1 September 2013 Astrid and Micheal
I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark
Our heroes are in trouble there Mrxs Povey’s anniversary dinner and the wawshing machine has broken down they fix it with an aircraft impeller and it takes off priceless
We are both tired go and go and seeAstrid and Micheal they are moving and give us some books
Scrabble today I win and get just under 400. perhaps Mary might win tomorrow.
Christopher Horspool, who has died aged 72, was a commercial solicitor for almost 50 years, following a childhood spent in large hotels visited by Prime Ministers, writers and film stars.
6:45PM BST 28 Aug 2013
As an in-house lawyer for a pharmaceuticals company and a merchant bank, and as a partner in a firm of London solicitors, Horspool specialised in financial and intellectual property work. But the dry world of banking litigation was a far cry from the unusual surroundings in which he had grown up, as the younger child of hoteliers during and after the Second World War.
As a boy, he lived with his parents at the Grand Hotel in Llandudno, Caernarvonshire, a turn-of-the-century resort hotel that was the largest in Wales. The town’s Pier Pavilion Theatre hosted conferences and rallies for all the major political parties — in 1948, it was where the young Margaret Roberts was first invited to stand as a Conservative Party candidate.
A year after that the eight-year-old Christopher made his own stand for Tory values during a Labour Party rally attended by the Prime Minister, Clement Attlee. Less than a week after the government had devalued the pound, and Churchill had accused the Chancellor, an ailing Stafford Cripps, of dishonesty, Attlee was a guest at the Grand. Taking his air rifle to a suitable vantage point on a hotel balcony, Horspool began “taking pot shots” at the Labour leader. Fortunately, his aim was not very good, and Attlee was none the wiser.
Though his parents treated all their guests with equal courtesy, the young Horspool was permitted to court his favourites. A signed photograph of another guest at the Grand, Winston Churchill, and an autographed copy of Churchill’s six-volume History of the Second World War, passed on to him by his father, remained among his most treasured possessions.
Llandudno attracted stage and screen stars, too, and Christopher secured another name for his autograph book when Alec Guinness stayed at the Grand during location shooting of a film adaptation of Arnold Bennett’s The Card. Horspool recalled that the director of the film had asked his father if he would like Guinness’s co-star, Petula Clark, to sing with the hotel band. His father thanked the director but regretted that they did not allow amateurs to take the stage.
Christopher Leslie Horspool was born on November 5 1940 at Holyhead, a month after the first Luftwaffe bombs had been dropped on the port. His mother, Susan, had refused to move before the birth, but the Grand was requisitioned for the war effort, taken over by the Inland Revenue and used as Companies House. So the family — his father Cyril, mother Susan and older sister Maureen — moved to run a hotel in Dumfries, which he remembered as vast and largely unoccupied .
On their return to North Wales after the war Christopher was sent to boarding school in Penmaenmawr, in Conwy, and then King’s School, Canterbury, while his parents moved to run the Imperial Hotel in Hythe. The family of the art historian Kenneth Clark stayed there for weeks while nearby Saltwood Castle was renovated. Horspool recalled the young Alan Clark, then in his twenties, striding around the hotel golf course with his shirt off, his future wife, the 15-year-old Jane, in tow.
Horspool left school aged only 16, without sitting A-levels, and passing up the prospect of going to university. He had expected to join his parents in the hotel business (his father, who had been invalided out of the First World War after serving in the Dardanelles campaign, had long battled with ill health), but discovered that he made a better guest than host. He became an articled clerk in a firm of solicitors in Folkestone, and qualified as a solicitor himself in 1963.
During a long legal career, Christopher Horspool was involved in and devised strategies for numerous complex cases, and both clients for whom he acted and barristers he instructed became valued friends. Occasionally, he put his knowledge of the hotel industry to good use in his legal dealings, acquiring the best part of one hotel’s wine cellar after he had acted in a case in which it was closed down on health grounds. He reasoned that the Chateau Lafite had probably not been affected by salmonella.
He was known to point out slow service in restaurants by drafting his will on a napkin in between courses. And the highlight for him of an appearance at the Court of Appeal came when his evidence was queried on the grounds that he appeared to have had two lunches on the same day with different parties. “The first was only a sandwich, my Lord,” he explained. “So when I was offered a proper lunch…”.
Until moving to London, he still lived in his parents’ hotels, the last of which, the Granville in St Margaret’s Bay on the Kent coast, was the only one that they owned as well as managed. The Horspools continued to attract famous names to a resort they advertised as “being discovered by people whose tastes lie in quiet channels, and lead them to seek in the quietude and charm of this delightful spot a measure of relaxation from the breathless existence of Town”.
One guest was Ian Fleming, to whom Cyril Horspool showed his trick of looking through a pair of U-boat binoculars across the Channel to Calais and “reading the time from the town clock tower” (“you took a surreptitious glance at your watch and added an hour”). Fleming repaid the hospitality by having James Bond and Gala stop at the “accommodating Granville” for several “stiff brandies-and-sodas… followed by delicious fried soles and welsh rarebits and coffee” in Moonraker.
In 1964 Christopher Horspool married Margaretha (Margot) van den Boogert, a Dutch interpreter for the European Coal and Steel Community, whom he had met while on a legal scholarship in Luxembourg, and who went on to become a Professor of European and Comparative Law. She and two sons survive him.
Christopher Horspool, born November 5 1940, died May 28 2013
In explaining the rise in inequality between young people in Britain, you dismiss “policy prescriptions driven by ideology” as a “retreat to dogma” (“Too many UK children are born to fail. Why?”, Editorial). As a consequence of this, you then fall into the trap that other proponents of the “end of ideology” thesis make and place the blame for the “problem” on to the “teenage mother who sometimes has no idea how to create a warm, safe, nurturing environment” and, subsequently, needs the help of a government better able to “get the balance between universal and targeted interventions right”.
The problem is the flawed pathology of the lone parent, in need of treatment. This indolent attempt at explanation denies the evidence that more and more working-class and ethnic minority youth find themselves in a world with vastly diminishing opportunities – a situation caused by economic, social and political changes fashioned under three decades of neoliberal restructuring.
To refute this historical and ideological reality is dangerous, for it distracts attention away from the only viable solution to ending this “social apartheid” – the abandonment of the neoliberal project, and a return to economic and social policies shaped by social democratic values and notions of solidarity, justice, democracy and inclusion.
Lecturer in Community & Youth Work Studies, School of Social Sciences
University of Hull
Child poverty cannot be healed only by increasing the numbers of adults in work – as the government’s current focus may lead us to believe.
Two thirds of children now living in poverty in the UK have at least one parent in employment, one of the highest rates in the EU. Ministers need to improve children’s wellbeing by introducing measures to ensure that all parents and carers, whether they are in work or not, have enough income to provide for the needs of their children.
Furthermore, recent austerity measures, including cuts to council tax benefits and public services for children, have just begun to bite and many young lives are expected only to get bleaker.
The government must put children first when they decide how and where to spend their money, so the youngest members of our society can be supported to fulfil their potential, no matter the financial or social circumstances of their families.
David Bull, Executive director
The damaging impact of inequality on children in the UK from their birth cannot be corrected by skewing resources to the most deprived areas.
The poorest parents of every village, town and city are all equally poor and experiencing the same growing inequality between the diminishing value of their income and very few, if any, assets, and the growing income and assets of the wealthy. They all need resources to reverse the trend.
The most damaging impact on the poorest families and their children has come from governments of all hues, who have forced them into debt since the deregulations of the 1980s.
Personal debt, in the form of rent arrears due to housing benefit cuts, has been used to lever them into lower valued properties.
It has even been suggested by wealthy politicians that the poorest tenants, in the weakest possible position, should negotiate lower rents with landlords in a housing market in short supply.
Add to rent arrears the enforcement of unpayable council tax arrears against households, who are increasingly forced to visit food banks in their hundreds of thousands and it is clear that their inadequate incomes, with unmanageable debts, creating mental and physical ill health, are the principle reasons why many UK children do not make it to the bottom of the economic cliff – let alone climb it.
Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty
In her understandable wish to calm dissent in the Labour party, Tessa Jowell rather skilfully succeeds in missing the point (“Ed Miliband’s Labour critics are a boon to the Tories, Comment). There is no message to get across, no sense of ambition, hope and purpose coming from Labour. Busting a gut on doorsteps is of little use on its own. Labour needs to paint a convincing picture of the kind of society it wishes to build and which has wide appeal – I’d start with fairness, justice and greater equality, moving away from the poison of greed, victimisation and demonisation that so characterises our politics today.
Does my vote really count?
I always read and enjoy Will Hutton (“Power is fragmenting. But what is the true cost to democracy?”, Comment) but, when noting the overweening power of our global elites, I think he needs to dig deeper. Early in his article, he asserts, and I agree, that “dispersion of power is a force for good” and so is pleased that today 117 states are democracies. I assume he includes this country in the 117.
My forebears assumed that winning the vote would give them a voice. In 2013, however, I must choose between candidates of main parties which have all been bought by the wealth my working-class ancestors had created and so expected to share. Those with wealth feel no need to respect a democratic mandate. Now they simply buy the main parties, hire better lawyers than HMRC can afford, find loopholes and call their blatant disregard of democratic will “avoidance”. I have a vote but “they” have the wealth, power and influence to render my vote worthless. No wonder so many now do not bother to exercise a franchise so hard won.
Dr John Hull
Philip French, we salute you
What a marvellous interview with Philip French (New Review. I am a child of an Observer-reading household and I remain a reader as I approach my 50th birthday. My understanding and appreciation of films over these years has been much influenced by his intelligent and beguiling reviews. From Babette’s Feast to Little Dorrit, through to my three children’s favourites of Ratatouille and Hugo, his reviews have brought us to films that have given pleasure and joy to three generations of this family. We will miss you indeed. So, thank you. And may we wish you a very happy birthday, Mr French!
Sara T Goodwin
The way forward for coalition
One preparation all parties can make in advance of having to negotiate a coalition agreement in 2015 is to start drawing up draft bills as the basis of their manifestos (“In an age of coalition, our leaders will have to change their tune”, Comment). The draft bills would have to be mainly “we want to do this” rather than “we will do this”, but if the bills are ready to go this will get a lot of the groundwork done. Even better, they could begin considering crowdsourcing reactions and invite improvements from the electorate via electronic means throughout 2014. Not only would this show them to be fully part of today’s society, it could also improve the policies.
Keep our companies in the UK
Heather Stewart in the Business leader (“Real recovery needs an overhaul of the investment machine”, ) is entirely right to express concern about the continuing sale of British engineering companies to foreign predators. Germany – the most successful and prosperous engineering country – does not do this and maybe we should follow their example.
The culprits in the UK are clearly the city investment fund managers, legal firms and our old friends the investment bankers who earn huge sums of money each time they sell one of our companies for short-term financial gain.
This cannot be right for the long-term good of our country. Surely the government must find a way to change the balance of incentives to favour the retention of such companies in the UK with long-term growth and capital investment – as is the norm in successful Germany and elsewhere.
Elephants? Not on your nellie
I was reminded by Malcolm Rifkind’s comments regarding recent foiled terrorist plots, of my childhood (“How do we balance privacy and security in a free society?”, Comment). Just before my sister and I were sent to bed we might occasionally catch a glimpse of my father flamboyantly clapping his hands at the bottom of our garden. Asking my mother what he was doing she would say he was scaring the elephants away, to keep them out of the garden. As reasonably intelligent small children we would observe that there were no elephants in the garden to which the only reasonable response was: “See? It works!” As I grew older I suspected there had never been elephants roaming the countryside of Durham…
Parental choice and diversity sound like concepts with which hardly anyone would disagree (“For once, Gove is right”, 25 August). This is why they provide such an effective cover under which the Education Secretary can dismantle our state education system.
In practice, most parents only have a choice of two or three local schools (fewer in rural communities). The idea that they can scan the country for a school perfectly tailored to their child is totally unrealistic.
And even the best intentioned parents could not be relied upon to second guess which direction their 10-year-old’s interests and aptitudes might begin to lead a few years later. The technical school linked to the motor racing industry at Silverstone may look less suitable when your 14-year-old son develops an all consuming passion for environmentalism. And what about the rights of a child whose parents might make naïve, ill-informed, ideologically driven, or even bigotted choices on their behalf?
This is why it is so important to guarantee a truly broad education for all, which only a genuinely national curriculum can do.
For “strivers” working hard to provide a reasonable standard of living for their families, work commitments compel them to use the nearest school that is not oversubscribed.
Surely the education of a child should be aimed at maximising the potential of that child. This can only be achieved if the school has the wide range of avenues which can only be provided by a school with considerable resources.
None of the countries whose education system we admire subjects its educationalists to such abysmal governance.
The issue with education policy since the end of the grammar schools system in the 1960s has been that we assume that a diverse set of individuals, with different abilities, learning styles and ambitions are suited to a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Michael Gove’s free school reforms are addressing this and we should all welcome them.
David Cameron’s temper is, it would seem, every bit as fiery as Gordon Brown’s was alleged to be (“Cameron shows even true blues turn red”, 25 August). The questions now are whether Clegg can act as a brake, and whether the political errors that result from unrestrained Cameronism will have a negative impact on Tory election prospects. Instead of retailing largely fallacious stories about Ed Miliband’s leadership, perhaps the media will focus on this.
The case for a mix of power sources that includes renewable energy is unequivocal and the Government cannot overlook the potential that shale gas presents. In America, shale gas has dramatically reduced CO2 as well as reducing dependency on imported fuel. That is not to say we should accept fracking without robust checks on safety and suitability.
Burgess Hill, West Sussex
In Spheres of Influence, Hugh Montgomery’s favourite animals are described as seals (The New Review, 25 August). But the picture is of a sea lion, a completely different beast.
Why does Janet Street Porter comment on Mary Beard’s comments on Twitter (Editor at large, 25 August)? Because she feels the need to, which is why Mary Beard made her comments. Which is why, as a really crumbly, grey-haired oldie I feel the need to comment on JSP’s comments. This could run and run.
Double standards rife in cannabis slavery fight
WELL done for exposing the nasty underbelly of people trafficking and the young lives destroyed by it (“This is where the slavery battle begins”, Editorial, and “Beaten, raped, starved: the teenage ‘ghosts’ behind British cannabis trade”, Focus, last week).
The irony is that many of those who consume the cannabis products of this modern form of slavery are no doubt right-on metropolitan liberal lefties who sneer at those of us wanting tougher border controls and who desire in particular to crack down on illegal immigration and the horrors of people trafficking.
Richard Marriott, by email
Theresa May’s Modern Slavery Bill (“Modern slave drivers, I’ll end your evil trade”, Comment, and “May plans anti-slavery law to fight traffickers”, News, last week) is worthwhile but let it also reflect the victims who are trafficked and made to work as “gardeners” in cannabis farms or in other illegal trades. Give these individuals a statutory defence against their relatively minor crimes, don’t fill up our already overcrowded prisons with them and treat them as the victims they are.
Blair Southerden, Winchester
Your article states: “The prime minister has personal experience of the devastation caused by slavery through this Nepalese nanny who was treated effectively as a slave by . . . her former employers.” However, recent regulation changes removed all protection from migrant domestic workers, preventing them from leaving their employer and making them more vulnerable to abuse.
To eradicate slavery the bill must protect those who are most vulnerable, and help people who are enslaved to escape and give evidence to ensure that those exploiting them are brought to justice.
Kate Roberts Kalayaan, London W11
For too long now with a variety of government-appointed drug tsars we have failed to address the availability and use of cannabis in the UK. The solution would be to legalise it, control its production, levy tax on it and license premises where it can be used.
Not only would this eradicate dealer-controlled “droughts” that push soft-drug users towards more pernicious substances, but it would also raise income and leave police free to tackle real drug barons.
Paul Irving, Morpeth, Northumberland
Combat both sides in Syrian conflict
IF THE West is to intervene in Syria it must do so by by curtailing the ability of both sides to harm civilians (“Allies move towards air war in Syria”, News, and “Hurt Assad without helping the Islamists? Here’s one way”, Camilla Cavendish, last week). This is a civil war to the death, and it is clear that whoever wins, there will be violent reprisals against anybody deemed to have supported the other side.
The endgame will not be a miraculous conversion to peaceful democracy but a slow and simmering civil war — suicide bombs, rocket attacks on schools and reprisals prolonging generational blood feuds.
Both sides are carrying out war crimes and the only choice for the West is to stop both sides or do nothing, and that is the debate the politicians are unwilling to have.
Dr Glenwyn Kemp Gateshead, Tyne and Wear
League of their own
For the past 40 years or more the West has provided military assistance to the Middle East. These nations now have ample capacity to intervene in Syria. Syria is an Arab problem that should be resolved by the Arab League, not by the former colonial powers.
Ian Snowden Clitheroe, Lancashire
Courage under fire
Shame on the Tory MPs who voted against David Cameron’s brave motion at the very time Bashar al-Assad’s regime was “napalming” a school playground. Let us pray that the French and Americans will show more courage.
John Harrop, Tetbury, Gloucestershire
The ethos of punishment characterised many of the speakers in the parliamentary debate in favour of such strikes on Syria. Would the missile strikes not have added to the carnage of the country’s civil war? Perhaps the MPs have learnt a salutary lesson.
Graeme Buckingham, Chorleywood, Hertfordshire
Moving the goalposts
I sense a selective morality in the response of the western powers. If China or Russia attacked their populace in the same way that Syria has, the desire to intervene would probably be more muted.
John Evans, Chester
The UK has wasted billions on pointless wars, yet Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya are in a worse state than prior to our intervention. The effects of the civil war in Syria are a tragedy, but it is not in our sphere of influence or a danger to us.
Nick Packter, London N14
Better out than in
Don’t we always start with limited strikes, just to show we’re doing something? When they prove ineffective we do bigger strikes, and then the fog of war sets in. Cavendish should have used her column to tell the government to stay out of it. There is nothing we can do militarily that can possibly make things better.
Alan Partington, Ferrara, Italy
While none of our military is keen on attacking Syria, David Cameron and William Hague seemed all for it. How many MPs have sons or daughters in our armed forces? I’m hoping the Americans will remember Vietnam, Somalia and Iraq, among others.
Name and address withheld
University entry grades are par for the course
TWO passes at A-level has long been the threshold for entry to higher education and this year isn’t unusual, although it is true that the entry threshold fluctuates with supply and demand (“Two Es? No problem!”, News, last week). Universities are undoubtedly recruiting this year against the headwind of falling populations of young people and the tougher marking of A-levels.
Provided students are well informed about finance arrangements, understand what is required of them and have the motivation to succeed, lower entry grades are not in themselves a barrier to success in higher education.
Mary Curnock Cook, Chief Executive, Ucas
Pride of place
I don’t accept the criticism of our offering places to students with valid A-level results. We accept a small number of students on some courses with two E grades, but these account for only 1.5% of our annual intake of new students. And we recruit at all levels, including at grades ABB and above. We excel in providing a strong curriculum with advanced academic skills so that we unlock the potential of a wide range of students from diverse backgrounds.
Bill Rammell, Vice-Chancellor, University of Bedfordshire
With reference to your article “Want to study law or engineering? Two E grades will do” (News, last week) I would like to assure you that we have not accepted — or made formal offers to — students with two E grades (or 80 Ucas tariff points) for biomedical science or English.
Professor Alan Sibbald, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Anglia Ruskin University
Rock of ages
Isn’t there something a bit sad about Tom Stoppard (“Lunatic at large”, Culture, August 18) getting so excited about his discovery of Pink Floyd and Radio 2, which the rest of us have known about for 46 years?
Simon Broad, Sawston, Cambridgeshire
In Hugh Canning’s column (“Beethoven lost in space”, Culture, August 18) he reviewed the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s opening concert of the Edinburgh International Festival, though referred to us incorrectly as the Royal Scottish National Opera.
Daniel Pollitt, Glasgow
Best of British
You report that “‘Made in Britain’ tags face EU snip” (News, August 11). On the contrary, the European Commission is proposing — MEPs and member states will collectively decide — that the country of origin be clearly marked on most products, which is not currently the case. This will mean consumers are better informed, and it will protect UK and other EU businesses from unfair competition and improve traceability. It will not mean significant changes to criteria for deciding where a product is made. A handbag produced in the UK from Italian leather, or fabric manufactured in Yorkshire from raw New Zealand wool, will remain “Made in Britain”, with the value of these labels strengthened.
Mark English, Head of Media, European Commission Office, London
Hunter Davies follows in the proud tradition of saving, well, stuff (“I won’t be foiled in my war on waste”, Money, last week). I keep things that a hunch tells me will come in handy (but not kitchen foil). There may be a wait before the brass nails are useful (three decades), or the sailmaker’s leather palm (50 years), but eventually stuff all gets used — though not necessarily for its designed purpose.
Peter Cardy, London SW8
Fracking is the environmentalist’s (or coalminer’s) dream — getting the energy without taking out the rocks.
Michael Lawlor, Winchester
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Clare Connor, cricketer, 37; Gloria Estefan, singer, 56; Bruce Foxton, bass player, 58; Barry Gibb, singer, 67; Ruud Gullit, footballer, 51; Erik Morales, boxer, 37; Lord Parkinson, Tory politician, 82; Lara Pulver, actress, 33; Daniel Sturridge, footballer, 24; Lily Tomlin, actress, 74
1923 earthquake devastates Tokyo and Yokohama, killing about 105,000 people; 1939 Germany invades Poland; 1969 a coup in Libya brings Muammar Gadaffi to power; 1983 Korean airliner is shot down by a Soviet jet fighter, killing all 269 on board
SIR – Thank goodness common sense has prevailed. What the Prime Minister wanted to do about Syria was too late. The world should have taken action years ago, but even so, there is no case for Britain unilaterally joining America again to take action.
Our soldiers have been at war for the past 12 years. They have lost many of the brightest and best, but the politicians have been unable to ensure that their sacrifice has achieved anything. Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya are not at peace, and unlikely to be so in the near future.
The help we give should be to support the countries forced to take in the thousands of refugees who have escaped these conflicts. We should work with the United Nations to achieve peace.
Church Crookham, Hampshire
SIR – Parliament has said “No”. Is “No” a decision or simply a means of avoiding having to make a decision?
Michael I Draper
Nether Wallop, Hampshire
SIR – The will of Parliament has inflicted perhaps its most damaging blow to a prime minister’s authority since Neville Chamberlain was ousted in May 1940.
Chamberlain was forced to go on the grounds of appeasement towards a dictator while Cameron was defeated for his haste in attempting to confront another dictator.
The legacy of Iraq was without doubt a factor, certainly in shaping the strength of public hostility. But this on its own does not explain Parliament’s veto. After all, there was no parliamentary or public revolt over the Anglo-French operations in Libya two years ago. Yet the scale of atrocities in Syria greatly exceed those in Libya.
A chief contributing factor in this defeat would appear to be the ill judgment and mismanagement of the Prime Minister himself. The case was made prematurely, and the evidence was surprisingly insubstantial, hence its sceptical reception by MPs.
Sadly, like the Suez crisis in 1956, the events of the week may lead British foreign policy into a period of drift. Having lost the confidence of America we must reduce our ambitions as an influential power.
SIR – The common sense of some Conservative backbenchers has saved the nation from another disaster like Iraq.
David Cameron and his front bench should now cease their posturing and listen to a wider range of MPs who reflect more accurately the views of the people.
SIR – David Cameron had an idea. That idea was rejected by the nation – in Parliament. This is something of which we may be hugely proud.
This is no humiliation but the essence of democracy at work. It is what differentiates us from those tin-pot dictatorships so beloved by Left-wingers, where everyone agrees, in unison, with the boss.
In democracy, a premier wants to do something and the nation is heeded when the nation says no. This is what freedom in the West is all about, the ability to put forward an unpopular view, to have it considered and modified by the majority.
On Thursday, we saw democracy at work! Let’s have more of it.
SIR – Following Thursday night’s vote, two questions may be asked. In today’s world, whose duty is it to protect the innocent? Has Parliament lost its moral compass?
F J B O’Connor
Craigavon, Co Armagh
SIR – Shame on all those Tories who voted against David Cameron’s motion – and shame on politicians in other parties who put political point-scoring ahead of the lives of people being slaughtered through the use of illegal chemical weapons.
Would MPs do the same if their own families were being slaughtered? Blood will be on their hands every time another life is lost through Assad’s use of chemical weapons. Shame on them.
SIR – Evil prospers while good men do nothing. Can we ever have faith in our Parliament again?
Colonel Mark Rayner (retd)
Eastbourne, East Sussex
SIR – Well done to my MP, Andrew Turner, who voted against British hostilities in Syria, as he previously voted against war in Iraq.
Too many MPs think that once they are elected they can toady up to their leader and disregard the wishes of the people.
Seaview, Isle of Wight
SIR – It is not often that I agree with Paddy Ashdown, but he expressed precisely my view of what happened in Parliament.
For years, parliamentarians have complained that Downing Street ignores them; on Thursday they demonstrated why that happens.
They were entrusted with a decision with serious implications for Britain’s international reputation; they failed the test, shaming Britain.
SIR – Parliament has spoken to the oppressed people of the world – “Sod off.”
W K Wood
SIR – Our MPs will now not support action even if UN inspectors find conclusive evidence that a dictator has used poison gas on people he doesn’t like.
Oh well, it’s not our country and none of our business. So Assad might as well go the whole hog and build some kind of chambers to do the gassing in – so much more efficient.
Matlock Bath, Derbyshire
SIR – Those who voted against the Government will have many admirers in Damascus and Teheran, in Russia and China, in North Korea and even Argentina.
South Cerney, Gloucestershire
SIR – I thank God that common sense has prevailed in Parliament, and that the Third World War has been averted by a vote.
SIR – I am in no doubt that Tony Blair’s clear assertion that Saddam Hussein was in possession of “weapons of mass destruction” (subsequently found to be fanciful) resulted in the debacle of Thursday night’s vote, which must have heartened Assad as his madness continues.
The choice of Nick Clegg to wind up for the Government, instead of William Hague as Foreign Secretary, was the disaster that could have been predicted.
Thursday’s proceedings will bring further problems. The American response to Assad’s violations may be expected to entail a request to use our base at Akrotiri. If we accede, are we to be seen as indirectly taking action? If we refuse, are we assisting Assad?
SIR – If, as a result of the Iraq war, Britain eschews its slavish devotion to American foreign policy and recognises that removal of foreign despots invariably leads to worse catastrophes, the Blair government will have unwittingly been of some use after all.
SIR – The vote against the principle of military intervention in Syria makes me ashamed to be British. Ashamed because the country I love has seen fit to abandon the Syrian people to the wiles of a callous dictator. Ashamed because we will not stand shoulder to shoulder with other countries and accept our responsibility as a democratic nation. Ashamed because at this late hour we will not even attempt to deter Assad from gassing children.
As Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, observed: “The Assad regime is going to be a little bit less uncomfortable tonight as a result of this vote in Parliament.”
Newhaven, East Sussex
SIR – Had the vote gone the other way, neither the submarines from which our Tomahawk missiles were to be launched nor the Tornados to be flown from Cyprus would have been manned by reservists. The country would expect professional sailors and airman to do its bidding.
The Government cannot expect to sit at the right hand of the United States, or justify its permanent membership of the Security Council, without playing a full part in international interventions, and it cannot play this part relying on reserve forces without aircraft carriers and with the smallest professional Army since Napoleonic times.
When the Government decided to cut the Armed Forces to the bone and rely on reservists, it signalled its intention to reduce its international role.
Brigadier Clendon Daukes (retd)
SIR – Britain wisely declined to support America militarily in Vietnam. This did not destroy the special relationship, and nor should the decision on Syria.
SIR – It reminds me of Czechoslovakia in 1938. We have avoided involvement in “a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing”.
Thames Ditton, Surrey
SIR – Yesterday I heard the Conservative member for Kettering say that there is no appetite in the country for action against Assad. There was no appetite for action in March 1936 either, when Hitler defied the world and marched into the Rhineland.
Could any of Thursday night’s dissenting politicians tell me how many lives were saved by the world’s inaction of the Thirties?
Ed Miliband stated that we should try other methods of bringing Assad to heel. Other methods have been tried for two and a half years with no success whatsoever, resulting in chemical warfare, against the Geneva Convention.
Ditchling, East Sussex
SIR – Thank goodness Cameron and Miliband weren’t around when the Argentines invaded the Falklands. Between them, they would have lost a Commons vote and let the Argentines secure their goal.
Watch out, Gibraltarians.
St Austell, Cornwall
SIR – David Cameron said that he “gets” the view of the British people over military intervention in Syria and will act accordingly. Let us hope that he now also gets the majority view over EU membership, immigration and HS2.
Virginia Water, Surrey
SIR – After a 10-year absence, will French fries be back on the menu in Washington?
A chara, – I found it very difficult to read Stephanie Meehan’s heartbreaking letter (which everyone must read), to our Taoiseach Enda Kenny about the loss of her partner to suicide due to the ongoing shameful Priory Hall situation (Home News, August 30th).
It would be sad, yet unsurprising to think that Mr Kenny would only act now because her letter has gone viral, but why has this Government continued to do nothing to help her and her fellow ex-residents? If we abolish the Seanad we could give the €20 million annual savings to the Priory Hall ex-residents until each of them secured a new debt-free home. Or why not use these savings to hire the under-worked construction companies to build something spectacular on the Priory Hall site?
We are supposed to be a compassionate nation, so I would urge, even beg our Government to use the resources available to it to help these people today, before another ex-resident of Priory Hall loses their partner they love to suicide. – Is mise,
Rathgar, Dublin 6.
Sir, – Dublin City Manager Philip Maguire (August 27th) gives an excellent explanation of the mechanics of the rate valuation system and to some extent a good defence of how local authorities can justify increases in rate charges for business.
Unfortunately a couple of hard business realities are not considered in the present valuation and charge formula, without which both social injustice and economic decline are guaranteed.
First, despite years of austerity – and for reasons better known only to themselves – our local and national decision-makers simply fail to understand that Ireland is bankrupt. We are in an IMF bailout programme. When taxes and rates are increased there will inevitably be business closures and job losses. There is no slack left in the public’s pockets or in local business profitability. All and any future rate increases will lead directly to closures and job losses.
The second serious misun- derstanding is that the present application of rates policies is punishing hard work and entrepreneurship as it rewards inertia and waste. In her informative article “Owners of vacant sites contribute nothing to local authorities’’ (Home News, August 5th), Olivia Kelly raises the lid on the crux of the problem. And as many vacant sites and indeed vacant residential and commercial properties are in the ownership of local authorities or the State /Nama, present myopic thinking, indolence and waste will inevitably prevail.
The property market is so much more than just bricks and mortar for sale or rent. Market price and accessibility determine enterprise survival and indeed civic and social equity (or the lack of). Property is a finite quantity consisting of every inch of land – with or without built structures. When a site, office space, dwelling house or factory is vacant and not generating an income stream, it is not contributing its full potential to the exchequer, and it is promoting scarcity by putting upward pressure on all other rent or purchasing prices presenting in the market place.
A simple solution would involve publishing the average rental cost of any square metre of a site or office/dwelling in any given local area. Apply penal progressive taxation the longer any property is vacant, right up to the annual rental parity for similar property yields. Such a policy would: 1. Remove idle property speculation. 2. Increase commercial activity in all towns and cities. 3.Allow entrepreneurs and established business to start up and expand. 4. Eventually lead to a reduction of rates as the burden would be shared by many more viable enterprise. 5. Bring commercial reality to the rental/lease market and indeed sanity to rent reviews. 6. Most importantly, it would put life back into the centre of our towns and cities where empty properties are depressing both the spirit and cultural life.
Without debating the above, Ireland will always be dependent on the IMF and as a people we will remain squeezed by the Famine mentality and oppressive landlord entitlements. This week I had a last “usual cuppa” at my favourite cafe. On Sunday this establishment closes after being in business for the past 30 years. Lease price increase demanded and end of story. With the tragedy of several job losses, its closure takes the heart out of its locality.
When will the stupidity end? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Seamus Heaney was a man who built bridges, brought communities together, and whose poetic lyricism spanned so many topics. Surely it would be fitting to name the new bridge over the Liffey, the Seamus Heaney Bridge? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Our Laureate, the late Seamus Heaney spoke to and of us all:
“I was a nuisance, tripping, falling, /Yapping always. But today/ It is my father who keeps stumbling/ Behind me, and will not go away.” (Follower)
His generous and personal legacy will be with us forever. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – “I rhyme to see myself, to set the darkness echoing . . .” Dear God, how the darkness echoes now. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – It is a truism that governments act first and foremost in their own country’s best interests. However, in ruling out any possible – even limited – military intervention aimed at reducing the capacity of a foreign power to continue deploying chemical weapons of mass destruction, the British parliament has taken not only one step backward but it has sickeningly gone miles further (Front page, August 30th).
Not only has it voted not to act in Britain’s “own best interests”, but at the same time it has given a huge green light to any regime anywhere that they can now deploy such abominable indiscriminate weapons with impunity should they so wish. It is a day of shame for one small but powerful democratic institution but it will turn out to be an unimaginably tragic one for all of humanity, for “never have so few” condemned so many future victims to so much death and suffering. Their washing of their hands of it all has only made them so much dirtier. – Yours, etc,
Mill Green, Stonham Aspal,
Sir, – I welcome the sensible Editorial “A dangerous escalation” (August 29th). It is certainly another example of the unwisdom and inexperience of British politicians at Westminster, following as it does ill-judged interventions in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. The British claim to be motivated purely and simply by humanitarian motives rather than the motives of vested interests that legitimately characterise all international relations needs to be challenged once and for all.
I write to assure you and your Irish readers that the people of England share the concerns expressed in your Editorial in overwhelming numbers. But if you do not publish letters from Englishmen like myself these moderate opinions will continue to be submerged in the rush to war. – Yours, etc,
The Chaucer Hub,
Trinity College, Dublin 2.
This is particularly true in the case of Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, which has witnessed an unprecedented decline with the closure of retail shops and consequent job losses in this once-booming town.
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Much of the original shopping centre has to let signs, and ‘for sale’ signs proliferate on individual shops throughout the town.
Retailers and shoppers alike are agreed that the main problems are caused by local authority rates, the high cost of parking and upward-only rent reviews.
Retailers have to pay out more and more in rent and rates just to stay open, while shoppers are discouraged from parking for any reasonable length of time anywhere in the vicinity of the town.
Side by side with the decline of retail units is the rise of corporate Dun Laoghaire in the shape of costly new council developments, which have to be funded by retailers, shoppers and taxpayers.
The new County Library Headquarters and Cultural Centre rises on the seafront at a cost of tens of millions of euro – all of it public money.
Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council is to have 12 additional councillors, all of whom will have to be paid from the public purse.
Furthermore, the existing council chamber is deemed to be too small to house the increased number of councillors, so a new chamber is planned, no doubt again costing millions, again to be paid by retailers, shoppers and taxpayers.
The latest “Urban Beach” project, which is proposed by the council, will also be funded by public money.
A shop-front on George’s Street in the town features an impassioned plea to save the remaining shops in Dun Laoghaire.
The writer’s closing line says it all – we will be left with nothing but the council and traffic wardens.
Blackrock, Co Dublin
* Shine on The tide was at half-mast at Sandymount Strand today.
“He died”, a sulking, seagull cried.
“What’s that,” I asked?
“Heaney, the poet, will not be sinking his giant footprints in these sands again.
This time he’s gone to stay.”
“Ah, then”, I replied.
“Go easy, and hold your hawthorn lantern high.
The lights of the luminous can never be denied.”
T G O’Brien
Dalkey, Co Dublin
WAKE UP TO REALITY
* Am I seeing things? The media attempting to reinvent Brian Cowen and, in effect, Fianna Fail? Have we totally lost our senses after just over two years? We must look like the daftest people on the planet, media included, to even think about re-electing such a party as Fianna Fail.
Did we expect any new Government to undo such a mess in such a short time? I’m anything but a Fine Gael supporter but, for God’s sake, could we wake up and cop on to reality and just forget about Fianna Fail?
Name and address with Editor
* The continued media speculation on whether the US government will bomb Syria must raise serious questions as to what moral authority does the US have to do so.
Consider the role of the US military in its indiscriminate killings of Afghan civilians by their unmanned drone aircraft, the barbaric killings of Afghan children and peasant farmers.
The people who sent poison gases to kill innocent civilians in Syria deserve the highest sentence, but in no way does that give the US any moral authority to intervene.
OUR WISHES IGNORED
* With regard to Councillor Fergal Browne’s letter (Letters, August 28) regarding the Seanad reformation and reforming the university panels in particular, I suggest he look at the 1979 referendum when the citizens of this country voted for reform. This reform was never enacted.
This is another example of the Irish electorate’s wishes being ignored by successive governments, including ones Mr Browne’s own party were a constituent part of. Perhaps on this occasion when the Irish electorate votes to retain the Seanad, and by proxy indicate the need for reform, the Government may listen?
Tuam, Co Galway
* Pat Rabbitte should read the statistics reported by the Irish Independent on negative equity numbers and the ongoing queue at departures. The only people left will have to live in caves. At that point, Mr Rabbitte may have to head for a burrow.
Address with Editor
GIVE BERTIE THE BOOT
* Could we please be spared the mandatory Monday morning photograph of Bertie Ahern attending the match in Croke Park? The majority of people of Ireland see him as the man who ruined this country, so please spare us the reminder.
* Mattie Lennon’s quote on chastity (Letters, August 28) reminded me of my experience at 18, working in an old-persons’ home in London.
The advice from the chaste and respectable generation, who took virginity seriously in their time, was overwhelmingly: ‘Don’t do what I did. Enjoy yourself with sex as much as you can while you’re young enough!’ Chastity and virginity appear only to be a virtue to parents and the young.
NSW 2205, Australia
LOOKING UNDER STONES
* Jim Jennings, acting managing director of RTE Radio, has said: “We’ve looked under every stone to try and make savings.” Indeed, that about sums it up!
Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim
RING A RING A ROSIE
* As the saga of the naming of the new Liffey bridge draws to a close, let’s hope it’s finally a case of ‘Ring a Ring a Rosie’ as we honour the memory of a Dublin heroine as opposed to a Dublin hero. Or is Rosie Hackett a bridge too far?
Liberties Heritage Association, St Nicholas of Myra Centre, Carman’s Hall, Dublin 8
* As a country, I thought Ireland gained full independence in 1949.
Then might somebody explain to me how a UK quango can coerce an Irish company? I refer to the UK Competition Authority directing Ryanair to reduce its holding in Aer Lingus to 5pc. What authority has this Authority over an Irish company?
Mind you, it’s really gratifying to hear the howling of Irish politicians in defence of what is arguably Ireland’s most successful company . . .
Four Mile House, Roscommon
WELL HOLY GOD
* The picture of Miley Cyrus prompts one to proclaim: “Well holy God, Miley.”
Beaumont, Dublin 9