Letters: Let us vote on privatisation

These letters appear in the December 31 edition of The Independent

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Steve Richards (30 December) misses a key point in his suggestion that we pay more tax to cover the growing costs of our increasingly privatised health service.

As we have seen from the weekend railway shambles in London, running public services through privately owned companies results in highly paid management and prosperous shareholders, but abysmal services for punters.

There needs to be a plebiscite, not on finding more money to operate this dysfunctional system, but about the whole privatisation agenda and the extent to which we want our taxes to fund private businesses.

Julian Clover


Forget the Ukip sideshow, what the British public needs before the general election is wise and intelligent counsel concerning the state of the health service. The politicians with the guts to give us the truth, like Andy Burnham and Norman Lamb, shoulod be gioven the opportunity to crack open this debate now without fear of being shut down by fiscal scaremongering.

Trust us, the people, to decide what we want and if we want a first class NHS and must pay more tax, be honest. Tell us in your manifestos whether you are prepared to tax more, and give us a real choice. But above all, stop treating us like fools .

Barbara McGoun
Horning, Norfolk


Your picture of a crowd of stranded rail passengers at the weekend (30 December) says everything about the state of our railways. An absolute disgrace.

On Boxing Day 1937, I was a young engine cleaner. We worked that day as normal, with no extra pay. And we ran a proper train service, with no enhanced payments. In those days, the travelling public had a guaranteed service.

Nowadays, passengers have to suffer what has become a badge of shame for privatised railways.

John Weston
Breedon on the Hill, Leicestershire


It is all very well us praising the railways for doubling the number of passengers since privatisation, but the simple lack of a seat gives us third-world conditions at excessive first-world prices.

I suggest denying the fat controllers their bonuses until someone addresses the current provision of absurdly short trains over much of the network.  Three-coach trains from Waterloo to Exeter on a day when Paddington was closed beggars belief.

Peter Jeffery


Perhaps Nicholas Lezard’s ‘lifestyle’ column (30 December) was not entirely serious, but is he aware that protein supplements are essentially nothing more than whey powder? That is, a dairy product left over from the manufacture of cheese? It’s hardly akin to injecting steroids.

What it does is speed up the repair of muscle fibres which get torn (on a microscopic scale) in the course of normal exercise. In doing this it also alleviates the muscle pain often felt in the following day or two, which as a runner I found quite useful.

Of course it shouldn’t be a substitute for proper meals but there’s nothing sinister (or special) about it. Just buy the cheapest unbranded stuff you can find, mix with chocolate milk and drink straight after exercise. No ‘ground-up worms’ required!

David Redford


Dennis Forbes Grattan writes (letter, 30 December) that problems with drunks in A&E are due to publicans and nightclubs.

The root problem is cheap and easy accessible alcohol in supermarkets and other retail outlets. Publicans and nightclubs are undercut, and struggle to make a living. Many people drink away from such places or preload beforehand. Little wonder that some publicans may not be as vigilant as in a previous age.

David Houlgate


So Sean O’Grady (30 December) thinks revelations that Margaret Thatcher wanted to both acquire nerve gas and use troops against the miners show that she “was much more of a radical then her critics,and admirers, had previously given her credit for.” Surely however the word to describe her should be reactionary not radical?

Tim Mickleburgh
Grimsby, Lincolnshire


The Argentine Ambassador, Alicia Castro. thinks that a statue of the saviour of the Falkland Islands, Margaret Thatcher, is a celebration of war.(News Matrix 29th Dec) 

I wonder if she would care to comment about the Pukara aeroplane, used by the Argentinians in the invasion of the Falklands, and placed on display in the centre of Buenos Aires. 

Michael Chick
Rustington, West Sussex


I cannot believe that Ed Richards, departing Ofcom CE can be so naive as to state “vulgarities no longer upset the viewing public”.

If his conclusion is based on a fall in complaints, then the public have given up complaining as the “vulgarities” are now the norm and the only solution is to turn off! One of my favourite television programmes used to be “Have I got news for you”. “Vulgarity” in this originally very amusing show is now commonplace and so, off it goes.

At least i use asterisks when appropriate!

Andrew Walker
Fulletby, Lincolnshire


I couldn’t agree more with David Lister’s opinion of New Year’s Eve. The best I ever experienced was at the turn of the century. I wanted  to spend it on top of the world so a small group of friends and myself decided to walk up Moel Famau in North Wales.  It’s a small  mountain of just less then 2000 feet  close  to the Wirral Peninsula where we live.  To our  great surprise  approximately 1500 like minds  chose to do the same  thing. It was a wonderful experience as we quietly and orderly  ascended a narrow path in pitch blackness. At the top groups of people exchanged greetings then descended back to the real world. I don’t recall hearing a single  rendition of Auld Lang Syne or one party popper! Happy New Year to one and all.

Margaret Delaney