Letters: McAlpine squanders sympathy



Am I the only one who feels deeply uncomfortable about Lord McAlpine's compensation campaign?

While hundreds of victims of child sex abuse are forced to wait patiently for long-overdue justice, he is able to agree a deal to take a reported £180,000 of BBC licence-payers' money within weeks of a TV programme that didn't even name him.

Apparently, this already wealthy man does not intend stopping there. We are told he will also go after every individual deemed to have passed on libellous information about him on Twitter, whatever their circumstances may be, and will even sue Sally Bercow for tweeting that he is "trending" in a statement that does not refer to paedophilia.

I appreciate that it must have been dreadful for him to find himself wrongly accused of such terrible crimes, but, once the mistake was identified, action was taken swiftly to restore his reputation. Sadly, for me, he is now squandering, by the heavy-handedness of his actions, any sympathy his situation engendered.

Still, an affluent Tory profiting while ordinary people lose out and the public sector takes a hit is hardly anything unusual. If this is truly about principle, I hope he plans to give the money to good causes.

Neil March

London SE13

BBC's old enemies scent blood

Manda Scott (letter, 13 November) points out how the real story of child abuse has been masked by the very convenient BBC row. It cannot be denied that there were two bad lapses in editorial judgement at Newsnight. But to find this has suddenly turned into discussions over the future of Newsnight and the very existence of the BBC seems to be taking it beyond the extreme. There are clearly several individuals and organisations all too ready to settle old scores.

I have spent my working life in regional news. I have been saddened deeply by the way the light that needs to be shone brightly on the workings of the local council, businesses, societies and "pillars" of the community has dimmed inexorably with the demise of paid-for weekly and evening papers and the skeleton-staffing of many others.

It is clear to see what has been lost locally. Do we really want the likes of Newsnight, Panorama and Radio 4's Today programme to go the same way – leaving us with just a Fox on the box?

John Whitbread

Twickenham, Middlesex

We all understand why the Murdoch press and other media are lining up to undermine the BBC, but for politicians, including inept select committee members, to join in is sickening.

There is every reason to believe that George Entwistle would have made a very good Director General and might well have put in place the changes necessary to avoid any repetition of the Newsnight fiasco. He inherited a management structure that let him down and would probably have done the same for anyone in his position. Even though he's done nothing wrong, he has done the honourable thing (alien to politicians these days) and accepted responsibility for the failure of those under him.

Not content with hounding a decent man out of office and ruining his career, politicians are now calling for his agreed severance pay to be halved. This on behalf of the licence payers, if you please. His pay should be doubled, not halved, as some small compensation for having his life turned upside down.

Nick Collier

London N5

Dominic Lawson (13 November) suggests the BBC scraps its "low-brow pandering" and concentrates on high-quality journalism. No disagreement there, except that the majority of people are not interested in high-quality journalism, and might baulk at the idea of paying £145.50 a year just to keep the chattering classes informed.

The lottery-ticket-buying, BBC 1-watching, Radios 1- and 2-listening public subsidise middle-class culture. Best keep it to ourselves, eh?

Pete Barrett


Schools in need of discipline

Richard Garner (News, 16 November) reports that Buckingham University has recently shown that nearly 30 per cent of trainee teachers last year had not taken up teaching posts six months later, and that 52 per cent of teachers under the age of 60 are not within the classroom.

For Alan Smithers, one of the authors, to argue that the Government's Teaching Agency should withdraw funding for places from teacher training providers who perform poorly in supplying recruits to the profession is wholly inappropriate. The biggest problem facing trainee teachers, and most teachers, is the poor behaviour that teachers experience day in, day out. As a teacher, the depressing statistics do not surprise me.

Kartar Uppal

West Bromwich, West Midlands

I read several letters arguing that private schools should be abolished, but they would abolish themselves through lack of demand if we got our grammar schools back.

Bright children from all walks of life, rich or poor, black or white, should be allowed to study in peace, without having their lessons destroyed by some of the low life found in comprehensive schools, especially as it can take years to expel such louts.

Those paying for private education are paying for discipline, not superior teaching nor superior A-levels. It is a sad fact that children in state education today get a far worse deal than we got 50 years ago.

Malcolm Howard

Banstead, Surrey

Prosperity and peace for Gaza

As long as the Gaza Strip remains under indefinite siege, violent clashes between Israel and the incarcerated population are inevitable. This indefinite siege is immoral and criminal, since it is collective punishment. It is also stupid, since it resolves nothing, adds to mutual bitterness and renders the conflict more intractable.

Hamas, whether we like it or not, shows no sign of weakening. The West should negotiate a deal with Hamas for international monitors, and then tell Israel it must lift the siege and allow Gaza free access by sea and air, as well as open land access with Egypt. It is only when Gaza prospers that those Palestinians wanting to hit Israeli targets will no longer be tolerated.

David McDowall

Richmond, Surrey

Dangerous ways to raise money

The Government is giving serious consideration to charging to cross the Thames via the Blackwall Tunnel in east London, in order to create some spurious "ring-fencing" of funds towards the cost of a new Thames crossing further downstream. Drivers would then be forced to either pay up or drive further into London seeking a free crossing route. The Dartford crossing was fully paid up years ago but that toll is to be increased to £2.50.

Thus, the milch-cow motorist would be asked to pay twice yet again to use longstanding infrastructure – once through normal fiscal channels and now with these tolls.

This government spouts about "fairness". It is politically and ethically fair that new projects be paid for either through taxation or through the marketplace with the issuing of gilts. The electorate can then make judgements on such decisions via the ballot box.

Deviation from these traditional methods also occurred with the building of new hospitals some years ago using Private Finance Initiative (PFI), originally under the Tories but also continued under Labour. Those hospitals are now crippled with the paying back of the PFI debt for decades to come.

Once governments begin to go "off-piste" by identifying certain projects as being the financial liability of specific sections of the population then trouble will surely ensue.

John Fleming

Etchingham, East Sussex

Holland Park to Roxy Music

In your feature on Holland Park School (15 November) you write that Bryan Ferry taught at the school in the 70s. Bryan did teach pottery at a girls' school in south London in 1970, but the Roxy Music member who taught at Holland Park was me.

I spent a chaotic but very happy time as a supply teacher in the music department in 1971-72, where among other things I persuaded the school to buy an EMS suitcase synthesiser. I still encounter ex-pupils, a few of whom remember my time there with enjoyment.

I left suddenly in February 1972 to go straight into the studio to record the first Roxy Music album.

Andy Mackay

London W1

Moral decay of public life

Andreas Whittam Smith asks the question (15 November) why there has been a decay in the standards of behaviour of many institutions.

To me as a septuagenarian the answer is obvious. Many of the present politicians and leaders of business were young during the Thatcher/Reagan era, when there was no such thing as society and greed was god. They were encouraged to set aside conscience to achieve success. Amoral behaviour in working life easily leads to immorality in private life, in the subsequent search for the happiness not brought by that success.

Harry Mirfield

Brooke, Norfolk

Romney's big delusion

So Mitt Romney believes he lost the US presidential election because of Obama's "gifts" to minorities. He and other delusional Republicans need to look in the mirror, specifically at their economic platform.

Romney said he would cut the deficit while cutting taxes across the board and increasing defence spending; this from a candidate whose main selling point was economic competence! American voters simply rejected Romney's madhouse economics.

Martyn P Jackson

Cramlington, Northumberland

How to fix Starbucks

The Starbucks issue is simply resolved. Accept their accounts, and put them into administration. Sequester their assets, and send in the bailiffs. They are clearly bankrupt. If they complain, require them then to explain their own accounts.

The root problem is unassertive democracy. It behoves all of us to be more assertive democrats, for everyone's sake. Boycott Starbucks, for instance – and tell them in writing. Do it.

Bob Gilmurray

Ely, Cambridgeshire

Youthful leaders

Is it not amazing that the seven new leaders of China have not a grey hair between them, though their average age is over 60?

Simon G Gosden

Rayleigh, Essex


After the election for police commissioners, it will now be hard for the Tories to criticise the turnouts in trade union ballots.

Tom Lines


React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Pokot woman holds a razor blade after performing a circumcision on four girls  

The campaigns to end FGM are a welcomed step, but they don't go far enough

Charlotte Rachael Proudman
Our political system is fragmented, with disillusioned voters looking to the margins for satisfaction  

Politics of hope needed to avert flight to margins

Liam Fox
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game