In his letter of 31 March John Alvey fails to mention one key reason why today’s politicians are not a patch on their forebears: the media.
More than ever we need capable, selfless, committed people to go into politics if we are to meet the challenges which face us, most notably extremism and climate change. However, given the rapacious demands of 24-hour news and the tendency of the (especially tabloid) media to rubbish ministers and MPs, to pick up on every slip of the tongue and to paint them as venal and self-interested, who would want to be a politician these days?
I firmly believe that the vast majority of our representatives still want to do the right thing for the country, whichever party they are in. The problem is that too many really good people have been put off by the current media environment, leaving us with the uninspiring, often lightweight candidates we have now, who are not up to the increasingly difficult task.
Until the media recognises that holding people to account is not the same as trashing them, this depressing situation will only get worse.
If None of the Above appears to be the most popular option among voters (letter, 31 March), why not put him (or her) on the ballot paper?
A radical solution perhaps, but maybe that’s what we need at this point. All constituencies where “None of Above” polled the most votes would select their next MP at random from the register of local voters, along the same lines that a jury is chosen for a trial.
I’m sure that the idea of serving the country for an annual salary of £67,000 would not seem too unpalatable for the vast majority of voters scraping by on the minimum wage.
Such a system would have the added advantage of bringing a large number of politically unaffiliated “ordinary people” into Parliament.
As for any worries about inexperience, well, how could they be any worse than the current crop with their dismal record of partisan voting, expenses fiddling and corruption?
I wonder how many people are as fed up as I am with Cameron and Osborne banging on about the so-called “stark choice” we have to make between living in the sunny uplands of another five years under the Conservatives and enduring the “economic chaos” and general disaster of life under Labour, who, we are assured, want to destroy the NHS and break up the UK.
If these predictions were true, there would be nothing “stark” about the choice. It would be quite simple, at least for sane voters. What would be truly “stark”, if genuine, would be a choice between starvation under the Conservatives and bankruptcy under Labour.
Given that millions of people are likely to vote Labour, will Cameron and Osborne, after the election, have to assume that much of the population is made up of self-destructive lunatics?
So Nicola Sturgeon is prepared to work with any “progressive party” to work for hard-pressed families across the UK.
What about the hard-pressed UK people who, out of the tax they pay, are giving extra funds to the Scots so their children can have free tuition while the children of hard-pressed families in England have to fork out £9000 to go to university?
I shudder to think of Ms Sturgeon getting any power over England.
Anti-Zionist Jews can speak freely
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (31 March) appears to have at least two wild and mistaken assertions in her article: that if a tiny minority of Jews speak out against Israel they must be right and the vast majority of Jews must be wrong; and that Jews with contrary opinions to the majority are somehow brave to speak out.
Remember the old Jewish saying, “Two Jews, three opinions”, and recognise that Jews and the state of Israel believe in that fundamental right of freedom of opinion that makes bravery uncalled for; unlike Hamas and the other terror organisations for which she makes trite and ill considered comparisons, where alternative opinions are usually met with the bullet or the blade.
Stephen Spencer Ryde
Articles like this that attempt to define Good Jews as Anti-Zionists and Bad Jews as Zionists are contributing to the surge in anti-Semitism in this country today.
In fact, anti-Zionist Jews represent less than 1 per cent of the Jewish population of Britain and it is their views that are unusual and fringe in the UK Jewish community.
Climate science and energy policy
The Buckingham Energy Institute (BEI) is not supported by donations from fossil fuel interests, as you imply (“University ‘becoming mouthpiece for fossil-fuel industry’ ”, 31 March), since it has not yet received any donations at all, a fact explained to your journalist. We do not rule out taking donations from any source. The Institute will be independent nonetheless.
You state that the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), one of the founding partners of the BEI, has refused to reveal its donors. REF was supported initially by a generous one-off donation from Dr Lisbet Rausing, and has subsequently received donations from, among many others large and small, the green entrepreneur Vincent Tchenguiz, who invested widely in renewables but valued our objective viewpoint.
You insinuate that I am a “climate sceptic”, and that REF supports such views, which is wrong. In fact, neither REF nor I have taken a position on climate change science, except to accept that reducing emissions is desirable. We are very critical of the cost of the policies which we judge poorly designed and so expensive as to be counterproductive. As I said to your journalist, although this quote wasn’t used: “It is rational and consistent to be very much in favour of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases yet extremely critical of the routes currently selected by governments to reach that end.”
Lastly, you rather naively quote Mr Ward, the press officer for a rival organisation, the Grantham Institute at the LSE, as claiming that REF’s estimates of policy costs are “exaggerated”. As many others will know all too well, REF’s estimates have repeatedly proved superior to and more candid than those of government.
The BEI will continue REF’s work on publishing some of the best free online databases relating to the performance of the electricity sector in the UK, and provide a balanced and economically prudent approach to low-carbon policies, which as your strangely intemperate article shows is very badly needed.
Dr John Constable
Director, Renewable Energy Foundation, London WC1
Letter-writing prince is no threat
I’m sorry that Charles, as I deferentially call him, is to have letters he wrote to ministers, presumably with an understanding of confidentiality, made public.
His concerns apparently include architecture and the environment. He is hardly a menace. We know who he is and where he lives. The same cannot be said of the shadowy parliamentary lobbyists who actually influence policy rather than dream of it.
Buy-to-let forces house prices up
The article by Hannah Fearn concerning Help to Buy (21 March) highlights one aspect of house-price inflation, but the great increase in buy-to-let is possibly more serious.
Estate agents in this town do not just advertise the property as a home but also as an investment for those who already have a home. With limited supply prices must go up, even more so now there will be more pensioners trying to get a better deal for their pension pots. What chance does the first-time buyer have?
I am sure the UN has good intentions with regard to its “happy” playlist (report, 21 March) but the artists mentioned – the likes of Britney Spears, Nicole Scherzinger and James Blunt – would make my fellow rock enthusiasts and me most miserable, thus rendering the whole business futile.
‘Antics’ for freedom in South Africa
Thanks in part to what Francis Beswick describes as “antics” at rugby grounds (letter, 27 March), my partner and her family have votes, freedom of movement and equal opportunities in their own country. Peter Hain should be applauded for his role.
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