Letters: Private equity buys into blood

These letters appear in the print edition of The Independent, 23 July, 2013

Share

Drip by drip this pernicious policy of privatisation is being foisted upon us by the Conservatives, with an acquiescent Coalition partner and a neutered opposition.

Each step has been disastrous for the public and a bonanza for the City. We have lost the railways, communications, all the public utilities, the police and prisons, and we have seen major inroads into our health services including, now, blood plasma supplies (“Blood money”, 19 July).

One slight hiccup occurred when they tried to steal our forests, but undaunted they are now attacking our postal service, the rescue services, and our schools. Where is the public debate on the transformation of our society? Once these changes have occurred they will be irreversible.

Pete Parkins, Lancaster

 

After over 50 years as a proud blood donor the news that part of the system is sold to an American private equity firm, driven exclusively by commercial considerations, has prompted my withdrawal. If they get their claws on the organ donor arrangements I’ll tear up my donor card too.

Denis Ahern, Stanford-le-Hope, Essex

 

Fears concerning Plamsa Resources (PRUK) following its acquisition by Bain Capital are misplaced.

Far from “gambling with the UK’s blood supply” this deal guarantees a financially secure future for the company. At a time of severe public-spending constraints, private financing in our health services is essential in order to maintain standards of care. The point has been raised that we may see the emergence of another blood-borne illness in the future. In such circumstances PRUK would need sufficient financing to perform extensive research and testing. 

In regards to accountability, given the Government is to hold a 20 per cent stake it will be subject to public scrutiny via select committees and wider government oversight. The private-equity industry has made great strides in recent years to improve its levels of transparency and disclosure, and many of the largest private equity-backed companies now have reporting standards on a par with the FTSE350 and in some cases even better.

Private-equity ownership brings many benefits, not least of which is engaged shareholders who work closely with the management team to ensure the company performs.

Tim Hames, Director General, The British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association, London WC2

 

 

Palestinian exiles’ hopes dashed again

An Israeli friend sent me a message telling me that things looked hopeful with the Kerry peace talks plan.

Despite 65 years of hopes arising only to be dashed by unscrupulous leaders on both sides, I allowed myself the luxury of feeling hopeful. I felt a twinge of excitement at a solution to our Palestinian diaspora. I imagined myself walking the “corniche” in Haifa in search of a good fish restaurant. I visualised myself visiting my father’s home and breathing the same air that he breathed so long ago.

Then Prime Minister Netanyahu denied that the talks would  be based on a return to the 1967 borders with land swaps to accommodate Jewish settlements. This morning (19 July) I read in The Independent that the meeting of Palestinian politicians broke up without agreement, yet another missed opportunity.

Peace is too precious to be put in the hands of irresponsible and self-seeking politicians like Abbas, Kerry and Netanyahu. Let the ordinary Palestinians and Israelis meet face to face, talk and get to know each other. Then we may have peace.

Meanwhile, we Palestinian refugees undergo yet another dashed hope because of our leaders’ incompetence, cruelty and lack of vision. And the majority of Israelis wanting peace are, yet again, marginalised by stupid and short-sighted politicians.

Dr Faysal Mikdadi, Dorchester, Dorset

 

Two cheers for the EU’s decision to ban the funding of projects in illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. But these settlements should never have been tolerated from the outset.

Yet, this could be the beginning of long-overdue steps by the EU to encourage Israel into international lawfulness. The EU’s preferential trade “Association” agreement with Israel is contingent on the latter’s respect for human rights. The indefinite siege of Gaza is an act of collective punishment, strictly forbidden by the laws of war. It should be the next issue on the road to lawfulness.

David McDowall, Richmond, Surrey

 

The refusal of the EU to fund projects in the exclusive Jewish settlements on the occupied West Bank is a welcome development for those concerned with justice and peace in the region.

However, one wonders how the new EU policy is viewed by the Representative of the Quartet, Tony Blair. The EU is one of the four whom he represents. So far he has avoided even mild criticism of the occupation, and he appears never to have referred to the Fourth Geneva Convention, which outlaws the building of settlements on occupied land.

How does he now reconcile the views of the EU with those of the US (whom he also represents), which has never criticised the West Bank settlements, nor apparently would ever do so, viewing them rather in much the same way as the Israeli government does?

Christopher Walker, London W14

 

Social enterprise can flourish

Arguing for a “new form of democratic, social ownership” is nothing new for the UK’s burgeoning social-enterprise sector (“Privatisation for Tories is still a matter of blind dogma”, 15 July). Across the country social enterprises are springing up quickly. Co-operatives, community interest companies, and trading charities are working to ensure that taxpayers’ money is reinvested in public services. 

Winning contracts as a social enterprise is not without its challenges – many are squeezed out when contending with mega-corps like G4S. The Public Services (Social Value) Act – a new law which requires commissioners to consider the social value created by each provider – must be fully embraced by local and national government if more social enterprises are to deliver services. The Act provides a solid opportunity in the social ownership debate, but the public needs to be made aware of it to ensure they can get the best deals for their communities – so that wealth stays there and isn’t funnelled out to company shareholders.

Peter Holbrook, Social Enterprise UK, London SE1

 

Few British speak Brussels

While very much agreeing with the points made by Dr Corner (letter, 16 July) about the UK’s longstanding semi-detached attitude towards the EU and the lack of UK nationals working in EU institutions, language is an issue.

It is well known that otherwise well-qualified UK nationals do not qualify for EU posts because they fail the basic requirement to have a working knowledge of a EU language other than their own. As English is already one of the three working languages of the Commission with French or German, one of those other two would normally be seen as most useful. All this should not, of course, exclude any of the 23 official EU languages!

This is sad testimony to the woeful British attitude to foreign language learning, as exemplified by the decision to remove a language as a compulsory GCSE subject in 2004.

John Whitton, Exeter

 

Chaps worship at shrine of golf

The Supreme Court’s deliberations as to whether or not Scientology is a religion may provide Peter Dawson and his all-male cohort at the Royal & Ancient with a way of fending off the criticism that has come their way in recent days. 

Dawson et al should argue that their passionate belief in golf and all that it represents, a belief system which they share and indeed practise together every Saturday morning (so Dawson tells us), is a form of religious worship.

If this argument were accepted and golf were accorded the status of a religion, all the discriminatory practices and other odd rituals performed in the name of golf (described by Chris Blackhurst on 18 July) would suddenly be OK.

Marc Patel, London SE21

 

Gay marriage: the next challenge

We now have same-sex marriage in England and Wales, after the legislation received Royal Assent last week, and I want to express some thanks.

Thanks to the campaigners who fought tirelessly for this important social change. Thanks to the people of this country who have shown such heart-warming acceptance of their gay and lesbian friends and family. But also thanks to the press.

The Independent has resolutely stood behind the campaign, giving lots of excellent coverage, and stiffening the resolve of ministers when the going got tough. The lives of many people in England and Wales will be better as a result, and that is a welcome achievement. Now let’s turn to Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Michael Contaldo, Manchester

 

American dream falters in Detroit

In his landmark Great Society speech of 1964, President Lyndon B Johnson said: “Our society will never be great until our cities are great. Today the frontier of imagination and innovation is inside those cities and not beyond their borders.”

If he was right, Detroit’s decision to file for bankruptcy suggests that the US is further than ever from achieving the Great Society vision. It is certainly no longer a model for other countries to follow.

Professor David Head, Navenby, Lincolnshire

 

Those who support the Coalition’s market economy strategy and capitalism American- style might like to ponder on the fate of Detroit. How many of our cities could go bankrupt and become wastelands?

R E Hooper, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

 

Cash at the food bank?

On a recent visit to our link community of Gunjur in The Gambia I discovered that Oxfam America and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation had changed their policy of giving food to the poorest people and instead were giving cash; they felt it was patronising to suggest to people that “what you need is food”, whereas if they were given money, they were given choice. They could spend it on food, but might need shoes or education for their children.

I wonder what the food bank movement feels about this?

Nick Maurice, Marlborough, Wiltshire

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, with her boyfriend, fellow vlogger Alfie Deyes  

If children are obese then blame food manufacturers, not Zoella

Jane Merrick
Amos Yee arrives with his father at the State courts in Singapore on March 31  

Singapore's arrest of a 16-year-old YouTuber is all you need to know about Lee Kuan Yew's legacy

Noah Sin
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat