Letters: Cameron shuffles to the right


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The Independent Online

The rightward reshuffle of the Cabinet has to be met with a robust response from the Labour Party. No more the ducking and diving of New Labour. This time things are serious.

The Lib Dems have been stitched up. Cameron's move to the right requires Labour to take on the mantle of the poor and dispossessed.

The Tories not only recognise the realities of our class-ridden society, but they repeatedly reinvent the mantra that they are born to rule. And who can blame them when they come up against a supine "opposition" that agrees that capitalism cannot be changed, that the poor will not inherit the earth, so we'd better grin and bear it?

There are alternatives to sharing out the misery among the poorest and most vulnerable. Labour needs to take on board the policies, but also the dedicated people in their ranks that will carry them out. No more excuses.

John Pinkerton

Milton Keynes

The Prime Minister has appointed Chris Grayling as the next Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor. In 1558 Sir Nicholas Bacon was appointed Lord Chancellor, and since that time the post has always been held by a lawyer.

Although now the holder does not sit as a judge he is still concerned with the appointment of judges, and as Justice Secretary must be expected to have a sound knowledge of the legal system.

It is unfortunate that Mr Cameron has been unable to find a member of the Bar for this important office. At the very least this is a snub to the Law Officers of the Crown (the Attorney General and Solicitor-General) who might have been expected to receive such promotion. Mr Grayling possesses considerable talents, but these lie in the sphere of business, not law.

Jeremy Goldsmith

Newark upon Trent, Nottinghamshire

In his piece on the reshuffle, Steve Richards (5 September) highlights the cynicism of David Cameron's "Vote Blue. Go Green" rhetoric. Cameron's promise to lead a Cabinet comprising at least 30 per cent women has also been swept aside. If the Prime Minister won't lead by example, how can he expect FTSE-100 chairmen to follow in their own board appointments?

Dinti Batstone


A couple of weeks ago, we learned that the Arctic ice-sheet had shrunk to its smallest recorded size. David Cameron's response? He has just appointed an MP who is sceptical about climate change to be his environment minister. You really could not make it up.

Nay matter. The forthcoming economic meltdown will likely put paid to any ideas about airport expansion.

Keith O'Neill


How interesting that Jeremy Hunt has been appointed Health Secretary. I had not realised that the Murdoch empire was diversifying into private healthcare.

Steve Edwards

Wivelsfield Green, East Sussex

Beware blaming cats for a disease scare

Steve Connor's feature on toxoplasmosis (4 September) once again puts the spotlight on cats as the source. Infection occurs through ingesting either infected meat or infected cat faeces, and I should have thought it fairly obvious which is the more common occurrence. With the regular and appropriate use of soap and water on my hands I feel fairly confident in my ability to avoid infection.

You might also wish to point out to panicking readers that even an infected cat will risk passing on the infection for only a couple of weeks, shortly after becoming infected itself.

Infection is usually asymptomatic. This is not to say that there is not a risk, to the immuno-suppressed and in pregnancy, but I do think it is important to put that risk into context. Who knows how many domestic pets lost their homes or their lives during the last "scare", while their erstwhile owners failed to reduce their risk of infection simply because they had not registered the relative likelihood of catching it from Tiddles and catching it from dinner? Please don't be the cause of another unnecessary and ineffective purge.

Christina Craig

Prudhoe, Northumberland

So my hell-raising, headbanging, heavy-metalling, rock-chicking, butt-kicking, fun-loving, risk-taking, ale-quaffing, wild-partying, motor-bike-riding, massively fun and crazy youth was all down to Nanna's cat, Fluffy?

Wow! Kudos, Fluffy.

Rose Davies


Compassionate service from Atos

After seeing the recent articles on disability benefits, we at Atos fully understand that applying for benefit can be an emotive experience, which is why we continue to make sure that the service we provide is as highly professional and compassionate as it can be.

We feel the articles misrepresent the people we employ, the process we are engaged in and our partnership with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

All 1,400 doctors, nurses and physiotherapists employed by Atos Healthcare are fully qualified and registered with the General Medical Council or Nursing and Midwifery Council. Any doctor or nurse in the UK can be referred to these bodies. But a referral is not an outcome in itself. For example, of the referrals this year which relate to current Atos Healthcare employees, no doctor or nurse has had their GMC or NMC registration removed or suspended. Were that to happen, they would no longer be able to carry out assessments for the Department for Work and Pensions.

The process and criteria for all assessments are set by the DWP and approved by Parliament. The report Atos provides forms only one piece of the information used by the DWP to make their decision on benefit entitlement.

With regard to the Paralympics, we have proudly supported the Paralympics Movement for a decade. As Worldwide IT Partner, we provide crucial support in helping the IPC and London 2012 to stage an event of this scale. Our team is working extremely hard to deliver the technology that will help ensure a successful Games.

Ursula Morgenstern

CEO for Atos in UK and Ireland,

London NW1

Hitler was just using religion

To say that Hitler was a Christian because he said he was is to take him at his word, a dangerous thing to do (letter, 3 September).

Unlike some of his henchmen, he was not virulently anti-Christian. He was an opportunist and would say whatever he thought would advance his interests. He would say he was a Christian if he wanted to appear a typical German upholding traditional German morality and values, but his aim was to subvert the church so that in time it would conform to National Socialist ideology.

At other times he condemned Christianity for its "meekness and flabbiness" when contrasted with the Nazi creed of ruthlessness and strength.

Gordon Elliot

Burford, Oxfordshire

Malcolm Addison may well be correct in writing that Jesus never said genocide was OK (letter, 5 September). However, if one accepts the Nicene creed, which is the most widely recognised profession of faith in Christianity, then he is of one substance with the Father. Which surely puts him right in the frame for the Amalekites and the Canaanites and probably a few more.

Roger Moorhouse

Todmorden, West Yorkshire

Why Blair is not before a court

It has been reported that Desmond Tutu has called for Tony Blair to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Regrettably, Tutu's comments have been misconstrued; he merely highlighted the hypocrisy of prosecuting various African leaders for violations of international criminal law, while allowing figures such as Blair to be lauded as statesmen on the international lecture circuit. 

Clarification is also required as to the charges that Blair could face before the ICC. It has been suggested that the most applicable crime is that of aggression. This charge is unfeasible: the ICC cannot exercise jurisdiction over the crime of aggression until the Kampala amendments to the ICC statute are adopted, which will not be before 2017. As the law now stands, there is no question of the court prosecuting a crime of aggression perpetrated in 2003.

Blair could potentially be prosecuted for crimes against humanity or war crimes committed by British troops in Iraq. The ICC has full jurisdiction; the main issue is establishing Blair's liability as the leader.

Tutu's point demands attention. The ICC was intended to be an impartial arbiter of international justice. It has ignored gross breaches by non-African states, which points to a worrying double standard.

Ross Brown

Greenock, Inverclyde

Bring back real debate

Andreas Whittam Smith's manifesto (5 September) is inspiring and I intend to take part in a small way. He might have mentioned, too, that the House of Commons would become a place of genuine debate in the wake of his changes.

Jean Gallafent

London NW1

I see one problem which is solved neither by politicians with one eye on the general election nor by one-term enthusiasts. We need people who can look at long-term problems. Perhaps this is where a non-elected upper house comes in.

By non-elected, I do not mean hereditary peers, but people selected for their ability to think through intractable problems and respond to them over a long period.

Cole Davis

Elets, Russia

Prince on wire

Grace Dent (5 September) thinks that risking your life and overcoming your terror as you dangle over a 1,000 feet of empty space in order to raise over £1m so far for two very worthy charities was a "pointless plunge" does she? Rather, Prince Andrew is to be congratulated, not only for taking on the challenge himself, but also for inspiring 30 other intrepid souls, including a friend of mine, to do likewise. What has Grace ever done that comes close?

Louise Thomas

Abingdon, Oxfordshire

Cut commuting

The seasonal travel chaos often seen around September, with or without the Paralympics, could easily be avoided through a radical shift in working patterns ("Commuters face chaos as the big return to work begins", 3 September). Businesses that have introduced flexible working during the Olympic period have not only avoided travel disruption but increased productivity, boosted staff morale and cut costs. The Olympics demonstrate that carbon-heavy commutes are not necessary every day of the week.

Trewin Restorick

CEO, Global Action Plan

London WC2

Small print

The reason that Van Halen had a rider in their contract stipulating the provision of M&Ms with the brown ones taken out ("Before the gig", 5 September) was not because they were being typically diva-esque rock stars; it was to ensure that the promoters had read the contract.

Mark Thomas

Histon, Cambridgeshire