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Thursday 26 April 2012
Letters: Shameful cost of uprooting families
The reckless forced migration of tenants out of London, to who knows where, creates costs for the taxpayer and to the wider economy that the Treasury never estimates ("Plans to house London's poor in Stoke attacked as 'social cleansing' ", 25 April).
Educational under-achievement has been shown to be more likely as a result of the destabilisation of children's lives. Deliberate overcrowding to make the rent fit the caps is also likely to lead to more aggressive behaviour both in the classroom and on the streets as young people compete for space and lose some elements of parental and kinship control. Children losing local circles of friends and adjusting to new schools also disrupts educational progress.
The housing benefit caps create unmanageable rent arrears. The stress of the parents in debt is known to affect the children. Debt is related to mental illness, which the Centre for Mental Health has shown is the most expensive illness for the NHS, the economy and in human misery.
There are social and economic consequences in the break-up of well-established local three-generational family structures, as was discovered in the mass movement from the East End to the new towns in the early 1960s. That movement was planned and new affordable housing was ready for the tenants.
This time the lack of any coherent housing policy for the past 40 years means the demand for affordable housing far outstrips the supply; no affordable homes were planned for the new homeless. They face a life of impoverished uncertainty of which Parliament should be ashamed.
Chair, Pro-Housing Alliance, Past President, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
Chair, Care & Repair England
Professor Peter Ambrose
University of Brighton
The Rev Paul Nicolson
Chair, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust, London SW1
Spare a thought for the homeless of Stoke – or wherever else Newham and other councils sends their homeless – as they will now be deprived of the opportunity to occupy these properties.
The myth of Murdoch the kingmaker
I was a reporter in Fleet Street for 40 years, have written critically about Rupert Murdoch and worked for one of his titles, The Sunday Times. The notion that he could make or break governments was a myth fostered by London political journalists in the run-up to general elections.
Governments fall because voters get sick of them. John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were judged – by voters, not the scribblers of the Murdoch press – to be failures. Murdoch was first and foremost a newspaperman who knew when to dump a loser and back a winner.
When he first arrived in London he was widely patronised by the media establishment because he was an Australian. He has a long memory for English snobbery. Why should he have disabused today's spineless party leaders if they believed he was a kingmaker?
When Vince Cable said he would stand up to Murdoch over his BSkyB bid it was David Cameron, not Big Rupe, who deprived the Business Secretary of the BSkyB portfolio. The idea that Jeremy Hunt will now get sacked for carrying out his boss's wishes is surreal.
We are witnessing, at the Leveson inquiry, a catastrophic failure of duty by Fleet Street and politicians to do their jobs properly.
It really is no surprise that the BSkyB decision went the way of the Murdochs and no bias by Jeremy Hunt was ever necessary. This decision was par for the course in an industry where money and perceived profitability has always been the prime consideration at the expense of broadcasting excellence and adventurous experiments.
As I write, Jeremy Hunt is still in a job, as indeed is David Cameron. But it is the latter we should be more concerned about, because once again the affair demonstrates his unerring ability to put the wrong person in a key position.
After the unfortunate entrapment of Vince Cable – a dramatic illustration of the perils of bias – what on earth possessed Cameron to appoint someone whose declared bias towards the opposite extreme was public knowledge, thus resolutely sowing the seeds for the latest crisis to engulf his (and our) government?
East Molesey, Surrey
David Cameron had the best education that money can buy – Eton and a first in PPE at Oxford – and is Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; yet he doesn't know how a senior politician should behave with integrity. What hope is there for the rest of us?
Quasi-judicial or queasy-judicial? An easy mistake to make especially, if as Jeremy Hunt claimed, he avoided advice from his special adviser.
Should it be made illegal to fox Hunts?
Worthing, West Sussex
No right to preach to nuclear India
Your editorial (20 April) cautions about the nuclear ambitions of India. On the same day, Adrian Hamilton laments that India's successful missile test "represents one more obstacle to achieving a nuclear-free world".
Is it not a bit rich for the west to be preaching to India on nuclear non-proliferation? While India is not a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty, it is primarily because of the biased treaty that it is – which allows for the powerful few to build nuclear weapons even when they threaten to use them against the rest.
The west adopted a similar stance in the wake of India's 1998 nuclear weapons test. However following the test, India stressed its peaceful intentions, announced a voluntary moratorium on further testing, limited itself to a minimum credible deterrent, and later pledged a no-first-use policy. India has also not gone around selling nuclear weapons technology to other countries.
The fact that the country that "once set itself to be the leader of the unaligned and non-militaristic world" is now building a long-range missile shows the lessons it has learnt from preaching high morals in a world where the value of morals is measured with respect to the value of oil.
Remember that India was a country which, until it was corrupted by colonisation, had followed a battle code that would put today's world to shame. This included fighting only between sunrise and sunset, not harming a warrior who has surrendered and not harming women and children.
One can easily see why India should come down from high moral grounds and adopt a pragmatic approach to its security, especially looking at its neighbourhood.
Artistic quarrel on the mean streets
"Street writing man", says the heading (25 April). We do love a bit of rough don't we? And what could be rougher – but more comradely – than those butch street artists? Well, quite a lot it seems. Indeed, they may not be driven so much by revolutionary zeal and rugged solidarity as by old-fashioned worldly ambition and fame.
Apparently the rift between Blek le Rat and Banksy started with a spat about who invented the rat stencil, but it has escalated. Now Blek damns Banksy for the way "he manipulates the art market". Blek – "the godfather of graffiti" – says he is "ashamed of the money grabbing nature of modern artists" in a world where "nobody cares who is a real artist".
Too true. It must be a harsh world where a Banksy can live high on the hog, while his mentor, Blek, nibbles on crusts with only the odd show on the mean streets of London W1 to keep the rat from the door.
Saved by a tonsil operation
Further to your debate about tonsillectomies, and whether they can ever be of benefit, I would invite anyone who is interested to look at my son's medical records.
From the age of about three he became plagued with throat infections, ear infections and heavy colds. Every winter he would be ill for weeks, and eventually his tonsils became permanently swollen – it looked like he had two golf balls in the back of his throat.
When he was 10 he had his tonsils removed, and the improvement in his health was immediate; in the almost 10 years since the operation, he has hardly visited the doctor at all.
It worries me greatly that if he had been a few years younger he might have been condemned to a life of poor health. This might sound like a radical idea, but why don't these medical experts conduct surveys of people who have had tonsillectomies, in order to find out the truth?
Rumours of corruption
In the immediate aftermath of the Stephen Lawrence murder I was a serving Metropolitan Police officer and I can well remember rumours abounding at the time about a corrupt relationship between a parent of one of the suspects and at least one of the investigating officers ("May offers to meet Doreen Lawrence over police corruption claims", 25 April).
It might concentrate a few minds with first-hand knowledge of the facts if Theresa May threatened to prosecute them for failing to expose their corrupt colleagues should the latest investigation prove that there was corruption involved and that they knew about it. The taxpayer can ill afford such expensive enquiries to drag on during these stressful economic times.
Back to an ominous time
On Monday you ran an editorial about how much the present political and social scene resembled the 1970s. You're wrong. With mass unemployment, privatised health, massive inequality between rich and poor, the threat of fascism, ongoing regional wars which threaten to escalate, and the deepening economic crisis, it's more like the 1930s.
We even have an airship over London with the Goodyear blimp constantly circling the Olympic site. That's the trouble with capitalism. All you get are repeats.
Train of events
Trevor Jones (letter, 25 April) is obviously unaware of the Eurostar loophole. It has been possible for illegal immigrants to buy a ticket from Brussels to Lille, thus avoiding customs checks, and then for them to continue on to London unchallenged. The increased vigilance he has experienced is clearly in order to close this loophole.
Nice piece from Natalie Haynes ("You can't take Olympic pics", 25 April). Perhaps we should organise a mass photo-in in the public areas patrolled by the fluorescent-jacketed bullies. Hundreds of harmless people with their Canons and Nikons and Olympuses (irony) standing around taking shots of buildings. How would the bullies cope? How can this be done?
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