Letters: Britain joins in the deadly drone strike game

The following letters appear in the 9 September edition of The Independent

Hamish McRae@TheIndyBusiness
Tuesday 08 September 2015 17:44

The UK has plunged headlong into the delightful “Game of Drones” so beloved of our gentle American cousins. Now we’re in the world of “signature strikes”, where, as in the case of the British Muslims killed by an RAF drone, persons of interest are specifically zapped; and “double taps”, where the responders rushing to help the wounded women and screaming children are also zapped for good measure.

And all courageously conducted from the dangerous battlefield environment of an air conditioned office suite half a world away.

Still, we must take comfort in the PM’s barely believable assurance that our very first extra-judicial drone assassination of a fellow citizen (or “bugsplat” as our cousins charmingly describe it) was done in “self defence”, though how an insignificant militant 2000 miles away even had the means to let down the tyres of a council bus is not so clear.

Meanwhile a perplexed MP asks the PM what can be done to stop “radicalising” foreign fighters, when it is obvious that were we not to behave worse than terrorists ourselves by illegally invading other countries there would be a lot less cause for indignation and a lot less chaos and carnage in our wake.

David H Lewis


The usual outcry has arisen following the drone attacks on UK Isis members. May I remind our more liberal and unworldly brethren that Isis have made themselves enemies of humankind. They have given up any entitlement to human rights, since they have no regard for anybody else. Imagine the outcry when an attack occurs in Britain and the critics of the RAF action raise the cry “Why wasn’t anything done?”

Michael Skipper


The creation of jihadi martyrs by the extrajudicial execution of two British citizens will not solve any problem; it will simply exacerbate them. It is the hallmark of a weak, incompetent Prime Minister desperate for a bit of good PR, not the stamp of an intellectually coherent statesman dominating the world stage.

It will, in the warped minds of Isis fanatics, legitimise their views about the UK, and it guarantees attacks on UK targets. The British people will pay a heavy price, I am afraid, for Mr Cameron’s disregard for the law.

Simon Gosden

Rayleigh, Essex

Migrants and cancer patients: no trade-off

I doubt that David Cameron or any other sane person could answer Emily Stevens question in her letter (7 September) trying to equate English cancer patients with Syrian refugees. Is one cancer patient worth two or three or four Syrians, or more, or less? The question though rhetorical (I hope) is still obscene.

The actual answer, I suspect, depends on whether you are an English cancer patient or a Syrian refugee. As neither I nor, I hope, Emily Stevens or David Cameron is either of these two, the question is unanswerable.

Of course the ideal response is to fund both fully, but in the real world this is not possible. So yes, the hard answer is that some patients will die and some migrants will not be helped, but both groups should get as much help as we can afford. This might mean higher taxes and reviewing vanity projects like Trident, but if we really care this is the direction we should take.

Life is not neat and easy; difficult decisions have to be made and some people will not get the help that anyone would want them to have.

Brian Dalton


The migrant crisis is appalling, and so is the opportunity being taken by Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon, Yvette Cooper and others to cloak themselves in the mantle of righteous outrage to score political points.

I am no Tory, but David Cameron’s belief that the problem must be tackled at source has to be right. Whether he has a strategy to achieve that result is another question. But to have whole populations uprooted by civil strife in the 21st century is unacceptable, and surely requires co-ordinated international action to tackle obscenities such as the destruction of Syria and the crushing of its people.

What is the UN for if not to bring people together to settle conflicts which are now spilling over into countries almost too distant to imagine? So why the silence, and where’s the action?

Ian Bartlett

East Molesey, Surrey

Why faith leaders oppose assisted dying

Your editorial of 7 September ignores two facts.

Faith leaders who wrote to MPs about the Assisted Dying Bill make clear that their concern arises from the experience of religious people in caring for the elderly, the ill, the dying and their families. Their objection to a climate of risk being created for vulnerable people is, they rightly say, “shared by people of all faiths and of none”. Your editorial wrongly assumes that religious leaders can only make arguments based on dogma and not informed by practical, lived experience.

Far from being voices from the fringes, the views in the faith leaders’ letter are supported by the medical profession, hospices and disability groups.

Instead of changing the law unnecessarily to permit doctors to help patients with suicide, there is widespread agreement that we ought instead to be investing in palliative care. That not a single medical or disability body supports the Assisted Dying Bill tells its own story. I hope MPs will bear that fact very much in mind when they debate and vote on Friday.

Richard Chapman

Head of Parliamentary affairs for the Church of England


Tech will defeat BBC bureaucrats

Most people would agree that there are few things sadder than grandads disco-dancing. But that disturbing image was brought to mind by listening to Lord Hall’s “vision” for the future of BBC radio broadcasting.

The very idea that the way people will receive mixed media online content in the next decade will be the result of initiatives by a tax-funded, bureaucratic national organisation headed by life peers and multi-tiered management (even ably assisted by Alan Yentob) is, frankly, risible.

We don’t even know which 17-year-old from which bedroom, garage or shopfront will have the nimbleness, nous and imagination to exploit the possibilities of changing technologies to be one step ahead of the needs and wants of customers.

Even now there are multinationals making the BBC look irrelevant. The next generation of individual technopreneurs will then make the multinationals look staid and unexciting.

Rather than trying to make Lord Reith turn in his grave, Lord Hall would do us a service by letting him rest in peace.

Stephen Westacott

Great Witley, Worcestershire

Sugar with everything

Natural sugars such as those found in fruit should cause no harm in moderation, but the problem with trying to consume refined sugar sensibly is that it isn’t even confined to “treats” like chocolate and fizzy drinks any more (letter, 8 September).

Browsing the supermarket, you’ll find it on the ingredients lists of various random foods: wholemeal bread, peanut butter, pasta sauce, instant porridge (and most breakfast cereals), coleslaw, stock cubes, fat-free yoghurt, tinned soup. There is overwhelming evidence that sugar is uniquely harmful to our health, perhaps more than any other aspect of the diet, yet these days practically every other meal contains it.

The junk food industry is doing what it’s always done, but what do conventional food companies have to say for themselves? Since they started giving added sugar a free pass people are now eating massive amounts without even realising.

Emilie Lamplough

Trowbridge, Wiltshire

Justice for refugees and waiters

Your campaigning over recent weeks has made me proud to have been a supporter of The Independent since its birth. Your stand against the apparent indifference of the UK Government towards the refugee crisis, your coverage of the airport shops VAT scandal and your support for the right of restaurant workers to keep all their tips has been admirable.

The one thing that these three issues have in common is that you have been fighting for justice. In all three cases, you seem to have shaped opinion to the extent that justice will prevail.

Keep fighting for what is right.

The Rev Philip Green

Potters Bar, Hertfordshire

All set for Armageddon

I read that Mr Putin intends to “involve” his country in Syria. With the Russians in place, we have the full set: Arabs, Jews, America, Russians, Christianity and Islam, all next to the Plain of Armageddon. What could possibly go wrong?

Vaughan Thomas

Usk, Gwent

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