I don’t fully understand all the shock-horror and indignant, holier-than-thou comments being made, particularly by the media, about bullying online.
Yes, I could weep for all those unfortunate souls who have become tragic victims of our indifference. And we really do, all of us, have to take responsibility for allowing this contagious spread of foul behaviour to contaminate our society.
But bullying has become an integral part of business, banking, media, news, politics, entertainment, education and goodness knows what else over the past 40-odd years and, because we’re all continually told that we should want more, it drives the boardroom and the bottom line. And we sit back and let it happen.
Don’t believe me? Just look at the current most-watched TV, the most-read newspapers and the highly paid stars of TV.
Bullying has been given the seal of approval by the BBC, ITV, radio, music, sections of the press – it goes on and on.
Simon Cowell behaves rudely and arrogantly and gets rich. Be like Jeremy Clarkson and you can be famous and drive fast, anti-social cars. Treat people like Anne Robinson does, and earn the plaudits of the programme planners. It goes on: Gordon Ramsay, John Humphrys, Lord Sugar, Piers Morgan, Jonathan Ross etc.
Gordon Ramsay has made a fortune from being foul-mouthed, and we wonder why some kids have “no respect”.
The Prime Minister asks everyone to boycott sites that “promote” bullying. Too late, mate. What he should ask us to boycott is the army of money-making, fun-loving, mickey-taking, insensitive, arrogant proponents of the “trade” of bullying and their employers.
When I was a kid, a teacher “bullied” us into not using the word “nice”. I wondered then, and I do now, what’s wrong with the word nice? Perhaps he knew something that we didn’t know. Perhaps he knew the word was going to become redundant.
An invitation to Ukip from Project Bongo
While the term “Bongo, Bongo land” clearly has negative associations, there is a real Bongo in Upper East Ghana, West Africa.
It’s a lovely place which, sadly, like thousands of African villages, just needs some support. My small charity, Project Bongo, works there to provide boreholes for local schools and communities and support education projects in a place with some real poverty.
Perhaps Ukip would like to take an austerity fact-finding trip there sometime?
Secretary, Project Bongo
I was annoyed that Godfrey Bloom implicated members of cricket clubs in his recent rant. Not only does he appear to be racist, he also seems to be ignorant.
The cricket club my (white) son attends has a mix of ethnicities. The majority of boys and girls (I suspect, from his previous comments on women’s issues, that Mr Bloom would be astounded to hear that girls play cricket too) are British Asian, and a few are of West Indian descent. There are also two children whose parents are Chinese.
In the clubhouse I have never heard views similar to Mr Bloom’s being expressed. Mostly we talk, strangely enough, about cricket, often about the weather, and never about “Bongo Bongo land”, although sometimes we discuss how narrow-minded some people can be.
While doing the overland trip back from Australia in 1971, I passed through various remote villages, most of which were very undeveloped, with only basic amenities.
One had a store selling sacks of grain and other foodstuffs, stacked up high at the front of the shop, so that all details on the sacks were plainly visible.
They read: US Foreign Aid Program, Free Gift of Canada, United Nations Foreign Aid, Foreign Aid of United Kingdom.
So although Godfrey Bloom’s comments were moronic and totally unacceptable, it does seem that his argument about foreign aid may have a basis in an ongoing problem of many years.
Worthing, West Sussex
With friends like Ukip prospective candidate Dean Perks, who needs enemies (“How Ukip’s councillors keep on making the headlines”, 8 August)? He says: “Sharia law works as a prevention – and prevention is better than cure. If you think you are going to get your hand chopped off for pinching something, you won’t pinch it”.
Former Ukip councillors Alan Preest and Peter Georgiou, mentioned in the same “Roll of dishonour”, have both been caught shoplifting.
One big happy family, then.
It’s the interview not the grades
Oxbridge admissions do not depend solely on a candidate’s clutch of high-grade A-level passes. Richard Garner (“Thousands of high-flyers are turned down by Oxbridge”, 9 August) fails to point out that the decisive factor is the candidate’s performance at interview.
This involves appropriate dress and body language, no monosyllabic answers, throwing questions at the interviewers, and dropping the ghastly habit of injecting the word “like” as often as possible into any given sentence.
Teachers who fail to provide interview technique training are woefully failing all their pupils, not just Oxbridge candidates.
If a large number of high-flyers are being turned down by Oxford and Cambridge universities, this should mean that other universities will be benefiting from these students. Is this a bad thing?
‘Defence’ label is indefensible
“Serious Farce Office: SFO in biggest criminal data breach ever” (9 August) sums up the absurdity of the latest development in the BAE saga: the loss of thousands of documents.
While I’m pleased that The Independent is covering this, I find it odd that you continue to refer to BAE Systems as a “defence” company. “Arms company” would be more accurate. The victims of armoured vehicles sent by Saudi Arabia to crush protest in Bahrain, or planes used by Indonesia to bomb villages in West Papua, may wonder what is being “defended”.
No arms companies sells weapons only to democracies to use for self-defence. The arms trade is not about defence, but about profiting from violence, poverty and human rights abuse.
Let a new type of politics evolve
Your story “British Politics at a crossroads” suggests that we need something different. One possibility might be an Evolutionary Party. Evolution is about survival, and if British politics is to survive, it needs a successful party.
Evolution can happen quickly and is subject to many different forces, not just from nature, but also from other pressures. Evolution depends on practical alternatives, many of which fail, but some of which create the future.
An Evolutionary Party would bypass political theory and engage in practical developments supported by sections of the population. So the developments would have to be encouraged by public meetings and open discussion – probably in cafes. In Leeds there are science cafés – discussing psychology, economics and philosophy – all of which encourage new ideas and social engagement.
The public don’t want to be lectured to, they want to opinionate and get involved. The Evolutionary Party would admit that many different projects could fail, but that some would succeed and proceed. Its people would have to be discursive, respectful and inventive. Its politicians would have to be open, analytical and practical.
Babies: one boom we don’t need
So, Britain, the most crowded country in Europe, is undergoing a baby boom. State-subsidised breeding and immigration are destroying our quality of life. Overpopulation is ruinous for hard-pressed resources.
I’d rather my taxes were used to pay people not to have babies. An increased personal tax allowance for couples who have only one child would seem to be the way forward. Forget child benefit and childcare vouchers. Can we really afford to offer financial incentives for large families in our overcrowded country?
Dovercourt, Harwich, Essex
The Prince and the panda
One can’t help comparing the possible birth of a baby panda (“Edinburgh Zoo staff hopeful giant panda Tian Tian may be pregnant”, 9 August) with another recent history-making arrival.
While Prince George and Baby Panda can both claim to be good for tourism, their respective futures could not be more different. One will travel the world, whereas the other will spend its life in a cage until the day it dies, thousands of miles from where it truly belongs. It’s time to spurn captivity.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
Could Prince George grow up to renounce killing of wild animals for fun? As long as there has been a royal family, its members have slaughtered wildlife for sport.
If a teenage Prince George rebelled and said: “No thanks, I would rather join real sportsmen on the playing fields of Britain”, wouldn’t it be fantastic?
Wildlife Consultant, Protect Our Wild Animals
Next Monday is probably the most inaptly named day in the Scottish calendar, with shooters taking to the grouse moors to celebrate the Glorious Twelfth.
The date may be awaited with great anticipation by the minority who seek pleasure in causing stress, injury and suffering to one of Scotland’s iconic species. But the extra suffering of wildlife can surpass the shooting. Much of the land around shoots will be littered with snares – thin wire traps that silently garrotte their victims.