Letters: The country will need Clegg again

These letters appear in the 18 May edition of The Independent

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How good it was to read an article such as Mary Dejevsky’s “The considerable talents of Nick Clegg shouldn’t go to waste” (14 May), not politically biased but simply making a well-argued case.

The country shouldn’t lose the undeniable talents of someone who has served his country well in very difficult circumstances and at great personal cost, and who did not deserve the appalling treatment meted out to him and almost all of his Liberal Democrat colleagues by the electorate.

If Britain is to achieve some sensible reforms to the EU within the next year or two and thus enable David Cameron to win the referendum as I fervently hope, our negotiating team will need to utilise the very best talent available from within all political parties. As the article suggests, Mr Clegg could be one of our greatest assets in this regard. As I understand it, he is also fluent in several languages, a very rare British talent and one which must surely help during difficult negotiations.

The Prime Minister showed an admirable ability to think outside the box in 2010 when seeking to form the Coalition within hours of what for him must have been the great disappointment of failing to win an outright majority, and I call on him to demonstrate again that he is not afraid of some radical thinking.

Chris Santry

Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire

Hazards of leading the Labour Party

During the last local council election I was out knocking on doors and talking to voters. Some said that they would vote Labour in the local election but not the national election: “I’m not voting for him,” they told me, meaning Ed Miliband.

This was some time before Labour’s election manifesto was published. These comments continued right up to polling day from people of all ages and education. It seemed that the policies of the various parties were of much less importance than the celeb image of the politician.

Tony Kane


Can we expect Chuka Umunna now to oppose the Snoopers’ Charter?

Barry Tighe

Woodford Green, Essex

Nothing scientific about this wine

Perhaps making wine according to the precepts of biodynamic viticulture cannot be explained scientifically (“The sipping point”, 14 May) because there is nothing really to explain in scientific terms?

Despite Rudolph Steiner’s original claims, the most one can say for the involvement of the Moon in biodynamics is that its passing phases serve as reminders for regular treatments, pretty standard in any kind of successful horticulture. Nor can one say much for the decidedly “New Age” attitude towards the chemical constitution of matter. “Life forces” and “spirits” disappeared with the alchemists because of the absence of reproducible empirical evidence.

Then there is the claim that the wine is “better”; but that simply invites the question: better for what? Presumably better for those who judge biodynamic wine to be “better”. That’s a matter of private opinion; everyone of course is entitled to their private beliefs, but there are no private facts, and so nothing here requiring a scientific account of publicly verifiable facts as best we know them.

Professor Guy Woolley


Face it, some people don’t like music

Janet Street-Porter (16 May) seems to agree with the violinist Nicola Benedetti who “reckons children do not understand the value of hard work, and thinks studying music should be compulsory” (16 May).

This is a constant theme. As soon as you have a national curriculum, with some compulsory subjects, every single special interest group argues that their subject must be one of the compulsory ones.

Porter and Benedetti should accept that not everyone can be “arty”. Less creative and more scientifically or mathematically minded students can’t wait to drop subjects such as music at GCSE. Forcing them to study it an extra two years is forcing them take a subject that they have no interest in. They’ll thank no one for it.

Children won’t always be passionate about everything at school, and with the regular curriculum overloaded as it is, arts should be optional. Compulsory music GCSE would have just been another useless exam to me.

Emilie Lamplough

Trowbridge, Wiltshire

The right reasons for adoption

It is admirable that “Tom” and “Sarah” wish to adopt (report, 13 May) but it is important that the decision should lie with the court, and not with vote-hungry politicians who want to privatise responsibility for difficult children, and with state officials chasing incentivised targets.

The purpose of adoption is not to find children for desirous adults, however deserving they may be. Being irreversible, it is the most extreme order open to family judges.

The Supreme Court has rightly ruled that it be a “last resort”, for use when all other possibilities are deemed unsuitable.

Professor Chris Barton


Letters from TV licensing authority

I have never had a television set and over the years have received a number of letters from the Licensing Authority. These have become increasingly polite.

John Whittingdale’s almost hysterical misrepresentation of this as “threatening you with having your nails pulled out if you don’t admit you’ve got a TV”, purely for effect (Jamie Merrill, 14 May), gives me considerable concern about his impending stewardship of our nation’s cultural life.

I hope the Prime Minister will reconsider this glaringly unsuitable appointment.

Margaret Platts


Hounded by charities

It is a tragic that 92-year-old Olive Cooke killed herself after being harassed by charities. She already gave very generously to charities, but they always harassed her for every single penny she had. Surely it is now time to change the law so charities can no longer harass the kind-hearted.

Mark Richards


A sport fit for deranged Roman emperors

After promising to work for “all of Britain”, David Cameron decides to ignore the majority of people in the UK by giving the current crop of MPs the power to repeal the ban on chasing and killing deer, hares and foxes with packs of dogs, in the name of “sport”.

I cannot believe this is happening in the 21st century. I thought it was only deranged Roman emperors such as Commodus who tortured and killed helpless creatures for fun before often horrified audiences. Cameron would do well to remember that he was voted in by only a quarter of the population to “carry on with the job” of fixing the economy, and also because of the fear of Scottish nationalism whipped up and exploited by his own spin-doctors and friends in the press.

People, including my Conservative voting mother, did not vote for him to bring blood sports back to Britain.

L M Smith


What does it show about the UK when a group that is less than 1 per cent of the population can force a change in a popular law? As a hunt monitor and producer of the documentary A Minority Pastime, I have now witnessed foxhunting many times.

On one recent occasion, my small group of monitors were there as the huntsman put the hounds through a small stretch of woodland next to the road, terriermen on quad bikes hovering close with their shovels and poles.

As the hounds went on cry (baying loudly) a small fox burst out of the wood past my group. It was also spotted by a large red-faced woman on a horse who blasted past my car at the gallop in pursuit of this small desperately fleeing creature, so that she could indicate where it had gone. The presence of our cameras and the existence of the ban meant the hounds were called off.

The repeal of the law will mean that the fox would have been chased to exhaustion, with the hounds being helped on by humans, and then torn to pieces or dug out of the ground if it had taken refuge.

The convolutions of justification that the hunt lobby uses are worthy of study and have much in common with victim-denying explanations of many criminals and abusers. What is obvious when you witness it is that they do it for the intense pleasure that it gives them, as with badger-baiters and hare-coursers. 

Humans are the same across class and wealth divides. What is different about this group is that it commands high social status and the disproportionate power of great wealth. Cameron and most of his MPs are at their command, despite the huge majority of 80 per cent that reject this brutal bloodsport.

Denise Ward

Stroud, Gloucestershire