Letters: Creeps who give men a bad name

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The current tsunami of news on bad male sexual behaviour has led me to ask, am I the only one? I have never groped anyone. I have never sexually abused anyone. I have never "brushed up against" anyone. I have never inappropriately touched anyone.

I am just a man who has worked as hard as he could to provide a safe and secure home for his family. All the current news makes me feel uncomfortable to give my daughters a hug. It makes me avoid looking at any woman anywhere. And it makes me start to feel ashamed to be a man. Am I the only one?

Peter Lanham


Really, this is becoming silly. Men (almost exclusively) are lining up to condemn the Liberal Democrats without the slightest trace of irony.

I am not condoning actions such as Rennard is accused of. If this is all true, which he denies, he sounds like an utter creep – but a very familiar kind of creep. If we could sack the bosses of every organisation in which women have regularly suffered the unwanted advances of men in power, we could empty the boardrooms of Britain.

Most men are decent, charming and honest. A minority are sexually predatory and abuse their power. For this to change, we need more than pre-Eastleigh shouting.

Manda Scott

Clungunford, Shropshire

I never cease to be amazed at the fickleness of voters. Whatever happened to loyalty, and how does the alleged misbehaviour of one party member change the party's policies? And where is there a squeaky-clean party to adhere to if that is the most important criterion?

Gillian cook

Market Harborough, Leicestershire

Senior Catholic clergy were able to get away for years with abusing, or covering up the abuse of, young boys. When a senior Catholic is accused of abusing priests, he is gone in two days. Presumably that is really too much.

John Phillips

London SW14

Trident no answer to today's threats

Admiral Lord West's comments on Trident like-for-like renewal (Comment, 27 February) have ignored the cogent arguments put forward by some of his eminent colleagues, including a highly respected former Chief of the Defence staff, a retired general and two former Secretaries of State for Defence, in the debate in the House of Lords on 24 January, in which Lord West did not take part.

Among the important arguments made were that the Trident system was developed for a Cold War threat scenario and no longer answers the threats posed in the 21st century, that nuclear weapons possession is not what guarantees a seat at the international "top table", and that the UK has the ability to take a positive lead towards nuclear non-proliferation, reversing the early 21st-century moves in the direction of proliferation.

None of the above people are Lib Dems, and Lord West's attempt to reduce the arguments to an issue of party politics is especially reprehensible when we should be giving the public clear arguments about a decision that will have massive implications for the defence and spending policies of the UK for decades to come.

Sue Miller

(Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer, Lib Dem)

House of Lords

Teaching a love of literature

Dr Gibbons' comments on the new English curriculum ("Pupils face literary diet of 'dead white men'", 27 February)' simply could not be farther from the truth. In fact the new curriculum will offer teachers more freedom than ever before in choosing the authors and books they think their pupils will enjoy and benefit from reading.

For instance, the new curriculum includes world literature, unlike the existing programme. This means that students will be able to study world literature alongside some of Britain's most inspiring and challenging novels, plays and poetry, rather than being made to study an overly prescriptive list of authors, as currently.

We know that even when young people do wish to read widely, the exam system does not encourage this – fewer than one in 100 pupils who sat the most popular English literature exam in 2010 based their answers on novels published prior to 1900. We believe that this new programme of study will awaken and encourage a strong love of literature and reading in each and every pupil, from romantic poetry and 19th-century world literature, right through to the modern day 21st-century classics.

Elizabeth Truss

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Childcare,

Department for Education

Pesticide and fears for bees

Pressure is building on Government to support a proposed Europe-wide ban on neonicotinoid insecticides ("RSPB demands ban on deadly pesticides linked to bee decline", 21 February).

In recent weeks major home and garden retailers such as B&Q, Homebase and Notcutts – operating around a thousand stores between them – have decided to remove neonicotinoid pesticide products from their shelves, because of concerns about the impact on bees. Earlier this month the Co-operative, Britain's biggest farmer, welcomed European Commission proposals for a two-year ban on three insecticides linked to bee decline.

The decline in our bee populations is a threat we cannot ignore. Neonicotinoids are one of a range of problems our bees face. Action on pesticides should be part of a National Bee Action Plan that ministers must urgently draw up and implement. If we lose these crucial pollinators it will have a devastating impact on our farms, countryside and gardens – and send food bills soaring.

Andrew Pendleton

Head of Campaigns

Friends of the Earth

London N12

Muslim response to barbarities

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown accuses the Muslim Council of Britain of "assiduously avoiding looking" at "barbarism" within Muslim communities and in the Muslim world ("How did modern Islam become so intolerant?", 25 February).

Perhaps she missed our very public statement condemning the gruesome attack on Shias in Pakistan at the start of the year. Or our condemnation of the bomb plotters from Birmingham last week. Maybe she was on holiday when we spoke out against attacks on Christians in Nigeria at Christmas 2011 or on Copts in Egypt. All of this, even though our main focus of attention remains the British Muslim community.

Ms Alibhai-Brown's selective rage continues to astound us. Politics in the Muslim world is murky and not straightforward. We will continue consistently to call for human rights to be upheld throughout the Muslim world: be that Egypt, Tunisia or Bangladesh where, Ms Alibhai-Brown forgets to tell her readers, the government and its supporters are calling for the death penalty for people whose trial has been condemned by international human rights bodies. These are hardly the progressive values Ms Alibhai-Brown would want to align herself with.

Farooq Murad

Secretary General, Muslim Council of Britain, London E1

It's just sport, not morality

Despite Alice Stott's list of virtuous sportswomen (letter, 26 February), sportswomen are no more infallible than sportsmen; as demonstrated by Marion Jones, Tonya Harding and Ekaterina Thanou. Gender is irrelevant. The real question is: why should we infer anything about a person's moral capabilities based on their prowess in a single discipline?

Just because someone is talented at sport, writing or acting, it doesn't follow that they will display any aptitude in any other area of their life, from personal relationships or financial responsibility to morals and ethics.

They have chosen a sporting career; this does not necessarily mean that they are choosing to become a role model – has anybody asked them if they want to be a role model? Why should they be burdened with being held to a higher ethical standard simply because they can, for example, run fast?

They should be respected or criticised for their performance in their respective fields and no more. They offer us no automatic guidance for how to live our lives.

Barry Richards


The jury will retire?

Juries are back in the news. If one were now devising a trial system, without recourse to historical precedent, the jury system would be unlikely to feature. It seems to be part of the English love for the amateur, but the law gets ever more complex, so is it any wonder that jurors sometimes get confused?

What would be wrong with a panel of three lawyers determining guilt or innocence? The jury is part of the gentleman's debating society which is still a feature of English trials – the motion for, the motion against, and who has the most convincing advocate?

Maybe it's time to start moving away from this adversarial system to an inquisitorial one where judges take more of a lead, as in France.

Ian Craine

London N15

Rent demand

Excessive rents are damaging the economy and doing nobody, including buy-to-let investors, much good. If those who currently rent privately owned their property they would be spending around 60 per cent of their take-home pay on the high street.

If renting takes up say 50 per cent of pay, and the need to save for a deposit takes up 20 per cent, that leaves 0 per cent to spend on the high street, after food and bills. Multiply that by the vast numbers currently renting and you have a key reason why the British economy is broken.

John Moore


Scots in Europe

I agree with Richard Carter (letter, 27 February) that difficulties facing an independent Scotland in (re)joining the EU and UN are being greatly exaggerated, but I am afraid the facts he chose don't support his argument. The Czech Republic and Slovakia joined the EU separately in 2004, each after referendums. Czechoslovakia had been split after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and had never been an EU member. Only after the Czech and Slovak republics became fully independent democratic states did the issue of EU membership arise.

Dave Beakhust


Takes the cake

Amol Rajan (Voices, 22 February) has the "proper name" of the Royal Family wrong – unless names now pass matrilineally. Upon our monarch's marriage, the family "proper name" became not Saxe-Coburg-Gotha but simply Battenberg.

Ian Leslie

Ludlow, Shropshire