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Monday 30 July 2012
Push for immigration is immoral
I wonder where in the country the authors and supporters of the Office for Budget Responsibility report on increasing immigration to the UK actually live and what precisely they see if they ever travel abroad.
The world is awash with international agencies and organisations trying to help "developing countries" develop. Why on earth should these economically poorer countries, that have slowly and painfully succeeded in producing small but critical cadres of educated and trained professionals, be forever punished by seeing their investment fly overseas?
Who is going to feed, educate or care for the hungry, sick and the elderly in these increasingly populous nations? Or are these categories of people so irrelevant that they have fallen completely off our moral radar? What sense is there in depriving poor Peter to pay relatively richer Paul?
Of equal importance, what precisely does the OBR believe should be done with the thousands of youngsters who leave British schools each year and who apparently stand little chance with their existing skills of engaging in meaningful employment? Why do they deserve this additional slap in the face after in many instances being failed by their parents, the education system and a media-fuelled celebrity culture? Are these youngsters expected to continue to hang around street corners after dark into their 60s? How far do the pockets of no-go areas have to extend into the citadels of the better-off before the social implications of such a policy become apparent to those in a position to shape society?
Let us support schemes that provide these youngsters with some hope of a brighter future that doesn't end on their final day at school.
On 28 July you printed yet another pro-immigration leading article, but you never suggest how the country should cope with the consequences of the population continuing to rise by 250,000 a year. Next time please indicate what you think is a sensible population level. If you think that the country can cope with, say, 70 million or even more, please suggest which green fields or parks should be concreted over in order to provide homes, schools etc. You claim that the extra people are required to save the economy, but if it is at the expense of the countryside or parks, I don't think it is a sensible swap.
If you want to fill Olympic seats, call in the touts
Thanks to the strenuous efforts of the police and investigative journalists, ticket touting is all but non-existent for the 2012 Olympics. Result? Thousands of empty seats. Say what you want about the abhorrent nature of touts, they do recycle unwanted tickets in accordance with market forces and, as Mrs Thatcher observed, you cannot buck the market.
In theatreland, when there are not enough "bums-on-seats", it is not unknown for someone to patrol the West End handing out free tickets, with the greeting "would you like to go to the theatre tonight?" Is it not beyond the wit of the mercenary outfit running the Games, to adopt this?
I am aware of the lift that an audience gives to a performer, as nothing is so soul-destroying as playing to a half-empty house.
Often on trains, people sit in other people's reserved seats, but there is never any difficulty in them giving the seat up when the reservation holder challenges them. Might the Olympic audience therefore be invited to move forward and sit in better empty seats, on the understanding that they resume their own seat if the reservation holder turns up late? Come on organisers – wake up. Can you be a little flexible? The world is watching us.
Nigel F Boddy
Surely some of the empty Olympic seats could be filled by members of the Cabinet. That way they would both show their commitment to the Games and do much less damage than if they were doing their day jobs.
Full marks to right-wing MP Aidan Burley for identifying that a study of British social history encourages thinking people to support the left.
I'm afraid people like me may be responsible for the empty seats. While I enjoy sailing, walking and cycling, I have no interest at all in watching people I don't know do things as fast as they can, in the hope of doing it faster than someone else. I'm also unable to care whether the winner of a race is Brazilian, Bulgarian or British. If I had a free ticket for every Olympic event, I doubt I'd go to one. No one at work or the pub has mentioned the Olympics. Perhaps organisers believed their own hype, and over-estimated public interest?
By contracting a company like G4S which treats and pays its staff abominably ("G4S paying staff only £6 an hour", 23 July), the British Government is washing its hands of any responsibility to decent work ethics. This very company is also contracted by the Israeli government to provide security systems to incarceration facilities for Palestinian political prisoners which includes Palestinian children.
Theresa May, in handing over security operations to a company like G4S, shows contempt for the hard-working people of this country and is complicit in their shoddy treatment.
David Cameron, in allowing any association with this company, is also showing complete disregard for International Law which clearly states that the West Bank is being illegally occupied by Israel.
Let's bring back prefab housing
Mary Dejevsky has hit the nail on the head with her article about prefabs (Opinion, 24 July). I spent the years 1948 through 1955 in a genuine first-generation prefab community, in Woolwich, south London.
Most residents were Second World War servicemen and women, in their first homes with young families. Everyone knew everyone and it was a safe and thriving community. The gardens were small, but everyone grew something to share or swap with neighbours.
The area where the prefabs were is now covered by high-rise blocks of flats, with high crime rates and nowhere for the kids to play.
With modern materials you could build exact copies of the old prefabs, – without the minor problems we had with windows and draughts – for low construction costs.
Malcolm J Farley
Motivation trumps A-level maths
Flying in the face of the Lords' Science and Technology Committee report ("Make maths compulsory..." 24 July), we do not believe that maths A-level is necessary for studying all science subjects at university and it has not been a requirement for students applying to our UCL Civil and Environmental Engineering degrees since 2006.
Every year we take a small number of students without maths A-level. They know they are entering a numerate subject in a well-placed university and they are super-motivated to achieve. When A-level maths was a requirement we found that some students struggled, with many (20-30 per cent of the cohort) failing maths at the end of the first year. Now we recruit the most motivated students regardless of their A-level subjects, and this year the average mark in maths for our first year students was 81 per cent and only four students failed (about 4 per cent).
The reason for this is that we recruit people with high ambitions and a desire to learn how to change the world – and thus take on the work that is necessary to achieve that. Maths is not the issue – people are!
Professor Nick Tyler CBE
Head of Department UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering, London WC1
Nottingham is safer than ever
Presumably scriptwriter Robert Jones ("Danish maestro makes a killing in Britain", 24 July) believed the inaccuracies written about Nottingham in areas of the British press a number of years ago when he says he chose the city for his latest project due to a higher-than-average murder rate. It wasn't true then and it certainly isn't true now. Homicide figures for Nottingham have been in single figures for at least the past five years. Latest Home Office figures show that crime in Nottinghamshire has fallen further than most places in the UK – halving in the last decade, meaning residents are now safer here than at any time since 1976.
Councillor Graham Chapman
Deputy Leader, Nottingham City Council
Aesthetics of circumcision
Boldly expanding on a dinner-party favourite, Howard Jacobson (28 July) blithely asserts that the uncircumcised penis is aesthetically inferior. If foreskins are indeed "ugly" (and that presupposes a whole set of cultural and aesthetic assumptions), the alternative is to some eyes, even more so. To many, lopping off a bit of one's anatomy to placate some Bronze-Age beardie does seem a little extreme, but it's a free world. Just don't try to justify it with an unsupported aesthetic assertion that simply doesn't make the cut.
Howard Jacobson is correct that there are differences between male and female circumcision, but there is one glaring similarity which is that both acts involve adults modifying the healthy genitals of normal children. When an adult strikes a child the act of striking is the offence: whether the blow causes a black eye or a cut lip is a secondary consideration.
I hold no brief for any political party, and still less for most bar a handful of politicians, but I think it would have shown more grace to have given greater prominence to a brief article at the margin of the 26 July edition about Lady Warsi's exoneration by the Standards Commissioner. The material allegations were subjected to greater attention.
St Erth, Cornwall
The reason why creationism shouldn't be taught in science lessons is that the author of all that six days stuff was not a scientist – he was a poet. It's metaphor, people. It should be taught in English literature lessons.
Your correspondent Dennis Sherwood asks: "Could not Messrs Cameron, Clegg, Osborne and co launch a public-subscription campaign for another Britannia as a thank you from the British people during the Jubilee year...?" (28 July). We are talking of possibly the richest woman in the world, who could quite easily afford to finance such a venture... I'd bet the chances are extremely slim.
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