Letters: Let good come from the VW debacle

The following letters appear in the 30 September edition of the Independent

Click to follow
The Independent Online

I am now feeling like an idiot for believing manufacturers’ figures from VW/Audi when purchasing my diesel car. We should consider how best to use the enormous fines which will result from this deception (report, 29 September). 

Why not use the money to pay countries, especially poorer ones, to maintain their forests and even plant new ones? Then the money can go towards something that will absorb the additional CO2 emissions from the culprit vehicles and needy countries will have a new source of employment and income for their populations. Even better, why not have VW build and run solar generation plants in these countries?

It would be a crying shame if we don’t use the fines that are likely to be forthcoming to achieve some positive results.

Steve Evans
High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire


Like Dudley Dean’s car (letter, 28 September), mine is made by a Far Eastern manufacturer renowned for high quality, although mine is petrol- rather than diesel-powered. Although I normally drive with an eye on my wallet rather than the clock, this car has returned an average of only 43.0 miles per gallon rather than the 51.4 claimed by the manufacturer, while the consumption figures displayed on the dashboard bear no relation to the reality of purchases at  the pump. 

Sam Boote

But before reaching out to his customers, VW’s new CEO, Matthias Mueller should reach out to his employees. He will not be able to rebuild his customers’ trust without them.  

The cost of disengaged employees to UK and US enterprise has been widely researched, but what about the cost of a workforce that feels deceived? How can a customer be successfully engaged by such an employee?

Employees expect their views to be taken just as seriously as customers’, and they are every bit as willing to engage. Furthermore, just like consumers, employees no longer react, or think according to their status, class, nationality or geography. They too are individualists, who expect much from their employers and can be just as quick as the customer to jump ship.

The interrelationship between contented customers and engaged employees is a virtuous circle. 

Ian McVey
London W1 


In the week when we learn that VW, the world’s biggest car manufacturer, has allegedly written software to secretly alter its NOx emissions on millions of cars, is it prudent for Mr Osborne to allow China to design and build a nuclear power plant on our shores?

Gary Kirk
Burnley, Lancashire



British hypocrisy in the Middle East

War does not solve problems. On 28 September, British-made Saudi warplanes attacked a wedding party near Mocha in Yemen. Over 70 civilians were killed. It appears that the groom was “affiliated” in some way with the Houthis. 

In Syria, Britain is arming and training the Syrian rebels and supporting them with airstrikes. At the same time Britain is supplying military hardware to the Saudi dictatorship which is killing civilians in the hundreds in their attacks on the Houthi rebels in Yemen. 

Make sense? Only when one factors in “British interests”. Britain is knee-deep in murder and hypocrisy.

Louis Shawcross
Hillsborough, Co. Down, Northern Ireland


David Cameron thinks that “the First World War, with that mixture of horror and courage, suffering and hope, has become a fundamental part of our national consciousness.” (Report, 28 September.) He’s sure to be standing with suitable solemnity at Thiepval next July, so I expect he’ll be planning also to commemorate the Sykes Picot Agreement of May 1916, whereby Britain and France managed to carve up Mesopotamia in the greedy pursuit of oil – and sow the seeds of much of the present conflict in the Middle East by rekindling the Arab divisions which TE Lawrence had so carefully and diplomatically managed to bridge. 

Sue Breadner
Douglas, Isle of Man


A fourth reich may be nothing to fear

When people become afraid of Germany’s potential power, writers often mention the creation of a “Fourth Reich”. This reminds us of the Hitler’s “Third Reich”, but hardly anybody seriously believes that Germany is going to generate something like the Nazi regime again. 

Talk about a “Fourth Reich”, however, becomes less absurd when we look at the other “Reichs” that had existed on German soil before. The “Second Reich” was the Empire created by Bismarck. The “First Reich” was the Holy Roman Empire, an entity with many fairly sovereign states held together by a feudal system with an Emperor, who was often not so powerful, at the top. The “First Reich” was not a purely German thing, although Germans were dominant in it. It also included parts of modern France, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Croatia. 

If Britain leaves Europe politically, the remainder of the European Union will be a continental European multi-state and multi-national entity. It will be larger than the Holy Roman Empire, but will also have Germany as its economically largest member, located pretty much at its centre. Although Germany is smaller than the other members of the European Union taken together, it has just succeeded in enforcing external migration flows into several European Union countries against their will (report, 19 September) 

If Britain leaves the European Union, France continues to be disinterested in Central Europe, and Germany starts to take military leadership in future Eastern European crises, this type of European Union will still not be called the “Fourth Reich”. But it will be something like an enlarged and modern version of the Holy Roman Empire. 

While fear of Germany seems exaggerated,  Britain’s and France’s engagement in Central and Eastern Europe are crucial to how Europe will be governed in the future. 

Dr Patrick A Puhani
Professor of Economics, Leibniz University  


Making tracks in suicide prevention

It is extremely encouraging that the British Transport Police are taking such a considered approach to suicide prevention (“Lives on the line”, 29 September). This prevention-based, partnership system is to be welcomed.

A fundamental principle of health protection is to  try to design out hazards from systems. A modern railway system, as is to be found in other parts of the world, makes it much harder for people to end their lives at train stations or on railway tracks. 

We need the same kind of barriers on railways as we have on London Underground’s Jubilee line, which prevent people from taking their life by stepping in front of a train. The cost of such an upgrade is justified, given the heavy toll paid by the families of those who lose a loved one to suicide, as well as those working on the railway.

Professor John R Ashton CBE 
President,  UK Faculty of Public Health, London NW1


Rugby World Cup is painful to behold

In your 29 September coverage of the Rugby World Cup, all of your pictures showed players with various injuries, some serious. Perhaps I’m missing something, but I just can’t get excited by the sight of 30 overgrown blokes knocking chunks out of each other. 

Martin Heaton
Cheadle, Cheshire


Cereal killer cafe is not the enemy

As a resident of Hackney I can’t pretend I’m pleased with the changes that gentrification has wrought. But to target the Cereal Killer Café, as recent protesters did (report,  28 September) while ignoring the City of London, the most concentrated hub of capitalism in Europe is absurd.

The Square Mile is within spitting distance of Cereal Killer and contains the Bank of England, the Stock Exchange and a financial sector which has paid out £100bn in bonuses to its executives in banking and insurance since October 2007. That’s where the real enemy is.  

Sasha Simic
London N16


Miraculous? Hardly

“Miracle of Hajj survivor” is the tabloid-style headline on your front page of 28 September. Fatima Bibi Bodi was lucky to survive the crush and she was also lucky that her picture in your newspaper enabled her relatives to trace her.

That’s not a miracle; that would mean a metaphysical entity was responsible for her survival and for her being located by her  British family. 

Please try harder to stick to the facts. 

Rosy Leigh
London W3