Letters: From the cradle to the Lords, an unequal country

These letters appear in the August 30 edition of The Independent

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The disadvantages of Britain’s multi-tiered elitism (editorial, 28 August) start at the moment of birth. A few are born with royal privileges denied to the rest of us, including the opportunity to become head of state, a right enjoyed by every citizen in true democracies.

Next comes education. The most favoured private schools are almost exclusively for boys of wealthy parents, and so, contrary to Charity Commission requirements, “exist to benefit the narrow interests of a closed group”.

Then comes the honours system, a demeaning pyramid of deference that diminishes us all. No fair society would tolerate the class distinction ironed into every absurd title. One title conferred decades of respectability on two perverts of the worst kind.

Finally, the House of Lords, the high altar of privilege, its unelected life members eagerly sought as adornments to boardrooms or television studios. Properly qualified but untitled candidates are passed over, and talent lost to the nation.

It will take a lot more than the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission’s feeble wish list to undo the wrongs inflicted on ordinary people by this wicked witch’s brew of discrimination.

John Hughes
Brentford, Middlesex

 

Shock! Horror! Parliament has just discovered that British society is rigged from top to bottom. Oh me! Oh my! When did this happen? The “ordinary people” have become bewitched by tradition and flummery, baubles and trinkets. Now they believe in kings and queens and princes and princesses and pixies and goblins and fairies. Something must be done. Send in Ofsted to be Very Rigorous. And to set New Targets.

Miles Secker
Heckington, Lincolnshire

 

The rotten borough of Rotherham

Your report (28 August) mentions residents lamenting that none of the Rotherham councillors have resigned. Yet there has been an entire electoral cycle since this issue first arose in 2010.

Neither Conservative nor Labour governments have done anything to remove the rotten boroughs in local government in England and Wales caused by the first-past-the-post system. Councillors in Rotherham and elsewhere can act with impunity, knowing that their party will be in power for generations whatever they do.

If the Liberal Democrats had insisted on STV for local government as part of the Coalition agreement then that would have been a more long-lasting legacy of their five years in office.

Christopher Anton
Birmingham

 

Having read the 159-page report on the Rotherham abuse scandal, I am impressed and angered. The report is clear, unequivocal and lucid. It’s easy to follow and a “must read”.

But as one reads it, anger about the treatment of the girls is replaced by much stronger feelings of rage at the arrogant individuals who chose to ignore the evidence.

Most striking is the treatment of the Home Office-sponsored researcher who analysed and created a report years ago that was not acted upon by the councillors and the local police commander.

Distressed by their reaction, she wrote to the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire. The reaction from the police commander was to call her in and reprimand her for going over his head rather than discuss the issues she had identified. Who was this jack-in-office? Is he still employed? Does he have a pension?

At last, this researcher is vindicated; the report says that in all particulars, save some dates, her report was accurate.

Tim Brook
Bristol

 

Presumably there now will be sighs of relief in councils and other departments throughout the land in the certainty that their jobs, salaries and pensions are not at risk, and only lessons need to be learnt.

Laurence Shields
Wingerworth, Derbyshire

 

Tory defector’s battleground

Few places in the South-east of England rank as highly as Clacton-on-Sea and the surrounding area as requiring an injection of vociferous new thinking, investment and national attention.

There are areas experiencing significant social deprivation, and  health provision is at breaking-point as a result of a barely coherent strategy from NHS England. Douglas Carswell’s constituents would be right to welcome the spotlight they will find themselves under over the coming weeks and months, as their former Tory MP fights a by-election following his move to Ukip. 

However, if Douglas is to be truly effective in addressing the many very real issues affecting the local area, he will have to prove himself as adept at health and social care policy as he has at generating headlines – something he has sadly failed to demonstrate during the course of his current tenure.

Dr Jonathan Geldard
Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex

 

Will there be punch-ups on the beach at Clacton-on-Sea between the modernisers and the off-your-rockers? My only observation is to all centre-ground Conservatives and Labour members: join the mods. That is, the Liberal Democrats.

Richard Grant
Burley, Hampshire

 

Look forward to grammar schools

I am surprised to see that your editorial on Douglas Carswell’s defection from the Tories (29 August) makes a throwaway comment about grammar schools being “backwards-looking”.

Surely a system where children are sent to “better” schools on the basis of academic merit is more forwards-looking than one where children are selected through their parents’ postcode (often based on family wealth).

With the debate about elitism in British society and the glut of private school pupils at the top of the pile, a debate over the reintroduction of selective state education in some form may be pertinent, especially since the fall in social mobility has coincided with the abolition of grammar schools.

In fact, according to a 2013 YouGov poll, 80 per cent of 16- to 24-year-olds were in favour of increasing the provision of grammar schools.

Harrison Edmonds
Cheadle, Cheshire

 

The Sutton Trust is deluded (“Parents pay half a million for state school education”, 26 August). Take the children from the “best” schools (that is the middle-class children) and move them to the worst schools, and vice versa with the poor children, move them to the best schools. Suddenly the “worst” schools, despite being in poor areas, will become the best.

Teachers have very little effect. A school is just a collection of young people in a building; they are good when they are full of children who have been imbued with a desire to learn from an early age. They are murder when there is a critical mass of children who reject learning because their families have no idea how to support them. 

Stop chasing red herrings looking for easy solutions, and address the real issue, which is making proper provision for all children from birth. This would cost a fortune.

Catherine Lane
Bournemouth

 

Fighting for Isis could be treason

British citizens who, in the words of the 1351 statute law, adhere to the Queen’s enemies in her realm, giving them aid and comfort in her realm or elsewhere, are guilty of treason. And the 1916 trial of Roger Casement established that the wording included acts committed abroad. 

If the UK takes hostile action against the self-styled “Islamic State”, then any British citizens who actively support that entity are guilty accordingly. They could also be deemed to have adopted a dual nationality, and hence could lawfully be deprived of UK citizenship without breaching international law.

Philip Goldenberg
 

Too much sport? Impossible!

Following various letters complaining about too much sport of one kind or another being reported, I should like to say that I prefer the sports writing in The Independent to that of any other newspaper.

I even read the news about sports I have absolutely no interest in – Formula One, for example. And although I think all of your football writers are great, Sam Wallace is, in my opinion, the best football journalist in the UK.

Gary Clark
London EC2

 

You can survive without Kate Bush

Don’t worry, Archie Bland (28 August), I couldn’t care less about Kate Bush or her type of music; and guess what, my heart is still behaving normally, I get out of bed in the morning and enjoy life hugely without listening to a single note played or uttered by her.

I’m just waiting for Cameron to tweet his admiration of Mme Bush’s art, to show he’s so achingly hip and trendy.

Glynne Williams
London E17

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