales,  Australia