9 August 2013 Drive
I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark Troutbridge has a new navigation aid. It keeps overriding Leslie but he manages to confuse it in the end Priceless
We are both tired but get a few things done including sweeping the drive.
We watch Yes Minister quite good
Scrabble today Mary wins and she gets over 400. perhaps I might win tomorrow.
Betty Maxwell, who has died in France aged 92, was the widow of the publisher Robert Maxwell and remained publicly loyal to her husband in the face of great odds until the end of his life; she had no forewarning of the shameful legacy that he would leave after his death in 1991.
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Betty Maxwell Photo: ANDREW CROWLEY
6:34PM BST 08 Aug 2013
Throughout more than 45 years of marriage to Bob Maxwell, during the latter part of which they lived mostly apart, Betty Maxwell was the archetypal supportive wife. She acted as Maxwell’s hostess and housekeeper at Headington Hill Hall, Oxford; accompanied him on trips overseas; and represented him regularly — often at extremely short notice and great inconvenience — at the succession of receptions, dinners and conferences to which he would at the last moment refuse to go. She dated the blossoming of his megalomania from the time, in 1984, when he acquired the Daily Mirror.
She also brought up their nine children (two of whom died young), and to them provided a cushion of defence against Maxwell’s turbulent behaviour as a parent. A demanding and dictatorial father — overbearing and petulant, by turns magnetic and bullying — he took advantage of his children’s adulation of him, subjecting them one moment to biting criticism and the next to exaggerated displays of love and affection.
A Frenchwoman of striking appearance and style, who retained a heavy French accent, Betty Maxwell combined concern for her children’s welfare with an immense capacity for hard work; she had deep reserves of energy and a fine intellect, and she was a dogged worker for good causes.
One of her most noted commitments was to the fostering of good relations between Christians and Jews. “Remembering for the Future”, the conference she organised in Oxford and London in 1988, made a substantial contribution to Holocaust studies. She organised a further conference “Remembering for the Future 2000: the Holocaust in an Age of Genocide”, at Oxford in July 2000.
A Huguenot by upbringing, but with a Roman Catholic mother (whose marriage to a Protestant had resulted in her excommunication) and a Jewish husband — many members of whose family died in the Nazis’ death camps — Betty Maxwell came to see it as a duty to assist, as best she could, in the advancement of ecumenical and interfaith understanding.
In the process, she earned the profound respect of members of the Jewish and Christian communities around the world. Cardinal Hume described her contribution as “quite outstanding”; Lord Coggan, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, accompanied her to her husband’s funeral in Jerusalem in 1991.
Betty Maxwell was born Elisabeth Jenny Jeanne Meynard at La Grive, near Saint Alban de Roche (between Lyon and Bourgoin), on March 11 1921, the younger daughter of Paul and Colombe Meynard, both of whom had been awarded the Croix de Guerre avec Palme during the Great War.
Paul Meynard owned a silk weaving factory, and the family was prosperous. Betty was sent to the local school and then, aged nine, to England, to the convent of Our Lady of Compassion, Acocks Green, near Birmingham. Betty’s mother had spent a portion of her school days there; her father let her go when he found that 180 of the 240 pupils were Protestant.
Betty returned to France in 1932 and attended a series of schools, at Lyon and St Omer and finally the Lycée Sévigné in Paris, after which she obtained a place at the Sorbonne to read Classics and Philosophy.
It was in Paris, after the Liberation in 1944, that she met her future husband, born Jan Hoch in Ruthenia, but then serving in the British Army as Sergeant Ivan du Maurier (after the cigarette brand). They met at the French Welcome Committee, in the Place de la Madeleine, where Allied soldiers could socialise with French civilians.
Soon afterwards they became engaged, and when Sergeant du Maurier received a commission he changed his name to Robert Maxwell.
Once the Meynards’ initial misgivings about their daughter’s proposed match with the handsome but penniless Ruthenian Jew of whom they knew nothing had been overcome, the marriage took place, at the Protestant Church of the Annunciation, rue Cortambert, on March 14 1945.
The next month, Maxwell sent his young wife to England, where he was already planning to make his post-war career and to start a family. In the event, this plan was postponed due to Maxwell’s postings to the Military Government and the Control Commission in Berlin, from 1945 to 1947. Betty joined him in Berlin in the winter of 1946 with their first child, Michael.
Once in England together, and after a spell in London, the Maxwells settled at Esher and then, from 1960, at Headington Hill Hall, a Victorian mansion built by a local brewing family, the Morrells, with fine views over Oxford. The offices of Pergamon Press, the scientific publishing house that Maxwell founded, were in the grounds of the house.
The last of the Maxwells’ nine children, Ghislaine, was born in 1961. All the children were delivered by Betty Maxwell’s elder sister, the gynaecologist Dr Yvonne Vittoz, at her clinic at Maison Laffitte, on the outskirts of Paris. A daughter, Karine, died of leukaemia, aged four; Michael died at 22, after almost seven years in a coma from which he never awoke, induced by head injuries sustained in a motor accident.
Bob Maxwell leant heavily on his wife for support, and she provided it. During his time as an aspiring Labour MP, and later when he was MP for Buckingham (1964-70), she was a stalwart canvasser on his behalf and, by all accounts, a first-class constituency MP’s wife. Long after her husband’s connection with Buckingham had ended, she continued to support the Bletchley Pre-School Playgroup she had started in the 1960s.
The scandal arising from the circumstances of Bob Maxwell’s attempted sale of Pergamon Press in 1969, and the public hostility and rejection he experienced as a result, made life difficult for his wife and children. Living, not for the last time, under the cloud of opprobrium that hung over Maxwell, at home they had to put up with him venting his frustrations upon them.
It was in large part due to the persistent irritant of her husband’s repeated, noisy and unjustified remarks about her ignorance and stupidity — often made in front of embarrassed strangers — that Betty Maxwell embarked on the second phase of her academic career: an undergraduate degree at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, and then a DPhil.
Her doctorate was concerned with the art of letter-writing in France between 1789 and 1830. The body of materials on which she based her thesis was a mass of correspondence — 11 large volumes in all — generated by her ancestors in France and Switzerland. In the course of her researches she developed a keen interest in her family’s genealogy, and then in her husband’s. It was the horror she felt on discovering the extent of the destruction of Maxwell’s family by the Nazis that led to her work on the Holocaust.
When her husband died at sea in November 1991, leaving, as it soon transpired, a bankrupt estate and a mass of accusations against her sons, Kevin and Ian — both subsequently cleared of all criminal charges — Betty Maxwell was utterly shell-shocked. “God forbid,” she said, when pondering the possibilities of an afterlife, “that I should run into him again.”
In 1994 Betty Maxwell published A Mind of My Own, a full, frank and readable account of her roller-coaster life with Bob Maxwell.
In her seventies and early eighties, she lectured widely on Holocaust studies, especially in America. In 2005, the Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations, based in Cambridge, held a celebratory dinner in Middle Temple Hall to honour Betty Maxwell’s “outstanding contribution” in the field.
Latterly, as a heart condition began to slow her down, she travelled less and spent much of her time in France with her sister, Yvonne.
Betty Maxwell is survived by three sons and four daughters.
Betty Maxwell, born March 11 1921, died August 7 2013
The world of bullying is a lonely one (Report, 8 August). It is also not new and I hope after this tragic period of young people taking their life that the government will now increase the time in the curriculum for developing self-belief and understanding and acceptance of who we are. The massive mental upheaval to disclose harsh irrational comments from others to people who dearly care for you, and the instant arrangements to meet up through modern media, mask our inability to manage emotion and desire. The power of talking in-person/signing, and listening and sharing is the skill needed more than anything, and possibly it is overlooked.
• At 76, the angst about Twitter et al is incomprehensible. Ten years ago they did not exist and children were a lot safer. The trolls write ghastly things, but would you know them in real life? Why do people read them online? Why do people need mythical friends? It seems so very sad to older people.
Grasssington, North Yorkshire
Congratulations to Stephen Fry for speaking out on Russian human rights abuses in regards to their anti-gay laws (Report, 8 August). Considering the $35bn investment the Russians are putting into what for them is a very symbolic event, one wonders whether a larger international boycott could be formed around Moscow’s intransigence over the conflict in Syria. As all other diplomatic avenues have failed, this could make Putin think twice about his continued refusal to allow the UN security council to speak in a united voice towards a conflict that has killed over 100,000 people. What is more, we now know that Saudi Arabia offered Russia $15bn worth of deals for them to move on Syria – so perhaps Riyadh could host the Winter Olympics instead.
• If there is one man who has the power to take steps towards ending the catastrophe in Syria, it is President Obama. If there is any single leader to whom he needs to talk towards that end, it is President Putin. Obama should have convened direct high-level talks with Putin and others a long time ago. His refusal now to meet with Putin (Report, 8 August) amounts to a dereliction of duty by the leader of the free world.
Dr Brendan O’Brien
• I find it refreshing that we still have a few independent countries such as Russia that won’t be bullied into submission by the US, nor by people like Stephen Fry who want to dictate how it should behave.
None of the reports (6 August) nor correspondence (8 August) address fundamental issues of biotechnology. Animal cells require sophisticated growth media, in this instance foetal bovine serum, together with amino acids and other substances, including antibiotics. These materials are obtained, at some expense, from plant and animal sources, and it is doubtful if the efficiency of conversion into meat protein could approach that of farm animals, quite apart from the costs of maintaining sterile, optimum conditions. I wonder how many bovine foetuses were sacrificed to make one burger. Robust micro-organisms are far more suitable for manufacturing proteins at any reasonable scale – but that is not news.
Dr Geoffrey Allen
• There is a perfectly adequate and cheap non-meat protein: it’s called tofu. A meal for two will cost you £1.63.
We, the undersigned, are all current and former political prisoners in Iran. We want to bring to the world’s attention the devastating effects of sanctions and the intensified efforts to isolate Iran diplomatically in the international community. These sanctions are affecting the lives of ordinary Iranian people terribly, through crippling inflation and a shortage of basic needs for a decent life. The sanctions have also severely constrained the political life of our country. The conflict over Iran’s nuclear programme has developed into a perilous contest between the US and Iran. Following his election in June, President Rouhani has promised moderation and rational decision-making in foreign and domestic policies. His administration has promised constructive engagement in international relations with a message of positive change and mutual respect. The time has come for Iran and the US to turn a page and start a new era of mutual understanding. In our view, the tenure of this government may be the last chance to bring this conflict to a reasonable and mutually acceptable resolution.
Rouhani is a firm believer in dialogue and constructive engagement, and enjoys a solid base of support in Iran. He also has a clear past record of negotiations with the EU troika over the nuclear issue. It is time to replace sanctions with an effort to resolve diplomatically the nuclear issue. Such a solution should be based on genuinely addressing international concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme by the Iranian government, and the acknowledgment of the legitimate rights of Iran to peaceful nuclear energy, in compliance with international legal standards, by the west. We urge President Obama and the US administration and the new government in Iran to employ all means to build trust and ensure the success of diplomacy. We hope the opportunity created by the Iranian people, reflected in the electoral victory of President Rouhani, will be seized appropriately by the US.
Mohsen Mirdamadi, Mohsen Aminzadeh, Mostafa Taajzaadeh, Faezeh Hashemi, Abolfazl Ghadyaani and 50 others. For the full letter and list, see theguardian.com/world/iran-blog
Your report of the Guardian’s rejection of the new press regulator, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), repeats an error made by Guardian Media Group chief executive Andrew Miller in his letter to the industry trade associations (Guardian group rejects industry plan for self-regulator, 7 August). It is not true that the committee which will fund Ipso will have powers to approve changes to the Editors’ Code of Practice, described in your article as‚ “a fatal undermining of the principle of independence”. On the contrary, changes to the code must be approved by the board of Ipso, which will have an independent majority, and is what Leveson recommended.
Editor emeritus, DMG Media
See also corrections and clarifications
• I write to applaud the Guardian’s rejection of the plan for a press regulator put forward by the Murdoch titles, the Telegraph Group and the publishers of the Daily Mail. Their so-called Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) would in reality be little more than a PCC MkII, a compliant industry poodle rather than an effective watchdog. From my point of view, its most troubling departure from the recommendations of the Leveson inquiry was the absence of a compulsory, free arbitration process for people with valid legal complaints against the press. This cornerstone of Leveson’s reforms will guarantee access to justice for people of limited means, and the corporations behind Ipso cannot be trusted to deliver it.
The Guardian, with its investigation of phone hacking, did more than any other institution to ensure that gross, serial abuses by some parts of the press were dragged into the daylight and that the appropriate lessons were learned. This took courage and so did your Ipso decision.
I hope you will soon feel emboldened to take a lead role in creating a genuinely effective and independent self-regulator that will meet the Leveson criteria as set out in the royal charter on the press. That charter is painstakingly respectful of freedom of expression and has the support of all parties in parliament, of the public and of many victims of press abuses.
As organisations with expertise in supporting people who are seeking protection in the UK, we deplore the highly controversial advertising campaign delivered on the side of vans driven through selected London boroughs. The “illegal immigrants go home campaign” (Report, 30 July) is cynical and giving rise to a climate of fear. The heavy-handed “stop and search” activity outside London tube stations harks back to a period before the Lawrence inquiry and raises questions about racial profiling in immigration control.
Home Office press releases refer to “would-be illegal immigrants” who were, in fact, Syrian nationals fleeing the violence and conflict back home, in an attempt to seek safety in the UK. The use of the term “illegal immigrant” in this context is offensive, inaccurate and misleading and fails to distinguish between the various individuals caught within its net, including asylum seekers, victims of trafficking and survivors of torture.
The Home Office is bound by a positive duty under the Equality Act 2010 to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations. It is also responsible for assessing and determining the protection needs of the people who come to this country fleeing persecution. This campaign will generate hostility and intolerance in our communities, risks undermining the UK’s commitment to provide sanctuary under the refugee convention and should end now.
Jan Shaw Amnesty International UK
Dave Garrett Refugee Action
Keith Best Freedom from Torture
• The immigration minister, Mark Harper, and the coalition have successfully convinced many that they are cracking down on illegal immigration by a campaign asking illegal migrants to go home, randomly stopping members of the non-white community and raiding workplaces. This is a total waste of man power and money in order to divert attention from the fact that the immigration department at the Home Office is the most inefficient section of the whole civil service. It is now public that Mr Harper’s department has lost or misplaced hundreds of files, passports and photographs; that applicants have to wait months, sometimes years, before their applications to stay are considered. Even MPs have failed to persuade the Home Office to look into their constituents’ cases. As an agency dealing with immigration issues, we take telephone calls from clients desperate because the Home Office is not making the necessary decisions on their case. Many immigrants would prefer to leave the country voluntarily if their applications are refused rather than be left in this kind of limbo.
Stopping suspected immigrants on a random basis has already created insecurity among the non-white community. Last week I had three phone calls (two from elderly people) seeking advice as to whether or not they should carry their passports when they go out of the house. Every country has a right to regulate immigration. But the use of inflammatory and vague advertising is potentially dangerous, creates fear and insecurity among settled communities of different races and undermines principles long established in race relations legislation. The campaign appears to be designed to obtain additional support for the Tory party and will not tackle the delays and inefficiencies at the Home Office. The campaign demeans the government and should be halted immediately.
Afro-Asian Advisory Service
• On the morning I read the words of Godfrey Bloom (Ukip MEP’s regret over ‘bongo bongo land’ remarks, 8 August), I had also been reading extracts of two doctoral theses reporting important results in agricultural research. One was written by a Zimbabwean the other by a Rwandan, both no doubt from bongo bongo land in the opinion of Bloom. More important than the scientific results, in my opinion, is what these publications mean in terms of the journeys these two young men and their families have made. The work in these cases was not funded by the UK, but it could well have been, for this is an ongoing part of the reality of what international development funds are used for. Another feature of this type of endeavour worth recording is its Euro co-operative nature (no doubt also unwelcome to the little Englanders of Ukip) – the work was supervised in the field in Africa by scientists from the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands and France as well as the two African countries.
Dr Mike Swift
I read with amazement of Google co-founder Sergey Brin sponsoring a Dutch scientist, who was able to produce five ounces of beef in a laboratory for £250,000. This is scientific genius.
It reminded me of another brilliant invention that an organic farmer once told me about, which sounded deserving of a Nobel prize.
This system requires no inputs; animals consume a variety of materials that grow naturally, in abundance (gorse, bracken and grass) on land that is too rocky, hilly and poor quality, to sustain arable farming; it reduces global warming (no scarce inputs are used) and is a highly efficient method of recycling – completely inedible plant material is converted into edible high-quality protein.
It also decreases demand for increasingly scarce, good-quality farming land and maximises the efficiency of resource use.
The technique is called Welsh hill farming. And some people have been doing it for centuries.
The rest of the world has now caught on and I am sure you can Google it, so perhaps Google’s owners are missing a trick. This invention has become so prevalent that I found a similar number of ounces produced from it on sale at my local Tesco – for around £2.50.
This invention is 100,000 times cheaper than Google’s meat. Spread the word. Perhaps this could go “viral “
Leon Pein, Barnet, Herts
How timely that Britain’s largest “fatberg” has been discovered in a sewer in London the day after the Quarter-Million Pounder was demonstrated nearby. Do I sense a connection?
Perhaps the fatberg could be shredded in an enormous liquidiser and recycled more cheaply than the lab-grown product? After all, neither of the two contains what perceptive humans would recognise as meat.
Phil Wood, Westhoughton, Greater Manchester
Why create test-tube burgers when we can live healthily on a vegan diet?
Animal farming, including that of the highest “welfare” standards, still causes suffering and death. And a vegetarian diet is unethical: cows and egg-laying hens live longer than meat animals and are treated even worse.
A vegan diet is better for the planet, reduces the risk of diseases and can easily feed the growing population
Mark Richards, Brighton
Squeamish about lab-grown meat? Oh, so eating the decaying flesh of sentient beings is pleasant, then, is it?
Sue Harris, Magor, Monmouthshire
City of London is committed to arts funding
With reference to Neil Norman’s comment on Mark Ravenhill’s declaration on arts funding (“Could austerity really be good for the arts? Of course”, 4 August): in the recent Lord Mayor’s Gresham Lecture, the point was made that the relationship between public and private funding of the arts is symbiotic, not substitutive.
In today’s world, we need both. Organisations receiving a large amount of public funding – the Royal Opera House, the National Museums, the Royal Shakespeare Company etc – are in a stronger position to generate more traded income and attract more philanthropic giving. Our challenge is to inspire further investor confidence; facilitating philanthropy alongside public funding.
The City of London is a microcosm of the relationship between civic and individual support for the arts. Each year, the City Corporation alone contributes over £70m to arts, heritage and culture – inspiring support from individual philanthropists.
The Barbican, the London Symphony Orchestra and other cultural City institutions run programmes for 300,000 people from our neighbouring boroughs every year. The true purpose of arts’ funding is not to make artists comfortable but to make art accessible – the arts are an international and local asset in which we will continue to invest.
The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor of London
Neil Norman needn’t worry about any young actor being “comfortable” and therefore “no artist”. In fact, he cannot in his piece be thinking of regional theatre; although I note he is “writing a play”.
Ken Russell may have had “too much money” to make Altered States a good movie, but many urban theatres now have none at all. Where the hell are actors supposed to learn their business?
Clive Swift , London NW8
Britain will set green example
The global climate change investment survey you report (“Green policy failure is choking off billions in private investment”, 6 August) highlights the need for governments to put in place the right conditions to drive private money into low-carbon projects. I am pleased to say that is exactly what the UK is doing. Indeed, there is no criticism in the survey of UK Government policy.
The survey sets out the need for “consistent legal frameworks regulating greenhouse gas emissions and incentivising clean energy investment”. This is what the Energy Bill before Parliament does, with the potential to create 250,000 jobs in the energy sector by 2020.
We have two-and-a-half critical years leading to the end of 2015 to get the international politics aligned. Britain will lead the argument for low-carbon economics by demonstrating how it can work at home and succeeding in this global race for a cleaner, greener future.
Edward Davey MP
Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
“Row over how Britain can keep the lights on rages between Tories and Lib Dems”, you report (5 August)
But this is the wrong question to ask, because normally it is not the lights that we want to keep on but our oversized TVs, fancy coffee machines and tumble-driers. And we want our shopping experience brightly lit and air-conditioned.
We need a way to split essential electricity from luxury uses, and the easiest way would be to have a 12-volt “charged circuit” in every home. This would mean that the lights and a few other essentials are run from a battery which would be charged at night (at a cheap rate), maybe topped up by a photovoltaic panel. Once this were installed “luxury electricity” (230 volts) could be charged at a higher, premium rate. This would have a number of consequences with, for example, people doing more constructive things than watching TV.
It would put enormous pressure on manufacturers to produce ultra-low-energy products which could either run off the 12-volt circuit or could be charged by hand (eg wind-up radio). And maybe people would do more things manually, such as hanging out the washing.
If we went down this path, the need for fracking would fade very quickly. But would the public give up their widescreens to save the countryside?
Alan Mitcham, Cologne
We aim to make the Tour a winner
I am writing regarding your piece “Revealed: the uphill and down dale battle to bring Tour de France to Yorkshire’ (6 August).
The claim that I told the Prime Minister that a Tour de France 2014 bid, that would have the race beginning in Scotland, had been successful before a decision from the race organisers to award the Grand Depart 2014 to Welcome to Yorkshire had even been made is completely untrue.
The Government is committed to helping make Yorkshire’s Grand Depart and the subsequent Cambridge-London stage a great success and is contributing £10m of funding to the event. We are working in close collaboration with all key stakeholders, including Welcome to Yorkshire and Visit England, to maximise the benefits for those regions set to host the world’s biggest cycle race.
Rt Hon Hugh Robertson mp, Minister for Sport and Tourism
The other side of Sussex protests
Your report “The only way is Sussex” (3 August) does not tell the whole story of the anti-fracking protests: Luddism and self-indulgence are also factors.
Much of the caravan of professional protesters at Balcombe was made up of outsiders, and was previously seeking to disrupt construction of the desperately needed Bexhill-Hastings Link Road earlier this year.
There is significant poverty in many of the coastal towns and rural centre of East Sussex, which have poor road and rail infrastructure compared with the rest of south-east England.
Meanwhile, Brighton’s trumpeted green credentials are undermined by its export of pollution and congestion to the rest of Sussex. Sewage is pumped out to Peacehaven, refuse is sent to an incinerator at Newhaven, and electricity is generated from a nuclear power station and windmills on Romney Marsh.
RICHARD MADGE, Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex
The zero-hours contracts take me back to my childhood days in the 1920s. My father was a miner in the village pit. At the pithead there was a hooter known as the Bull.
Nearly every miner walked to work, but if the Bull sounded just before your shift, you stayed at home, without pay of course.
It is good to know these conditions still apply and there are those prepared to defend them. If Vincent Cable allows the employees in such straits to work for more than one employer, it will double their chances of getting nothing – for which they should be grateful.
BILL FLETCHER, Cirencester, Gloucestershire
“UK charities hit back at salary criticism after revelation that 30 bosses paid more than £100,000 a year” (6 August) but surely the question is not whether these salaries are “appropriate or fair” but whether they are ugly.
I see nothing beautiful in the argument that leaders of organisations will only bring their best skills to the job if they can get the maximum reward.
ELIZABETH MORLEY, Trisant, Aberystwyth
Repeated references by the Chancellor and others to “stay-at-home mothers” devalue the role of parenting in general, and of fathers in particular. It is blatantly sexist.
ROB WHEWAY, Coventry
Scientists across the country support a full and ecologically coherent network of marine conservation sites in the face of the decline in habitats
Sir, The Fisheries Minister, Richard Benyon (“Minister rejects ‘banal’ campaign for marine conservation zones”, Aug 5), is not alone. Alun Michael, the Minister for Natural Resources in Wales, rejected a suite of marine conservation zone (MCZ) proposals prepared by his nature conservation advisers.
Contrary to Professor Callum Roberts, celebrity chefs and many eco-journalists, the UK fishing industry has been fully engaged with all UK administrations in the MCZ site-selection process.
Typically, whenever the industry’s representatives have challenged a proposal by asking for supporting evidence, the conservation lobby has deemed it obstructive and anti-MCZ.
If a fishery scientist proposes a restriction on fishing, a quantitative case must be made that demonstrates the potential benefits to the environment, the fish stock and the fishing industry.
Stephen J. Lockwood
Chairman, MPA Fishing Coalition
Sir, Richard Benyon’s comments about 127 marine conservation zones (report, Aug 5; letter, Aug 7) disregard the fact that it was a Defra-sponsored process that identified these sites in order to achieve an “ecologically coherent network”. The selection process was one which balanced scientific information with views of the full spectrum of those who use the sea, including fishermen. As a result, some sites with strong scientific evidence were dropped, and Defra could reconsider them as alternatives to those found to have poor data.
There is irrefutable evidence of the decline in our marine habitats and wildlife, which is why scientists across the country, including the Science & Technology Select Committee, support a full and ecologically coherent network of sites and why the Marine Act 2009 was introduced. It is therefore vital that Government acts to stop this decline and designate a complete network, not just the 31 MCZs that have so far been subject to public consultation — a mere quarter of what scientists agreed is necessary to achieve a functioning network. As well as protecting marine nature, such a network will benefit lower-impact fishermen whose activities may continue in MCZs. There are other benefits too, with a recent study revealing that the proposed sites are worth over a billion pounds to anglers and divers around England.
Marine Conservation Society
Sir, The campaign for 127 marine conservation zones in England, criticised by the Fisheries Minister (letter, Aug 7) represents more than a decade of effort by thousands of people to introduce urgently needed marine protection.
The campaign seeks to set up a functional network of sites rather than the handful of locations the Government has consulted on, which were chosen from a comprehensive network proposal that had widespread support from science, conservation groups and industry.
Far from costing livelihoods, by helping to rebuild fish stocks conservation zones will secure them.
If the minister is serious in his claims of support for marine life he will publish a timetable for the completion of the full network of sites that is long overdue. Science is not the impediment to action, as 86 senior UK scientists recently pointed out in an open letter to the Prime Minister, it is political will.
Professor Callum Roberts
University of York
‘People seeking asylum or granted refugee protection in the UK must be treated with dignity if the system is to command their confidence and compliance’
Sir, The Refugee Council is concerned that recent initiatives are undermining the Home Secretary’s pledge to change the “closed, secretive and defensive” culture of the UK’s immigration services.
The checks carried out at London Underground stations last week appear to be rooted in this culture, and their blunt imprecision will damage the credibility of the UK’s immigration system far more than the abuses they purport to address.
In defending the checks the Immigration Minister Mark Harper was quoted (Aug 3) as denying that people were targeted as a result of racial profiling, arguing instead that people were only stopped if “when seeing an immigration officer, [they] behaved in a very suspicious way, that might give us reasonable suspicion to question them”.
Many of the people granted refugee protection in the UK have fled persecution in their home countries, often at the hands of Government officials operating with impunity. They are therefore likely to feel deeply unsettled if and when confronted here by uniformed officers demanding identity papers or handcuffing and detaining those they deem to be “immigration offenders”. Understandably, some may react by behaving in ways that are deemed suspicious by those officials.
People seeking asylum or granted refugee protection in the UK must be treated with dignity if the system is to command their confidence and, critically, their compliance. That no one in the Home Office thought the risks of undermining public support for an immigration system that is both robust and humane outweighed the perceived benefits of this initiative speaks volumes about the scale of the job ahead of the Home Secretary in achieving the culture change she seeks in her department.
The role of Minister for Europe is a complex one and it is difficult to see how it could be performed well when most incumbents only have a year
Sir, Matthew Elliott (Thunderer, Aug 6) attacks the wrong target. Britain has been well served by a succession of Permanent Representatives at the EU where they have maintained our interests with indifferent support from our politicians.
In 13 years the Blair and Brown Governments had 12 Ministers for Europe, most serving for less than a year. It is difficult to see how they could conduct such a complex brief in this time let alone establish contacts, build alliances and garner the support which are essential in the pursuit of British interests. David Cameron appears to be avoiding this folly of short-lived and capricious appointments.
Some politicians can stay too long. Bill Cash has been a member of the European Scrutiny committee since 1985 yet Matthew Elliott wants to give him more time.
It is important to avoid pre-judgment in any case but particularly those involving child witnesses who are the alleged victims of abuse
Sir, Amid the legitimate debate about the way that witnesses in criminal trials are treated, particularly child witnesses who are the alleged victims of sexual abuse, it is important to avoid the pre-judgment that is implicit in your front page headline and story (Aug 7), that such witnesses are “victims”.
Indeed, the disputed issue in some such trials is the question of whether the alleged crime actually took place.
James Turner, QC
‘The eclipse of communism in the West would have been pleasing to the founder of an organisation which had a firm alternative internal agenda of partnership’
Sir, What might John Spedan Lewis, founder of the partnership, have made of Waitrose’s purchase of The Good Food Guide, started in 1951 by Raymond Postgate, also a founder of the British Communist Party (“Waitrose puts money where its mouth is”, Aug 3)?
Lewis would, I believe, have seen this as a victory for the partnership over communism. Indeed his 1954 book Fairer Shares is subtitled “A possible advance in Civilisation and perhaps the only alternative to Communism”.
The eclipse of communism in the West would have been pleasing to the founder of an organisation which had a firm alternative internal agenda of partnership and of democratic transparency. The Central Council enacted in 1950 that no member of the partnership shall in one year “exceed after taxation . . . twenty-five times the concurrent minimum for a year’s service by a married man” resident in London, with four dependent children “and shall in no case exceed the equivalent of five thousand pounds in 1900”. Spedan Lewis, however, would no doubt have views on boardroom pay today.
Tom Beaumont James
SIR – Nick Robinson’s Twitter rant at being woken by a neighbour’s cockerel (report, August 5) highlights a widespread misconception about “country retreats”.
My wife and I decided to live in the Suffolk countryside when we got married, some 48 years ago, and we have done so ever since. We enjoy the relatively low population and vehicle density, the sense of community in country villages, the fresh air and the rural walks.
However, the peace of the countryside is something of a myth. We live with the early-morning noise of farm machinery, shotguns, gas cannons (to scare the pigeons), honking pheasants and sheep in the neighbouring field demanding their breakfast. Farmers have a job to do and a population to feed. The sooner that idealistic townies recognise this, the better.
South Elmham, Suffolk
SIR – I would swap Nick Robinson’s noisy cockerel for the hundreds of raucous seagulls that are making our life a misery here in North Wales.
It is not just at 5am, but all night long, making earplugs a must given the warm nights and the need for open windows.
SIR – Before David Cameron came to power, he promised to reward those who “help to mend broken Britain” by giving married couples a tax incentive. He also said that mothers who stay at home give their children the most stable upbringing.
No tax break for married couples has appeared. Moreover, those mothers who gave up a good career to look after their children are being doubly punished. First, they lose their child benefit if their husband earns £60,000 a year, and now they won’t qualify for the child care vouchers.
Mr Cameron should take another look at the Conservative manifesto and carry it out, before those who voted for the party because it espoused family values oust the Tories from office in two years’ time.
J M Gilman
SIR – I often joked with my husband that I would swap the tea and bath-time ritual with two toddlers for his commute home from London. Staying at home with young children is not an easy option, and in many cases not a lifestyle choice.
The peaceful rural idyll is just an urban legend
08 Aug 2013
I stayed at home because when I was a child my mother went out to work, for financial reasons not as a choice. I vowed the same would not happen to my own children. I knew what it was to return from school to a cold, empty house.
I have spent as much time as I could enriching my children by my attention, and I feel they have benefited from it.
SIR – Our daughter has been cared for by a variety of people in the first three years of her life. These have ranged from my wife on her maternity leave, to grandparents, a child-minder and nursery.
A set routine has given her the stability she needs and the confidence to grow as an individual. She has learnt the skills to be able to make friends quickly and is not scared to interact with other children. She can only have learnt this from the varied forms of child care that she has experienced.
We, as parents, have good interaction with her in the evenings and at weekends and she knows she is loved very much. The skills she has learnt in the early years of her life will be with her till she is old.
As she starts school, I will be able to spot the children who have stayed at home with a parent for four years. They will be the ones crying not to be left at school.
SIR – It was the last government that sent the cost of child care sky-rocketing.
If parents had been allowed to maintain the informal system of child minding by friends and neighbours, then we would not be in such a mess now. The costs of the pre-school curriculum, CRB checks and Ofsted inspections have turned bringing up children into an industry.
Bankers’ bonus cap
SIR – HSBC is right to raise concerns about the EU bankers’ bonus cap (Business, August 6). Introducing an arbitrary ratio linking bonuses to basic salary reduces the ability of banks to respond flexibly to market conditions. It also risks putting the EU at a competitive disadvantage to other international financial centres in Asia and America.
In recent years, much work has been undertaken to tie remuneration more closely to sustainable, long-term performance. This has included introducing a right of claw-back, payment in shares with only a limited cash element and deferred payment, and greater transparency over the packages paid to the highest earners in a business.
Perversely, this bonus cap may lead to an increase in basic pay across the industry in Europe and make it harder for major institutions to adapt to the changing business environment.
City of London Corporation
SIR – A G Sellens (Letters, August 6) is of course correct to point out that 313 million Americans are represented by just 535 members of Congress in Washington, D C. But has he forgotten that they are also represented by the 7,383 state legislators in the respective 50 state capitals?
If one does the maths, that means that both America and Britain have roughly one legislator per 40,000 people.
Anthony J Bennett
The Ray-Ban republic
SIR – Given his recent comments about foreign aid being given to “bongo bongo land”, I wonder if Godfrey Bloom, the Ukip MEP, could be mistakenly referring to the Republic of Gabon ruled by the Bongo family for nearly half a century (telegraph.co.uk, August 7).
The current president, Ali Bongo, who succeeded his father Omar in 2009, was certainly reputed to have a playboy lifestyle in his youth – being largely brought up in France with a lifestyle that may have involved Ferraris and Ray-Bans.
However, Mr Bloom is incorrect in thinking that the country could be a likely recipient of current aid from Britain, being a former colony of France.
SIR – Further to your report (August 6) exposing excess pay at British charities, I would like to propose a new and simple pay and conditions charter for charities.
No directors or staff to be paid more than the Prime Minister; maximum pay ratio between the highest and lowest paid staff of 10:1; no use of zero-hour contracts; no use of unpaid interns or other staff, except for genuine volunteers. Also, no use of “workfare” or any similar forced labour schemes; no use of business or first-class travel; no bonuses and no termination payments. Finally, directors’ pay details should be published on every charity website in a standard format.
Would the Charities Commission and the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations now take a lead and support such proposals, which could immediately make millions of pounds available for charitable purposes?
It would also show that it is possible for CEOs’ pay to fall, rather than be forever rising.
SIR – Your report (August 7) tells us that older people are divorcing more frequently because they feel they have done their “duty”. But their duty is not just to their children but also to their partner.
There is also a question of justice for the partner who is forsaken for romantic notions of freedom and self-fulfilment.How sad for grandchildren to find that their grandparents don’t love each other any more. Is this the lesson in the abiding value of relationships we want to give the younger generation?
Research tells us that divorce is likely to lead to greater loneliness, ill-health and self-neglect. It is a social ill that should be recognised for what it is, not glorified as an adventure.
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali
Paying off protesters
SIR – Hugh Trevor (Letters, August 6) suggests that locals might accept fracking if they were given free gas for five years.
One of the chants of the protesters at the drilling site at Balcombe, many of them local Sussex residents, is: “You can’t drink money.” I think this just about sums up the answer to that idea.
Eastbourne, East Sussex
SIR – James Logan (Letters, August 7) may rail against middle-aged men draping jumpers over the shoulders, but most of us find it preferable to knotting it around an often already ample middle-aged “tum”.
SIR – I have draped my jumper over my shoulders for many years, although a loose knot around the neck is much more preferable to sleeves hanging loose.
Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
SIR – Hummus may start going bubbly if it is kept outside the fridge (Leading article, August 6), but eggs are happy without refrigeration.
Why do people insist on wasting fridge space for them? Is it just the influence of those little egg-shaped holes that some fridge shelves used to have?
Do French parents still raise them on the raisin?
SIR – During 40 years living in France, Robert Parker (Letters, August 7) has never seen a child given wine. More than 60 years ago, I did an au pair job with a family of vignerons in France. All the children drank diluted wine with meals, but they were not allowed coffee till they were 16.
I well remember settling an 18-month-old child in its seat for lunch and asking “Du vin rouge pour Nicolas?”
The answer was, “Oui, bien sûr!”
SIR – I am surprised that Mr Parker has never seen French children drink alcohol. We visited my sister’s pen-friend’s family, and learnt that it is common practice to introduce children to wine from a very early age, starting with a watered-down glass.
When champagne was produced to celebrate our visit, the family’s youngest son – aged two – was at first excluded, then given a thimbleful of wine when he declared: “Champagne, or I break my glass!”
Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex
SIR – On my various teenage holiday exchanges with a family in rural France, we were given cider every day for lunch and dinner. I remember being blissfully tipsy.
Sir, – Conor Graham suggests “Better to leave hospital protocol to people who act on evidence” (August 8th) with regard to Fr Kevin Doran’s raising of questions on how ethical the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act is and whether the Mater can comply with it. In fact, aspects of the Act are not supported by evidence, and that is why the ethical issues arise. – Is mise,
AONGHUS Ó hALMHAIN,
Páirc na Seilbhe,
Baile an Chinnéidigh,
Co Chill Mhantáin.
Sir, – If the Catholic Church wishes to retain effective control of certain hospitals against State policy, it should immediately announce how it is going to fund these hospitals. The church should be billed by the State in the meantime for the costs of Catholic hospitals which will not comply with State legislation and HSE national policy.This will free up the State funds for transfer to hospitals which can be run for medical necessity rather than religious “ethos”. This should be the true direction of any hospital.
Alternatively, the church may consider ending this anachronism by transferring lands and full control of medical institutions under its control towards part of its unpaid “contribution” to the State and taxpayers’ bills for redress. This would go so some towards resolving the recent “can’t pay” claim by religious institutions and free them from the burden of being involved in medical procedures (such as saving women’s lives) that go against their “ethos”. – Yours, etc,
Bandon, Co Cork.
A chara, – Conor D Graham states, “Better to leave hospital protocol to people who act on evidence” (August 8th). If this debate was about evidence-based actions, the threat of suicide as justification for an abortion would not have been included in the new Act. – Is mise,
Rev Fr PATRICK G
Sir, – The Taoiseach has explicitly declared that he stands with the Republic and against theocracy. The main Irish hospitals should follow suit. – Yours, etc,
Rue de la Petite Colline,
Sir, – Vincent Kelly believes that if a particular hospital were to be entirely funded by the State, then its ethos (and presumably the ethos of those who work in it) should be the “law of the land” (August 8th). I would respectfully remind Mr Kelly that just because a law is passed does not make something just, ethical or moral. In Nazi Germany, was seizing Jewish property and taking Jewish lives the right thing to do just because the law of the land said so?
Because such actions were legal according to the laws of that land at the time, did it absolve those who carried out those crimes that were permissible, and even obligated, according to the “laws of the land”? No, it did not. At the subsequent Nuremberg Trials it was found that if legal requirements and actions were unjust, the defence of “I was only follows orders” on the part of those who carried out the unjust acts would be no excuse. – Yours, etc,
JOHN B REID,
Sir, – I wish to highlight the religious bigotry and loyalist hatred Catholic prisoners in the North face today. All the best jobs and opportunities for study are afforded to and availed of by Protestant inmates. Statistics will prove this.
The prison punishment unit, in which I have spent nearly two years is aptly nicknamed the Catholic supervision unit. During the time I spent in the CSU, it was always and is still filled with Catholics: this in a prison filled with loyalist rioters. Something obviously is not right.
It is time that our fellow Irishmen and women took more of an interest in the treatment of Catholics incarcerated in British prisons in our country. We as Irish nationalists must always strive to achieve equality from a foreign power which still holds part of our country in chains. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Brendan Butler’s caricature of Fr Brendan Hoban as making it a “litmus test” for Catholics that they “close ranks against the evil media” (August 8th) is a shoot-the-messenger tactic. Fr Hoban was perfectly right to deplore the witchhunt thinking of many bloggers and some newspaper columnists. Their declared hostility to the church is every bit as fanatical as the Jansenism of the past.
I ministered at one time to residents of a “Magdalene” institution, whose health and cheerfulness in old age hardly substantiated Mr Butler’s picture of them as systematically abused and dehumanised.
The solidarity among women and the reconciliation between the sisters and their former charges that Mr Butler calls for is not being helped by the fanaticism of the witch-hunters. – Yours, etc,
Rev JOSEPH S O’LEARY,
DD, Department of English
Sir, – Mary O’Rourke’s suggestion that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael get together to form the next government (Home News, August 7th) has given me another excuse not to vote for either party, if another excuse was needed. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The Superquinn brand is to be wound up with the loss of 102 jobs and people are complaining that they will not be able to get their favourite sausages?
Surely a sense of perspective would put people’s livelihood ahead of processed pork products. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – As the parent of a six-year-old child with cerebral palsy it is with dismay and bewilderment that I read the latest pronouncement from our esteemed Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly (“Reilly plans free GP care for under-fives”, August 6th).
Having announced some time ago that he intended to award medical cards to all those citizens holding a long-term illness card, the department now has confirmed it has abandoned this policy and has decided, instead, to award medical cards to all Irish citizens under the age of five.
The long-term illness card is awarded to citizens who have certain long-term conditions (such as cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis) and provides for vital medical equipment (eg wheelchairs) and some specific medications but not for the everyday medical needs associated with most disability, and as such it is considerably less useful than a medical card. Medical cards are supposedly assessed on the dual basis of household income and medical need, but in our own experience this assessment is wholly focussed on income with scant regard for medical needs. Thus for households grossing more than €35,000 a year the card is not available even to the most seriously disabled citizens – and this despite numerous representations through the Dáil and the office of the Ombudsman for Children in our specific case.
Now we learn that in addition to all citizens over the age of 70 receiving the medical card regardless of their income or medical needs, all those under five will also receive the card with no assessment of their actual needs or family means. Meanwhile, all those from the age of six to 69, irrespective of their medical needs will, in reality, be denied the card – even if they have already been awarded a long term illness card (which is only possible for those who have been diagnosed with a serious life-long condition).
The latest statement from the department seems to suggest that converting long term illness cards into medical cards would be “too cumbersome” an approach due to undefined potential “legal difficulties”.
So, in addition to a series of savage cuts to the meagre provision for disabled Irish citizens, the one thing this administration had proposed that might have had a real benefit to them has been abandoned in favour of bestowing this benefit indiscriminately upon those under the age of five.
The more cynical among us might think that since that this policy clearly flies in the face of all possible logic, and with impending local and European elections in 2014, this Government has decided to supply medical support to the largest voting groups (young parents and pensioners) in this country rather than those who actually need it. Of course the other possibility is that we are now at the mercy of a Government so incompetent that the best it can do is provide medical cover for countless citizens who do not need it at the expense of hundreds of thousands of those who so clearly do. – Yours, etc,
St Mary’s Crescent,
Sir, – Paul Cullen raises the dilemma of how free GP care for all will be funded (“Reilly plans free GP care for children under-five”, August 6th). Already we see the doctors with their hands out expecting more money.
The solution is for the Minister to start by bringing in salaried GPs from abroad to inner city areas and break the medical monopoly that has resulted in the current outrageously high GP salaries when compared with other European countries. – Yours, etc,
Senior Research Fellow,
LSE Health & Social Care,
London School of
Houghton Street, London.
Sir, – Even though I support the suggestion of Steven Lydon (Opinion, August 1st) that philosophy should be taught in secondary schools, it does raise the rather alarming prospect of smart-alecky teenagers all over the nation informing their mothers and fathers that they are committing the fallacy of affirming the consequent, or smarmily explaining to a venerable aunt that she is confusing a necessary condition with a sufficient condition.
I think some safeguard against this possibility should be built into the philosophy syllabus – perhaps a proviso that any youngster found using philosophical concepts irresponsibly will be required to write a 10-page book review of Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – What a pleasant surprise to open your newspaper and see such a wonderful display of colour photographs from readers (Summer Living, August 6th) depicting walking to the beach, the children, the dogs, the shadows, the wild country road – sheer magic. Congratulations to one and all. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Your article “Independence Day: Could Scotland really leave the UK?” (Mark Hennessy, Weekend Review, August 3rd) reports that according to polling evidence, if the Scottish independence referendum was held tomorrow, “two-thirds of voters would likely opt to stay in the union”.
The two most recent polls – both carried out by Panelbase for the Sunday Times – in May and July of this year – showed support for a Yes vote to be respectively only eight and nine points behind No. This means that a swing of under five per cent is needed to put Yes in the lead. – Yours, etc,
Yes Scotland Ltd,
* I know it’s supposed to be the journalistic silly season, but the barrel really is being scraped when we are subjected to another Vincent Browne rant (courtesy of TV3 – who else?) where our hero once again gives it to God, good and proper.
Also in this section
Government can’t see the depth of our crisis
Public are (sadly not) being taken for a ride
Blame the State for laundries, not the nuns
I thought God had thrown in the towel (sensibly realising that you cannot engage in dialogue with a fundamentalist Irish liberal) after Vinnie’s last literalist assault on the Old Testament.
This latest effort is tantamount to kicking a man when he’s down.
One’s immediate observation is that philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (he of God is dead fame – or should that be Nietzsche is dead?) flogged this particular ideological horse to death in the 19th Century with considerably more style/panache.
Unfortunately for Nietzsche, his life came to an end in a lunatic asylum.
Credit where it’s due, though. Vincent’s Gestapo-like interrogation of God stands in stark contrast to his touchy-feely questioning of Dr Peter Boylan during the recent abortion debate. Will the real Vincent Browne please stand up?
In a sense, though, the programme can be viewed as a back-handed compliment to God.
Like Richard Dawkins, Vincent Browne makes no secret of his atheism. Is it not ironic, then, that both men spend such an inordinate amount of time attacking an entity they claim not to believe in?
Navan, Co Meath
GAA ETHOS CHANGED
* The ethos of the GAA used to be sportsmanship, respect for yourself and respect for your opponent.
The ethos now appears to be that you must be cynical and wind up your opponent (especially with foul language). You must trip your opponent, and if he has a chance of scoring, you must drag him down.
Clones, Co Monaghan
DRIVERS TAKE A STAND
* Among the predictable and hackneyed verbiage that gets bandied about every time some sector of workers downs tools and inconveniences the public in their legitimate attempts to avoid a diminution of pay is “holding the public to ransom”.
It’s useful for critics of industrial action to ponder an uncomfortable conundrum: why would workers withdraw their labour and suffer the resultant instant financial loss for something trivial? Strike action is never undertaken lightly, and is always a matter of last resort.
In light of what the majority of us have endured, it is heartening to see that at least some people still have the stomach to resist cuts to their wages while, in the background, a layer of people such as bank CEOs, RTE ‘stars’ and government figures continue to enjoy immunity.
We have spent the years since 2008 asking why workers don’t stand up and be counted, and then when one sector finally does . . .
GLOBAL CLIMATE FEARS
* There is very strong agreement among scientists that global climate change is taking place at an increasing rate. While there is evidence that some of it may occur naturally, most scientists agree there is a major contribution from human activities.
We are close to a major tipping point, which means there will be no turning back. If this happens, there will undoubtedly be many significant impacts on global climate and weather patterns as well as on biodiversity, all of which will have a profound impact on humanity.
The World Bank’s recent report indicates that the emissions targets to limit global temperature rise to two degrees are highly unlikely to be met.
Why aren’t the governments of the world doing more? Why aren’t we as citizens demanding more? We should be so ashamed of ourselves. We have once again let the next generation down.
Knockvicar, Co Roscommon
ENOUGH US PREACHING
* I have just watched a former Republican candidate for the presidency of America, John McCain, call for the release of political prisoners in Egypt.
Considering his party’s involvement in the fabrication of weapons of mass destruction and the subsequent establishment of the horror camp in Cuba, is it now a fair time to ask: “Has the world been treated to enough of America’s double-standard pontification and holier than thou preaching that is rivalled only in the Vatican and by the royal families of the world?”
* The Meningitis Research Foundation was disappointed to read in the article, ‘Missed diagnosis main reason claims are made’ (Irish Independent, August 5), that in malpractice claims involving children, meningitis is the illness most commonly missed or diagnosed with a delay.
Meningitis and septicaemia share many of the symptoms of other, more common illnesses such as the flu or even a hangover. As a result, it is vital that your readers are able to recognise the signs and symptoms of meningitis. To get more information or to order your free symptoms card, see http://www.meningitis.org.
Gardiner Street, Dublin
* A professor telling us that orgasms give the brain a better workout than crosswords is something of a consolation to those of us who struggle with the daily Irish Independent puzzle.
TERRIBLE BEAUTY IS BORN
* I refer to your article regarding post-troika Ireland that begins with a declaration of obsession with the future, but economically the thinking is of the past.
Post-troika Ireland will remain very like troika Ireland, with continuing austerity, deteriorating services, increasing unemployment, persistent business failure, reducing investment and the beginning of the withdrawal of international corporations. If Ireland is lucky, it will be accepted into another bailout arrangement where at least there is some certainty of the misery to be inflicted.
Economic activity has changed and will not respond to a bygone economic philosophy so obsessively cherished by economists and politicians the world over. To quote WB Yeats’s lines of almost 100 years ago: “All changed, changed utterly; a terrible beauty is born.”
The terrible beauty is modern computerised technology which, by achieving the objectives of old economics, has upscuttled its entire philosophy. The economics of growth has been replaced by the economics of enough and more than enough.
Production and growth are inextricably linked; now that enough can consistently be produced, the reason and possibility of growth is greatly diminished.
To deal with the future we must look to the future. A wonderful world of abundance of everything except work. The closing remarks of the article suggesting looking to the 1980s and 1990s and challenges being the same are very disturbing.
I can only again suggest Yeats’s words: “All changed; changed utterly. A terrible beauty is born.”
Tubbercurry, Co Sligo