Letters: Pity the container migrants, but don’t let them in

These letters appear in the August 20 edition of The Independent

Share

We can all share Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s compassion for the unfortunate migrants found in a container at Tilbury docks (18 August), but it is wrong to paint them as entirely innocent. 

They were complicit in a criminal act. They paid to be transported in a way that they knew was dangerous and illegal. They did not stop at the first country that could offer them asylum but travelled on to Britain. To offer them asylum now would be a slap in the face to all those asylum seekers who use the legal channels.

Of course we should accept a certain number of asylum seekers based on due process. We should not feel we have to accept every illegal immigrant who washes up on our shores with a desperate story. That will just encourage more illegal immigration.

Paul Sloane
Camberley,  Surrey

 

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown points to the world’s gross inequalities, one consequence of which is the desperate attempts by so many people to enter Europe. She ends by writing: “No other issue leaves me feeling so unutterably hopeless.”  

In The Gambia, where we have been working for the past 30 years, we see young men either climbing into flimsy boats and many drowning at sea or dying of starvation as they attempt to cross the Sahara on foot.

We think we have come up with two potential solutions. International development has rightly tended to focus on women’s development over the last 30 years. Listen to Justine Greening talking about the importance of women’s and girls’ education. But we have forgotten the hundreds of thousands of young men who are on the streets of Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Nigeria and The Gambia. We estimate that only 10 per cent of men are in employment five years after leaving school.

We are embarking on a programme of supporting business entrepreneurship, thus creating wealth and employment, and simultaneously encouraging corporate social responsibility among thriving businesses in The Gambia, to get away from the constant and unsustainable dependence on outside aid.

The focus has got to shift. We hope it works.

Dr Nick Maurice
Director, Marlborough Brandt Group
Marlborough, Wiltshire

 

‘Soft’ subjects seem  to be harder

In your editorial on A-level results (15 August) you suggest that “more pupils were encouraged to take tougher subjects like science and maths this year”. A sign of how pervasive is this misperception of “tough” and “soft” subjects is that even a paper as objective as The Independent makes this observation despite publishing evidence to the contrary on another page.

Your breakdown of results by subject reveals the proportion achieving A* or A as, for selected “tougher” subjects: maths 42.1%, chemistry 32.6%, physics 30.6%, biology 27.5%. And for selected “easier” subjects: English 20.0%, sociology 18.3%, business 14.6%, drama 14.5%.

Might someone explain why a much smaller proportion of students achieve A* or A in the “soft” arts, humanities and social sciences than in the “hard” maths and physical sciences?

Dr Giles Hooper
University of Liverpool

 

Among the comments in your A-level results coverage regarding the increased uptake of maths and science, I was particularly saddened by the comment attributed to John Cridland about the poor take-up of languages.

My son is lucky enough to attend Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys School (Habs) and was one of 11 boys to have completed GCSE Italian this year. As only two boys have opted to continue Italian at A-level, the school will not run the course.

If a school of Habs’ almost limitless resources is taking this stance, I imagine there is little hope of the state sector doing better. The end of minority language teaching at A-level is nigh.

John Baines
Radlett, Hertfordshire

 

Met committed to fight corruption

Your article “Secret internal police report points to ‘highly corrupt cells in the Met’” (8 August) paints an overly negative picture of our efforts to tackle corruption. I would like to reassure your readers and the public of London that the Met is, and was, totally committed to thwarting the threat posed by corruption.

What your article fails to make plainly clear is that the three former officers referred to were in fact all thoroughly investigated and charged with serious offences, and the Crown Prosecution Service believed there to be sufficient evidence to put before a jury. That in itself demonstrates both ability and a willingness to tackle crime within our ranks.

The Met’s early approach to tackling corruption in the 1990s was brave, innovative and bold. It took the tactics we used to tackle serious and organised crime and used them against police officers, who were themselves experienced and street-wise detectives. This method had successes and transformed our anti-corruption approach. 

There can be no finishing line when tackling corruption within the Met. So while the corruption we face has changed over the past decade, so have our tactics. Our determination and commitment, for the good of Londoners and the honest hard-working men and women of the Met, to tackling corrupt staff and those who seek to corrupt them will never diminish.

Craig Mackey
Deputy Commissioner
Metropolitan Police

 

Mysteries of the Cliff Richard raid

It is clear that South Yorkshire Police gave the BBC advance notice of the raid on Sir Cliff Richard’s Sunningdale home and that Sir Cliff knew nothing of it until he saw the media coverage. This is deplorable and requires a full explanation by both the police and the BBC.

Searches for financial records in cases of suspected fraud are one thing, but what possible evidence did the police expect to find in Berkshire of an alleged assault 29 years ago in a stadium 175 miles away in Sheffield? 

And what evidence did SYP place before a magistrate to justify the search warrant and to seek it without notice to Sir Cliff? In several recent cases the High Court has drawn attention to the need for courts to be more circumspect in considering such applications, made without the other side being present to rebut or question any assertion made to support the application.

Sir Cliff has stated that he will co-operate with the police if they wish to speak to him. Will the police, in their turn, be transparent over their investigation? 

David Lamming
Boxford, Suffolk

 

Circumcision rituals across the world

You report on an outbreak of tribal bellicosity in Western Kenya (13 August). Members of the Bukusu tribe have felt so elevated by their feast of circumcision as to have forced the procedure on males of the neighbouring Turkana tribe, greatly to the latter’s annoyance.

However, before rushing into judgement on the motives of the Bukusu, we must ask: is this morally any different from the routine, legal, and similarly unconsensual prepucectomies carried out by parents on their infant male offspring in western countries?

David Hamilton
Leith

 

You report (18 August) on the UK’s first specialist FGM clinic.

While this initiative is timely and welcome, it is important to draw  attention to the tireless  work of Comfort Momoh MBE, who has been caring for victims of FGM at her dedicated African Well Woman Clinic at Guy’s Hospital and educating health professionals for around two decades.

Dr Rowena Fieldhouse
London SE21

 

Farage wobbles  on sovereignty

I had always supposed that Nigel Farage believed in the sovereignty of the British Parliament, and that that was the basis of his opposition to the EU; however, on 15 August he introduced a new doctrine: “Ukip”, he says, “believes in direct democracy: that is, letting the people decide.”

Later on he says: “It is a basic issue of democracy which I believe should be decided by the people and not bureaucrats”; but this is not the way our constitution works. Perhaps Mr Farage needs to re-read Bagehot.

John Dakin
Toddington, Bedfordshire

 

North-south divide in the pub

If it makes Charles Garth (letter, 19 August) feel better about being charged more for beer in Lancashire because he was a “southern toff”, I was once in a pub in Wembley which was filling up with northern rugby league fans in town for the Challenge Cup Final.

I overheard the manager telling one of his staff to “charge the northerners an extra quid a pint. They expect it to be more expensive in London so they won’t say anything”. Sure enough, the poor punter handed over his cash without complaint. I had to intervene by pointing out the price list next to the bar.

It seems that, in pubs at least, we are all monetarily vulnerable to ridiculous stereotypes.

Michael O’Hare
Northwood, Middlesex

React Now

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

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) pictured shaking hands with Libyan leader Colonel Moamer Kadhafi on 25 March 2004.  

There's nothing wrong with Labour’s modernisers except how outdated they look

Mark Steel
 

Any chance the other parties will run their election campaigns without any deceit or nastiness?

Nigel Farage
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee