Letters: Private equity buys into blood

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


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

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

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

The Jenrick Group: Project Manager

£35000 per annum + Pension+Bupa: The Jenrick Group: We are recruiting for an e...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Elton John and David Furnish finalise their marriage paperwork  

Don't be blinded by the confetti — the fight for marriage equality in the UK isn't over yet

Siobhan Fenton
Freeman, centre, with Lord Gladwyn, left, and Harold Wilson on the programme The Great Divide in 1963  

John Freeman was a man of note who chose to erase himself from history

Terence Blacker
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'