Letters: Church goes into the loans business

These letters appear in the Tuesday 24 June issue of The Independent
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When the Archbishop of Canterbury declared his War on Wonga last year the message was “help for credit unions”. I imagined Christians getting their hands dirty counting the cash and knocking on the doors of people who have stopped repaying their loans – the ghastliest credit union task.

But instead we see him setting up a nationwide Churches’ Mutual Credit Union (“War on Wonga: Church of England to set up credit union for members”, 21 June).

So Archbishop Welby’s cosy clubs will compete with existing credit unions. This is un-Christian. Community-based credit unions already carpet much of Britain and the whole of Wales; anyone in their areas can join, but actual coverage is patchy because there’s a howling need for volunteers to deliver the services.

In over 20 years of unpaid work helping to set up and run a community-based credit union in rural mid-Wales I have met many ethically driven colleagues, but almost none from any deist faith. Briefly Welby seemed to offer more.

One gleam of hope is that the list of churches you report doesn’t include the Church in Wales. Maybe the CiW, which has already knocked moral spots off the CofE by approving the appointment of women bishops, will ally itself with existing credit unions.

Richard Bramhall
Llandrindod Wells, Powys


Clash of Tory MP and liberal columnist

All this liberal outrage is having the unwelcome effect of making me feel sympathy for people with whom I do not wish to sympathise.

Michael Fabricant’s tweet no more constitutes a threat of violence against Yasmin Alibhai-Brown than her wish to wipe the smile off Nigel Farage’s face would constitute a threat of violence against him, or my saying that I am so hungry I could eat a horse means that I pose a danger to the equine community.

By all means, let’s express outrage at the foul insults heaped upon such as Mary Beard and J K Rowling, and, when they occur, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, but, frankly, this instance just makes all concerned look self-righteous and ridiculous.

Frank Startup
Cirencester,  Gloucestershire

Can I just say that I have always found Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s columns to be both thoughtful and thought-provoking? Michael Fabricant, however, is just provoking, and I have often wanted to punch him.

Martin Lowe
Cranfield, Bedfordshire


Met’s failed murder inquiries

“Met Corruption” in the investigation of racist murders goes back further than the Stephen Lawrence killing (“Abandoned murder trial fuels new police corruption fears”, 21 June).

The first instance of the Metropolitan Police not thoroughly investigating such a murder was in 1959 when Antigua-born Kelso Cochrane was lynched by five white youths on his way home from hospital, where he had been treated for a finger injured while at work. Though the names of the  murderers were seemingly known to some in Notting Hill, no one has ever been arrested.

Marika Sherwood
Hon. Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies
University of London


Tories push their man for BBC job

Where is the outcry over David Cameron and Boris Johnson trying to bounce the country into accepting Sebastian Coe as Chairman of the BBC Trust? (“Job description tweaked for new BBC chairman – and now Coe has a clear run”, 21 June.) The job is not a political appointment, but is in danger of becoming so.

Imagine if Tony Blair and Ken Livingstone had promoted the appointment of a prominent Labour ex-MP for the post. The Tories and their friends in the right-wing media would have been apoplectic with rage. Now it seems that the BBC, which is supposed to be politically impartial, is trying to accommodate Coe for the job.

All this, of course, is outrageous, but behind it all lies the threat that the Tories want “their man” in place because if they win the next election they will embark on a total dismantling of the BBC and the sale of its “profitable” parts to media companies. To have Coe as chairman would make the whole exercise easier.

Norman Evans
East Horsley, Surrey


Nonsensical job titles in the NHS

It seems to me that the root cause of the NHS’s travails (letter, 23 June) is the commodification of health. The same appears to be happening with universities, which are hurtling headlong into the same pickle.

What has been swept away is professional judgement that used to be made by well-trained and educated, experienced clinicians in all relevant disciplines. No one now seems to be able to act unless they complete endless paperwork, mechanically ticking boxes in the naive belief that it will “prove” the correct action to take.

Money could surely be saved by not paying staff handsome salaries to be “Director of the Patient Experience” or “Director of Patient Dignity” and numerous other nonsensical roles. All these aspects of care should properly be subsumed into professional practice: and the remit of all practitioners.

Dr Anthony Ingleton


Personal remarks

Dr Meic Stephens (19 June) asks if there is any other part of the UK where the second person singular is still in use. When I moved to Leeds in 1971, I was introduced to the sentence “Thee thou thysen and see ’ow thee likes it”, uttered by a speaker who has taken exception to being addressed in the familiar singular (thee) rather than the more formal plural (you). I left Yorkshire a year later and have no idea whether it is still in use.

Beatrice Godwin


Triumphs of the World Cup minnows

Five million Scots will note that in the World Cup, Italy (population 61 million) and England (53 million) have been beaten by  Costa Rica (4.5 million) and Uruguay  (3.3 million).

Dr John Doherty


Jihadist threat comes back to haunt us

The warning by Scotland Yard’s top anti-terror officer about jihadists returning from Syria is chilling. The blame, however, for the rise of these terrorists lies exclusively with the governments of Britain, the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. For years these countries have been arming, funding and training the most extreme and violent jihadists to fight in Syria.

The purpose of this funding was to replace the secular government of Assad with an Islamic regime which would serve US corporate interests. The UK government has given non-lethal aid to the so-called moderate Syrian rebels. This “moderate” group have voiced support for Bin Laden. 

The policy of using Islamists to further geo-strategic goals is not new. Britain has been making secret deals with Islamists since the 1920s. The road to 9/11 started with US support for jihadists in Afghanistan in 1979.

There will be attacks on the streets of this country by returning jihadists. The fault will lie entirely with the UK government’s absurd policy of appeasement of the Saudi kleptocrats.

Alan Hinnrichs


It is true that the barbarians, as Patrick Cockburn describes them (23 June), are at the gates, but not just in the Middle East. It is in all our interests that they should be repelled and fought in every way possible.

To stave off recruitment drives for more such barbarians, Western countries rely on their security forces to monitor communities whence these recruits originate, and when they identify would-be barbarians they throw the book at them. But many of these measures can become part of the problem.

It is not easy to frighten, intimidate or overwhelm a jihadist prepared to die for a cause. It is true that measures have to be firm and decisive but they also need to display fairness and a moral compass that is blind to race and religion.

If we do not want young Muslims to be radicalised, should we not spell out what we mean by radicalisation? Does this mean they cannot vigorously criticise British foreign policy, or sympathise with the Palestinians, or visit certain websites, or be practising Muslims, or wear bushy beards, or pray in Arabic?

Confiscating their passports arbitrarily, banning their travel destinations, and handing them over to the US virtually on request do not resonate with the British values of tolerance, justice and common decency.

Those who recruit deluded teenagers tell them that Muslims are being treated like slaves and are suffering injustices like the Palestinians. When politicians in the west proclaim commitment to the safety of their own citizens, should they not wield the tools of diplomacy with greater courage and fairness to mobilise moderates to counter the allure of the barbarians?

Satanay Dorken
London N10