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Saturday 23 October 2010
Letters: Coalition cuts
A challenge to the bleaters
I hope your largely negative correspondents and leader writers have read Mary Dejevsky's column (22 October).
Your front page proclaims that you are independent of party political ties (as am I) but most of your headlines and reporting seem sourced directly from the Labour Party. Apart from Dejevsky, what a load of bleaters and complainers you employ, and how negative they are when it comes to a coalition government at least trying to do something intelligent and necessary about the legacy of the last incompetent lot.
I had a similar experience to Johann Hari's father (21 October) when my job in a metropolitan county council was abolished by Margaret Thatcher's government and I had to go overseas to work. This proved to be a life-transforming opportunity which took me out of a dead-end job.
I don't think many employers would find your whingeing crew attractive prospects to lead their companies successfully through these difficult times.
Reading Mary Dejevsky's observations on how her "chattering class" colleagues have attacked the Coalition Budget I could not fail to notice her observation that single under-35s are better off homeless because they qualify for a flat. Having worked in and around homelessness for many years I wonder whether Dejevsky can tell me where this Nirvana actually is.
New Labour rather cynically altered the homelessness legislation, and the destructive housing and benefit decisions of the Coalition mean that it is over 30 years since there has been a housing policy offering any hope to those unable to join the property-owning democracy.
Technically bankrupt after the Second World War, we were able to build homes fit for heroes and now in the trough of a recession we are unable to see the benefits of capital expenditure on housing. There are still a lot of heroes out there coping with inadequate, unaffordable or no accommodation at all.
Perish the thought that Dave and Nick, as they save the nation from ruin, forcing themselves to be cruel while being kind and cleaving to fairness, could have given a moment's thought to the electoral consequences of their actions. But occasionally politicians do allow their principled minds to stray to such vulgar matters.
You hit claimants and the least well off. They vote in lower numbers than other groups, often not being even registered to vote. You impose huge cuts on local government. Easier to allow them to be blamed for collapsing services rather than Whitehall, particularly when you've reconciled yourself to losing local government seats anyway – it's 2015 that matters. You decimate the Civil Service. Many of those posts will be in places that never vote for you anyway.
Electoral consequences of your actions? Survivable. Pity about the human wreckage left behind.
I wonder if it would be possible for the next Budget to be drawn up by a coalition of working- and middle-class families, with several pensioners thrown in for good measure. Far more realistic than one drawn up by a millionaire and his millionaire Cabinet cronies, I would have thought.
Seaford, East Sussex
High price for cyber-security
The news that the National Security Strategy will focus on cyber-terrorism in the run-up to the Olympics will have unintended consequences for the City.
This announcement represents the first shot in a bidding war for IT professionals working in cyber forensic and IT security. The bidding war will be driven by an imbalance between supply and demand.
IT security roles are extremely specialist and there are many hoops to jump through before professionals become properly qualified for the role. In general, IT professionals take networking positions to gain experience, then qualifications in CCSA, CCSE, VPN solutions, firewall, and remote access. Finally, they need to become accredited as Certified Information Systems Security Professionals. That takes time and, as a result, there are only 2,200 appropriately qualified people in the country. A significant number work in the City.
An IT professional at this level – who typically works as a head of security at a large financial institution – should command a salary of approximately £100,000 a year. As government demand for cyber security soars, salaries in the private sector will have to rise if banks want to retain their talent. It is the City that will pay the price.
Managing Director Greythorn Recruitment,
Making things? Forget it
Sue Jensen (letter, 22 October) points out that we need to increase our national income if we want to have more to spend, and asks if reviving our manufacturing industry is a hopeless task.
Well yes it is, and if anyone does not believe that I invite them to mortgage their house, borrow even more, develop a world-beating product from nothing, set up a factory to make it and employ lots of people whose rights to maternity leave, paternity leave, flexible working etc are just the tip of an employee entitlement iceberg.
By now they will be somewhere between penury and suicide and will realise why everyone else has given up on manufacturing and finds comfort in exhorting others to do what they themselves won't. The simple answer is, of course, China.
Who really needs aid?
Having read Hamish McRae's essay about the dominance of India and China over the West (19 October), I read on a news page of the same issue that spending cuts might cause the "poor in nations like ... India and China to lose out" in receiving funds from the aid budget.
Bearing in mind the depth of the cuts and the number of jobs that have moved from this country to India, where is the justification for still providing aid to India and China?
If China and India are as dominant as Mr McRae tells us shouldn't these countries be providing more from their buoyant economies to their own poor?
Then our limited aid budget could perhaps go to other areas of the world which are not as economically dominant and not experiencing the same levels of growth as India or China or in receipt of jobs from the West. Or would that mean that we would be providing the aid to places in the UK or elsewhere in Europe?
Search for new Middle-earth
I'm delighted that the Hobbit films have been given the green light and that there is a possibility that they will be filmed in England ("Could Middle-earth move to Middle England?", 22 October).
I was particularly tickled by your reports of the slogans on placards carried by New Zealand film technicians demonstrating against such a move: "Don't kill Bilbo" and "Ireland is not Middle-earth"
Someone should really point out that rural Warwickshire, especially the area around Sarehole – now part of the Edgbaston suburb of Birmingham – formed J R R Tolkien's template for the Shire, rather than anywhere in New Zealand, or Ireland.
Martyn P Jackson
Jews are proud to be British
The news that Tony Blair is scheduled to address a dinner of the Board of Deputies of British Jews seems to have provided an irresistible opportunity for Richard Ingrams (16 October) to launch a snide attack on an organisation established 250 years ago next month for the precise purpose of demonstrating the loyalty of British Jews to this country.
The original Deputies presented a loyal address to George III on his accession to the throne in 1760, and the community has since then proved a model of integration, contributing to this country in every sphere imaginable. No doubt Mr Ingrams thinks that George III was simply a Hanoverian upstart with an affinity for all things German, but when he talks of the representative body of British Jewry as "self-appointed worthies who make it their business to defend the interests of their country", by which he means Israel, it really does reveal rather more about his prejudices than anything else.
The Board of Deputies is an elected body, with representatives from almost every part of a Jewish community that remains fiercely proud of its Britishness. The suggestion of dual loyalties is a nasty and groundless slur.
Chief Executive, The Board of Deputies of British Jews
Hatred for a typeface
Simon Garfield hits the nail on the head when he refers to "typographical snobbery" about Comic Sans ("Why does everyone hate Comic Sans so much?", 22 October). Comic Sans is a perfectly good typeface: clean, open, and easy to read. It is preferred by many people with dyslexia for precisely these reasons.
The idea that it is too informal belongs to a bygone age – it is Comic Sans' popularity among the uninitiated that really gets the goat of the aspiring cognoscenti of typography. Isn't it telling that something so popular is said to be hated by ""everyone"?
Cut the red tape
As a regular traveller between Brussels and the UK I can't help but applaud the Coalition's idea of handing passport control to the French. Hopefully it means that we will only have to show our passports to one official as we return to the UK, as opposed to the current two to four (if you include the police). This to me seems a sensible and simple cost saving. Another added benefit is that the French and Belgian officials tend to be more pleasant.
Uckfield, East Sussex
Perspectives on the French protests
Britain gripped by a strange calm
The English are a funny bunch. At least that is what I imagine the rest of the world is currently thinking.
After the biggest spending cuts introduced in post-war history, and after those cuts were introduced by a government that hardly anyone asked for, we all just sat and watched.
I am a 16-year-old at present, so I don't feel it is my duty to be in uproar about political issues, because the common assumption that I am a hooligan with no intereste in politics means I cannot vote. However, I do find myself with a sense of anticipation. I expect that if it is not my responsibility to say something it must be someone else's.
This is one of those rare moments in an English person's life when they wish they lived in France. Everyone there has dug out their inherited revolutionary thinking caps and are proceeding to cause numerous problems for the French government.
As British citizens, on the day the cuts were announced, everyone must have heard at least one "Tut tut" or concerned "Hmm". But, did anyone think, "I know, I'll go out into the street and shout a bit, maybe park my heavy goods vehicle across the road just to cause some disruption"? No. Why not?
I understand that there are perhaps protests being planned in advance, and that these will probably not sway George Osborne in the slightest. I don't wish to appear a rabble-rouser, or any kind of extreme activist. But really? A government with no real mandate introduces profoundly Conservative spending cuts and tries to pass them off as "totally necessary". Has the world gone crazy? Or is it just the UK?
Better to have real-world cuts in Britain than demonstrating for fiscal fantasy on the streets of Paris.
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