Letters: Lib Dems deserve our thanks – and our votes

These letters appear in the 8 October issue of The Independent

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The Liberal Democrats deserve our vote. They’ve earned it. Does anyone seriously believe we would have been in a better position with an unchecked Conservative government these past four years? Or a Gordon Brown Labour administration?

The media’s treatment of Nick Clegg has been as lazy, patronising and trivial as their attitude to coalition government. One would think he is the only politician ever to fail to deliver in government a promise made in opposition. Give me, and him, a break! The pledge on tuition fees was naive and unwise but there was simply no money to deliver it.

Only 60 per cent of the electorate even bother to vote. Still fewer make the effort to understand the compromises coalition politics require. They want complex issues to be simple; and politicians to magic them away.

The Liberal Democrats put country before party, and brought common sense and fairness to bear on a modestly endowed Conservative administration prone to lurch right at the first excuse. We owe the Liberal Democrats a vote of thanks – or at least, a vote.

Keith Farman

St Albans, Hertfordshire


As the conference season closes and minds are drawn to the election, I am hearing more and more about parties having no overall majority and another coalition being likely. Personally, I like the idea that none of the parties should have completely free rein to further their agenda.

Politicians are beginning to make statements to the effect that if the will of the people is for no overall majority then they will work in partnership. But can anyone tell me how, in our voting system, I show my preference for such an outcome?

Ashley Herbert

Huddersfield, West Yorkshire


American ideas infect our health care

I am surprised that the authors of the open letter on health-service funding (6 October) do not mention the cost to the NHS of the previously gradual, but now galloping, privatisation of the service.

The NHS was the most efficient system in the world, with only 6 per cent of the budget going on administration costs. The implementation of the Health and Social Care Act, 2012 has cost an estimated £3bn. The Act has opened up the NHS to private, for-profit, firms with their hordes of lawyers, accountants and management consultants, which will be taking our NHS money and giving it to their shareholders.

The administration time and cost will increase as contracts are written, bid for and managed. Then there are legal costs if a private firm challenges a decision.

As our health care system is now being moved towards the American model, it is worth noting that in the American health care system less than 70 per cent of the budget goes on direct patient care. The remainder goes on insurers, hospitals and doctors billing each other, insurance marketing and profit, and administration (James G Kahn et al. “Cost of Health Insurance Administration in California”, Health Affairs 2005)

Margaret Ridley

Ely, Cambridgeshire


There’s something I don’t understand. Can anybody help?

When I look at my budget, I see that I have enough money either to pay for basic necessities (food, clothing, accommodation etc), or to fund a world cruise; but not both. I make the obvious, prudent choice.

Now, Britain has enough money either to provide adequate social services (health, police, education etc), or to build nuclear submarines and maintain a military presence on the world stage; but not both. This country is not, however, making the obvious prudent choice.

Why not? And if its current imprudent choice is not what we actually want, why are we allowing our elected representatives to make it for us? And how can we stop them?

Michael Swan

Chilton, Didcot, Oxfordshire


Casualties of the rugby field

With reference to Allyson M Pollock’s article “Isn’t it time we tackled rugby?” (7 October), when I joined a south London comprehensive, a strong rugby school, as a teacher in 1982, there was still much concern about a sixth-former who had broken his neck and was paralysed for life playing in an inter-school match the previous autumn.

Much later, around 1997, my youngest son was playing in a Midlands schools under-14 semi-final. He suffered a nasty injury to his genitalia, which required hospitalisation and several stitches. In the same match the scrum half broke his thighbone and was off school for several months.

Anecdotal evidence admittedly, but I am also concerned about the massive collisions in modern adult rugby which have resulted from recent rule changes – after all, they remain our children in adult life.

John Scholfield

Market Deeping, Lincolnshire


Internet anonymity breeds trolls

The woman unmasked by Sky News as a troll in the McCann case has apparently committed suicide. I feel immensely sorry for her, and I hope the McCanns do too.

The sooner that the internet insists on users using their true names and abolishes the alias, the better. And that goes for newspapers too.

What happens is this: people adopt the persona of their alias, and stupidly say things that they think their character might say. It is that simple, and that insidious.

Dai Woosnam



I was for a while a member of a Facebook group interested in wild flowers. To my surprise a fellow member began to accuse the McCanns of murder. (You may well ask what it had to do with wild flowers.) When I took her to task for this her attacks became worse and she included me in her insults. “It’s only Facebook,” she said. 

It was only my warning that the McCanns can take people to court for slander and libel that caused this wretched woman finally to shut up, I think. I left the group, so I can’t be sure.

Why some people are so convinced, with no evidence, of the guilt of strangers that they hijack social media I don’t know, but it makes me glad that we no longer have the stocks or public hangings.

Sara Neill

Tunbridge Wells, Kent


Judaeo-Christian verdict on Ukip

Nigel Farage has said that this country needs “a much more robust defence of our Judaeo-Christian heritage”. Too right it does. Which – this may come as a surprise to Nigel – means that it needs defending against people like Nigel.

Because I can’t see Jesus being thrilled with the idea of “prioritising housing for people whose parents and grandparents were born in this country”. (That’s a line from the Ukip manifesto.) You see, I don’t remember Jesus saying, “When I was homeless, you gave me shelter – but only after asking where my parents and grandparents were born.” Of course, given the fact that Jesus’ mother wasn’t born where Jesus ended up living, Nigel would have kicked him out, wouldn’t he? Good old Nigel.

Emma Wilson



Political alternative that we already have

Your article on Mick Cash (6 October) reported how the new RMT chief thinks we need an alternative party on the left of politics, and you have also reported on Ken Loach and others thinking the same. I do wish you would report a little more often on the alternative party that we  do have. 

The Green Party is the only party opposing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Treaty, which will threaten jobs and force the NHS to open up to private US health care providers; it’s the only party that proposes renationalisation of the rail companies, an end to the cap on council borrowing for home building and the introduction of a living wage rather than our feeble minimum wage. 

This is the alternative party, but Mick Cash, Ken Loach and others don’t seem to realise this.

Could it be that what we really need is an alternative press able to report more fairly on choices available to those voters who are rejecting all the parties whose annual conferences have had multi-page  spreads in all the papers recently?

Lois Davis

London SW11


Why go to Morocco?

The British holidaymaker Ray Cole, from Deal in Kent, has been jailed for four months in Morocco for “homosexual acts”. His family and a number of politicians have urged the Moroccan authorities to release him.

The Foreign Office website warns that in Morocco homosexuality is a criminal offence. Why did Mr Cole go there as opposed to the numerous countries which are more tolerant and welcoming? When in another country one must observe its laws or face the penalties.

Clark Cross

Linlithgow, West Lothian