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- Arts + Ents
Monday 4 June 2012
Letters: Diamond Jubilee
No arguing with heirs of Cromwell
It is perfectly feasible to conduct a rational debate on constitutional monarchies versus presidential systems, as John Kampfner's article shows ("We need a head of state. And the Queen can't be bettered", 4 June).
Regrettably, so many of the anti-royal letters published in The Independent contain nothing more than expressions of envy combined with Cromwellian-style puritanism and a quasi-communist desire to educate people away from their traditional cultures and loyalties.
How sad that these correspondents cannot experience the pleasure that royal pageantry gives to most of the population.
M A Timms
What a delight to compare the spontaneous attendance for the Diamond Jubilee with the regimented displays put on by some despotic regimes.
Great to see a national celebration without a single sleazy politician slinking in – the whole BBC coverage a politician-free zone!
Where I live, the bunting is out to celebrate the survival of the Windsor "firm". Tea parties, church party, followed by a wonderful street party. This "Jubilee Weekend" we have seen the media proclaim the most one-sided party political broadcast on behalf of the Establishment I have ever witnessed.
Let's have a society where people matter because of who they are and what they might be, not the past position of their parents.
David Wheeler claims that the idea of "President Blair" is an irrefutable argument against a republic (letter, 2 June). If President Blair's powers were restricted as the current head of state's are, then I don't see why he would be a problem. An unelected head of state has every chance of being as bad as President Blair would be; at least we would be able to get rid of President Blair.
How wind farms will overcome the disinformation
I am not the least surprised that 7 out of 10 people in the UK support the development of wind farms (report, 4 June) as only a minority read those right-wing newspapers that act as organs of mass disinformation on climate change and the desperate need for a sensible energy policy. More serious is the opposition voiced by bodies such as the National Trust, English Heritage and CPRE, which are becoming irrationally anti-environmental.
However, there are solutions. First the Government should stop trying to pick winners in the renewable market and subsidise all sources of renewable energy equally, leaving the market to decide on the most viable: market calculations will take account of local opposition to different technologies.
Second, wind turbines are being developed in Finland which employ thin blades made of fibre-reinforced plastic and which reach only half the height of existing turbines for the same energy capacity. They do not make the whistling noise that some local residents find so intrusive.
Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Chair, Planetary SOS,
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire
In China's north-western deserts last year, I saw wind farms each of more than 2,000 large turbines, operating in regions of persistently high winds, with no human habitation within scores of miles, the massive arrays lost in an endless desolate landscape. That is effective generation of sustainable energy with no apparent adverse human cost.
I am chairman of Cadeleigh Parish Meeting in rural Devon, which has recently dealt with a planning application for two turbines, each 81ft high. I think many local people initially took the view that wind-generated power was a "good thing" and that a degree of adverse effect on the landscape was a price we would have to bear in the common interest.
But a more detailed analysis showed that the two turbines would generate only sufficient power to supply the energy needs of two small (albeit fairly energy-intensive) farms. And the price was that the turbines would be visible from an area of over 100 square miles and would dominate a small-scale landscape of great natural beauty.
It is not generally appreciated just how much of the visual beauty of Britain's countryside would have to be damaged by turbines in order to generate meagre quantities of power. This balance is the key issue.
If it becomes increasingly clear that the balance has been misjudged and on-shore turbines are not a tolerable approach to sustainable energy development, then government policy must be swiftly reviewed.
Whatever one's views about wind turbines, the sad thing is that far from making the things ourselves, we import them. We are depriving ourselves of the work and denying ourselves a place at the leading edge of the technology.
Thornton Hough, Wirral
Doctors deserve their pensions
I suppose the thing about doctors' pensions is the question of payback. We are given to understand that the average doctor at qualification will already have accumulated debt of £70,000. He or she will immediately be required to start paying back a significant amount each month, in addition to a 14 per cent pension contribution. His or her salary will for the foreseeable future be frozen.
Why would anyone bother to do this? I was once a consultant geriatrician/physician in the NHS. I wonder who these people are who bump up "average" doctors' salaries to £115,000; none of my acquaintance. I regard my pension as the payback for a long hard training and a long hard slog as a consultant to get the best for my patients – often fighting against local management and the NHS generally when they felt the need to cut services.
With much regret, I don't think I would do it again – I'd go off and do something useful like classics (my second option at A-level) and become a socially beneficial TV presenter instead. Or perhaps work for a bank and screw the world while earning an eye-watering bonus.
Dr D J Walker
Doctors will not be going "on strike" on 21 June ("Doctor, doctor: why is my GP going on strike?" 31 May) as they will still be at their workplaces, ready to treat anyone who needs to be seen that day. We asked the strike question in the ballot paper in order to provide us with maximum legal protection, but have always said that doctors would stay at their hospital or practice during any day of action. Patient safety will be our utmost priority and all emergency care, or other care that patients urgently need, will be provided.
We accept that the country is in a difficult position financially, but the current pension scheme is not a drain on taxpayers and actually delivers a positive cash flow to the Treasury of £2bn each year. It is also because we recognise the impact of living longer that we agreed to major changes to the pension scheme only four years ago, so NHS staff would pay more, work longer and pay any additional costs.
I did not enter medicine to lead doctors into taking industrial action, but the results of our ballot clearly show how angry doctors feel about the Government's changes. We are not asking for preferential treatment, just fair treatment.
Dr Hamish Meldrum
Chairman of Council, British Medical Association, London WC1
I was very disappointed to read your leading article on "The shameful self-interest of doctors" (31 May). In my opinion doctors, given their workload, amount of training, and responsibility, are more than worthy of their current pay and pensions.
I would much rather this government stopped throwing money away on the Jubilee, the Olympics, Afghanistan, and high speed rail links, to name a few, and doctors continued to receive their current pay and conditions. There are far clearer examples of "shameful self-interest" on your doorstep.
Schools simply need more money
The continuing controversy about our education system has an obvious solution. If we ensure every school is properly funded, well equipped, has a highly trained teaching staff and small classes it is difficult to see how it can be other than successful. Whether we categorise such a school as grammar, comprehensive or secondary modern is irrelevant.
To argue we cannot afford to create such schools because of the need for austerity measures is irrational. Our future wellbeing as a nation depends upon it.
Shipley, West Yorkshire
In his article "The problem with social mobility" (31 May), Andrew Grice discusses the fact that those from the wealthier classes and educated privately make up a disproportionate percentage of society's professions, which include journalism, banking and politics. If such an education is "superior", why is it that they have made such a disastrous mess of things?
Business success without greed
Michael Gilbert (letter, 4 June) seems to suggest that it's pointless to start up a business if it won't make you rich. What about starting a business because it allows you to express yourself, to be fulfilled, to be creative, to do what you want to do, to love how you spend your time?
Plenty of jobs could be created if we didn't live in a society obsessed with money and status.
Newcastle upon Tyne
Who will stand up for English?
The Queen's English Society deserves to close (report, 4 June). If their chairman can write sentences like "People don't want to join societies like they used to," she needs a bit of guidance herself. In my youth I was taught to use "like" for nouns or noun clauses, and "as" or "as if" for verbs.
The misuse of "like" is now universal and I doubt Gyles Brandreth's assertion that the love of good English will live on. What about "If I had known it was going to rain I may have brought my umbrella"?
On your letters page I noticed impassioned plea from Ramji Abinashi (22 May), commenting on the recent "grooming" case. It ended with: "So let us refrain from sweeping statements [about Asians] that raise tensions in the community." I also noted with interest the beginning of the same paragraph: "Men, being what they are, will continue to look for sex where it is available."
Hull, East Yorkshire
After playing a blinder at the Leveson enquiry, the only politician, let alone government minister, to stand by his principles and his friends, Michael Gove has got to be a shoo-in as the next leader of the Conservative Party. He's almost brought back my faith in politicians.
Liversedge, West Yorkshire
There has been too much unfair criticism directed at George Osborne over his Budget U-turns. We will need quite a few more to restore the health of the British economy.
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