Careful note should be taken of the fact that, thus far and quite correctly, individuals and not organisations have been held to account in the Fifa enquiry (29 May).
This is in stark contrast to the huge fines and penalties meted out to the financial sector post 2008, whereby the US led the way in offering immunity from prosecution to high-profile individuals at the top of financial organisations in exchange for the payment of massive penalties.
By threatening to withdraw licences to operate, the US authorities pressurised the financial sector into stumping up huge sums when they should have been bringing to justice the bosses and executives in the financial sector and reclaiming their illicit earnings.
The effect of the US and other authorities benefiting from this process is that individuals and shareholders of financial assets the world over are now paying off these fines through higher charges and depressed share values.
The scandal at Fifa is at least consistent. Football has for so long been an ethics-free zone that it thoroughly deserves a corrupt, self-serving organisation and, possibly, president to represent it.
With some honourable exceptions, greed and self-interest drive most footballers and their avaricious agents. Loyalty to club or even country is rare or grudging. Every week on every pitch in Britain players systematically cheat, displaying zero respect for the referees and the rules they strive, inadequately, to enforce.
We have always known that Fifa has presided over this cowardly refusal to enforce the rules of the game; resisting every innovation, such as technology, that might make things fairer.
Recent events just confirm what we have always known, that greed and corruption drives football at every level.
St Albans, Hertfordshire
Sepp Blatter states that he could not “monitor everyone all of the time”. Does that include his vice president, and his executive committee, on whose behalf he pulled the name Qatar out of the envelope?
If that is his defence then, if the allegations against Fifa officials are proved, he is either grossly incompetent for not exercising due diligence, or potentially as corrupt as those already arrested. Either way, his position is untenable. However, since his stance seems to be to remain, perhaps it is up to Fifa’s major sponsors to call time on an organisation that, if the charges are proved, beggars belief in the breadth of its apparrent corruption and unaccountability.
Only then can the long process start of rebuilding the organisation and commensurate trust in the administration of “the beautiful game”.
Isn’t the Swiss government also culpable for the mess that is Fifa? It allows “international” organisations such as Fifa to operate from its jurisdiction without any meaningful controls on how they conduct themselves. As a minimum the Swiss should insist on basic transparency requirements (including details of how much officials are paid – something Blatter refuses to disclose).
Why did labour give up on the mansion tax?
Donald Macintyre (28 May) is right to criticise Labour for apparently dropping the “mansion tax” proposal, largely because the candidates for leadership tend to agree that it lost the support of the “aspirational”.
If taxing owners of houses worth £2m and over symbolises “the politics of envy”, as Burnham and others suggest, presumably they are also against raising the top rate of income tax to 50 per cent, and against a bonus tax on bankers?
In fact, Labour is now, presumably, in opposition to all methods of wealth redistribution – though even under Thatcher top-rate income tax was 60 per cent. Do these candidates not want to improve the UK’s shameful 28th position out of 34 developed nations in the equality league table?
If Labour is to recover from its devastating defeat, it has to develop transformational policies, which will undoubtedly cost billions. If there is no willingness to fund public services by taxing those most able to pay, not only will Labour’s ability to balance the books again be questioned, its raison d’être will be too.
Donald Macintyre wonders why the mansion tax proposal is being disowned in the current Labour leadership contest. Perhaps all have realised the irrationality and unfairness of what amounts to a wealth tax on an arbitrary asset, namely, for most, the family home.
Yes, it would make a great deal of sense and be just to change the current council tax and tax houses valued above the current maximum band level on an upward escalator basis.
Yes, one could argue the merits of a French-style wealth tax on the aggregate value of all assets above a certain threshold.
But to arbitrarily pick on one random asset, the family home, and one which generates no income and often has a “market” value way in excess of the original purchase price, was a cynical, populist move that would have penalised many ordinary long-term London residents.
Compelling the sale of housing association property to tenants at below market valuation seems indistinguishable from any other expropriation of property by government diktat.
If the same were proposed for the commanding heights of the economy and any other public assets lately privatised, certain sections of the press would spontaneously combust.
The posture required to sustain such cognitive dissonance defies description.
Haydon Bridge, Northumberland
Welcome focus on campylobacter bug
Congratulations for highlighting Campylobacter (report, 29 May). For many years I have accused journalists of underreporting “Campy” because they can’t spell it. But the real reason is that, unlike Salmonella and E.coli O157, it hardly ever causes newsworthy outbreaks.
I founded the Scottish Campylobacter Reference Laboratory in 1996. Our government funding was terminated not long after because we couldn’t come up with a routine fingerprinting system to track the source of infection. This problem has not been solved, because the bug is very good at swapping its genes and mutating. Chickens are the most important source. But cattle carry the bug too. Beef is safe; if you want to get infected, drink unpasteurised milk!
Independent GPs are an endangered species
As a 57-year-old GP partner with 30 years’ experience, I ask myself why I am staying. The new pension changes mean there is little point in continuing with superannuation contributions so there is every incentive to cut and run. The only recognition for experience was the “seniority allowance” which for my service is worth about £8,000 a year (less tax, NI and pension) and this is being phased out as “ageist” and will be abolished by 2019.
There are no incentives proposed to keep my generation of GPs and this can only be deliberate policy, as we are the generation of self-employed independent contractors who own our surgeries and employ our staff and still have a measure of political power. British general practice is endangered and the future will be big business, Virgin Health-run services.
The reasons I stay for now are the reasons I went into medicine – the cradle-to-grave continuity of patient care and conscientious NHS service that seem to count only when they are lost.
Dr Tim Jennings
Your correspondents who see the government’s actions on the NHS as off-the-cuff and un-thought-through do not grasp the clear-headed policy behind them – with a trusted public service, first underfund it and over-burden it with tasks, then highlight the resultant deficiencies (Daily Mail campaigns are always a good guide). Then, once public trust has been undermined, sell off the service.
This is a policy long followed with great success in the United States.
The politics of feeding babies
You report “Backlash against ‘brelfies’: they make bottle-feeding mothers feel persecuted” (29 May). But mothers photographing themselves this way began in defiance of companies that banned breastfeeding on their premises. They weren’t setting out to judge women who feed babies with a bottle.
Both formula and breast milk are proven to be healthy for a baby – one method of nourishment isn’t better than the other and neither is inappropriate – yet whatever is chosen, someone is critical. How negative parenthood can be sometimes.