Is there not something obscene in the way in which George Osborne deals with the unemployment misery? He trumpets that the unemployed must attend job centres every week, must have CVs ready before attendance, must wait seven days before benefits, and so forth – as if it is the fault of the unemployed that they are unemployed.
He conveniently forgets to highlight the fact that there are about 500,000 job vacancies, yet at least 2,500,000 people looking for work. However pretty the handwriting, however strong the motivation to work, however eloquent at the interview, at least 2,000,000 people would be without work, were all vacancies filled – and it is shameful for ministers not to come clean about that.
Peter Cave, London W1
Making people sign on weekly instead of fortnightly is a pathetic little measure from a pathetic Chancellor who doesn’t understand the problems faced by the jobless in a country with 2.5 million out of work. Mind you, they will need extra staff at the Job Centre to deal with this extra workload, something I’m sure that hasn’t crossed Osborne’s mind.
Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby
The bloated public sector needs cutting; it’s a pity George Osborne didn’t cut overseas aid, or even stop it, until our country can afford to send our taxes abroad.
We shouldn’t be cutting our services while sending money to countries which will always have disease, famine and conflict.
T Sayer, Bristol
Oh dear! Mr Osborne’s clumsy joke about the Battle of Waterloo will upset his swivel-eyed right-wingers. Victory in 1815 was confirmed by the arrival of Blucher and his Prussians. Will the Bones and their chums envisage General Merkel riding over the hill to our aid?
Peter Metcalfe, Stevenage
Justice for disabled fans at live gigs
Through my parliamentary work with the young people who make up the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s Trailblazers network, I am very aware that access and inclusion at many live music events is still far from perfect for disabled fans (“Gigs ‘humiliate and isolate’ disabled fans”, 26 June).
It is important that the music industry understands how they can improve their service for young disabled people who want to enjoy live music and buy their tickets in the same way as everybody else. I met with representatives from the live music industry and members of the Trailblazers network in Parliament yesterday to see if we could come up with some solutions to the problems disabled people face when watching their favourite band or artist.
Our group is in the process of its second inquiry into the issues of social justice that affect young disabled people and we will be publishing our recommendations next year.
Paul Maynard MP, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Young Disabled People, House of Commons
I have MS and regularly go to gigs and festivals, so I fully understand the need for improvements, particularly when accessible tickets are only available via the venue and there are restrictions with companion seats. But let’s hear it for the tremendous efforts that have been made by the major festivals such as Glastonbury and Womad.
Accessible camping, toilets, viewing platforms, accessible showers, access for caravans and motorhomes and even volunteer helpers for pitching tents. Sadly mud does not discriminate, but help is always at hand.
Recent good venues for thoughtfully placed wheelchair accessible seating: Newcastle Radio Metro Arena (Neil Young and Crazy Horse); and – always the best – Manchester Bridgewater Hall.
Brenda Lynton-Escreet, Carnforth, Lancashire
Why doctors can look scruffy
I was interested to read Mary Dejevsky’s view on the dress code in hospitals (Notebook, 26 June).
I have worked within the NHS, and would agree that some doctors’ dress sense has been lost latterly. It is generally required that clinical staff should be naked up to the elbows, and ties, if worn, should be stuffed down the front of the shirt. White coats have been banned as they were rarely washed.
Some older consultants try to subvert these rules, working in their smart shirts with cufflinks, but beware if they are caught by eagle eyed infection control nurses!
Younger doctors are more compliant in this area, but as a result do tend to “dress down” rather more than their older colleagues, with the result that they could be seen as rather scruffy in appearance.
Perhaps Mary Dejevsky would prefer them to appear in the operating theatre scrubs beloved of our American cousins. Personally I would prefer these, to indicate that the doctor is in a newly laundered outfit, fit to be used when carrying out sterile procedures.
On the matter of nurses uniforms, rules are strictly enforced. Unfortunately some nurses may appear “unkempt”, as hospital laundries stopped ironing uniforms some time ago. The alternative is for nurses to wash their uniforms at home, after every wear, at 60 degrees or above. Difficult in modern ecological washing machines.
There is, however, no excuse for them to do their shopping in uniform, unless they work in the community and are carrying out purchases on the behalf of patients.
Liz White, Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire
Tackle the worst mutilation first
Ian Quayle asks: “Is it not time that all genital mutilation – on boys as well as girls – was treated as a criminal offence?” (Letters, 22 June). The moral case against parents having a licence to lacerate their children’s genitals without consent is unassailable. Such a law could be consistent and subject to no misinterpretation.
However, as in the days of the slave trade, the campaign for abolition of these barbaric practices is likely to take decades, and will have to square up to some fierce opposition. In the short term, alleviation of the worst excesses also needs to be aimed at, as was the case with conditions on the slave ships long before emancipation. It is important to insist that when a girl is circumcised, no more is taken away from her than the foreskin or prepuce which covers the clitoris, analogous to male circumcision.
It is important to keep talking about this, even if it makes some people feel ill.
David Hamilton, Edinburgh
Syria bleeds as the world bickers
It is a damning indictment of international diplomacy that no date has been set for the proposed Syria peace conference (“Hopes for Syria conference fading”, 26 June).
A political solution is desperately needed to end the conflict, which continues to claim a staggering 5,000 lives a month and has left more than eight million people in need of aid. Further delays will only increase the bloodshed and suffering. Yet the promised Geneva peace conference seems farther away than ever.
A timetable for the peace negotiations must be agreed immediately and all sides of the conflict must be involved, as well as non-military representatives including refugee and women’s groups. The people of Syria cannot continue to suffer as the world bickers about the solution.
Mark Goldring, Chief Executive, Oxfam, Oxford
In memory of Thatcher
I was somewhat bemused on reading Donald Macintyre’s article on the Tory right’s “alternative Queen’s speech” (25 June). Even to a lifelong leftie like me many of the items seemed far from “loony”.
What did (initially) have me grinding my teeth was the idea of making August Bank Holiday into Margaret Thatcher Day. That, I thought, fully deserved its five-rosette loony rating. Then I had second thoughts. With the continuing decline in the observation of Guy Fawkes Night we could do with an alternative excuse to light bonfires and burn someone in effigy. Mrs T as an alternative to Fawkes would go down great in the post-industrial wastelands she helped to create.
Derek Haslam, Colne, Lancashire
Publicity for a murderer
I find talk about giving Ian Brady “the oxygen of publicity” worrying; it reminds me of the Thatcher Government’s ruling that the voices of members of Sinn Fein should not be heard on TV.
Surely the point at issue is: is Brady’s mental health review tribunal newsworthy? It is the job of newspapers to inform us about events in the world, however unsavoury.
John Dakin, Toddington, Bedfordshire
Following your report on less-civil country dwellers (17 June), I do wonder what the population of the “string of Wiltshire villages” will have to say. Devizes is a substantial market town; Trowbridge is the administrative capital of the county of Wiltshire; and Salisbury has been a city since 1226. Village dwellers? This will certainly give them something to be irritable about.
Martin Holloway, Honiton, Devon
Ben Francis (Letters, 27 June) writes that mistaking Aristotle for Aeschylus is “an outstanding example of tragic irony”, but it isn’t. It’s an example of hamartia, a tragic error. Of course, mistaking hamartia for tragic irony is itself an example of hamartia. And both our letters are examples of hubris. Which only goes to – sorry. Must dash. Couple of Furies at the door...
Michael Bywater, RLF Fellow, Department of English & Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick
I would support Hannah Pool in her quest to remove sexist anti-female material from Tesco and other family stores (Voices, 27 June). Perhaps she would also like to support my campaign to ban publications aimed at women with features like, “How to manipulate your man”, and TV commercials where incompetent male characters are portrayed as having only two working brain cells.
Nigel Scott, London N22, Unforced
Satanay Dorken, talking about Muslim culture (letter, 25 June), makes the mistake that most people in the UK seem to make: she talks of forced marriages being common also among Sikhs and Hindus. What is common among Hindus is arranged marriage, which is entirely different.
Ramji Abinashi, Amersham, Buckinghamshire