Dish washer

Dish washer 19th April 2013

I trot round the park today and listen to the Navy lark. I Oh dear, oh dear
Pertwee Commander Murray and Leslie and the Padre have been ordered to turn up at Mrs Povey’s for cocoa. She enroles them into her choir. Some wonderful comic singing ensues. absolutely Priceless.
The wind up radio is picked up and The dishwasher repair man turns upo and will have to order some ‘parts’. No change in the hole in the road.
Upstairs Downstairs: The governess is left in charge.
I wins at Scrabble today and get just over 400, Mary might get her revenge tomorrow, I hope.

Obituary:

Anne Williams
Anne Williams, who has died aged 62, played a leading part in the campaign to expose the extent of the official cover-up into the Hillsborough disaster of 1989, and in particular the conduct of the police before and during the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, when 96 Liverpool football supporters died.

Anne Williams Photo: GAVIN TRAFFORD
6:39PM BST 18 Apr 2013
One of them was Anne Williams’s 15-year-old son, Kevin, who had gone to the game with a friend. It was her fight to get his inquest verdict of accidental death overturned that led to fresh hearings for all the fans who died.
In his official report into the disaster, Lord Justice Taylor identified the principal cause as South Yorkshire police’s mismanagement of the crowd, although the force itself had blamed drunken Liverpool fans. It later emerged that shortly after the disaster, police top brass had instructed junior officers to rewrite their statements about what had happened. Despite Taylor’s finding, the Hillsborough families believed that South Yorkshire police had high-level government support.
Anne Williams began a solo campaign to establish what had really happened to her son. Her appeals for the truth gradually became more and more strident, but she found herself repeatedly brushed aside by officials and the judiciary. However, despite no legal training, and lacking formal organisational support of any kind, she refused to give up.
As her efforts gathered momentum, Anne Williams organised an independent pressure group called Hope For Hillsborough, which later joined forces with the larger Hillsborough Justice Campaign – which she went on to chair. Although she became one of the figureheads for the victims’ families in their quest for justice, her day-to-day routine was one of toil, doggedness and forensic probing that would have done credit to a seasoned professional investigator.
She realised that only by tracking down and identifying witnesses to the events at Hillsborough would she stand any chance of getting at the truth. Working from her kitchen table, and in the face of repeated stonewalling from the police and other official agencies, she began writing letters and cold-calling on the telephone, gradually amassing dozens of files and thousands of pages of evidence, painstakingly assembled from statements and interviews from police officers and paramedics who had dealt with the dead and dying on the day, even tracking down the rescuers who had pulled her son from the Hillsborough crush and carried him clear on a piece of advertising hoarding.
Two people who had helped Kevin – Derek Bruder, an off-duty police officer, and a woman special police constable – later testified that he had signs of life up to 4pm; Bruder felt a pulse, and the WPC said Kevin had opened his eyes and said “Mum”. Although their statements were subsequently changed after visits from the West Midlands police to suggest there were no signs of life, both officers have since stood by their original statements.
Anne Williams sought the opinions of three eminent pathologists, all of whom disputed the diagnosis by a consultant who examined Kevin and found that he had died from traumatic asphyxia. One of the three said he believed Kevin died from severe neck injuries, and could have been saved had he been treated promptly. Other victims might have been saved too, he added, even after 3.15pm.
The time was critical. In 1990 the coroner at the original inquest had limited the hearing to events up to 3.15pm on the day of the disaster, ruling that by then all the victims had received injuries in the crush which rapidly caused irreversible brain damage. In August 2006 Anne Williams applied to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that the inquest into her son’s death was “insufficient” on account of the 3.15pm cut-off.
Last September the report from the Hillsborough Independent Panel revealed the extent of the Establishment cover-up and the attempt to blame drunken Liverpool fans for the tragedy. A few days after the panel’s findings were published, Anne Williams was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She continued her campaign, and in December travelled in a wheelchair to a hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London at which a panel of three judges quashed the original inquest verdicts of “accidental death”.
Afterwards she thanked the present attorney general, Dominic Grieve, for being “a man of his word” in pushing for the new inquests, arrangements for which are due to be settled in London next week. Anne Williams long insisted that the fitting verdict would be “corporate manslaughter” – by which organisations are found guilty of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.
Anne Elizabeth Meath was born on February 6 1951 at Formby, between Liverpool and Southport, the daughter of a farm labourer. Leaving Our Lady of Lourdes school at nearby Birkdale at the age of 15, she learned shorthand and typing at night school and took various secretarial jobs locally before settling into office work at the Littlewoods pools headquarters in Liverpool.
By 1989 she had a part-time job as a barmaid at a pub in Formby, but was at home on April 15, a Saturday, when someone knocked at her door to tell her of the disaster unfolding at Hillsborough; earlier Kevin had travelled to the game by coach with his schoolfriend, Stuart Thompson. Anne Williams dashed to the nearby Formby British Legion club and saw pictures from the ground on the television in the bar. Within the hour, her sister-in-law was driving her to Sheffield.
During her tenure as chairman of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, Anne Williams appealed to the incumbent attorney general for a new hearing on three separate occasions, only to be fobbed off each time. The European Court of Human Rights also rejected the case in 2009, and it was only last year, with the report from the Hillsborough Independent Panel, that the breakthrough she had worked for nearly a quarter of a century was achieved.
As for the cover-up that shifted blame away from the authorities and on to the victims, Anne Williams remained unyielding. “I can’t forgive them the extremes they went to,” she said. “Why didn’t they just give us the truth?”
Anne Williams was twice married. With her first husband she had two sons, the younger of whom was Kevin. After her divorce she married Steve Williams, with whom she had a daughter, but the relationship broke down as she became increasingly involved in the campaign that eventually took a toll on her health. Last Monday she defied medical advice to attend a memorial service at Anfield to mark the 24th anniversary of the disaster.
Her elder son and daughter survive her.
Anne Williams, born February 6 1951, died April 18 2013

Guardian:

The AGM of mining corporation Anglo American takes place today as its Cerrejón coal mine in Colombia underlines the need for stricter regulation of UK-based mining companies. Cerrejón is jointly owned by Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Xstrata, three of the biggest mining companies in the world. Like other mining giants, they are listed on the London Stock Exchange. At the meeting, community representative Julio Gomez will make the point that displaced communities still lack adequate compensation and just relocation arrangements, in spite of years of community resistance, international solidarity and protests demanding improved behaviour by Cerrejón’s mine bosses and its multinational owners.
When the financial services bill was debated in 2012, the government blocked amendments that would have placed responsibility on UK regulators to foster ethical corporate behaviour, including respect for human rights. The new Financial Conduct Authority, responsible for overseeing UK company listings, thus lacks the power to discipline and delist companies that continue to operate to inadequate standards.The Cerrejón example shows yet again that mining companies listed here are allowed to get away with environmental destruction and ride roughshod over local communities’ rights.
Richard Solly London Mining Network
Glory Saavedra Sussex Colombia Solidarity
Sue Williams Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors
Graciela Romero War on Want
Hannah Griffiths World Development Movement
Asad Rehman Friends of The Earth
• We welcome the government’s commitment to clamp down on tax evasion and avoidance. But the UK cannot credibly do so without taking steps to ensure British-linked havens can never again harbour tax evaders, criminals and money launderers (Letters, 17 April). As one in eight people continue to suffer from hunger and 2 million children die from malnutrition every year, it’s a scandal that tax havens are allowed to syphon money from the poorest countries that could be invested to help feed the hungry. We encourage the UK to host a tax haven summit, to ensure these jurisdictions implement a public register disclosing who really owns the companies registered on their shores, and provide other countries with automatic access to information about the wealth and assets their taxpayers have placed in these havens.
Melanie Ward Head of advocacy, ActionAid UK
Sol Oyuela Interim head of advocacy, Christian Aid
Gavin Hayman Director of campaigns, Global Witness
Kathleen Spencer Chapman Acting head of advocacy, Oxfam GB
Brendan Cox Director of policy and advocacy, Save the Children UK

Your correspondent (16 April) suggests that the Southwark Ambitions scheme, which has seen UCL and Cambridge University work together to encourage Southwark students to apply to university, has been discontinued following withdrawal of funding. While we are saddened by the withdrawal of government funding and for the wider implications which this decision will have for widening participation, both UCL and Cambridge remain committed to the scheme, and will continue to fund the cohort from existing budgets. The scheme will support the current cohort until they apply to university in 2016-17. UCL and Cambridge are committed to a project that is entirely in keeping with their historic missions to widen opportunity and ensure talented students from all backgrounds are encouraged to go to university.
Katy Redfern
Head of outreach, University College London
• Jonathan Freedland’s description of David Owen and David Steel as “the twin faces of the SDP/Liberal alliance” (Report, 18 April) is wide of the mark considering that, when the merger of the SDP with the Liberal party was proposed, David Owen rejected it outright and continued to lead a smaller SDP.
Dudley Turner
Westerham, Kent
• In 1976, I hitchhiked across Canada (Report, 18 April). Days before I left london, I was told by a friend that Pierre Trudeau had asked Canadian drivers to stop for hitchhikers “so that students could see our great country”. I never did track down that story, but if it’s true it worked. I often refused lifts just to walk and look.
Alan Fry
London
• So, the FA says that the 5.15 kick off for the FA Cup final was agreed with “major stakeholders” – except for the fans, of course (Sport, 17 April). Is there, I wonder, another organisation in the UK more contemptuous of its customers?
Milton Cadman
Northampton
• Frank Zappa made this point more than 30 years ago with his song Cocaine Decisions (Was cocaine to blame for the credit crunch?, G2, 16 April).
Colin Cooper
Bingley, West Yorkshire

While we welcomed your coverage of the ongoing hunger strikes by detainees at Guantánamo Bay and of the mistreatment of our father, Shaker Aamer (President Obama’s shame, 14 April), we could not but wonder why it has taken so long for this story to receive significant media coverage. The abuse of our father and other detainees has been taking place for over 11 years now and their hunger strike has been ongoing for over two months. Will it take his death for this issue to become newsworthy and for our government to take active steps for his return? Your otherwise excellent article failed to mention that almost 110,000 British citizens and residents have now signed a government e-petition calling for his return. This shows the outrage there is among the public at our father’s ongoing detention without trial. We hope that our petition will trigger the government to take whatever action is necessary to bring our father home alive.
Johina Aamer, Michael Aamer, Abdullah Aamer, Faris Aamer
London

I saw a different version of events in London than those portrayed in the media. As we walked from Waterloo station to St Clement Danes to join the funeral route, I was struck with how few people were on the streets. We couldn’t get to the point at the courts of justice we were aiming for because of road barriers but had no problem finding a viewpoint at the beginning of the route – and we arrived a few minutes before it started. Again I was surprised at the low attendance, a few thousand at most. After expressing our democratic right –turning our backs on the gun carriage as it passed and muttering “job done” – we adjourned to St Martin’s crypt for coffee. The London I observed was typical of a Wednesday morning, unruffled by events along the Strand and going about its normal business.
Geoff Clegg
London
• When I walked behind Diana’s coffin with other representatives of her favourite charities, there was a heavy silence, broken only by the sound of the horses’ hooves, the tolling of the abbey’s tenor bell and sobbing from the crowds. Yesterday, the crowds along the route applauded. Not sure what to make of that.
Chris Birch
London
• As someone who has spent the last eight years caring for my severely disabled mother who has dementia, I am somewhat puzzled. How is it that Margaret Thatcher, revered by so many and so loved by her children and grandchildren, died alone at the Ritz? It doesn’t compute.
Linda Cockshaw
Staines, Middlesex
• My mother’s funeral took place on the same day as Margaret Thatcher’s. The vicar read the passage from John 14 that includes the words “in my father’s house are many rooms”. Later that day, I heard David Cameron read the same passage from the St James version which goes, “in my father’s house are many mansions”. No surprise there, then. Presumably Thatcher’s choice of text reflected her belief that she was destined for a more exclusive, privately owned version of heaven than the rest of us.
Christine Keogh
Gargrave, North Yorkshire
• To paraphrase St Paul: “Though I have the grandest funeral money can buy, if I have not love I am nothing.”
Gabrielle Cox
Manchester
• Seumas Milne (Comment, 17 April) says that Margaret Thatcher did not turn the economy round. Has he not seen the findings of the LSE’s growth commission? It shows that in the century from 1870 to 1980, the British economy grew less fast than those of the US, Germany and France. Since 1980 it has grown faster than all those three. The authors put most of this improvement down to the supply side reforms initiated by Mrs Thatcher. Why does the left find it so hard to be objective?
John Horam
London
• May I express my gratitude to Emma Wallis (Letters, 15 April). In my opinion she gave voice, in a very eloquent manner, to the feelings arising from Thatchers life/death emanating from villages all over south Yorkshire. Perhaps the tribute paid to Mrs Thatcher in my home village of Goldthorpe on Wednesday was a more pertinent way of “celebrating” her demise. Thank you Emma.
Ian McDonnell Ex-coal miner Goldthorpe/Dearne Valley collieries
Westcliff on Sea, Essex
• Now the dust has settled on the passing of Margaret Thatcher, may I thank the liberal left and the labour movement in general, through their puerile behaviour over the last 10 days, for reminding all of us who endured the horrors of the three-day week and the winter of discontent, exactly why we voted for Mrs Thatcher in 1979 and rejected Labour’s nationalised, trade union-abused Britain. All just before a set of local elections. She couldn’t have timed her departure better.
Peter Sanders
Bishops Waltham, Hampshire
• I never hated Thatcher. I was opposed to what she stood for: the Conservative party, monetarism and her strident true blue colonialism. I only saw snippets of Wednesday’s spectacle on TV. But they were enough to disgust me. The emphatic declaration that the state is mighty, monarchy, parliament and the media demanding the compliance of respect at every turn. How dare they! How dare they!
Ann Jamieson
Highfields Caldecote, Cambridgeshire
• A fascinating picture in your funeral supplement (18 April) showing just some of the mourners. Of the 42 you identify, can we now be told which of them are not multi-millionaires?
Phil Penfold
Doncaster, South Yorkshire
• I marked the passing of my fellow Methodist, Mrs Thatcher, by working an extra shift at my local food bank. Seemed apt, somehow.
Peter Collins
Stanley, Co Durham
• Surely if a statue is commissioned it should be an iron lady by Antony Gormley. It should obviously be bigger than the Angel of the North, but it should be facing north and be designed with a Churchillian gesture. Perhaps it could be called the Queen of the South.
David Walker
Dudley, West Midlands
• Could you encourage ( if encouragement is needed!) Steve Bell to produce a mug to commemorate Thatcher’s “reign” similar to the one he produced for the Queen’s diamond jubilee?
Peter Rainer
Wrexham
• Guardian readers won’t be able to have their paper back just yet (Letters, 18 April). We haven’t had the wall chart.
Dr Mike Rushton
Tarporley, Cheshire

Independent:
e have heard much in recent weeks about loving or hating Margaret Thatcher. Now that her funeral is over, is it not time to step back and think about pitying her?
She began well by taking on the unions. At the time that needed to be done. But that success, coupled with her apparent natural tendency to an excess of self-belief, led to too much confidence in her own powers and opinions.
There is place for strong leadership. But there is also a necessity to curb the excesses of an over-strong personality. It is a kindness to save such people before their delusion does too much harm to themselves or others. And no one did her that service, neither her Cabinet colleagues nor the electorate, until it was too late for her and for the country.
Margaret Thatcher could have been remembered as the first woman Prime Minister, and the one who dealt with corrupt union practices. Instead she will be remembered by many as the PM who fostered greed and sowed the seeds of social inequality.
Susan Alexander, Frampton Cotterell, South Gloucestershire
 
While the great and good gathered for Thatcher’s funeral, figures were released showing the number out  of work had risen to  2.56 million. This is the real legacy of the late Prime Minister, as she famously believed that unemployment was a price worth paying in order to defeat both inflation and union power.
So whereas the previous post-war jobless high was a little over 1.6 million under Callaghan, Thatcher’s term of office saw this total more than double. Many of these jobs lost were in traditional heavy industries, and were not replaced by full-time work elsewhere. Consequently structural unemployment became a fact of life in former pit towns and the like, which have remained worklessness blackspots ever since.
Which is why you’ve got generations living on welfare, and a higher welfare bill than you would  need if governments had remained committed to full employment.
Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby
 
The views expressed about Margaret Thatcher over the past week by the general public appeared to have been either “She was pretty awful” or “She was pretty good” in roughly equal measure. On the other hand I’ve noticed on quite a few  occasions an opinion shared by people in the BBC, the “quality” press, and in the Tory party which had a distinctly Downton Abbey flavour.
In the language of Julian Fellowes it might be translated as: “Her family were in trade, you know. It’s curious how she came to such prominence – I’m not sure something like that should happen in polite society.”
Alan Bellis, Shrewsbury
 
The stop at St Clement Danes during the funeral of Lady Thatcher was an opportunity (missed by commentators, it seems) to recall that this was the burial place of Anne Donne, wife of a former Dean of St Paul’s, John Donne, and an excuse to quote his immortal words: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less” – words that should resonate today with regard both to British social cohesion and to our membership of the EU.
Professor David Head, Navenby, Lincolnshire
 
The Bishop of London made generous reference to Baroness Thatcher’s Methodist roots in his sermon at her funeral, but had  she  remained in it Lady Thatcher would have found a church that it not “one of us”, as it reaches out to the most needy in society.
“Go not just to those who need you, but those who need you most,” said John Wesley, the church’s founder. It is now a  church engaging in discourse trying to live out  New Testament teaching in contemporary society, seeking social justice, celebrating difference, inclusive and questioning.
The Iron Lady came out of a Methodist stable but Methodism and Thatcherism are now clearly a country mile apart, and some of us thank God for that.
Helen Martyn, London NW5
 
Regarding the numbers of protesters at the funeral, there were far more in the crowd than at the designated protest points. I for one placed myself in the crowd on Ludgate Hill to protest against the glorification of Thatcher, the ruination of our country and society and the preposterous cost of the funeral.
There were many others doing the same. We simply turned our backs in silence as the gun carriage passed.
My thoughts were with the victims of the Belgrano, the coalminers, the steelworkers and those who lost their jobs as a result of  privatisation.
Douglas Flack
Derby
During Mrs Thatcher’s funeral we were hit by a power cut. Was she reminding us what she stood for? Spooky.
Jim Bowman, South Harrow, Middlesex
 
No need for more house extensions
The proposal to increase the size of house extensions that could be built without permission is misconceived – but not because of  the minimal extra impact on neighbours (“Bigger conservatories are no answer”, 17 April).
The necessary upgrading of the energy efficiency of about 26 million dwellings would provide more than enough work for the whole construction industry for at least the next 25 years. This job would be made more difficult by making dwellings larger rather than more efficient. 
Many if not most house extensions are carried out to increase the value and potential “pension pot” rather than meet any housing need. The effect is to increase the endemic levels of under-occupancy in the owner-occupied sector and to make housing generally less affordable. Eric Pickles should be tackling these real problems.
Daniel Scharf, Abingdon Oxfordshire
 
How refreshing to read Chris Mullin’s views (Voices, 6 April) on housing and how depressing that his should be a lone voice – and furthermore that of a retired MP.
If there had not been a determined effort by Thatcher’s government – and all successive governments – to put every publicly owned asset into private hands, the property boom and bust which has contributed so much to the borrowing and negative equity crisis might not have happened.
Furthermore, because all council tenancies were dependent on contractual obligations being fulfilled, there would have been a better chance of council estates being well maintained and regulated instead of becoming the hotch-potch of ill-maintained private rental properties in areas totally lacking a sense of community which we now have to deal with.
Anna Farlow, London NW2
 
Our treatments do help addicts
Luke Dale-Harris’s report about addiction treatment (“The power of intervention”, 9 April) overlooks the effectiveness and recovery focus of England’s drug treatment system.
For people addicted to drugs, there is a wide range of treatment services available in every local authority area free of charge. Recovery rates compare favourably to other countries including the US. Residential rehabilitation is one of the options, however it should not be regarded as a “silver bullet” and is most effective when there are clear routes between residential and community services. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to tackling addiction – it is about understanding each individual and working with them, and their family, to develop the best combination of treatment and support to help them recover. For those addicted to heroin, substitute prescribing is endorsed by Nice as a means of providing a safe platform for recovery as part of this package of support.
There is always room for improvement; however, the reality is that record numbers of drug addicts in England are recovering from addiction, indicating the significant impact that treatment is continuing to have.
Rosanna O’Connor, Director, Alcohol and Drugs, Public Health England, London SE1
 
Not too old to walk the fells
You report (18 April) that an “elderly” woman died after a fall in the Lake District, and you say she was 68! I see an “elderly” person as frail and perhaps needing assistance in daily life. This active lady was hiking through the countryside. Quote her age by all means, but give her credit for getting out and about and enjoying what I think might have better been reported as “the early evening of her life”.
Joel Baillie-Lane, Bristol
 
Good and evil
Regarding Alastair Munro’s letter (16 April), all over the world, people are doing all manner of wonderful things at the behest of their religions, whether it be providing health care to poor children, spreading hope by suggesting there is more to life than consumerism or working to heal the wounds of civil wars. But atheists of Mr Munro’s persuasion don’t like to admit that religions inspire good deeds as well as evil ones. 
Dr Margaret Harris, Chippenham, Wiltshire
 
Bad dream
It was amazing to see “The Finishing Line” get a mention in your piece about Richard Littler’s Scarfolk (18 April). I remember as a child the sick feeling in my stomach as I watched the story unfold, and over the years I told myself it was just a horrific dream. So it was real after all!
Sophie Goodrick, London SW2
 
Canada’s example
In Canada, it is harder to obtain a firearm licence and the incidence of crime involving firearms is lower than in the USA. The US Senate might look north to see what to do, rather than voting down President Obama’s proposals.
William Robert Haines, Shrewsbury
 
Off to Korea
The BBC defends sending an undercover team into North Korea, notwithstanding any risk to the LSE students. Had any senior BBC management gone on the trip I might have been more impressed.
Francis Beswick, Stretford, Manchester
 
Measles danger
If there’s such a danger from a measles epidemic, why are the relevant authorities not offering the option of single measles vaccines alongside the MMR vaccine? 
Jacqueline Miller, Dorchester

Times:
Responsibility for children lies with their parents… there is no justification for withholding immunisation after 2010’
Sir, Alice Thomson blames the medical profession, the press, politicians and health officials for the lack of protection against measles now affecting so many children in Wales and elsewhere (“I got it wrong on MMR, but I wasn’t to blame”, Opinion, Apr 17).
Andrew Wakefield was struck off the medical register three years ago and this could hardly have been better publicised by the media. There had been plenty of evidence in the public domain for some years before that which should have sounded alarm bells among parents of unvaccinated children.
Responsibility for children lies squarely with their parents. Some may have been misled in 1998 and while the arguments about the discredited research continued, but there can be absolutely no justification for withholding immunisation after 2010.
Clive A. Layton, FRCP
Abbess Roding, Essex
Sir, Alice Thomson is surely correct that she and other parents were not at fault for the fall in MMR immunisations, but to blame health officials for admonishing the public and not being better at communicating advice is a bit rich.
I was responsible for public health in a part of England at the time, and well remember repeated attempts to explain the overwhelming evidence of both safety and benefits to journalists and reporters. The end results were unvaryingly depressing: a news item on a sad family trying to come to terms with a child with autism blamed on immunisation, followed by the terse comment that “nevertheless a public health spokesperson continues to deny any link with MMR”.
“Lone maverick takes on uncaring establishment” is a great story, and reporting of the MMR affair was carefully shaped to fit that narrative. The shame is that it took too long to set the record straight, but it was not for want of trying.
Bill Kirkup
Gateshead, Tyne and Wear
Sir, The main culprit in this sorry saga was the media, which in its rush to sensationalise and its poor understanding of matters scientific, confused and misled the public.
The General Medical Council inquiry, which took some three years and cost well over £1 million, nearly ruined the careers of two outstanding doctors caring for profoundly sick children and ignored the distress of parents who were practically at the end of their tether. Two of the doctors, after this overlong inquiry, were subsequently exonerated.
As you say in your leading article “Junk Science” (Apr 16) , credulous commentators ventriloquised Andrew Wakefield’s sensationalist campaign. Had the matter been dealt with in a more low-key manner the measles epidemic in Wales would not have occurred.
Yes, science works, because science learns by its mistakes. Mistakes and advances in science are made because risks have to be taken with ideas. With regard to the Wakefield Lancet paper, both the media and the GMC confused correlation with causality.
The lesson that should have been learnt, by both scientists and the media, is that science is not about certainty and that it should not be subject to sensationalism, particularly in the field of medical research.
Dr Derek Stanesby
Uppingham, Rutland

We are to have a new two-speed criminal justice system, with experienced trial lawyers only for those who can afford them
Sir, Matthew Claughton (letter, Apr 17) raises a concern about the provision of representation in our criminal courts. Unfortunately the issue he raises is only part of the tale. The provision of legal aid will be utterly transformed by the Justice Secretary’s plans. The Lord Chancellor will hand over the budget for running the criminal caseloads to new entities with regional responsibility for conduct of criminal cases, much as G4S runs our prisons.
Once a client falls into the hands of one of these new entities he will find that his choices are limited. The Lord Chancellor holds that many criminal trials are financially inconvenient. Thus the lawyers will be penalised for running trials and those who wish to protest their innocence will be presented with incentives to compromise their position.
The plans will also dovetail with a new regulatory regime, welcomed by the Ministry of Justice, that allows for a new breed of semi-skilled lawyers, not competent to advise on or conduct trials, to represent defendants when they take their first, difficult steps before a Crown Court.
So we are to have a new two-speed criminal justice system. Those who can afford it will be able to access the sort of legal advice one would expect to receive from an experienced trial lawyer, who has the capacity to assist with all of the difficult questions that arise in the dock of a Crown Court. The remainder will have to take their chance with the plea-only advocate to whom their case has been assigned, and who knows only this: that he has to save his company’s money.
At the very least these changes will seriously fracture the public’s trust in the justice system.
Tim Storrie
Lincoln House Chambers, Manchester

She may have misjudged her policies with regard to Germany, but her approach to climate change was driven by research
Sir, Chancellor Helmut Kohl , as you rightly say (leading article, Apr 11), several times sought to engage Margaret Thatcher in the complex negotiations between Gorbachev, President Bush and himself, but Margaret rejected his overtures.
Margaret never forgot or forgave the Germans’ bombing of British cities, nor the Holocaust. She was — wrongly — convinced that after the devastation of Russia by the Wehrmacht the Soviet Union would never again permit a powerful united Germany to re-emerge on its western frontier and that Gorbachev would be ousted if he permitted this. She also resented George Bush working more closely with the Germans than the British, something her friend Ronald Reagan would never have done, during the negotiations that saw the Iron Curtain dismantled and the Red Army withdrawn from Eastern Europe. That her German policy was misjudged she was later to acknowledge, but history, I suspect, will record that she was not the first or the last Conservative leader to fail to protect our country’s best interests in Europe. Anthony Eden, decades earlier, looked the other way while the founding fathers of the Common Market designed the Treaty of Rome to suit French, German and Italian interests.
Will David Cameron be the next Prime Minister to preside over British absenteeism from the high tables of Europe, whose power — and problems — are crucial to our interests? My concern is that without Britain at its heart, the EU will be dominated not by the Europeanised Germany that Helmut Kohl and his successors prefer but by a Germanised Europe that Margaret Thatcher feared.
Sir Eldon Griffiths
MP for Bury St Edmunds 1964-92
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
Sir, William Waldegrave has, I fear, fallen below his customary standard of meticulous scholarship in his article speculating on what Margaret Thatcher would do today about climate change (“On global warming she’d trust the science”, Apr 17).
There is no need to speculate. She made her views abundantly clear. Towards the end of her time in office she was persuaded that there was a potential threat to which the world should be alerted, but took no policy initiatives of any kind as she well understood that a great deal more needed to be known before that would be justified.
By 2002, when her book Statecraft appeared, she had concluded that the science was far more complex and less certain than it had first appeared, and that the motives of the “doomsters” (her term) were, to say the least, highly suspect. Her considered and well-researched views can be found on pages 449-458 of that book, in the section appropriately entitled Hot Air and Global Warming.
Lord Lawson of Blaby
Chairman, The Global Warming Policy Foundation

The ‘equality and diversity’ legislation goes back to the propaganda of Marxian intellectuals such as Herbert Marcuse
Sir, Alan Sked (letter, Apr 18) seems to suggest that postwar Western Marxism had no cultural or political impact. Quite apart from the prevalence of “critical studies” in US and UK academic circles, the dominant “equality and diversity” legislation goes right back to the propaganda of Marxian intellectuals such as Herbert Marcuse, who sought specifically to enlist ethnic and sexual minorities, the disabled and students, for revolutionary change.
David Ashton
Sheringham, Norfolk

There are children who are born autistic and despite intensive early intervention, will always remain so
Sir, There is no such thing as “pre-autism” (letter, Apr 16). My children were born autistic and despite intensive early intervention they remain so. There are techniques which have helped us and them, but nothing can make them less autistic.
There is no evidence that autism is caused by “unconscious conflict over maturation and dependence on others (or) reactive responses to parental emotional states and parental behaviour”. Previous generations of mothers in my situation had to cope with the double pain of being accused of causing their children’s disability by being “refrigerator mothers”. I had hoped such outdated theories were well and truly in the past.
Anne-Louise Crocker
Shoreham, Kent

Telegraph:
SIR – As a farmer I am glad that the food crisis debate has at last started (“Food crises may force families to dig for survival, minister warns”, report, April 16).
Food shortages are likely because of the simple fact that profits from primary food production are falling, which has led agriculture to be starved of reinvestment in its core business.
David Mitchem
Clyst Hydon, Devon
SIR – We import so much of our food simply because the food retailers use cheap imports to drive down the price they pay for British produce. British production costs are higher, due to regulation in abattoirs, farm assurance, red tape, fuel taxation and supermarkets’ individual requirements for food assurance, which have to be funded by the primary producer.
These extra costs don’t exist elsewhere in the world and in some places production is even subsidised. British producers cannot compete and are giving up their businesses. Until the retailers stop bleeding their suppliers dry in the short-term quest for huge margins, we will continue to see more imported food and a decline in home production.
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18 Apr 2013
Growing a few rows of veg at home is not the answer. We need a longer-term view for food production and the retailers need to value suppliers rather than destroy them.
David Corp
Doulting, Somerset
Eurozone taxation
SIR – Leaders in Europe would be better advised to learn from the rich, rather than to find new ways of stealing from them with yet more taxes (“Wealth tax to pay for EU bail-outs, report, April 15).
The rich (mostly) pay their fair share to government treasuries. They balance their family budgets by living within their means. They work hard to replenish their capital, instead of living off the public purse.
It is high time that politicians stopped looking for the easy option and learnt to live by these same simple rules, rather than asking others to pay for their profligacy.
James Anderson
Geneva, Switzerland
Sly dig? Not at all
SIR – Your report that I launched an “unprecedented attack” on Sly Bailey, my predecessor at Trinity Mirror (Business, April 17) was exciting, but perhaps misinterpreted me.
I can only assume that this article stemmed from a very brief conversation which I had with one of your reporters who approached me during a coffee break at a conference.
In the few minutes that I spoke with this reporter, we had a light-hearted and pleasant exchange. Your interpretation that I lashed out and made specific criticisms of the past is misplaced. I was not “taken aback by the state of the company”.
Simon Fox
Chief Executive, Trinity Mirror
London E14
A job well done
SIR – I would suggest that if the “well-cooked” beef that Elizabeth Jones (Letters, April 16) serves to dinner party guests is disappearing quickly, it is because they are feeding it to the dogs under the table. As a beef farmer, I cringe to see it served up.
Liz Falkingham
Driffield, East Yorkshire
SIR – Two years ago I was with my grandfather in a restaurant in Brittany. He ordered a steak extra well done. The English-speaking manager presented his order to the head chef in the open kitchen.
The chef’s reaction was to throw his hat into the air and leave the kitchen. He did not return. It was left to the manager to cook the steak, which arrived charred on the outside but bloody in the middle.
Charlie Dawson
Littlehampton, West Sussex

SIR – Having watched the televised funeral ceremony for Baroness Thatcher, I marvelled once again at the ability of this country to organise such a moving public spectacle despite all the predictions of gloom and disorder.
Margaret Gillies
Orpington, Kent
SIR – Lady Thatcher’s funeral service was a joyful testimony to the fullness of life she enjoyed and to the moral and spiritual foundation of her personal and political efforts. What tremendous readings and hymns.
It was a shame that so many dignitaries and politicians attending the service at times showed boredom and lack of interest. If only our present leaders had the same depth of faith.
Jonathan Longstaff
Woodford Green, Essex
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SIR – When the television coverage of the funeral service was over I had participated in a beautiful and meaningful act of worship, something one rarely experiences these days.
Arthur Royall
Hindhead, Surrey
SIR – This was a triumph of British decency and solidarity, but may I record particular admiration for the coffin bearers, under the command of the formidable Welsh Guardsmen brothers Mott, in negotiating the steps of St Paul’s, not only up but down? My fingers were crossed.
Roland Fernsby
Pelham, Hertfordshire
SIR – I would like to think that some of the applause during Lady Thatcher’s funeral procession was directed towards the men who gallantly and faultlessly carried her coffin up and down the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral. Only by doing it can one appreciate the strain and difficulty involved.
John Wild
Herne Bay, Kent
SIR – Is it too late for us to return to the British tradition of silence during a funeral procession?
Leigh Hatts
London SE1
SIR – How appropriate that the last three letters of the hearse bearing Lady Thatcher were LEV, which means “lion” in Russian, Czech, Polish and other Slavic languages. Many in those nations would surely approve.
Christopher Peters
Godalming, Surrey
SIR – If Labour had been in power would Lady Thatcher have had such a funeral?
Peter Collings
Martyr Worthy, Hampshire
SIR – The Bishop of Grantham has criticised the cost of Lady Thatcher’s funeral. Did he complain, I wonder, about the money which must have been spent on the service for the installation of the new Archbishop of Canterbury?
John Cook
Sidmouth, Devon
SIR – To what lengths does David Dimbleby go to try to make a story? In his interview on the BBC with the Prime Minister, before Lady Thatcher’s coffin was moved from St Clement Danes, he reminded David Cameron that he had arranged the pomp and ceremony.
The Prime Minister respectfully replied that all the arrangements had been made before he became Tory leader. The funeral service had been agreed, in the main, during Tony Blair’s time – which should put an end to all those who criticise.
Terry Duncan
Bridlington, East Yorkshire
SIR – I would like to congratulate the BBC for reflecting the overwhelming respect of the large crowds during the funeral.
However, it made little mention of the great restraint of those here in Yorkshire and elsewhere whose communities were devastated by her (albeit necessary) economic changes and for whom her government failed to provide.
Commander Alan York RN (retd)
Sheffield, South Yorkshire
SIR – Was I alone in noticing the palpable disappointment by the BBC News channels when the anticipated protests at Lady Thatcher’s funeral failed to materialise?
Despite its desperate attempts to promote its tired anti-Thatcher/pro-Labour agenda, almost everybody interviewed praised her life and positive contribution to this country.
True to form though, it concluded its funeral coverage with an item on the latest rise in unemployment figures!
Adrian Stockwell
Farnham, Surrey
SIR – Those protesting at the cost of Lady Thatcher’s funeral might like to consider that a significant proportion of the £10 million was for the security required because of the large number of protesters expected to attend.
Phil Mobbs
Wantage, Oxfordshire
SIR – It is strange that people object to spending £10 million on a funeral for a prime minister who restored this country to greatness and yet stay silent when we send £50 million a day to the EU – and for what?
Graham Shephard
Walton Cardiff, Gloucestershire
SIR – On my way to watch Lady Thatcher’s funeral yesterday, I overheard a man asking a police officer, “Where should I go from here you reckon?” to which the officer replied, without batting an eyelid, “That depends on where you wish to go, Sir. Did you want St Paul’s, the procession, or the protest?”
That, surely, is what it means to live in a free country.
Martine Boogaerts
London NW4
SIR – When Sir Winston Churchill died in 1965 his funeral took place on a Saturday.
Why did Margaret Thatcher’s funeral have to take place mid-week, with all the disruption and inconvenience this caused to business and travel in central London?
Hugh Foster
Farnborough, Hampshire
SIR – During the funeral of Lady Thatcher I couldn’t help thinking of a time in the Seventies when I lived in Germany. A German friend patted me on the shoulder, comfortingly, and said “Poor old England”.
Thank you Lady Thatcher for saving us from those humiliating times.
Margaret Clark
Salisbury, Wiltshire
SIR – I was interested to hear Lord Tebbit’s contribution to the discussion about the funeral arrangements for Lady Thatcher.
People who disagree with him are apparently “mindless bigots”. I must be a mindless bigot myself, since, in this time of hardship, welfare cuts, the bedroom tax and the housing crisis, I find the expenditure of £10 million to bury one old lady, however noteworthy, just a tad disproportionate.
E J Heywood
Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
SIR – Now that the late Lady Thatcher has been buried with the full panoply of church and state, may we be spared any further eulogies from Conservative MPs attempting to turn her death to political advantage. It was the Conservative Party, and no one else, who deposed Margaret Thatcher.
Valerie Crews
Beckenham, Kent
SIR – I much enjoyed the coverage of Lady Thatcher’s funeral, particularly when the commentator, trying to identify one of the congregation to the viewers, said: “She’s that one there, wearing a black hat.” I, for one, needed more of a clue than that.
Jane Cullinan
Padstow, Cornwall
SIR – Philip Spratley (Letters, April 17) will have noted the appositeness of the words from the chosen hymn To be a Pilgrim: “Who so beset him round with dismal Tories”.
Guy Cudmore
Bourne, Lincolnshire
SIR – Just as the coffin of Lady Thatcher was leaving Parliament I was startled by the phone ringing. It was the Conservative Party offices in Harrogate ringing to see if I would be a teller at the local elections.
When I questioned why they were ringing just as the funeral proceedings were beginning I was told that they thought the funeral was at 1pm. I hope that they did not make any further calls for some time.
Ian Birchall
Burn Bridge, West Yorkshire

Irish Times:
Sir, – May I offer a simple solution to the current €300 million deficit. A referendum, offering one of two choices to the electorate. 1. An imposed Croke Park II on the civil and public service or, 2. All private land to be taxed, including profit- producing State and semi-State lands. I am struck by many contradictions in the new property tax laws and the fact that there are many small business people who pay both income tax and commercial taxes on their premises, while all around them, other land-owners,have walked away scot-free. – Yours, etc,
PAUL MULHERN,
Beechwood Lawns,
Rathcoole, Co Dublin.
Sir, – Then: Croke Park won. Now: deal croaked; parked too? – Yours, etc,
PATRICK O’BYRNE,
Shandon Crescent,
Phibsborough,
Dublin 7.
Sir, – It appears to me that the right-wing party in Government is unhappy with the rejection of “Croke Park II”. Fine Gael seems surprised as well! – Yours, etc,
JOHN MEANEY,
West Road,
Westport,
Co Mayo.
A chara, – Unsurprisingly our Government has dramatically changed the tone of its language towards public servants since the rejection of Croke Park II.
Rather than Brian Hayes, Brendan Howlin and others threatening public servants’ premium pay, overtime and legislating for a 7 per cent pay cut, maybe if they had kept completely silent, respected the public servants’ voting process and most importantly demonstrated true leadership by taking a 30-40 per cent pay cut on their own enormous salaries at the start of this whole process they might have succeeded where they have now failed.
“Do as I say, not as I do”, in John Selden’s appropriately named book Table Talk comes to mind right now. – Is mise,
JASON POWER,
Maxwell Road,
Rathgar, Dublin 6.
Sir, – Surely benchmarking might now be the solution for the failed Croke Park II agreement? Comparing the costs of the public service with its European counterparts might be interesting. Is Jack O’Connor listening? – Yours, etc,
BILLY GLEESON,
Orwell Road,
Dublin 14.
Sir, – Well done to the trade unions. It’s about time for a significant group to stand up and tell this Government that we have had enough of their attacking the lower- and middle-income sections.
When I voted for this Government, I expected austerity and hard times, but I also expected it to go after the fat cats who caused the problems. What about not paying, or at least substantially reducing the amounts paid to the developers who are “advising” Nama on €60,000 per annum, or retired politicians on their second or third very large pensions? Also, the very obviously overpaid ministers, and their consultants! An example was the reported 30 per cent pay cuts meted out to higher paid RTÉ presenters – and these guys seem to be doing a better job than the present Government.
While these cuts would not be enough to save the money needed to be saved, there might be an acceptance from the rest of us to go along with the hard decisions needed to be made. Once more this Government gets it wrong. – Yours, etc,
FRANK McKENNA,
Longwood,
Enfield,
Co Meath.

Sir, – I find myself typing a letter I never thought I would compose, in which I categorically state that I fully agree with the late Margaret Thatcher’s advice to then Northern Ireland secretary, Peter Mandelson when she stated, “You can’t trust the Irish, they are all liars” (Breaking News, April 17th).
Given that her interactions and dealings were primarily with politicians and the permanent government of senior civil servants, she is merely reflecting what everyone in Ireland knows to be true based on the evidence of the last few administrations. – Yours, etc,
DECLAN BANNON,
Greenane,
Dunshaughlin, Co Meath.
#
Sir, – Dr Dave Flynn (April 16th) queries the description of Charles Villiers Stanford’s music as “British” in relation to the funeral arrangements for Lady Thatcher (I respect titles).
In doing so, he conflates ethnicity with nationality and identity; Prof Stanford was undeniably, ethnically Irish but in all other respects British as those three attributes don’t always coincide.
As that great Irishman Lord Wellington put it – just because a man is born in a stable don’t mean he’s a horse! – Yours, etc,
Dr PATRICK O’BRIEN,
Blythesway, Alvechurch,
Birmingham, England.
Sir,– Dr Dave Flynn (April 16th), forgets several facts about CV Stanford.
This Dublin man founded the Royal College of Music, whose orchestra provided the music at his own funeral. This, along with the burial of his ashes in Westminster Abbey, shows us that Stanford had no difficulty with being a British man who happened to be Irish, a reasonably commonly held notion at the time.
Article 3 of the 1922 Free State constitution states that citizenship applied to those “domiciled” in the state, which Stanford wasn’t.
He was a proud Irishman but also a proud citizen of the United Kingdom, something to which the adjective “British” refers too, as it still does today. – Yours, etc,
PAUL McDONAGH-
FORDE,
Cairns Road,
Sligo.

Sir, – As one who understands the current actions being taken by the Government to sort out the economic problems of the country and, by and large, supports those actions, I am infuriated by the decision by the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics (not to make available the drug pirfenidone to sufferers of a rare form of lung disease) for a number of reasons (Home News, April 15th).
1. It is based on flawed reasoning because pirfenidone, as the only effective drug for treating idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), will reduce other costs as the treatment takes effect. People who suffer from IPF are already incurring substantial costs on medication and oxygen. In its statement, NCPE make no reference to frequent hospitalisation which would contribute significantly to the already high cost of managing IPF patients. If all of these costs are reduced by treatment with pirfenidone, the treatment would be cost neutral or approaching it.
2. Pirfenidone was approved in February 2011 by the European Medicines Agency as the first licensed treatment for IPF. In addition, in March 2013, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in England and Wales approved funding for the drug for treatment of IPF. There is an appalling inconsistency in the NCPE decision on the pirfenidone application and its decision on the medication for cystic fibrosis. In that case the correct decision was taken. In this case it was not only wrong but was also discriminatory. Are people with IPF of less value than those with CF?
3. The NCPE statement bears very little relationship to the purpose of medication. Phrases such as “high drug acquisition cost”, “the significant budget impact”, “the product is not cost effective”, raise a serious question about the parameters applied by the NCPE. While they appear to be more economics-based than medical, the points raised under 1, above, do not appear to have been considered in its judgment. The NCPE ruling has been taken against the wisdom of the EMA and NICE and the recommendation of the Irish Thoracic Society .
4. As someone who suffers from IPF and has been on the waiting list for a lung transplant since last autumn, it is very disappointing and saddening to have to accept that this ruling by NCPE will dictate the future quality of my life. It is also totally unacceptable that these decisions are being taken by bureaucrats and not by some of the best physicians and surgeons in this field in the National Heart and Lung Transplant Unit in the Mater University Hospital and the Irish Thoracic Society.
It is of the greatest urgency that all citizens become aware of this ruling and that this illogical and unjust decision be reversed before Irish people die unnecessarily. – Yours, etc,
FRANK TIERNEY,
Farmleigh Woods,
Castleknock,
Dublin 15.

Irish Independent:

• Though the recent constitutional convention has voted in favour of providing the same protection to homosexual and heterosexual partnerships, redefining Christian marriage to accommodate same-sex unions will not come easily.
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We sometimes forget that the understanding of marriage has changed over time. Traditionally, marriage was managed to ensure that the wealth of a group or family was not diluted by a partner who lacked power, possessions, money or influence. Even the notion that partners gave their consent to the union is a relatively new one, as is the association of marriage with romantic love.
From the 12th Century onwards there was a steady strengthening of the view that marriage was a sacrament; it was essentially the business of the church and not of the secular world of contracts and property rights.
Its key religious function was to acknowledge the place of God in the procreation of children and to direct all sexual activity to this divine purpose.
The consideration of same-sex marriage gets off to a bad start with the Christian churches’ conception of homosexuality as an aberration from the proper order of things.
Homosexual sex, though it may be an expression of genuine love, not being directed towards the procreation of children, does not have the blessing of the church; though heterosexual couples may sometimes marry, either deciding not to have children or knowing they are unable to do so.
We remain at the point where discussion of same-sex marriage tends to release divisive passions, confusing prejudice with principle. The concept of what is natural is often loosely invoked, forgetting that the way the world is does not in itself determine how it ought to be.
The real issue is about the nature of sex not about marriage. In a recent discussion one participant stated: “I don’t have a problem about homosexuals but I don’t like what they get up to.”
My mother regularly gave us what she took to be the comforting assurance that: “There was none of that in our family.”
Philip O’Neill
Oxford, OX1 4QB
Labour’s blind spot
• Many in the Labour Party cannot see the writing on the wall. Worse still, Messrs Gilmore and Howlin & Co cannot even see the wall.
Gerry O’Donnell
Dublin 15
Desperate measures
• So, in spite of warnings from well-heeled government ministers and their trade union leadership, the members of the trade unions have rejected the Croke Park II deal.
Almost immediately the Government is all for pay cuts to make up the €300m in savings, which it will have no hesitation in giving to the bankers and greedy financiers who have torn the heart out of our country.
I have some suggestions that may allow the Government to make a substantial contribution to the slush fund for the bankers, etc.
Firstly, reduce the membership of the Dail to 100 or fewer sitting TDs. Secondly, scrap the Seanad, as promised by Enda Kenny in his election manifesto.
Thirdly, scrap all unelected quangos and so-called ministerial advisory bodies. And fourthly, ensure all political expenses are vouched for to the last penny.
If these measures were to be coupled with a wealth tax and a property tax that would take into account the sweeping expanses of lawns and woodlands in which the wealthy sit, we might exceed the sums owed by Ireland without placing further hardships on the already overburdened people of this country .
Tom Mangan
Ennis, Co Clare
Croke Park rejection
• The rejection of Croke Park II by trade union members has severely damaged the trade union movement by mimicking the rejection of their predecessors a century ago, when the 20,000 participants in the 1913 Dublin Lockout disowned the trade union leadership of that era and began to return to work in January 1914, the fifth month of their strike.
The process, hosted by the Labour Relations Commission, also disenfranchised the tens of thousands of public sector workers who are not trade union members, but whose employment contracts were threatened in a fundamental and adverse manner without their voice being heard.
It also completely ignored the perspective of the hundreds of thousands of public sector pensioners who have no representational voice whatsoever.
But the result will have cathartic significance if it restores primary responsibility and accountability for economic and political leadership to the venue where it rightfully belongs – the floor of the Oireachtas.
Each member of the Oireachtas, stripped of surrogates, third-party processes and props, will now be obliged to heavily invest his, or her, political capital in the economic destiny and vitality of our nation. Each will have to execute this profound responsibility with considered, informed and astute judgment.
Each will have to live with the political consequences because the reaction of the electorate will be clear, unequivocal and ruthless.
Myles Duffy
Glenageary, Co Dublin
‘Skipping on bottom’
• I support the views of Professor Ashoka Mody and Stephen Donnelly TD over how we should proceed in relation to Ireland’s economy. Our Government must consider the implications of what it is doing. It cannot point back to the short-sighted policies of the Fianna Fail government any longer.
The blame for this continued doldrums rests with Fine Gael and Labour and their perfidious unwillingness or incompetence to address the state of the nation, despite international recognition of the facts that you cannot cut your way out of a recession or tax your way to prosperity.
Pandering to the banks has failed utterly, and the debt writedowns must begin, otherwise the wider economy cannot begin to recover. We are still “skipping along the bottom” as Michael Noonan’s incisive analysis of our economic situation two years ago suggested.
How could it be otherwise, with endless austerity before us? That has to change, and you will all be held accountable by the electorate if it does not.
Michael O’Neill
Killiney, Co Dublin
Beam me up . . .
• Whatever one thinks of all those religiously inspired creation myths, they are a lot more plausible than a supposedly scientific theory that the ‘Big Bang’ created equal amounts of matter and anti-matter, half of which then magically, mysteriously or miraculously – take your pick – disappears.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, then another unexplained event happens: superinflation. When the smoke clears and the mirrors appear, we are left with a universe in which 94pc of everything is unaccounted for. Statistically speaking (how we love those stats), that’s pretty much a theory that explains nothing.
In homage to Hollywood, the ultimate creator of fantasies, we might consider re-naming it: ‘The Greatest Con Job Ever Sold.’
Maybe we should take an expression from Leonard Cohen’s songbook: ‘Start again, I heard them say.’
Can’t stop to chat – here comes my UFO now . . .
Liam Power
San Pawl Il-Bahar SPB 3572, Malta

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