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Monday 4 June 2012
Letters: Diamond Jubilee
The rational case for royalism
Republicans like to contrast the rationality of their cause, often rather condescendingly, with the emotive sentimentalism of monarchists. Nothing could be more contrary to reason.
At a time of unprecedented social change and fragmentation, not to value an institution that has been a force for stability and cohesiveness would be quite irrational.
Nor is it just about a person. In celebrating a jubilee we are recognising that – despite the worst that politicians, economists and greedy egoists can do to us – we are still a people and nation. Not to be able to celebrate together and rise above factional interests would most surely be a sign of the flight of reason.
My wife's Auntie "B" was born in the same year as Her Majesty. She followed the Queen's progress with great interest. No doubt, she dreamed of getting a telegram from the Palace on her 100th birthday.
When she had a stroke, a few years ago, her house was sold from under her to pay for nursing fees. In late February of this year, she became seriously ill, was booted-out by the hospital after a few days ... and died from a heart attack the next morning.
On the whole, I think it's better to be born into some families than into others. The huge sums of money being wasted on these ridiculous Jubilee celebrations would have been better used to give proper care and respect to the thousands of wonderful hard-working old girls like "B".
It is they who are the backbone of this country, not those privileged few who sit in ivory towers and count their cash.
In my native Uganda, it is widely believed that Idi Amin might never have come to power without the support of the Conservative government led by Edward Heath. How did it serve Britain or Uganda when Idi Amin was invited to Buckingham Palace in January 1971, a week after staging a bloody coup, replacing Milton Obote, whose only crime was to be a noisy socialist.
And how did it serve anyone's interest when the "gentle giant" butchered 500,000 Ugandans and expelled 90,000 Ugandan Asians, most of whom came to the UK and prompted Enoch Powell to promise the river of blood.
The Royal Family would serve the UK, the Commonwealth and the world better if it selected its guest list more prudently. The Queen has shaken, and continues to shake, many bloody hands to serve short-term British interest.
A 41-dove salute would have been nice.
Hunt survives, and the Murdochracy triumphs again
Democracy versus Murdochracy. That is what the Leveson inquiry is all about. For years we have been living in a Murdochracy which has steadily increased its power and resisted all efforts to curb it.
The matey tone of the large volume of e-mails, texts and phone calls between Cameron's cronies and the Murdoch empire shows how far Cameron and Co are in thrall to it. They show a closed world of the wealthy and privileged, governing in their own interest without any regard to the welfare of ordinary people.
Vince Cable was right to declare war on Murdoch, and his dismissal brought into the open Cameron's true leanings before any Leveson revelations came out.
By refusing to recognise Jeremy Hunt's wrongdoing, David Cameron is revealing himself even more clearly as a Murdochrat, and unfit to hold office in a democracy.
After seeing the hapless Adam Smith hung out to dry by his own boss, one felt disgust at the self-exculpatory wriggling before the Leveson inquiry by a minister of the Crown.
Cameron, Hunt, Osborne and Co are not out of touch with the people because they are posh: they just live in an unreal world where they can accept responsibility but no blame, survive on the flimsiest of excuses, and have endless second chances to learn from serious errors of judgement instead of being fired for them. Passionate admirers of private business, they excuse themselves from the tough disciplines upon which its success is based.
It is scandalous that the decision on whether to refer Mr Hunt's ill-advised, highly suspect behaviour to independent scrutiny resides with the man who appointed him when it was apparent that he was at least as biased in favour of the Murdochs' bid as Mr Cable was, rightly, opposed to it.
St Albans, Hertfordshire
Blair shamed by soldiers' deaths
Much as I empathise with David Lawley-Wakelin (letter, 1 June), I must take issue with him on one point. Blair cannot be held responsible for the half a million deaths in the Iraq war.
British participation was not a necessary condition of the US-led invasion, as Bush and Cheney contemptuously made clear at the time, and the British forces' contribution to the war's depredations was insignificant. Britain merely occupied Basra for a few weeks until the toll of their own casualties led them to hand over control of the city to Iran-backed militias. British forces retreated to the neighbouring airbase, there to await the arrival of US troops before withdrawing ignominiously from Iraq.
It was not the killing inflicted upon Iraqis that will for ever shame Blair, it will be the death of 179 British soldiers who were sent to war solely for the purpose of being seen to support the US (unless there were secret undertakings about access to oil). When public opinion turned against the war, Blair's war aims rapidly changed to minimising British casualties.
In the history of British arms, there surely can be no greater folly and betrayal. That is why I loathe Tony Blair.
Apartheid on the West Bank
Ian Fagelson (letter, 2 June) is missing the point. Israel indeed cannot be described as an apartheid state. Israeli Arabs suffer discrimination, but not exclusion – although the Israeli Law of Return does make provision for Jews to settle, with no parallel law assuring rights of settlement for native Palestinian Arabs.
It is in the occupied West Bank where apartheid really operates. Does Mr Fagelson think that a Palestinian could buy a property in one of the settlements, such as Ma'ale Adumim or Ariel? These are for Jews only.
Rigorous apartheid is found there, with the armed and violent settlers dictating policy, unrestrained by any policy of reasonable lawfulness. Since the occupation is strongly upheld by the present Israeli government, that government is itself characterising Israel as an apartheid state.
Grammar schools reject too many
Alison Brackenbury (letter, 26 May) is half-right. Grammar schools took only the top 20 per cent. It wasn't exactly the grammar school pupils (including me) who ruined our country, but it is the lack of presence in influential roles of large numbers of potentially excellent pupils within the 80 per cent who did not get a grammar school education, and who therefore did not get into good jobs where they could have made a difference.
A good school must not be confused with a collection of selected good pupils. Of course a school full of rows of Gove clones will produce a high proportion of successful pupils. It is a wicked sin to consign the 80 per cent to sink schools with a heavy proportion of pupils who are less able, or are disruptive because of unsupportive parents or dysfunctional families.
Here in Portishead, we have one excellent comprehensive, Gordano, and two others of similar quality within a short bus-ride, achieving excellent A-level results, among the higher levels in the country.
I passed the 11-plus in 1950. My brother failed it in 1954 because the invigilator gave the girl next to him two question papers and my brother two answer papers. After both had sat not doing a lot, the invigilator finally realised what had happened.
The two children were sworn to secrecy on "pain of death" as far as they were concerned. They both failed. Then, 11-year-olds did not argue with their elders. Academically, my brother was, and still is, much better qualified than me, but has got where he is now as a respected maths expert only by very hard and dedicated work.
Then, in any year only about 18 per cent of children could go to grammar school, even if, say, 75 per cent were good enough. So many children suitable for education which pushed them to the limit were cast aside to second-class education.
Good comprehensive schools were so essential, just like those public school comprehensives.
Be careful not to become rich
Steve Edwards (letter, 2 June) claims that the rich caused the present global financial climate by their "greed, hubris and stupidity". (The politicians who removed the safety rules can breathe a sigh of relief then). He goes on to suggest that the rich are "parasites" who should not be permitted to benefit from Mary Dejevsky's creative tax proposal.
If this is an indication of the current emotional climate on wealth, it seems anyone wanting to start a new business should beware. If you succeed you might become rich and then a pariah, so best not to try. Shame about the jobs you might have created.
Pity the poor politicians
"Ministers complain they can't win," reports Andrew Grice on the subject of U-turns (2 June). The media demand they change a policy and then label them weak when they do. The poor souls.
Every day they're having to make these tough choices: "Shall I do what is obviously the right thing, or shall I do something ill-considered, unfair, and probably downright stupid?" What an impossible position to be in.
Hull, East Yorkshire
The electorate deserves the opportunity to follow current political fashion and perform a U-turn. The Coalition should scrap the "agreement", thereby allowing an early general election .
East Grinstead, West Sussex
The shift to direct involvement of GPs and other healthcare staff in the commissioning of healthcare in England could mean a reduction in the unnecessary treatment Jeremy Laurance describes so well ("Is doctors' fixation on treatment making us ill?", 30 May). For clinical staff involved in commissioning will have less time, if any, to spend with individual patients.
Dr Alex May
The Prime Minister is clinging on, while 80 per cent of Conservative Party members would like a referendum on the EU. If he believes in gay marriage and EU, and the Party is not behind him, he should give up the leadership to avoid ruining our great party.
C J George
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