Letters: Who will dare to abolish these tawdry honours?

The following letters appear in the 1 January edition of the Independent

If evidence was needed that the honours system is irredeemably corrupt, the latest list provides all the proof required.

The loss of the honours system would be a blow to the token citizens who are nominated for their good works. However, abolition would drive reform of the House of Lords and perhaps restore some faith in our battered democracy. Tinkering is not enough.

Which political party has the guts to offer a referendum about the abolition of the whole tawdry business?

David McKaigue

I’ve always understood “public service” to mean good works performed for the benefit of those in need, often in difficult circumstances and with little immediate reward. So where in this does Matthew Hancock place the expensive skills of Lynton Crosby (“Minister defends knighthood for Crosby”, 30 December)? 

To describe as a “great public servant” this shadowy professional fixer, to whose firm the Tories paid £500,000 or more to deliver an election victory come hell or high water, is like calling the Visigoths a peace-keeping mission.

Hancock’s assertion that Crosby has made “a contribution to our democratic process” is laughable enough. That he should confuse public service with the activities of a party-political hireling speaks volumes about the values and moral compass of today’s Conservative Party. 

Richard Butterworth
Redruth, Cornwall

The Conservative Party, in a fine old tradition going back 90 years to the Zinoviev letter, won the 2015 general election by a campaign of fear and smear.Are these now the values underpinning the honours system? 

Philip Goldenberg
Woking, Surrey

Who could ever take our honours system seriously, with its Officers, Commanders and Members of the British Empire, along with the British Empire Medal?  

Where exactly is this empire to which recipients of these baubles have rendered noble service?  The old USSR model of Hero of the People, 1st, 2nd and 3rd class made more sense.

Robert Dow
Tranent, East Lothian 

So the Opposition is complaining that the award given to Lynton Crosby in the Queen’s honours list is “outrageous”? What, then, is the appropriate term for the honour given by the Queen to the CEO of a chain of sex shops? Perhaps “mortifying”? 

Will we yet see a Royal Warrant badge over that retailer’s establishments?  

I thought the honours committee was supposed to ensure that the honours system was not brought into disrepute when considering nominations.

Henry Paul

If, as you state in your editorial (31 December), the long-discredited and ridiculous honours system has hit a new low, why do you squander almost four full pages on this foolish drivel?

Peter Coghlan
Broadstone, Dorset

Why has David Cameron rewarded Lynton Crosby, not Ed Miliband, for his victory?

Dr John Doherty

Business more of less as usual for bankers

Following the banking collapse of 2008 we were told that both the structure and the culture of banking were at fault. The central structural flaw, the fact that the public was required to guarantee the casino economy, has not been adequately addressed. Instead of the essential separation of retail from commercial banking only a much weaker ring-fence is proposed but yet to be implemented. 

With the removal of Martin Wheatley earlier this year, we now see that the Financial Conduct Authority is to drop its investigation of banking culture, which was so widely blamed for the banking collapse. So neither structure nor culture is to be radically changed following the worst financial crisis in the history of capitalism.

In an economy where money is created in the private sector based on debt, a banking licence represents an extraordinary power granted to a small number of corporations by the state. Strict regulation of their activities, particularly when their risks are guaranteed by the public, is therefore essential. 

An insistence on the need to reform both the structure and the culture of banking is nothing to do with “banker bashing” but rather a necessary defence of the public interest against the destructive behaviour of the greedy few.

Molly Scott Cato MEP
Green Party Finance Speaker
Stroud, Gloucestershire 

Strategies to cope with bacteria

Professor Akova’s letter (“We need a new strategy in war against bacteria”, 29 December) about antibiotic resistance is spot on. But the sub-editor has let it down with its title. It is wrong. 

What we need is the effective implementation of old strategies. After all, Alexander Fleming warned about the bad consequences of inappropriate antibiotics to treat sore throats in his Nobel Lecture in 1945.

The Government responded; Aneurin Bevan introduced the Penicillin Bill in 1947. It made antibiotics obtainable only by prescription. But even now most of the world’s population doesn’t have the admittedly imperfect  protection that comes from such a restriction. They can buy antibiotics over the counter; the customer is not always right. 

Natural selection, the ability of bacteria to swap antibiotic resistance genes (which we have known about since the 1950s) and a natural tendency to be bad at hand hygiene when nobody is watching (despite its preventative efficacy being well established by Joseph Lister in the 1870s) have helped some nasty bacteria enormously. But they have no brains. We should use ours and wash our hands rather than wringing them.

Hugh Pennington

The proper way to give birth

May I add a personal anecdote to Jane Merrick’s excellent article about the National Childbirth Trust (30 December)?

When I first became pregnant, in 1989, I joined the NCT. I did not want my husband or any other “birth partner” to be present at the birth or at the ante-natal classes. When I applied to join local NCT ante-natal groups I was turned away by one after another because I wished to attend the sessions on my own.

I was a member of the educated, affluent middle class who did not conform to the NCT’s views of how a birth should be conducted. I wonder to what extent the current attitude of the organisation allows for individual approaches to birth? Given the astonishing subscription cost, I hope that anything goes.

Honor Cooper
London, N10 

The anger of the weather gods

Since we’ve been naming storms in this country, it is evident that the weather has worsened, with floods affecting much of the north of Britain. Obviously, the weather gods are expressing their displeasure at our frivolous naming of their offspring. 

In the past, appeasing the gods has traditionally been done by offering human sacrifices in an attempt to allay their wrath. I wonder if Prince Charles is due to visit flood affected areas soon?

Ian Tutt

Tory moral attitudes under Thatcher

Looking at the photograph of members of the Thatcher government of the 1980s (30 December) and reading the wholly unacceptable comments attributed to Oliver Letwin about the black community’s “bad moral attitudes” in a memo he sent to Thatcher, I was struck by the looming presence of Peter Morrison in the background. 

If there was ever an instance of gross hypocrisy, this has to be it, in the light of revelations of this monster’s predilections.

Diane Soye 

An older person’s night on the town

My older person’s bus pass arrived yesterday. Great, I took the bus into town, went to a show and had a couple of drinks. No fares or petrol. No parking, no drink-drive worries. Bus home arrived on time at 11.15pm. 

Sorry, the driver said, bus passes aren’t valid after 11pm. And then it clicked. I should have been tucked up in bed with a cup of cocoa. 

Chris Liddiard
Hailsham, East Sussex

Cartoonists need their stereotypes

Anthony Day (letter, 30 December), criticises your cartoonist Dave Brown for characterising the North “with the cliches of flat cap and whippet”. Can he suggest a conduit for concise visual comment other than stereotypes? It’s not as though other groupings are being presented as realistic portraits. It’s a centuries-old visual shorthand tradition.

Jenny Adams