24 June 2013 Waiting

Off around the park listening to the Navy Lark, Admiralty want to get more trainee spies so they post a real spy to Troutbridge to see if he is detected. But they arrest Captain Povey by accident. Priceless.
Another quiet day too wet and cloudy to do anything in the garden, its cold Flaming June indeed.
We watch The Green Man wonderful Sim
Mary wins at scrabble and gets under 400 perhaps I can have my revenge tomorrow.


Betty Joseph
Betty Joseph, who has died aged 96, was widely considered to be one of the great psychoanalysts of her day.

5:54PM BST 23 Jun 2013
She devoted herself to analysing the process of psychoanalysis itself which, as an inquiry into the human mind, is inevitably considered to be a subjective – and so unreliable – science. Within the discipline, however, British practitioners are noted for their attempt to adopt an empirical rigour; Betty Joseph was the leading figure in this tradition, and admired all over the world for it.
Freud used the term “transference” to describe the complex things that happen when two people are together in the secure setting of the psychoanalytic treatment room. At the heart of Betty Joseph’s contribution was a profound set of thoughts about the phenomenon, beginning with her 1975 paper, The Patient Who Is Difficult to Reach.
In it she suggested that with some patients, interpretation of dreams or of what is said on the treatment couch were not the key to unlocking, identifying and ultimately dealing with past traumas – as was considered usual by psychoanalysts. Instead, Betty Joseph argued, it was not what some patients said, but the manner in which they said it, that was key. This “medium not the message” approach accounted for patients who, by creating constant questions about themselves but not attending to efforts to answer, say, forced those around them (doctors, perhaps, or family members) into a flurry of emotional activity while leaving the patients themselves becalmed and no closer to exposing the roots of their problems.
Such interactions between analyst and patient were, she observed, as if “one is talking about a patient – but never talking to the patient. The ‘patient’ part of the patient seems to remain split off.”
To overcome this, she stressed that focusing on the past too early into treatment would only detract from the immediacy of the analyst-patient relationship and that interpretations should be rooted in the here-and-now, the moment-to-moment detail of every session.
This determination to address the reasons behind the behaviour of such “difficult patients” stemmed from Betty Joseph’s innate and fierce curiosity. But her work was nonetheless motivated by the desire to help those seeking treatment. In particular she was concerned with anxiety, inhibition, desire, perversion, mourning, guilt, envy and denial – sentiments sometimes acted upon by patients to destructive effect .
Betty Joseph’s novel way of thinking about transference came to permeate her discipline, as she taught her colleagues precise ways to focus on the minute instances of feeling and imaginative thought that occur when one person is trying to understand another. Teaching sessions at her consulting room in Clifton Hill – well supplied with trays of cakes and coffee – were attended by psychoanalysts from as far afield as Buenos Aires. Her influence was also expressed through her frequent attendance at international conferences, and has shaped psychoanalysis today as we know it.
Born in Edgbaston on March 7 1917, Betty Joseph came from a Anglo-Jewish family which had arrived in England in the early-18th century from Alsace. Her father had broken with the family jewellery tradition, instead studying Electrical Engineering before starting his own business.
The Depression years proved difficult, and Betty did not attend university. Instead she took a social science course and entered into psychiatric social work. Her two-month practical training took place in the East London child guidance clinic, then run by Emmanuel Miller, the father of Jonathan Miller.
Having won a scholarship to do a course in Mental Health at the wartime LSE, she first worked at Salford, near Manchester, helping to set up a new child guidance clinic. In the same period she began her first psychoanalysis with the noted Hungarian psychoanalyst Michael Balint. During the war she helped with Civil Defence and drove a lorry, also working with child evacuees. When Balint moved to London at the end of the conflict she followed him to complete her training, becoming a member of the British Psychoanalytical Society in 1949.
In 1962 she established a London seminar to examine ongoing cases from a clinical perspective. Running almost continuously for 49 years, the programme became the Betty Joseph Workshop, encouraging creative group discussion between analysts.
Her best work came late in life: Psychic Equilibrium and Psychic Change, a comprehensive collection of her essays, was published in 1989 when she was already aged 72. In it she described in detail how patients could draw the analyst into their attempts to protect themselves against the anxiety that accompanies any meaningful change.
Betty Joseph lived for five decades in St John’s Wood, where an inheritance from an uncle had enabled her to buy a house.
In 1995 she received the Sigourney Award for Psychoanalysis .
Betty Joseph, born March 7 1917, died April 4 2013


Henry Porter (Mastery of the internet will mean mastery of everyone, 22 June) highlights the great strides made in gathering internet data, but says little about the analysis of it. Most politicians in favour of obtaining this personal information believe there is so much to sift through that any law-abiding individual need not be concerned. How wrong can they be?
Computers based on, say, neural networks, DNA and laser storage, quantum and nanotechnology and so on, are being actively researched now. Ultimately every email, in whatever language, could be read and analysed by such superfast computers. It would not be beyond GCHQ’s capability to find the names of those associated with the emails and record them in its memory banks. Each record could be divided into categories of interest to the government, such as banking transactions, TV viewing, contacts, political groups – or even Guardian subscribers. After all, Google and Amazon are logging all their customers’ transactions already.
Glyn C Evans
Kenilworth, Warwickshire
•  Nick Pickles from Big Brother Watch justifiably struggles to understand how GCHQ’s indiscriminate access of communications traffic “squares with a process that requires a warrant for each individual intercept” (Report, 22 June).
It’s the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIP) that squares the surveillance circle. More specifically, section 8, which allows interception without the identification of a particular individual or premises where the origin or destination of the communication is outside the UK. With the majority of the major web destinations, from Amazon to Google to Yahoo, as well as email servers hosted outside the UK, the act allows GCHQ unfettered access to UK citizens’ lives online. Parliamentary oversight by the intelligence and security committee is certainly a necessity. However, parliament must also revisit much of the law governing surveillance, which was drafted for an age that never anticipated the dominance of internet-based communication in our daily lives.
Neil Macehiter
•  The British press complained that Leveson was encroaching on its rights yet when, in the Bradley Manning and Andrew Snowden cases, the US government has taken the position that even talking to the press is “treason and espionage” most of our media is silent. In the 70s Richard Nixon was impeached for bugging a single building. Barack Obama is complicit in bugging the entire US.
Gavin Lewis
• Your editorial (The world at their fingertips, 22 June) concludes: “We are creating a system of total surveillance … which, in the wrong hands, could severely curtail protest, reporting, privacy and hard-won freedoms of association and speech.” Just what is it about the conduct of our affairs that would lead one to believe they are in the right hands?
Peter Healey
•  The security establishment tells us that if we have nothing to hide we have nothing to fear. Well, up to a point. If they have the whole UK population under surveillance, say 60 million, and their systems are 99.9% accurate at detecting terrorists, that means 60,000 innocent people will be accused. Meanwhile, let us say there are 2,000 genuine terrorists, then a 99.9% accurate system would still miss two of them. And it beggars belief that their systems can be 99.9% accurate.
Owen Wells
• I’m getting rather tired of all this hand-wringing about the NSA and GCHQ (and other members of the “five eyes”) intercepting our communications. In 2001 a committee of the European parliament published a substantial report (goo.gl/gSNpS) on the Echelon system, and recommended that we all encrypt our emails using, for example, an OpenPGP system such as GnuPG (GPG, free) or PGP (commercial). Anyone who followed that advice has nothing to worry about when it comes to interception of email content. This does not address the metadata problem, in particular traffic analysis: to deal with that you need to use a Tor system, which is rather more complex to set up.
The EU Parliamentary Committee report can be found at: http://goo.gl/gSNpS
If you have a Windows computer, install GPG4Win: http://gpg4win.org
If you have a Mac, install GPGTools: https://gpgtools.org
There’s a good how-to on Ars Technica: http://goo.gl/QrJnX
If you’re running Linux or one of the BSDs, you probably have GPG installed already.
Don’t forget to upload your public key to the keyserver network, so people can send you encrypted emails. Now stop sending people e-postcards and start sending them e-letters (in a sealed envelope). Perhaps the Guardian could set an example by publishing its OpenPGP public key for letters@guardian.co.uk?
Dr Alun J Carr
School of mechanical and materials engineering, University College Dublin
•  On behalf of GCHQ’s trade union, I’m writing to offer Iain Lobban and his colleagues our strong support as they seek to minimise the damage being done. The entire workforce is outraged, not so much at the lies being told about us (no one expects thanks serving their country) but at the thoughtless disregard for the welfare of Britain and the safety of people around the world. We’ve also appreciated the public statements in support of GCHQ staff and their ethics by politicians who understand the value of GCHQ to the UK. At a time of extended pay freezes, uncertainty about the future of pay and pensions, and casual denigration of public servants by politicians, these statements of support have been very welcome.
Julia MacGregor
Chair, Government Communications Group
•  Why the indignation over the actions of Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange? If the NSA, GCHQ, etc have done nothing wrong they have nothing to worry about.
Bill May
Kirkcaldy, Fife
• How many people still feel happy that their 2011 census data was processed by an American defence contractor (Report, 19 February 2011)?
Tony Green

I was horrified to read (Editorial, 22 June) that “the first duty of a state is to protect life”. That may be the first duty of a policeman or a nanny. If it were the first duty of a state, governments would prevent us climbing mountains, flying planes and doing much else worthwhile that might put our lives at risk. The first duty of a state is to make life worth living for as many of its citizens as possible, and to that end it may well take risks with life, as we do. If people believe the first duty of a state is to protect life, no wonder they allow their freedoms to be so eroded.
Sheenagh Pugh
• I agree with John Lilley (Letters, 21 June); Anish Kapoor’s Orbit tower does indeed suggest inspiration by Vladimir Tatlin’s Monument to the Third International – although the Orbit has escaped that fate of that project (cancellation). However, I always thought that the Orbit’s observation deck, reached by a single spiral ramp, was inspired by another iconic edifice; namely, the London Car-Vu from Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (which was demolished when a helicopter crashed into it).
Keith J Ackermann
Tilbury, Essex
• It is heartening to read that you still feel that a resemblance can be uncanny (How London’s Olympic cauldron fanned flames of fury, 20 June).
Nigel Griffin
Taunton, Somerset
• Am I the last? Is it possible I could be least?
Terence Oon
Burgess Hill, West Sussex

This week George Osborne will set out the government’s spending plans for 2015-16 with the intention of continuing austerity measures beyond the next general election (Report, 22 June). This will be politically and economically disastrous.
Instead, the government should set out an alternative based around four key pillars. First, there needs to be a significant investment in green and social infrastructure spending. A £55bn stimulus could generate up to 1m jobs, £187bn of additional GDP and almost £75bn in terms of additional taxation.
Second, tough new fiscal rules need to be set, with independent democratic oversight of government spending in order to earn the trust to borrow and spend people’s money wisely.
Third, once recovery is assured, there should be an elimination of the structural deficit through a series of progressive tax rises and by making cuts in wasteful public spending.
And last, there needs to be a restructuring of the state and public services in order to ensure sustained efficiency, responsiveness and innovation. This requires a shift to the “coproduction” and localisation of public services that utilises the expertise, commitment and energy of the people who provide services and of the users of the services.
Britain cannot endure more unnecessary years of austerity and those who are least to blame for the crisis must not pay the price for it.
Peter Hain MP
Neal Lawson, Compass
Joe Cox, Compass
Howard Reed, Landman Economics
Tony Atkinson, University of Oxford
Prof Peter Taylor Gooby, University of Kent
Anna Coote, New Economics Foundation
Roberto Veneziani, Queen Mary, University of London
Dr MG Hayes, University of Cambridge
Dr Bruce Philp, Coordinator, Association for Heterodox Economics
Prof Simon Lilley, University of Leicester
Pat Devine, University of Manchester
Ruth Lister, House of Lords
Prof Jan Toporowski, SOAS
Prof Prem Sikka, University of Essex
Prof Gregor Gall, University of Bradford
Prof Michael Lipton, University of Sussex
Stewart Lansley, University of Bristol
Prof Matthew Watson, University of Warwick
Alan Hallsworth (Professor emeritus), University of Portsmouth
Prof Christine Cooper, University of Strathclyde
Prof David Bailey, Coventry Business School



I find it somewhat disturbing that my beloved husband’s gentle and old-fashioned courting would nowadays be considered as “grooming”, given that we met when I was 15 and he was 30.
Even worse, he is a teacher, although never my teacher. Presumably our three children are the product of abuse.
I am equally, if not more, disturbed by the disparity between the five-and-a-half-year sentence given to Jeremy Forrest for falling in love with the wrong person and the 15 months given to Stuart Hall for a decades-long campaign of child sexual abuse.
E Rogers, Burnley, Lancashire
Now that the trial of Jeremy Forrest is over, the knives are out for him – not least of all, E Jane Dickson’s (“Same sad old story of opportunism”, 21 June).
Forrest is down, let’s kick him! “Paedophile”, “underage sex”, “groomed” and other emotionally loaded words are being heaped on him, as well as his being accused of manipulating an emotionally unstable 15-year-old.
All the accusations of his having had a relationship with an underage girl are, of course, true and I am in no way disputing that, but for me (not least as a former teacher) his far greater crime was the abuse of his position of trust.
The girl may have been only 15 while this relationship was conducted, but her testimony was not one I would have attributed to one so young: she appears to have been articulate and to have taken a great deal of responsibility for the relationship on herself.
She is 16 now and her  degree of maturity is clearly that of a much older young woman. To emphasise the tendency of girls to have crushes on their teachers is merely a putdown. True as it may be, it appears from this girl’s own words that it was much more than a crush.
She seems to have felt alienated from her family, and her school appears to have been either unaware of the relationship or unwilling to act. While the primary blame for what happened must be ascribed to Forrest, he is far from being the only one to have acted irresponsibly – and it does seem that he was committed and he did care.
Dr Michael Johnson, Brighton
It has been reported that the age of consent in France is 15 and that Jeremy Forrest would not have been guilty of sex offences had he been living and working there.
Because the relevant age here is 16, he is found guilty of such offences – increasing his sentence by four-and-a-half years.
As the judge also imposed a Sexual Offences Prevention Order banning Forrest from future unsupervised contact with children, his career as a teacher is destroyed.
Although he abused a position of trust and may have been weak and foolish, I do not see him as a paedophile, which is how  he is being labelled.  His pupil was not a prepubescent child but a teenager on the cusp of young adulthood, who in France would be seen as old enough to engage in a sexual relationship of her choice.
Why is he being pilloried in such an extreme fashion?  And isn’t the real damage caused by this affair likely to be to the student herself, who is left feeling so guilty at her perceived ruination of the man she felt herself to be in love with that she calls “I’m sorry” across the courtroom to him, as he is taken down?
Charles Becker, Plymouth
It is amazing how a “child abduction” case, with a penalty of a year suddenly becomes a “sex with a child” case with an extra penalty of four-and-a-half years. The girl was not a child nor an unwilling participant, despite the prosecution’s talk of “grooming”.
I hope the couple will survive their ordeal after  their loving but ill-advised  relationship.
Barry Barber, Great Malvern, Worcestershire
GM the best way to deal with hunger
Lesley Docksey (letter, 22 June) says that for millennia “humanity existed very well on organically grown food”. Not so. For most, hunger was the norm.
Undernourishment increased the lethal nature of infections such as tuberculosis and measles, and famine was regular. The blight that killed the organic potato crops in Ireland in 1845 happened long ago, but its political impact lives on. So does its cause, Phytophthora infestans. GM will probably be the best way of seeing it off.
Hugh Pennington, Aberdeen
Paul Donovan (letter, 22 June) must think up a newer argument against GM crops. His old one, that new ideas are introduced so that a local monopoly can be obtained to drive out competitors and put up prices, failed when town-centre shop-owners tried to stop the opening of supermarkets.
Presumably, his point applies to any improvement, such as to our phones, TVs, cars etc. The desire to stop progress will fail because we, the consumers, like it.
GD Morris, Port Talbot, Wales
In their eagerness to educate the public on the benefits of GM, maybe ministers and scientists could start by explaining the net benefit to humanity of having a herbicide-resistant crop, which results in the vastly increased use of herbicide, herbicide residues in our food, environment and water, and the creation of resistant weeds requiring yet more potent herbicides – which would not have been needed if the crop had not been resistant in the first place.
Lucy Flint, Liss, Hampshire
Nazis of the 21st century
A Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head for daring to suggest that girls deserve to be educated.
A 14-year-old son of a Syrian coffee-shop owner executed in cold blood for telling a customer that he would not even extend credit to the Prophet.
Girls as young as 12 married off to men who are old enough to be their grandfathers.
Women who are raped stoned to death along with their attackers.
And President Obama wants to open a dialogue with the Taliban?
It is no more possible to reason with Islamic extremists than it would have been to reason with  the Nazis. Islamic extremism is spreading, and failure to recognise that it is the 21st century’s Nazism and deal with it accordingly will lead to the same dire consequences that followed the free world’s reluctance to confront Nazism when it first reared its head.
Robert Readman, Bournemouth
Jamie’s empire:  a hint of greed
James Thompson’s excellent article “The world’s his oyster” (22 June) made me sad. I greatly admire Jamie Oliver’s efforts to improve eating habits in the UK, but his expanding empire smacks of a new colonialism, not to say greed.
He works hard and deserves the rewards, but if I were his mum, I’d ask him to see his projects through and make them the very best he can. I fear he’s spreading himself too thin. Jamie “could do better” in schools, and plaudits for Fifteen have never been overwhelming.  Build on what you’ve started and improve, I say. And don’t give up on the campaigning – the tide is turning against the food industry.
And do we really need yet another chain of formulaic and average restaurants turning our towns into replicas of each other?
Minty Phillips, London SW18
Eavesdropping is nothing new
I don’t understand why we are so surprised about the latest revelations of governments spying on citizens. It has been going on for years. In the late 1960s a colleague in Liverpool had the contents of a phone conversation relayed back to her by a public servant.
A friend was a telephone operator and told me that some phones were regularly monitored and phone calls recorded. And although it was a dismissable offence, his colleagues regularly listened in to a prostitute’s conversations.
Just because we now have electronic communications doesn’t mean that the practice stopped.
Jane Eades, London SW11
Why can’t they stick to the path?
“Doing as you are told” (“Ethical clash in the middle lane”, 18 June) is something we Brits are particularly sensitive about. It is a five-minute cycle ride along and over the river from our house to the local shops. It is almost all off-road and the track is clearly labelled, with a black surface for pedestrians and red surface for cyclists.
I have never cycled the whole way without negotiating at least one pedestrian on the cycle track. Why can’t cyclists stay on the cycle path and pedestrians on the footway?
Jenny Macmillan, Cambridge
Equal wrongs
How encouraging it is to see more glass ceilings coming down in the continuing fight for gender equality. The Care Quality Commission, an organisation populated heavily by women at its highest levels, has shown itself to be the equal of any male-dominated organisation when it comes to scandal and incompetence.
Paul Harper, London E15
Saatchi’s failings
I wonder if John Walsh intervened when his son was so publicly bullied by Charles Saatchi (Notebook, 20 June). I would have found it impossible not to defend my son – and equally difficult not to criticise Saatchi’s appalling taste in art and apparent inability to recognise history’s place in our spiritual lives.
Sara Neill, Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Royal scoop
Congratulations to Deborah Ross (21 June) on getting so much inside (no pun intended) knowledge about the impending royal birth and particularly on getting it published in your columns – which are noted for ignoring most things royal. Could we now have an update from her on the health of Prince Philip?
Nick Maurice, Marlborough, Wiltshire
Syria vs Saudis
If I were a woman, would I be better treated in Syria under Assad or in Saudi Arabia?
Brian Ellis, Wigan
Role reversal
So a CIA whistleblower flees  to Russia in his search for sanctuary. Am I missing something?  Didn’t it used to be the other way  round?
Steven Calrow, Liverpool


We should encourage all outstanding schools, from the independent sector and beyond, into partnerships where there is most need
Sir, Sir Michael Wilshaw (report, June 22) has criticised the independent sector for not doing more to help failing state schools. There are 1,223 independent schools and more than 25,000 state schools, and 90 per cent of independent schools already work with the state sector. With the best will in the world the independent sector can be no more than a part of the solution.
The answer lies in broader engagement. The government should relaunch the Department for Education’s programme to map partnership-working among schools. From this data, priority areas and schools could be identified and independent schools, state grammars and indeed all outstanding schools could be called upon to help.
Blindly lashing out at a small but valuable part of our education landscape is counterproductive. The goal must be to encourage all outstanding schools, from the independent sector and beyond, into partnerships where there is most need.
Charlotte Vere
Executive Director, Girls’ Schools Association
Sir, In my 27 years’ teaching experience, I cannot say that I find teaching polite, well-motivated, academically gifted children from homes that value education much of a challenge. A pleasure, yes, a challenge, no.
I see no stampede of private school teachers eager to demonstrate how to motivate the unmotivated, hostile or struggling pupils that state school teachers work with every day. Why? Perhaps because, in their heart of hearts, they fear they would not cope.
There are great teachers in the private sector and in the state sector. Can we just explode the assumption that private schools are better because they get “better” results? So would state schools if they had entrance exams to exclude anybody who is difficult to teach.
Jenny Fox Eades
Macclesfield, Cheshire
Sir, While professional dialogue is a good thing, it is patronising to suggest that state school teachers can learn a great deal from their independent sector colleagues, who teach smaller classes, of highly-motivated, ambitious students, from affluent, supportive families, in better-resourced schools.
Any teacher educating children from what Sir Michael refers to as “the mainland”, must deploy a greater range of professional and personal skills than is necessary on an “island of privilege”.
Tanya Webber
Teacher in state and private sectors
Rugby, Warks
Sir, I was disappointed to read Sir Michael Wilshaw’s call. The “splendid isolation” to which he alludes is a rare thing. We are involved in teacher training, partnership activities with local maintained schools, we run masterclasses and other activities for pupils outside of our own community and we support a large number of pupils through our bursary schemes. To suggest that our pupils are “marooned on an island of privilege” is a simplistic and unfair portrait of the diverse community represented by our young people and their parents.
Perhaps Sir Michael would benefit from visiting more of us across the country to learn of the work being carried out before passing judgment on our perceived ivory towers.
Gwen Byrom
Headmistress, Loughborough High School, Leics

Health inequalities are driven by the same factors that relate to levels of crime, unemployment, low educational attainment
Sir, I wonder if Ross Clark really understands the causes and levels of health inequality in this country (“Fecklessness, not sugar or fat, makes the poor unhealthy”, Thunderer, June 20). It’s true that, by and large, the poor are more unhealthy than the wealthier — but this isn’t confined to the poorest overweight, underage mums in Middlesbrough, as he pejoratively puts it.
Everyone below the very top in society suffers from some degree of health inequality. The working poor (are they feckless, too, or just poorly paid?) have worse health than the middle classes, who have worse health than the very wealthiest. In other words, health inequalities afflict us all to some degree.
Even if you have run out of a sense of injustice, and compassion, for those whose lives are less easy and less healthy, pure self-interest should motivate you to take health inequalities seriously.
Health inequalities are driven by the same factors that relate to levels of crime, unemployment, low educational attainment — a lot of social and economic good and improvement can come through taking action to improve health for all.
Health inequalities cost a lot too: more than £70 billion a year to the national economy through losses in productivity and tax revenue and costs to welfare and the NHS.
One final thought for Ross Clark.
Is it really fecklessness that drives unhealthier lives for poorer people? Try giving up smoking, cutting down on alcohol, improving nutrition and taking up exercise if you are living in a small, overcrowded, damp house, living in debt in a depressing environment with high levels of crime, unemployment and isolation with little hope for the future.
Professor Sir Michael Marmot
Director, UCL Institute of Health Equity

The views of various historical figures (many of them British) have been used to support Argentina’s claim to the Falkland Islands
Sir, Argentina calls upon the Duke of Wellington to assist its claims to the Falklands (World, June 21). I remember living in Santa Cruz, Bolivia during the Falklands conflict when the local press called upon Charles Darwin to assist Argentina’s claim, because his log apparently describes aspects of Britain’s military “seizure” of the islands in 1833. Although Perfidious Albion ruled at that time, who could possibly doubt the word of the greatest ever scientist?
Martin Litherland
Loughborough, Leics

Coal power plant conversions offer a cost-effective way to support our energy security, emission reductions and renewables goals
Sir, Matt Ridley (“It’s a bio-mess. Burning wood is a disaster”, June 20) gives a misleading impression of biomass by saying that it is expensive, bad for the environment and only involves burning wood pellets. Biomass includes landfill gas, sewage, wood, energy crops, agricultural residues and waste.
Coal power plant conversions to biomass offer a cost-effective way to support our energy security, emission reductions and renewables goals. They also provide investment and employment opportunities, both at the power plant and in the wider supply chain. According to the Energy Technology Institute, excluding biomass from the energy mix could increase the costs of decarbonisation by £44 billion in 2050. We estimate that sustainably sourced biomass could deliver up to 11 per cent of our energy generation by 2020.
We are proposing to introduce the most robust biomass sustainability standards in the EU. This includes achieving a minimum greenhouse gas saving against fossil fuel of at least 60 per cent and sustainable forest management criteria.
Baroness Verma
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Department for Energy and Climate Change

There is a plausible explanation for some of the sightings of supposedly alien craft recorded by the MoD’s recently closed unit
Sir, With the MoD having closed its UFO desk (report, June 21), perhaps I should now confess to my role in being the source of some of the “sightings”.
During the 1980s a British aircraft company developed a small vertical take-off UAV, which carried different equipment for the various roles, one system showing considerable promise for remotely detecting and destroying landmines and IEDs. It successfully carried out trials in many civilian and military operations in several parts of the UK and in other countries. When flying at night the UAV was required to carry navigation lights and, because of its circular shape and its ability to hover and fly in all directions, it had to show two green and two red lights around its periphery. The back-light from these showed up a ghostly image of its oval shape. This gave rise to several “sightings” — although we attempted to pre-inform the local police of our pending presence.
Professor R. G. Austin
Bracknell, Berks

SIR – The Coalition’s policies on deficit finance, debt and currency debasement will lead to dire economic consequences that will far outlast the careers of the politicians who caused them.
Coalition orthodoxies are alternative lifestyles, wind farms, globalism, diversity, multi-culturalism, confiscatory taxes and press censorship.
Ideas such as self-reliance, profit, family, grammar schools, country and free speech are best kept to yourself for fear of your being labelled “swivel-eyed”.
I hope for a post-Cameron Tory party led by people with conviction and political courage who are serious about our country’s prosperity and the wellbeing of all its citizens.
David Saunders
Sidmouth, Devon
Related Articles
Wind farms are an ugly, unreliable waste of money
23 Jun 2013
Foreign affairs
SIR – Ewan Benfield (Letters, June 16) suggests I may be dreaming, but in fact my problem is nightmares. This Government wants both peace and war in Syria; it backs Turkey to join the EU, ignoring the bankruptcy of Greece; and it wants to renegotiate British membership of the EU in spite of there being no legal basis for doing so.
It is common in high politics for senior ministers to collapse from nervous exhaustion after too long in office, but it is alarming to witness this Government comprehensively losing the plot in foreign affairs after only three years in office.
Timothy Stroud
Salisbury, Wiltshire
EU democracy
SIR – John Hannaford (Letters, June 16) suggests holding a re-run of the general election if a hung parliament is the outcome of a first poll. Is this not the system which was widely used by the trade unions and is still the cornerstone of EU “democracy”?
Keep repeating the poll until you get the result you want?
John Newbury
Warminster, Wiltshire
Grammar schools
SIR – Jenny McCartney is absolutely right that a child’s education is determined by money rather than merit (Opinion, June 16).
Grammar schools allowed bright children from humble families a chance of having an equivalent education to those who have the means to go to a good private school.
As Margaret Thatcher said in 1977: “People from my sort of background needed grammar schools to compete with children from privileged homes like Shirley Williams and Anthony Wedgwood Benn”.
James Adam Paton
Billericay, Essex
SIR – I’m happy to join Jenny McCartney in worrying about the needs of clever working-class children, but only after a national debate on the schooling of the less academic, a far larger group.
Why should the state concentrate unduly on the academically inclined, who by definition are more capable of looking after themselves?
We need a less socially divisive, tripartite secondary school system consisting of grammars and vocational institutes with high schools for the academically inclined sandwiched in between.
Yugo Kovach
Winterborne Houghton, Dorset
Records by firelight
SIR – Regarding the possibility of electricity rationing (Letters, June 16): I rather enjoy power failures, during which I burn logs from my coppice, the firelight augmented by patent Duplex oil lamps, while listening to my Columbia Plano-reflex Viva-tonal Grafanola from 1927.
Even when the power is on, until my wife accused me of affectation, I would switch on the electric light in the kitchen only to see to light the gas one.
Robin Dow
Rothesay, Isle of Bute
Indo-Scottish slang
SIR – Christopher Howse’s article on Hobson-Jobson (“Linguistic gems from the jewel in the crown”, Opinion, June 16) reminded me of a word used in pupils’ slang at a school in Caithness where I once taught.
They sometimes complained that someone had “chorred” their school bag or pencil, and it appeared that its etymological origin was from the Hindi chori karna or churaana, meaning to steal. However, there is no mention of “chorred” in Hobson-Jobson.
Peter Myers
Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire
Salvaged aircraft
SIR – I was interested to read your article concerning the recovery of the Dornier (DO17) aircraft off the Kent coast (International News, June 16).
Knowing that my father, then Pilot Officer John Banham, was also in 264 Squadron, I went to his log book to find that he shot down a DO17 on the same day, before being shot down himself and sadly losing his gunner, Sgt Baker.
Perhaps it was his DO17 that was recovered?
Andy Banham
Gamlingay, Cambridgeshire
Bogged off
SIR – Christopher Booker (Opinion, June 16) comments that the Prime Minister was meeting his fellow G8 members in a “Northern Irish bog”.
Lough Erne and the surrounding area is a lakeland and is indisputably one of the most scenic regions of the United Kingdom.
Linda Pyper
Magherafelt, Co Londonderry
Family networking
SIR – As I sent my 99-year-old father a Facebook message on Fathers’ Day, and got a reply immediately, I asked myself, is he the oldest person actively using Facebook?
Judith Taylor
Cirencester, Gloucestershire

SIR – Having spent the past 60 years involved in almost all aspects of electricity, I was delighted at last to read the truth concerning wind turbines (report and leading article, June 16).
For many years the public have been conned into thinking how environmentally friendly they are. I am now convinced that they are a waste of money which should be spent on conventional power stations.
Tony Tomlyn
Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire
SIR – I would like to add a further point to support your excellent report on the eye-watering costs of wind farms.
Because wind is intermittent, it requires conventional back-up, and that back-up must also run intermittently to complement wind. But the back-up (typically gas) is very inefficient when run intermittently. Like most large-scale industrial processes, it works best when run consistently. Thus the net energy contribution from wind farms, and the claimed reductions in emissions, are largely offset by the inefficiencies in the back-up.
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Worse than that, the EU is now talking about “capacity payments” to compensate back-up gas-fired power stations for down-time when the wind blows – otherwise such power stations would be uneconomic and could not be financed.
In effect, we are subsidising wind farms twice over, saving no emissions, but driving prices up, driving industries abroad, and driving pensioners into fuel poverty. This lunacy must stop.
Roger Helmer MEP (Ukip)
Market Harborough, Leicestershire
SIR – It would be interesting to see an independent report on the sustainability of wind turbines that compares the total power generated throughout their life span with the total power used in their construction and maintenance.
This would take into account: the extraction of raw materials needed to produce steel and other components used in manufacture; construction of the turbine itself; site preparation and foundations; transportation to and erection on site; provision of ancillary power lines and substations; servicing and maintenance requirements; decommissioning, dismantling, removal and site restoration at the end of their life. It may be that not only do many turbines receive large financial subsidies, but they also leave a large carbon footprint.
John Bennett
Lytham St Annes, Lancashire
SIR – Our political leaders are so heavily committed to the green agenda that none of them is willing to admit to having been misled by green propaganda.
Of course, one is not surprised that those on the Left take such a stance; but it is profoundly depressing that Conservatives are unwilling to apply common sense to so vital an issue as energy policy. This is yet another example of Tory “modernisers” sacrificing sound policy in their futile attempt to attract the votes of the “soft Left” by “detoxifying the Conservative brand”.
John Waine
Nuneaton, Warwickshire
SIR – British wind turbines produced 12 per cent of our total electricity production on a few occasions the week before last (leading article, June 16).
On the whole they struggle to produce 5 per cent of our electricity requirement. The sooner we put a stop to this madness, the better.
Derek Limbert
Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire
SIR – The rationale for the feed-in tariffs and consumer subsidies for renewable energy has nothing to do with employment. Their purpose is to stimulate interest and investment in renewable energy.
Conventional energy is doubling in price every seven to 10 years, while the price of renewable energy, as efficiency and scale develops, is fast reducing.
In 20 to 30 years, most, if not all, energy will come from renewable resources, from installations all over the world owned by people here, there and everywhere, delivering peace and prosperity, with an absolutely stable energy price.
Wind and sun are unlimited, and do not send out invoices.
Maitland Mackie
Rothienorman, Aberdeenshire
SIR – The increased energy cost caused by renewables subsidies contributes to fuel poverty and job losses. Given that the subsidies are guaranteed for up to 25 years, the problem will only escalate. There is much concern in Scotland about the loss of wild land, and the likely effect on tourism.
In every country that has attempted to obtain significant amounts of energy from wind it has eventually been recognised that it is not cost-effective and subsidies have been reduced as fast as politically expedient – in Spain, Denmark, Germany and now Britain and Australia. When will they ever learn?
Thomas Gough
Ballindalloch, Morayshire
SIR – I share the doubts of your leading article over how the Government is “showing its recognition of public concern by announcing that residents will be able to stop the construction of wind farms”.
The statement by the communities secretary, Eric Pickles, on the subject makes no mention of any change to the current process, which is often as follows: the parish council objects to a wind farm, the district council refuses planning permission, the MP supports this stance, but on appeal, an unelected central government inspector overturns it all and allows the wind farm to go ahead. Where are the mysterious new powers for local communities to stop wind farms going to come from?
Peter Ross
Weston Longville, Norfolk
SIR – Your articles on the real cost to the consumer of producing electricity by wind turbines made me aware how much we are paying for our belated sense of guilt over climate change and our failure to exercise responsible stewardship of the earth’s natural resources.
It is interesting that, despite all this hand-wringing, there are plenty of people who are making a healthy profit from this awareness.
As with much expensive climate change research, we are yet to see a noticeable benefit to the environment.
Angus McPherson
Findon, West Sussex
SIR – As Rod Tann points out in his letter (June 16), wind farms are visually offensive, whether on land or at sea.
However, even worse is the damage they do to insects and birds. It is inexcusable that these things, no matter how useless, are still being thrown up due to the huge subsidies they attract. I object to my taxes being used in this way, and indeed in any cause which involves the words “carbon”.
Ginny Martin
Bishops Waltham, Hampshire
SIR – Wind already provides five per cent of our electricity, helping to reduce carbon emissions and our reliance on expensive imported gas.
Support for technologies in the early stages helps to get them get to the market and to develop a British supply chain, which in turn stimulates other business opportunities and jobs.
We are alert to people’s concerns about costs, which is why we reduced subsidies for onshore wind by 10 per cent this year. The challenge for energy policy is to keep the lights on and keep energy affordable while switching from dirty to clean energy.
Today’s householders already pay £64 less for their gas and electricity bills as a result of the policies we are pursuing. The rise in bills we have seen is largely due to the rising global gas prices and not our policies.
Edward Davey MP
Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
London SW1
SIR – By comparison to nuclear, wind is expensive, unreliable, and indirectly polluting and hazardous. Wind’s only virtue appears to be to employ an enormous number of people.
Would all our economic ills be solved by our returning to using spinning wheels and hand looms to make our clothing?
Clive Dray
Newbury, Berkshire

Irish Times:
Sir, – I am gravely concerned about the upcoming abortion Bill. My concern is for the possible exploitation of young vulnerable women and especially the voiceless foetuses.
However I would like to focus on the baby or foetus for one moment. If we are all in agreement that abortion is not an ideal situation but a difficult choice then we should do the utmost to mitigate the pain and suffering of both parties.
Scientists tell us; the foetus can feel physical pain from eight weeks, therefore would it not be more ethical to abort the baby/foetus using a more “humane” treatment? Or at least abort the baby using anaesthesia? The method is absolutley barbaric and no animal would be allowed to suffer the same with our activists demanding change. I believe both sides of the abortion debate have become so loud that we have forgotten about those you have no voice. Even animals are given more respect at death. Yes, they are human, and yes, they should be thus treated humanely. – Yours, etc,
Ardmore Crescent,
Bray, Co Wicklow.
Sir, – Is not this piece of legislative initiative in respect of the protection of women in childbirth rather a brilliant coup de main by the executive?
It was due, to be sure, but the timing is apt and will swing this Government into 2014, before one can say “household tax” or “water charge”. While the country is in the pawn shop to the tune of billions and thousands are burdened with aggressive loans, people are suddenly taking to the streets from notions of moral impropriety and suicidal presumptive implications of life in the womb.
The Government is threatening, no less, to expand the sovereign rights of women in difficult pregnancies. For swear, what has come to pass that this should be so! Is it not just amazing that real imminent threats to our own sustainability as a people are ignored and the imagined and improbable threats imported from some remote christian ideology are infused with an imperative and magnitude of indignation that belies the inherent insecurity of their concealment.
Why is it more easy and less shameful to rail against a minor legal adjustment to iron out ambiguity in law and secure protection to practitioners and patients alike than it is to rage against the rape of a nation by faceless bankers and rampant speculators.
How is it that our economic degeneracy sees not a single act of demonstrative action on our streets against the unendurable pain it has inflicted, by de-franchising our youth and throwing them to a life of exile or of those remaining to a life of humble acceptance, docility and intellectual atrophy. This should be enough to provoke anyone to tear the house down, but no one flutters an eyebrow.
Yet, the mere notion of an expansion of rights for women, however minor, brings about convulsions and tempers are raised to a pitch of desperation. Suddenly the very basis of our society is under threat. Just how does one square that? – Yours, etc,

Sir, – Now that it has been decided not to go ahead with the sale of harvesting rights in State forests there has been mention of a possible merger with Bord na Móna. Such a merger would be a serious mistake. The two organisations involved are diametrical opposites in their basic philosophies. Bord na Móna was created to exploit an existing natural resource, our bogs. The function of the State forest enterprise (Coillte, formerly the Forestry Division of the Department of Lands, initially the Forestry Branch!) was set up to create a new resource to replace a natural one which had been exploited to almost total annihilation, our forests.
Bord na Móna was beneficial in terms of energy production and domestic fuel, but its activity has now become unfashionable and it could well be terminated.
When this proposal first emerged some years ago it was described by the late Garret FitzGerald as “cynical”. – Yours, etc,
(Former Chief Inspector,

Sir, – Eileen Battersby’s view that Kevin Barry’s winning of the Impac award was richly deserved, but that there was one other real contender for this award, namely, Kjersti Skomsvold’s The Faster I Walk The Smaller I Am (Arts & Ideas, June 7th) is a very fair one, confirmed to a large degree by the opinions expressed on these two novels on RTÉ’s Arena programme of June 5th.
However, it’s worth pointing out that Ms Battersby’s own, glowing, review of this novel in 2011, played a huge part in our knowing about it. Until then, no other review of the English translation from the original Norwegian, published by Dalkey Island Press had appeared anywhere in the world, outside of Winnipeg, Canada! Following the Irish Times review, Skomsvold’s narrative of an absurd yet deadly serious existential crisis “went viral”, for want of a better phrase, in Ireland.
Hodges Figgis invited Kjersti Skomsvold and her translator, Kerri A Pierce, to its store to give a reading; the author gave many media interviews and was invited to several literary festivals; it received perhaps the ultimate accolade of popular approval by being selected as an RTÉ Radio Book on One, read con brio by Rosaleen Linehan, and broadcast earlier this year.
Even after its shortlisting for the Impac award, not a single UK newspaper or literary periodical judged it worthy of more than a sentence (the Guardian was alone in providing a hyperlink to a 2011 online review). All the more reason then, to be grateful to the Irish Times Literary Correspondent for giving Irish readers the opportunity to enjoy and be bewitched by the novel itself, and its miraculous translation, in which semiotic conceits, verbal gymnastics of all kinds, and even a palindrome – “DOG” – were, GOD only knows how, recreated. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – It is reported (Front page, June 21st) that a child died after an ambulance called by the parents went to the wrong address. If only we had a decent postal code in this country this sort of thing could not happen.
It is a disgrace that a national postcode solution was proposed by the government in 2005 for completion by January 2008 and is now more than five years overdue. How many more years until there’s a decision? – Yours, etc,
Knocksinna Crescent,

Sir, – Perhaps Fintan O’Toole would care to supply us with detailed statistics of all the deaths and serious injuries caused by cyclists and bicycles, in the last five years, to back up his anti-cyclist rant in (Opinion, June 11th). – Yours, etc,
Fitzhaven Square,

Mon, Jun 24, 2013, 01:02
First published: Mon, Jun 24, 2013, 01:02

Sir, – You advised us (June 20th) that Nicole Kidman is 46. She is apparently famous for being married to Tom Cruise and Keith Urban. John Mahoney and John Goodman, two other actors who share this birthday, have their screen credits listed. You make no mention of her Oscar for The Hours or her roles in Moulin Rouge and Eyes Wide Shut among many others. She is, after all, only a woman, a mere appendage – fie o fie upon you! – Yours, etc,

Irish Independent:
Madam – It is now quite a number of generations since Ireland’s poet, WB Yeats felt it necessary to stand on the stage of the Abbey Theatre and deliver a timely rebuke to the audience – ‘You have disgraced yourselves once again’ – in response to their unruly attitude towards Sean O’Casey’s play The Plough and the Stars.
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The poet was referring back to another time when a similar situation occurred in relation to the staging of John Millington Synge’s play The Playboy of the Western World.
Listening to Claire Daly’s tasteless tirade in Dail Eireann on Wednesday of this week in response to the visit of Michelle Obama and her two children, one can only deduce that nothing much has changed on this island.
Yes indeed, we have disgraced ourselves – once again!
It is worth remembering that now, a century later, both John Millington Synge and Sean O’Casey are regarded as celebrated writers at home and away.
Hindsight is a wonderful facility!
MM Curley,
Irish Independent

Madam – Your young Mr Kerrigan, (Sunday Independent, June 16, 2013), does not like Seanad Eireann. Nor does he like the class of political animal (low life?) such as the undersigned, who not only struggled for years to wriggle through its doors but actually succeeded twice. Not through nomination as a Caligula’s horse or through the effete and perfumed (but seriously effective) university constituencies but actually through those crony-infested ‘main’ panels. But let’s ignore me for the moment and the fact that my mandate to be a part of the ruling classes (and participate in the legislative process) came from elected public representatives, whose functions (as set out in legislation) include the election of 43 of the 60 senators.
Also in this section
Disgraced once again
Red Army losses
Politicians acting like spoiled brats
Where Gene is absolutely on the ball is in suggesting that the issue has, or will, become a referendum on Enda Kenny. The referendum on the Seanad is not just about cutting off a part of our institutional structures. It is about accepting or rejecting an antique style of politics beyond which, sadly, Mr Kenny and the dominant elements in his Cabinet cannot and will not progress. Into the 21st Century.
Within days of Mr Kenny’s launch of his entertaining drag-hunt for the corpse of a moribund Seanad, it transpired that that Seanad, far from ‘doing nothing’ and doing it elegantly and soporifically, had amended, several hundred times, essential legislation which, in the words of Noel Whelan (barrister as well as political commentator) “had been passed by the Dail in an inadequate, incomplete or incorrect manner”.
Though some ministers have shown their capacity to carry out genuine reform, that is not the ethos or modus operandi of Mr Kenny (Class of 1975) and his main stalwarts. They are not fit for purpose. Which is why we must ensure that this referendum does not pass.
Maurice O’Connell,
Member Seanad Eireann,
1981-1982, 1982-1983,
Tralee, Co Kerry
Irish Independent
Madam – I am pleased that Mr McGurk and Mr Gallagher (Letters, Sunday Independent, June 16, 2013) sought fit to reply to my letter regarding the Second World War and I would like to make a quick reply to their points.
Also in this section
Disgraced once again
Reform not part of Kenny’s ‘MO’
Politicians acting like spoiled brats
I do not trivialise the heroic contribution of the Soviet people and Red Army to the Allied victory. I am not denying for an instant that the Red Army did the main job of breaking the Wehrmacht, nor that the vast bulk of German casualties were sustained on the Eastern Front. But the 29 million Red Army casualties, including nine million Red Army fatalities, does not in and of itself tell the whole story. A lot of this suffering was due to the Red Army’s incredible incompetence and brutality towards its own personnel in 1941-43. Even in 1943-45, when the Red Army became more competent (and at times brilliant), it spent its men like water – right until the very end of the war. For example, in 1944, when the Wehrmacht was increasingly outnumbered and crippled, it still inflicted 6.5 million casualties on the Red Army in that one year alone.
My point was that the Soviet Union could not have won the war on its own. I am well aware that Stalin shifted thousands of factories to the east to save them from the Germans, but after 1941, for the rest of the war, the Soviet Union’s effective GNP was reduced to the size of Britain’s. With this, and an unoccupied population pool of 120 million, there is no way that, on its own, the Soviet Union could have beaten Germany – a much more advanced country of 80 million people which also controlled most of Europe. The USSR’s economic losses to the German invasion were so devastating that the country did not really recover until the Fifties.
Dr Derek O’Flynn
Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Madam – I shed a tear upon reading Father’s Day by Leo Cullen (Sunday Independent, June 16, 2013). It was a very lovely yet very sad verse that I am quite sure touched a lot of people whose dads have gone to that better place, especially being Father’s Day.
Geraldine Quinn
Headford, Co Galway
Irish Independent


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