Letters: Huhne's irrational lust for power


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The Independent Online

These letters appear in the print edition of The Independent, Tuesday 12 March

Only one aspect of the Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce saga is of any relevance to the average layperson in the street.

It all just underlines how some people who are engaged in the murky combination of economics and electoral politics can be so immersed with an aura of self-importance in order to convey a squeaky-clean image that even the exposure of having points on a driving licence was regarded as too much of an obstacle for Huhne's parliamentary aspirations.

It merely underlines how the lust for political power can make some individuals totally irrational.

Nick Vinehill

Snettisham, Norfolk

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown blames husbands if they leave a marriage and projects her own painful experience into the Pryce-Huhne issue (11 March).

Even if as a human being I can be sorry for Ms Alibhai-Brown and the bad time she had herself, as a woman and feminist I still can't accept one should aggressively blame anyone (man or woman) for leaving a marriage. Is marriage a cage in which to be confined? Are we not free to make our own decisions, and leave if it does not make us happy?

What then, Ms Alibhai-Brown, should be the alternative for someone if they find out that they don't love their wife or husband any more? Should you be confined for ever? Will that make anyone happy? Do we have evidence of how children would be emotionally in a marriage with no love? And does the fact of leaving a marriage make someone a better or worse politician?

The article reinforces stereotypes: if a man leaves a marriage, children will be unhappy and the poor abandoned woman is being left alone. What if the woman leaves the marriage? Women also leave marriages.

I have also been left. We have to get over it. A marriage should be a place for growth, support and fulfilment, never a trap where to sink your life, whether you are a woman or a man.

Maria Soriano

Richmond upon Thames, Surrey

Jingoism will not save Falklands

Falkland Islanders should be under no illusion as to the relevance of their referendum and the expected result. Regardless of the tub-thumping from the government of Argentina, Britain's history of respecting the wishes of the inhabitants of its former territories has not been one steeped in glory.

Examples of perfidious Albion are with us today from recent times, whether it is Diego Garcia, Cyprus or Hong Kong, and not so much farther back there are the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent, much of the continent of Africa and many more, all of which bear the scars of expediency.

Saddest of all is that the Islanders seem to believe the banal, jingoistic nonsense from William Hague, the Foreign Office and much of the Tory party. Whether it is a referendum, naming a frozen Antarctic desert after the Queen or demanding Falkland Islander representation at talks with Argentina, it is all designed to thumb a nose at the government of that country, which is only too willing to react.

In the eyes of the world this continuing childishness makes Britain look stupid and increasingly garners sympathy for Argentina among like-minded South American countries with whom we are supposed to be currying favour as the fastest-growing economic bloc of nations in the world.

Peter Coghlan

Broadstone, Dorset


Jingoism will not save Falklands

At this time of great significance for the Falkland Islanders, who will no doubt have voted to remain British, would it be invidious to ask them to look back rather more than 30 years to a time before the Argentine junta invaded them?

In 1981, I doubt if one in 10,000 Britons had even heard of the islands, let alone had any idea where they were. Only one Cabinet minister had ever set foot on their soil, and then only briefly. The only mention of the Falklands in the history books was a First World War sea battle fought in the vicinity.

Virtually the only contact the islanders had with the outside world was with Argentina, which provided a regular supply vessel for all their domestic needs, hospital services for emergencies and schooling for the older children.

As a footnote, the withdrawal by the British government of a naval vessel, part of a desperate search for savings by Margaret Thatcher as she tried to avoid an economic failure largely caused by her faith in a monetarist solution of financial problems, must have been seen as an open invitation by General Galtieri to send in his troops.

John Scase

Abbotts Ann, Hampshire


Protected from real life

The article in your Education section "Why better people make better students" (7 March) sadly struck a chord with me. My own children are still at infant school, and the effects of helicopter mums and the babying of children are not yet fully apparent in their classmates. But my three older step-daughters are all teenagers, and this is where the full effect of not letting children think for themselves seems to kick in.

Like so many other children, they have a parent who has gone to extraordinary lengths to "protect" them from the seamier side of life. Top of the list of evils are public transport, part-time work and any type of free thought. From an early age, they have been told what to do, what to think and who to play with.

The result is three children who at various times have suffered terribly with friendship issues, anxiety, depression, and low self- esteem. They face impending adulthood with a lack of ambition, no work-ethic, and a terror of the word "responsibility".

The focus for our children today is to score straight As in every GCSE or A level they sit. And this is pressure that comes from the school as much as the parents. We have fooled ourselves into believing that as long as they receive perfect scores in their exams then the rest of their life is going to be a doddle.

Our children need to be able to tackle life and all that it throws at them so they can thrive as adults. Real life includes the value of earning money and becoming financially responsible, and the ability to get from A to B on a bus. We risk creating a workforce that doesn't even know where the on/off switch is.

Name and Address Supplied


Bishops speak up for the poor

More than 40 bishops have criticised the Government's Benefits Uprating Bill, which will push 200,000 children into poverty.

David Cameron once had the audacity to talk of "Christian values". Now he has nowhere to hide – does he know better than the church leaders what constitutes Christianity? Will he found a new church to teach the morality of living by the market, caning the poor, and making sure that the very rich, including himself and his cabinet, remain very rich indeed?

Eileen Noakes

Totnes, Devon

The attack by the bishops on the Government's welfare policies is a repeat of the "Faith in the City" of 30 years ago.

They got it wrong then in the way they traduced Margaret Thatcher, and they've got it wrong this time too.

An intervention into politics once every 30 years to show they care is not enough to keep up with what is actually going on, in government, or among the so-called disadvantaged.

Alan Carcas

Liversedge, West Yorkshire


Cycle of murder

I enjoy Howard Jacobson's articles and books – I thought The Finkler Question was marvellous. Like him, I am angered by miscarriages of justice.

His article about the Manchester United-Real Madrid match (9 March) was a passionate cry for a wrong to be put right. But why did he need to show once more how a red mist comes over his eyes at the very sight of a bicycle?

There's an adjective defined as "base, mean, dishonest, derogatory in an insinuating way" – a good description of his remark about avoiding a road "murderous with cyclists". Does he really want to be known as the master of the snide aside?

Jean Elliott

Upminster, Essex


Ferguson's attack on free speech

I'm not surprised that Ian Herbert, sports reporter for The Independent, was banned by Sir Alex Ferguson from the Carrington press conference for being explicit about the relationship between Rooney and Ferguson (Letter from the Editor, 9 March). But it is disappointing that other sports reporters didn't walk out of the press conference in disgust at Ferguson's response to Herbert's piece. If reporters will not defend free speech then what is the point?

Kartar Uppal

West Bromwich, West Midlands


Driven abroad

Geoffrey Payne (letter, 11 March) writes that "a highly qualified professional [with a PhD] starts his or her career with debts of up to £72,000 in addition to the living costs of eight years of higher education" which is a disincentive for all but the wealthiest from seeking postgraduate qualifications. It might also encourage the best brains to take jobs overseas rather than repay these debts. Can anyone believe such a policy could be to this country's benefit?

Martin D Stern

Salford, Greater Manchester


Tax and spend

New Labour tried "Don't tax but still spend" and we had a deficit. The Coalition is trying "Don't tax and don't spend" and we still have a deficit. Is it not time to try "tax and spend"? The super-rich and international companies take an increasing share of national wealth and move it offshore. Unless they are taxed more effectively and that money spent in the real economy there will be no growth and no end to the deficit.

Nick Bion

Reading, Berkshire


Stab in the back

William Hague has stated that Britain will assist the rebels in Syria. Has he forgotten what happened after the uprisings in Tunisia and Libya? Islamists cry out for help to fight their governments, but when these leaders are overthrown they stab the West in the back. These uprisings are Arab problems, and we should keep out.

J Willis

Hednesford, Staffordshire


Horse sense

Mark Wallinger's sculpture of a luminous white horse, looks a worthy successor to the mysterious White Horses of Britain's past. I would gladly give a fiver towards the building of a larger version (as soon as I've paid the blacksmith...).

Alison Brackenbury

Cheltenham, Gloucestershire