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Saturday 21 July 2012
Letters: Libor 'massage' may not be fraud
The manipulation of Libor for profit is fraud but the influencing of it for financial stability is not. The Bank of England may have been clumsy but it is as entitled to talk the market down to create stability as the Government is to talk the economy up to create growth.
The purpose of Libor is to enable banks to recover the cost of funds they lend. If they allow the rate to be talked down for an orderly market they pay a price but benefit from the stability. Those betting against Libor may suffer a loss but they are always exposed to being wrong-footed by governments who do not wish betting against the economy to become self-fulfilling.
If my doctor tells me I need to get my weight down, he means I should exercise more, not tamper with the scales.
In principle, Elizabeth Marshall's suggestion (letters, 10 July) that the Barclays board and senior managers should be replaced with Quakers seems a good idea. Unfortunately, I doubt there are sufficient numbers of qualified Quakers to fill the posts.
My perception of the Religious Society of Friends is that it is stiff with social workers, teachers, doctors, nurses and members of the other "caring" professions but not with financiers. More's the pity; the country could do with plain-dealing and real integrity in financial matters.
Your leading article suggesting Betty Boothroyd as Barclays chairman is surely, in such dire times as these, worth taking further (12 July).
Andrew Strauss, with his extensive overseas touring, could make an excellent Foreign Secretary, and Roy Hodgson, with his considerable linguistic skills, could fulfil the role of Education Secretary or Minster for Europe, and Jessica Ennis, as Minister for Sport, would undoubtedly be a popular choice.
Not only would these people bring the strength of character which you advocate, but they would also bring a broad range of experience and expertise, as well as determination in the face of difficulty, all of which, sadly, seem to be in short supply among so many of our front-rank politicians.
Surely I'm not the only person to notice that the banking crisis has produced its own variation of the tailor's dummy. The banker's dummy is not seen in shop windows but sits in London and Edinburgh parliaments.
They can be distinguished from the real parliamentarians by their vacant glazed expression as those around them become animated when holding to account the banks for the "casino" practices which resulted in their downfall and a massive unwanted bill for UK taxpayers.
The dummies only briefly come to life with a slow nodding when they hear the sound of the previous Labour government being blamed entirely for the bankers' greed in squandering bank depositors' money.
Iain M Macdonald
Miavaig, Uig, Isle of Lewis
How accurate were appraisals of PC Harwood?
The revelation that PC Simon Harwood, cleared of the manslaughter of Ian Tomlinson (20 July), had faced a string of allegations about his behaviour raises serious questions about the accuracy of his annual appraisals during his 12-year police career.
Surely his tendency to become aggressive in his dealings with the public would have been mentioned by his sergeants and inspectors while compiling these appraisals.
During my Metropolitan Police career (1965-95), I came across many appraisals which were so laughable in the way that they grossly overrated some officers and underrrated others that I was prompted to submit a suggestion that all extreme comments be supported by relevant evidence.
My suggestion was clearly ignored because I myself became the subject of such a laughable appraisal. Despite proof of its perversity, it was allowed to stand by my bosses and is still on my record. The longer our media allows our police service to get away with this kind of malpractice the more we will see of it.
Had there been an effective police complaints system, Simon Harwood would not have been a police officer, and Ian Tomlinson would be alive. Despite a poor disciplinary record and numerous complaints PC Harwood was allowed to leave the Met, join Surrey police then rejoin the Met.
Only 10 per cent of complaints against police are upheld. In 2010, the Home Affairs Select Committee published a report detailing the shortcomings of the police complaints process at local level and at the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission).
They were: that the police investigate themselves; the complaints system is not focused on whether the public received a good service; there is institutional bias in favour of the police; there were inexperienced caseworkers and ex-police officers at the IPCC, and there was a need for a total reconstruction of police complaints including introduction of a police ombudsman.
Olympic hitch for volunteers
Congratulations on covering the role of the volunteers in the Olympics and Paralympics (19 July). But we volunteers have a major problem caused by the lack of early-morning and late-night transport so paid and unpaid staff cannot get to their shifts on time or home afterwards.
Many volunteers have had to drop out (including friends) because they cannot get there, or shifts have had to be reorganised at the last minute. This is not the fault of Locog; Transport for London is a Boris responsibility.
I was originally rostered for four shifts as a member of the critical control-room communications team at a venue hosting the Paralympics only (which I can get to in time from home), and on standby for a similar duty at the Olympics.
On 13 June, we got an email from Locog asking for volunteers to cover for those who have had to drop out of the Olympics, principally because of the transport problem. As I am retired, I could cover only at a specific venue where I can stay overnight at my daughter's house and walk to the venue.
My wife is doing her Paralympic shifts there, one of which starts at 05.15. The earliest we could get there from home in South-east London, 12 miles from the venue, would be about 06.30.
On 22 June, we had a phone call asking whether I could do "all earlies", because I can walk to the venue if necessary. At Olympic venue training last Sunday, rosters were still having to be changed to accommodate those who could not possibly arrive in time for their rostered earlies; well done, Boris.
I now have nine shifts for the Olympics (two starting at 06.00 and two at 07.00), eight shifts for the Paralympics there (four starting at 05.00, three at 06.30 and one at 0830), and finally four at the original venue (one starting at 08.30).
Mau Mau shared in the atrocities
Before we indulge in self-flagellation over our repression of the Mau Mau (report, 18 July), we would do well to study the history.
A friend had been sent to Kenya with the army during his National Service. After his return, when I spoke of my regret for our colonialism there, he told me. in no uncertain terms, about the atrocities committed by the Mau Mau that he had had to deal with. They were horrific and had obviously left my friend mentally scarred.
While the army's actions were not excusable, they may be understandable, given the mindset about race prevalent in this country at the time. The past is truly another country.
No teaching of creationism
Education is a fundamental human right enshrined in law (Deborah Ross, 19 July). Where education blinds young minds to the scientific truths of our evolution by natural selection, then it denies them this human right. Reducing the subtleties and complexities of our evolution, which inspire intense wonder, to a bastardised Ladybird book version of Genesis, is also an insult to our creator and his creation.
Deborah Ross's article on Free Schools with creationist views misses the point that no Free School, and no state school, is allowed to teach creationism as scientific fact. We have rigorous criteria for new Free Schools.
Successful applicants must demonstrate that they will provide a broad and balanced curriculum. If a Free School is found to be contravening the rules it will be in breach of contract and subject to action, which can include stopping it operating.
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools, House of Commons, London SW1
Children need to play at home
Terence Blacker is right about the "physical laziness" of people in this country (20 July). But school sport is not the answer because it rarely continues into adult life. Children are instinctively active and want to run around and play outside their homes. By giving priority to cars rather than pedestrians in residential roads we have robbed children of that exercise.
Director, Children's Play Advisory Service, Coventry
A delicious bite
I seldom agree 100 per cent with a newspaper comment. But this happened with Matthew Norman's marvellous piece on Tony Blair (18 July). I hope Blair's intentions of returning to politics will go up in smoke because nobody deserves such a horrible fate. I hope I get the chance to read many more of Mr Norman's delicious comments.
Richard Zanuck's promotion at 28 to production head of 20th Century Fox (Obituary, 19 July) in succession to his father, Darryl F, Fox's founder, who wanted to live in France with a girlfriend, led to a pun on one of his films becoming a Hollywood standard for nepotism, The Son Also Rises. Ogden Nash said of Carl Lammele, co-founder of Universal Studios, when his surname became noticeable on a growing number of executives, "Mr Carl Lammele, has a very large fammele".
Peter Crossley (letters, 20 July) could put some of his savings in one of the peer-to-peer lending organisations. His money will provide a respectable return (over three years, I have averaged 7.15 per cent, after fees, in Zopa) and his hard-earned cash will have to go anywhere near a bank. Borrowers are vetted to higher standards than the banks apply.
Unequal to it?
I am among 176,000 Equitable Life policy-holders who have not been given the information on the amount of their entitlement, despite two parliamentary promises to tell us by June. I wonder if the Equitable payments office is being run by G4S, who are dealing with more pressing matters?
Curthwaite, Wigton, Cumbria
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