6 October 2013 Garage
I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark
Our heroes are in trouble they are to take the Ambassador to Forbodia. Priceless.
I put books on Amazon and sorty out the garage
We watch The Glums
Scrabble today Mary wins and get under 400. perhaps I might win tomorrow.
Walter Greenwood, who has died aged 87, was one of Britain’s foremost authorities on media law and co-edited McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists for nearly 30 years.
6:12PM BST 01 Oct 2013
His work on McNae’s, between 1979 and 2007, covered 13 editions of the book , which has become the standard set text for nearly every journalism training course in England as well as an indispensable reference book for newsdesks.
It was largely thanks to Greenwood that generations of journalists first grasped the intricacies of libel law and court reporting restrictions, having been introduced by McNae to such concepts as “malicious falsehood”, “the rule against prior restraint” and “right-thinking members of society”.
For more than 40 years Greenwood also guided editors and reporters, nationally and regionally, through the legal minefields which often threatened to scupper their stories.
His approach was to know as much law as the professional lawyers so that — as one put it — “if you published you might be damned but you would rarely be sued”. Greenwood always understood that what an editor wanted to know was not why a story should not be published but how it could be.
Until recently Greenwood also headed the law board of the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), helping to set the standards of legal competence expected of trainee journalists. His work with the NCTJ spanned 35 years .
Greenwood impressed his enthusiasm for the trade on the young men and women he taught. “He understood that the law demanded responsibility from journalists, but also gave them power,” noted the NCTJ’s chairman Kim Fletcher. “Thanks to him, and armed with the principles of open government and justice, they had the confidence to challenge figures in authority who attempted to avoid public scrutiny.”
Walter Sharpe Greenwood was born on August 17 1926 at Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, and left the town’s Wheelwright Grammar School aged 16 to join the Dewsbury Reporter. At 18 he queued to join the wartime RAF, but, as the 10th in line, was chosen to work in the coal mines as a Bevin Boy, returning to his newspaper job after three years and later moving to the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette as deputy news editor.
In 1969 he joined Thomson Regional Newspapers as an assistant editor (training) and, with John Brownlee, launched the group’s influential training programme. As one of the founders of the Thomson training centres in Newcastle and Cardiff, he helped to train — among many others — James Naughtie, Andrew Marr, Lionel Barber, Sally Magnusson and the Education Secretary Michael Gove, who recalled that being taught journalism by Greenwood was like being taught football by Bill Shankly or playwriting by Alan Bennett: “He was a master.”
Greenwood joined the NCTJ’s north-east regional committee, and in the 1970s chaired its media law board. He was persuaded to return for a second term as law board chairman, from 2004 to 2006.
In 1979 Greenwood began co-editing McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists with Tom Welsh, founding editor of Media Lawyer magazine, and remained a consultant when it was bought by the Press Association. Later in his career he worked for Trinity Mirror, and as a law training consultant for Press Association Training.
Greenwood never retired, and his interest in his work never abated. Asked to recite a sentence of more than 30 words for a medical assessment, Greenwood offered — with characteristic modesty — “the briefest of introductions to the law of defamation”. He continued to contribute to the work of the Newcastle journalism training centre, now being run by Press Association Training. Only a month ago, although living in a care home , he was still checking media law exam papers for trainees at the centre.
He had been a fellow of the Society of Editors since 2006 .
Walter Greenwood married, in 1953, Doreen Troughton, who survives him. There were no children.
Walter Greenwood, born August 17 1926, died September 29 2013
Barbara Ellen is spot on – except for a minor technicality (“These benefit proposals are stupid and cruel”, Comment). Many of those condemned to the stocks in former barbaric times were unable to sit. They had to stand. Given lack of food, together with shit, rotting stuff and stones hurled at them and enforced lack of sleep, many would have succumbed to semi-conscious delirium. That in turn could lead to coronary attacks and/or broken necks (as body weight pulled against the restraining collar). At best, it was a form of communitarian shaming and at worst a very British kind of crucifixion. That is where the analogy with Duncan Smith’s work programme becomes so apt: redemption through suffering! And IDS leading us home to Glory Land!
I have been involved in voluntary social work for more than 50 years. Very few of those people I have (I hope) helped would not benefit from a push out of their living rooms into some level of activity in the community. Often isolated and held in contempt by people who do not know them, they are shy and without confidence. I think we and they would be surprised at what many of them are capable of contributing to the lives of others. They aren’t being punished. They are being asked to join in. We should welcome them.
For those of us who began by loving the welfare state, and have been slowly moved toward despair, let us not vilify IDS as he tries to improve the situation.
Cameron despises localism
Eric Pickles’s decision to give the go-ahead to the application to build on two fields in Hook Norton (“From mild to bitter: Cotswold village fights to stay small”, News) exemplifies the fault line between David Cameron’s much trumpeted policy of “localism” and the need for more houses.
In Hook Norton, Pickles has flown in the face of local opinion and ignored the views of elected representatives on the parish and district councils. Is it not time for Cameron to admit that “localism” means volunteers filling the chasms caused by his cuts in local services? It does not mean having a voice in important local decisions.
Tyne and Wear
Those Tory chaps are no snobs
It is regrettable that Andrew Rawnsley’s ministerial source is not better versed in recent Conservative history (“Can the Tories woo the have-nots and not just the have-yachts?”, Comment). In repining that the electorate perceives that the Conservatives only act in the interests of such a narrow section of the electorate as the toffs, Rawnsley’s interlocutor does his party an injustice. Since Mrs Thatcher’s time, Conservative largesse has been enjoyed by spivs, chancers and entrepreneurial bullies too.
Andrew Grant Robertson
Leveson will protect press
Nick Cohen (“Open government? Don’t make me laugh”, Comment) is mistaken about the likely impact of the recommendations of the Leveson report. Far from threatening investigative journalism, Leveson will protect it. And far from piling costs on newspapers, Leveson will enable them to defend their work more cheaply.
At his inquiry, the judge listened sympathetically to editors’ complaints about the high cost of defending cases in the high court and to their accounts of oligarchs killing investigative stories by threatening court actions that papers could not afford to defend. In response, he recommended a system of cheap, quick arbitration in libel and privacy cases. And for any litigants who insist on pursuing court action even when they have been offered arbitration he had a simple answer: win or lose, they must pay both sides’ costs. It follows that under Leveson’s scheme the burden of legal costs on newspapers will be considerably reduced and investigative journalists will be freer from intimidation by oligarchs and big corporations.
Director, Hacked Off
HS2 and the cost of rail travel
Interesting as it was to read your coverage of the “must have” HS2 rail line (“Scrapping HS2 rail link would be a disaster warns transport secretary”, News), one vital piece of information is still missing: what will it cost to travel on a train for which the taxpayer will have paid £40bn and rising? Many who would like to use the present slow-speed options simply cannot afford the fare.
The greater joys of adoption
Our daughter and her partner are hoping to help the “small miracle” that you refer to in your editorial to happen (“4,000 children have found new homes – a good start to build on”). But it is not just the adopted child who benefits from finding a loving home; if all goes well, the whole family stands to benefit. My wife and I had almost given up on ever becoming grandparents, but now we suddenly have the hope of an involvement in the life of a member of the coming generation.
Dr John Good
Chief Constable Mike Barton is on thin ice when he calls for a change in our approach to drugs use (“‘It is time to end the war on drugs’, says top UK police chief”, News), but courage and leadership have taken him there. The ice is so thin because politicians who know he is right dare not speak out and thereby thicken it. We are in a perilous situation and every route out is fraught with real dangers, but a route must be found.
All across the country, groups of young, sometimes very young, people who would otherwise only be petty criminals have been enabled by our creation of a lucrative illegal substances trade to become powerful and resourceful criminal gangs. The most vicious and ruthless become the most successful. There is absolutely no prospect whatsoever of preventing illegal substance abuse by the criminalisation of users and the extent to which that even reduces it is highly contentious.
A policy of concentrating on catching the major importers and distributors is hugely resource-intensive and may well lead to survival of the cleverest, including those capable of achieving corruption up to the highest levels. Interruption of supplies is only ever temporary and leads to higher prices and profits for the best positioned.
The time is right for professionals in every field affected by the drugs business, in health, law enforcement, social services and education, to call for a rational and fearless debate.
Former detective superintendent
The policeman from Durham speaks much sense, yet there’s a side to this I may have missed. Criminals’ mindsets aren’t suddenly going to become altruistically benign just because we shaft their existing business model. I’m no criminologist, but surely if we cut their money supply they’ll simply look to something else to maintain their margins. The unintended consequences could be even more unpleasant. Controlled drugs today, what’s tomorrow?
The logic appears perverse since it seems to argue in favour of preserving the gangs’ income so as to stop them from doing anything worse. This is hardly an effective argument for maintaining the status quo (and the chief constable has a deal of evidence underlining the unacceptability of that) but even an old leftie like me has to draw the line somewhere. The fact that the current situation is difficult for the police is irrelevant. That’s what we pay them for.
Dr Christopher Haughton
Mike Barton confuses treatment and prevention, believing that provision of treatment for addicts will remove the need to impose legal restraints to prevent others from becoming addicted.
The chief constable claims that “we have not learned the lessons of history”, that US alcohol prohibition merely encouraged criminal activity and that we are repeating the folly in our “war on drugs”.
But by Barton’s own admission, easily available alcohol has created an epidemic against which drug addiction “pales in comparison”. That is not a glowing advertisement for ending prohibition.
Of course there must be a public health component in combating drug addiction. But addiction is not per se a criminal activity; dealing in and possession of drugs is.
Controlled provision of Class A drugs through the health service to those already addicted can deal with consequences, not causes. Decriminalising drugs and offering them untainted to addicts through the NHS will create a moral hazard encouraging more, not less, experimentation in dangerous substances.
We miss the point if we see drug policy as solely an issue of law enforcement versus public health. It will always be both.
The issue is not whether but how best we should use the law (and education and health) to contain this pernicious epidemic. That is where the debate on drugs should be focused.
It’s Christmas, probably 1957. This photo was taken in the front room of my childhood home in Birmingham, and there’s a party going on. I know nothing about this. My sisters and have been tucked up in bed since long before the guests arrive. At the front are my parents – Don, in the armchair with his guitar, and Audrey, just behind him. The other guests are my beloved “aunties” and “uncles” – my parents’ friends. This includes the likes of Uncle Bunny, Auntie Jean, Uncle Reg, Auntie Margaret, Uncle Fred and Auntie Val, Uncle Stan – all names you don’t hear so much today.
Uncle John must have taken the picture as he’s not in it. He’s captured the mood perfectly; you could almost be there, laughing along with everyone. There’s no trace of 1950s greyness and austerity (except perhaps the twisted crepe-paper decorations in the alcove). My parents knew how to party and had a knack of making everyone around them happy. Auntie Val, who sent me this photograph recently, said: “We used to have such fun.” Quite possibly my mother has just told one of the very naughty jokes for which she was famous or maybe they had just finished singing a silly song, accompanied by my father on the guitar.
Twelve years earlier, everyone in the picture had been involved in some way in the second world war. My father, in RAF Bomber Command, spent most of it as a prisoner of war. And 12 years after this party, my parents were unfortunately on their way to a divorce.
In the intervening years they had moved to Yorkshire and then on to Africa, where they continued to party, have fun and entertain everyone they met.
They both reached their 90th birthdays and had parties to celebrate; my mother, still telling jokes, in Yorkshire, and my father a few thousand miles away in Mombasa; he played the guitar and everyone sang along. They both passed away shortly afterwards, but whenever I remember one of Mum’s jokes or hear a silly guitar tune from the past, I’m grateful that they still make me smile.
Janet Johnston (nee Reid)
I read with anger your report on the lack of fitness in schoolchildren (“Childhood obesity obsession masks fitness ‘time bomb'”, 29 September).
I have long regretted the declining importance given to PE in schools. I was taught at teacher training college that the acquisition of gross motor skills came before and aided the acquisition of fine motor skills – that is learning to how to skip, jump, run and climb would aid the ability to hold a pencil, use scissors and manipulate smaller items. Why then, has the Government pushed PE to the bottom of the curriculum pile? School playing fields have been sold to builders and the secondary school day is much shorter than it used to be. Team sports in junior schools are often extra-curricular activities which have to be paid for.
We are now reaping the benefit of children who are unfit, many of whom have not grown up with a love of exercise and sport.
Eaton Socon, Cambridgeshire
We need a healthy lifestyle in which people can walk and talk in the street and children can play there as they did for countless generations. Giving residential roads the same status as pedestrian crossings would give back the streets to people who live in them. My research has shown that, given the freedom to play out in the street, children are active. It also means people are more neighbourly, that is “big society”, again for minimal cost.
Director, Children’s Play Advisory Service, Coventry
I don’t think I have read a more misleading or partial piece as “Once upon a time in the East” (New Review 29 September).
We rightly hear about 150,000 Jews “expelled from Spain in 1492”. But the article is silent on the 1.5 million Armenians destroyed by the Ottoman authorities around 1915. Ironically – given our righteous anger about slaughter in Syria during 2013 – many Armenians perished on forced route marches towards Deir ez-Zor in Syria.
The “model of peaceful co-existence was for many centuries the norm”, conveniently forgets massacres during the 1890s of some 300,000 Armenians. It is a dangerous falsehood to say that the “rise of fanaticism can be traced directly to the end of the caliphate in 1923”. It predates the 1920s by a long chalk.
The “real tragedy of the Ottoman Empire” and latter-day Turkey is the virtually unacknowledged stain of blood resulting from the Ottoman’s execution of the 20th century’s first holocaust.
What a pity that D J Taylor wrote about Sherlock Holmes without some basic research: the deerstalker hat was not “brought to the party by the actor Basil Rathbone”, but was introduced by Sidney Paget in his illustrations for The Boscombe Valley Mystery in the Strand Magazine for October 1891.
Tobacco is a pernicious drug that kills (“Smokers, what’s hard is seeing a loved one die”, 29 September). I smoked for 43 years and over time, tried all the methods to stop. To no avail as I had to have that hit of nicotine.
For anyone to stop for good there has to be a trigger. For me, it was my then six-year-old grandson. At a family gathering I had my “Stop smoking patch” on my arm, knowing in my mind that I would fail yet again.
My grandson asked me if I had given up smoking. I told him, “Yes”. He said, “That’s good Gramps, you won’t die now like Granddad did.” He had lost his other granddad that year to cancer. How could I let down a six-year-old? He is now 15 and I’m still his Gramps. I hope those of you that smoke and want to quit find your trigger.
West Sussex, via email
Janet Street-Porter’s cheap gibe about a stay at Astley Castle not being worth £1,430 is unworthy of her (“Don’t build in the country”, 29 September). That price is for July, low season prices are much lower. For the money you rent a beautifully restored and updated historic building with stunning views which sleeps eight. Three nights for four couples works out as less than £60 per person per night. What does she expect to pay for a large fully furnished castle?
Bob and Rose Sandham
Balancing growth and greenbelt development
THE letter from Sir Andrew Motion and others (“Fight to save England’s beauty”, last week) encapsulates the dilemma that Cambridge faces. The pressure for growth on the back of the success of its technology sector and university is irresistible. With 35,000 new homes proposed in and around the city, the place is bursting at the seams.
Cambridge’s forefathers — my own organisation included — established the green belt to protect the setting of the historic city from urban sprawl. The council says it aims to maintain Cambridge as a compact and dynamic city located within the high- quality landscape of the green belt, yet with the next breath it outlines plans for the release of yet more of the green belt for housing. Why bother with a green belt if every time the local plan is reviewed yet more land is taken to satisfy the pressure for development?
Cambridge is a powerhouse for economic growth but its success is based not just on the research hub generated by the university and the science parks but also on the quality of life it offers. We must not kill in a dash for growth the goose that lays the golden eggs.
Robin Pellew, Chairman, Cambridge Past, Present & Future
You cite EM Forster in the article on the campaign to prevent the building of 650,000 new homes in the countryside (“Literati lament loss of landscape to housing”, News, last week). However, the line from his novel Howard’s End that “We are not concerned with the very poor” could serve as a motto for the movement.
We have a housing crisis and need new homes to meet current and rising demand. Only 6.8% of the UK is classed as developed. The poorest lose out when Nimby types stop new houses being built.
Ash Singleton, Housing Campaigner, London
After the war, houses to rent in Wareham in Dorset were built on farmland. Later in the same area more homes were built in order to to be sold. Local people accepted this. Yet over the past five years large, characterless properties have been constructed in back gardens — the locals are unable to afford them and they are bought by outsiders then left empty.
On the outskirts of Wareham there is a green field owned by the town council that has been used for generations by farmers. Now it has been decided that this is no longer greenbelt land and planning permission given for 154 houses. All over the town there are brownfield sites, and redundant buildings that could be converted or rebuilt. Our district council — Purbeck — seems powerless to stop this. We protest, to no avail.
Lyn Plumpton, Wareham, Dorset
I am concerned for my village, an area of natural beauty where a large development is proposed for a greenfield site. As well as requiring a new access road, it would be visible from the surrounding hills and be a blot on the landscape. Despite local opposition the matter never seems to die. Unless we fight these “plonk anywhere” developments the varied terrain of this most beautiful country will vanish.
Harriet Edkins, Church Stretton, Shropshire
Less the merrier
Politicians of all persuasions believe we need to build half a million houses. Where is the extra electricity and water to come from? How will people afford them when wages are so low and employment uncertain? Surely we should be curbing population growth, not encouraging it.
Frederick Oliver, Fairbourne, Gwynedd
Fundamental flaw in financing faith schools
In his haste to establish free schools Michael Gove, the education secretary, has failed to consider the implications of the nature of some of the institutions he has set up (“Ex-MI5 agents target school Islamists”, News, last week).
Yet the problem of extremism of any kind in state schools would cease to be an issue if the government did not fund them. If religious groups wish to set up sectarian schools, let them do so but they should be wholly independent establishments.
John Gaskin, York
Tim Hands, the new chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, believes that state schools are hothouses (“Pass the smile test”, News Review, last week). The article mentions Hills Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge, but only by noting its remarkable success in helping its students to obtain Oxbridge places and glossing over its excellent track record of broadening its students’ lives through other activities.
David Bell, now the vice-chancellor of Reading University, commented in his former role as chief inspector for schools and colleges in England: “The consistent success of sixth-form colleges is one of the glories of the education system.” And our colleges are free.
Neil Hopkins, Executive Director, Maple Group of sixth-form colleges
Retired and ignored
I LISTENED wearily to party conference speeches and their plans for hard-working families and those who want to get on. I am left bobbing in the wake of such plans, as my wife and I are not included — we are retired and apparently irrelevant.
Yet we and others like us constitute about half the voting population and own half the property equity, even though our amassed savings repay us with a miserable return, owing to mismanagement by the government. We do get out to vote, however, and political parties ignore us at their peril.
Chris Greenwell, Darlington, Co Durham
The conference season has reminded us of the lightweight nature of modern politicians and their readiness to bribe us with our own money. However, despite the combined membership of the three main political parties falling to less than 1% of the electorate, they continue to strut their stuff.
There is nothing democratic about the same three parties engaging in pork-barrel politics to con the electorate. Two simple measures would break their stranglehold and allow democracy to recover. Outlaw whipped votes in the chamber and introduce taxpayer-funded open primaries to select candidates.
Robert Durward, Biggar, Lanarkshire
Ed Miliband’s proposal to freeze gas and electricity prices deserved better than your barbed leader (“Tories must pass the Bridget Jones test”, Editorial, last week). Rocketing fuel costs are a major concern to everyone, yet the energy companies seem not to notice and the present administration just looks the other way. Miliband deserves credit for placing the issue at the top of the political agenda.
David Middlemiss, Beverley, East Yorkshire
I am not of the Tory or UKIP persuasion, nor am I yet inclined to vote for Miliband’s Labour. However, if Camilla Cavendish (“Don’t bully the energy giants — here’s how to help us little guys”, Comment, last week) formed the Common Sense party — her article would serve as a provisional manifesto — I would be a paying member.
Michael Hardman, Utrecht, Holland
If Waitrose and Morrisons are satisfied with beef cattle being fattened intensively, their labels should state that these animals are industrially reared and fed on waste (“Grassless pens feed Britain’s taste for cheap beef”, News, last week).
Leslie Weeks, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
What a pity some consultants chose to bash the managers (“It’s not consultants that are crippling the NHS”, Letters, September 22). Perhaps if they had tried to find out what managerial staff do — in what is one of the world’s cheapest healthcare systems — they might learn more about the service that employs them. Were it not for managers and clinicians working closely together over the past decade, many patients would still be languishing for more than two years on waiting lists.
Paul Carroll, Wigan, Greater Manchester
Clothes make the man
The men’s fashion special (Style, last week) had some great ideas. The quality of menswear has never been better, so if I can’t get around the shops in London, at least I can see some of it in your newspaper. As much as I love looking at fashion worn by beautiful women, it is nice to see that men are not forgotten.
Edward Williams, Poole, Dorset
Richard Brooks could have referred to Trudie Styler as “the award-winning producer of Moon, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” rather than “Sting’s wife” (Biteback, Culture, last week).
Jon Gilbert, London W6
Tooth and law
Oral surgery specialist Steve Garner complains legal firms are forcing the unacceptable prescribing of drugs (“Lawyers keep the antibiotics pumping”, Letters, last week). This conclusion is flawed. Isn’t his complaint that his profession, and in particular the peer review that informs him of good practice, is not in line with recent research?
Jan Trainor, Wirral, Merseyside
Corrections and clarifications
In our article “Skipton bears the scars of unfair business rate rises” (Business, last week) we wrongly attributed to Christine Monksfield comments that had been made by her husband, Christopher. Furthermore, the comments were incorrectly reported. Neither Mr nor Mrs Monksfield said there were no independent butchers in Skipton. There are four. We apologise for the error.
Complaints about inaccuracies in all sections of The Sunday Times, including online, should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org or The Editor, The Sunday Times, 3 Thomas More Square, London E98 1ST. In addition, the Press Complaints Commission (email@example.com or 020 7831 0022) examines formal complaints about the editorial content of UK newspapers and magazines (and their websites)
Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein, 65; Richie Benaud, cricketer, 83; Britt Ekland, actress, 71; Ioan Gruffudd, actor, 40; Ricky Hatton, boxer, 35; Morne Morkel, cricketer, 29; Mark Schwarzer, footballer, 41; Elisabeth Shue, actress, 50; Niall Quinn, footballer, 47
1927 premiere of the Jazz Singer, first feature-length talkie; 1973 Yom Kippur War begins; 1978 Hannah Dadds becomes first female Tube driver; 1981 President Anwar Sadat of Egypt is assassinated; 1985 PC Keith Blakelock is killed in the Broadwater Farm riot
SIR – I note with interest and some incredulity the unveiling of the new Stonehenge visitor centre. It is located one-and-a-half miles from Stonehenge itself, which will seem a distant matchstick model on the horizon.
I remember, as a small boy in the Fifties, being driven on holiday by my parents from London to Cornwall, leaving early in the morning and arriving at Stonehenge for breakfast. We ate our meal sitting on the stones themselves. It is a shame that in the intervening years, fears of vandalism and health and safety concerns have combined to remove the magic from this giant, mystifying edifice.
SIR – In response to the letter (October 3) from Liberal Democrat MEPs opposing medicines regulation for e-cigarettes, we agree that e-cigarettes have significant potential to help smokers who are not otherwise able to quit smoking, by providing them with safer alternatives to smoked tobacco. It is therefore important that regulation does not stifle the growth of this market.
Currently, e-cigarettes come under a range of consumer legislation. However, we believe that some additional safeguards are required to ensure that these products are effective, deliver nicotine safely and are manufactured to a consistent quality; and that the advertising and promotion of these products to non-smokers, including children, can be prevented.
The permissive medicines regulation proposed by the British regulator, the Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, and supported by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, will achieve this and provides a good model for other EU member states.
This would ensure that e-cigarettes are treated in the same way as nicotine replacement therapies, such as gum and patches, and that they would be as widely available as tobacco.
We hope that UK MEPs will take our views into account at the vote in the European Parliament next week.
Removing the magic and wonder of Stonehenge
05 Oct 2013
Chief Executive, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
Professor John Britton
Chairman, Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians
Chairman, BMA Board of Science
Professor Vivienne Nathanson
BMA, Director of Professional Activities
Professor John Ashton
President, Faculty of Public Health
Dr Janet Atherton
President, Association of Directors of Public Health
Chief Executive, Trading Standards Institute
Chief Executive, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
Dr Harpal Kumar
Chief executive, Cancer Research UK
Dr Penny Woods
Chief Executive, British Lung Foundation
Chief Executive, The Lullaby Trust
Professor Martin McKee
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Dr Nicholas Hopkinson
Senior Lecturer and Consultant Chest Physician, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College, London
Professor Robert West
Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London
Professor of Health Policy and Social Marketing, University of Stirling
Professor of Intensive Care Medicine, UCL
Professor Athol Wells
Royal Brompton Hospital
Dr Samuel Kemp
Consultant Respiratory Physician, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Dr Louise Fleming
Senior Lecturer and Consultant Respiratory Paediatrician, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College, London
Dr Malcolm Brodlie
Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine, Newcastle
Dr Matthew Hind
Consultant Chest Physician, Royal Brompton Hospital
Dr Ian Smith
Director of Research and Development, Papworth Hospital
Professor of Paediatrics, Imperial College
Dr Graham Burns
Consultant Physician, Newcastle
Dr Sarah Brown
The Royal London Hospital, Barts Health NHS Trust
Professor of Allergy & Respiratory Medicine, Royal Sussex County Hospital
Dr Joanna L Brown
Consultant Respiratory Medicine, Imperial College, London
Dr Matt Wise
Consultant Adult Critical Care, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff
Dr Chris Meadows
Consultant in Intensive Care, Anaesthesia & ECMO, London
Dr Sarah Denniston
Paediatric Consultant, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust
Dr Mark Dayer
Consultant Cardiologist, Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust
Dr Rob Primhak
Consultant Respiratory Physician Sheffield Children’s Hospital
Dr Ann Ward
Consultant in Respiratory Medicine, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospital.
SIR – E-cigarettes do have the potential to help smokers quit or cut down, and could save lives, but how should they be regulated? Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, says this is best achieved by regulating e-cigarettes under the medicines framework. The medicines label would not change their availability in Britain – they could continue to be sold everywhere they are now, and they could even become cheaper, due to lower tax rates for medicines.
Our position is in line with every major public health organisation, including ASH, Cancer Research and the British Heart Foundation. The Government has rightly already announced it intends to regulate
e-cigarettes as medicines.
Linda McAvan MEP (Lab)
Rapporteur on the Tobacco Products Directive
SIR – Our son recently converted to e-cigarettes and the effect on our lives has been incalculable. We no longer feel we are in danger from secondary inhalation. Our son also feels much better, he is no longer breathless and his cough has gone.
SIR – I could not agree more with Jeremy Hunt’s statement that GPs must rediscover family doctoring (report, September 28).
Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly difficult to practise good, commonsense family medicine. The 10-minute consultation is a thing of the past – patients expect much longer, and the idea of consulting by email is reducing general practice (something I had always thought of as a vocational art) to an online service.
I am a part-time GP working five sessions (the equivalent of two-and-a-half days). I regularly put in 45 hours at the practice and still do not have the time to care for the elderly in the manner Mr Hunt aspires to.
My check-up visits to the older patients on our list often have to be deferred because of acute demands and an ever-increasing pile of bureaucratic nonsense.
Yes, let’s return to proper general practice, but we’ll need proper hospitals again, proper community care and the abolition of the ridiculous GP contract.
Dr Kate Mash
SIR – As a busy GP who dedicates a large proportion of my time to the care of elderly and vulnerable patients, I find Mr Hunt’s comments infuriating. Every week we manage a whole variety of problems in our elderly population.
Many present multiple co-morbidities and require a multidisciplinary approach. In the majority of cases, this allows us to support the elderly at home; however, it is a sad reality that sometimes patients do end up in hospital.
This is not a reflection of poor care by GPs, but the consequence of trying to balance a complex equation with the elderly patient at its core.
Dr Tom Nicholson
SIR – While it is laudable that the Government is aiming to ease pressure on emergency departments by extending GP opening hours, employers nationwide can help by allowing their employees time off to see their GP during office hours.
Dr Chris Chung
SIR – What level of service should GPs be providing (Letters, October 2)? Being able to book an appointment to see my GP in under 11 days would be a good start.
Seaford, East Sussex
Pardon my panini
SIR – It was heartening to read the comment on graffiti by Michael Bacon (Letters, October 2). The delivery that makes me squirm is to be offered paninis on a menu.
Northallerton, North Yorkshire
SIR – Allan Massie (Comment, October 3) writes that the prayers learnt at childhood are a spiritual resource.
My school prayer was said daily at assembly: “We thank thee, Lord, for William Holland and others of our benefactors by whose bounty this school was endowed for the promotion of godliness and sound learning.”
Even now it brings back a sense of security and the smell of stale milk. I do not expect my local secondary school to use similar language now, but I would hope that there might be something similarly repetitive and serious which children can mock at the time, but treasure later in life.
Hastings, East Sussex
Miliband the Marxist
SIR – If Ralph Miliband (Letters, October 3) did love Britain he certainly tried to do his utmost to undermine the society that makes it such a loveable land.
I was almost the only non-Leftie in the social studies department in the University of Leeds in the mid-Sixties.
Harold Hobson once wrote that, if a revolution took place in Britain, while the thinking might come from the London School of Economics, the dynamism would certainly come from Leeds University.
The student societies for Communists, Marxists, Trotskyists etc entertained the Leeds Student Union with visiting speakers varying from the hilariously dotty to the intelligently unpleasant. Miliband struck me as one of the latter – a seemingly well-off, middle-class intellectual hell-bent on encouraging a mostly working-class audience to overthrow everything that had enabled them to get a university education.
He was a Marxist activist, not a historian. Perhaps he inspired Jack Straw, president of the student union at Leeds.
SIR – In 1974 as a Young Socialist, even selling Militant on the street, I applied to be an RAF pilot. I was 17. My schoolbooks were adorned with hammers and sickles, my diaries sprinkled with Marxist ideology.
I served my country for 21 years. If my offspring chose a career in politics, would the activities of my heady youth be used as ammunition against them?
SIR – Could those on the Left decrying the Daily Mail’s attack on David and Ed Miliband’s father be the same people on the Left who showed such commendable restraint and sympathy on the death of Carol and Mark Thatcher’s mother?
Neither toff nor weasel
SIR – The woman who alleges that the Speaker of the House of Commons bumped her car (report, October 4) reckons he’s a “little weasel and an arrogant toff”. John Bercow is not and never will be a toff.
Stedham, West Sussex
SIR – It is wrong to liken the Speaker to a weasel. Weasels are beautiful, brave, noble creatures that play an important role in keeping rabbit numbers down.
The habit of tucking your chair under the table
SIR — Daphne Veale (Letters, October 3) asks what makes people tuck their chairs beneath a table after meals.
I was a boarder at a Dorset school where we were not only taught to do this, but were also encouraged never to scrape chairs when rising from the table, slam doors, leave windows unlatched, lights on in an unoccupied room, or water running.
Such “sins” resulted in the loss of an hour’s freedom on Saturday afternoons.
SIR – Not tucking in chairs points to a more widespread national decline in basic etiquette, which also includes the vulgarity of ear-splitting cackling from adjoining tables and the habit of standing like statues in the middle of public escalators.
SIR – When a teacher, part of our fire drill was to leave chairs tidy in order to create passageways free of obstruction in case of an emergency. It soon became second nature and is something I still do.
I C Gault
SIR – Not only do I push my chair in, I also stand up when a lady does and keep my jacket on throughout the meal.
SIR – I was always told that to leave the chair where it is means that you have enjoyed the meal. Tucking it under the table informs the restaurant that you are unlikely to return.
SIR – Perhaps the people who tuck their chairs under the dining table are those of us who nowadays find our domestic dining rooms so compact we would otherwise be unable to exit the room.
* By now you probably know the result of the referendums; by this day next week, their significance will have faded from memory.
Also in this section
Seanad can temper rise of ultra-radical parties
Seanad has done nothing for our democracy
Noonan doesn’t ‘get’ the pain of emigration
But a myriad of more pressing issues will be with us next week, for which there is no appetite in the corridors of power for change.
Why will the Taoiseach Enda Kenny not reform the Dail? The whip system makes backbenchers political eunuchs, all power is in the executive. TDs become the clerks of their parishes, their time is wholly invested in local and not national issues.
The odd time a spark gets caught in the political whirlwind and ignites a fiery political debate, but for the most part people ignore the larger issues which impact directly on their lives.
In terms of political priorities, it would have been be far more politically effective for Mr Kenny to seek a mandate from the people to demand an end to rigid austerity programmes across Europe.
Currently, Ireland is paying billions in interest on all our loans including the bank debts.
This is sucking all the essential economic oxygen, vital for recovery, out of the country.
Therefore, there is no growth and no prospect for growth.
Consequently, hundreds of thousands of our best and brightest are leaving our country.
This is a social and humanitarian catastrophe.
Instead of being outraged and active, we have become resigned and complacent.
We accept unemployment of 13pc despite five years of austerity, which has cost hard-pressed families €6,000 a year – yet all our political masters can conjure up is even more austerity.
The same failed formulas are being fruitlessly applied to our problems despite their uselessness.
By now everyone understands that there is no prospect of change unless Europe en bloc changes tack and embraces expansionary spending.
The troika is at our throats and all the rest is Frankfurt’s Way, as Eamon Gilmore now knows.
Of course Angela Merkel has no appetite for loosening purse strings.
But her newest best friend in austerity – Mr Kenny – must use his influence and advise her that putting the ordinary people of Europe on the rack so that the German economy can flourish, while the rest of the EU founders, is not the way to sow kinship or social harmony.
All the belt-tightening measures have produced is suffocation.
Be warned Mr Kenny, even the brightest stars can dazzle with empty promises but inevitably they collapse in on themselves; and end in black holes.
T G O’Brien
REFORM, DON’T ABOLISH
* If Enda Kenny was serious in his effort to reform the Irish political system and save money by doing so, he would have proposed halving the membership of the Dail and Seanad.
What argument could be made against such action, other than it keeps down the numbers on the Live Register?
On the other hand there is a clear argument for the retention of an independent body to scrutinise the actions of power-hungry politicians and irresponsible bankers and others.
If needs be, reform the Seanad; allow 40pc of members to be nominated by the Government, providing they are competent in the practices of the professional bodies they represent and allow the remainder to be elected through the ballot box.
Billions could be saved if this reformed body was given the responsibility to conduct all public inquiries.
Michael D Mulhern
Bundoran, Co Donegal
HERE LIES HEANEY
* Seamus Heaney was buried in Bellaghy, Co Derry, on September 2. His grave is beside a stone wall and sheltered by a sycamore and an ash tree.
He hasn’t been alone as visitors from around Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the US have come to pay their respects and to sign what is now the third book of condolence at the back of the local Catholic church.
Some toast him at his grave, while one young girl left a message.
“I’m going to start learning your poetry, Seamus,” she wrote.
Poets and musicians have visited his grave and harpists played music late into a dark evening.
One of the first local groups to formally organise a tribute was a Baptist group.
Their pastor spoke of how Seamus appealed to the common man and his poetry was particularly popular with younger members of the congregation.
In a recent tribute, Seamus’s brother Hugh – who has lived in Bellaghy all his life – had these wise words to say: “He’s Heaney; it’s not fair to say he’s up with Yeats and Beckett; he’s an individual himself. Yeats and Beckett were great men, but they weren’t up with each other. They were brilliant creative writers and Seamus’s writing was brilliant…
“There is a great emptiness, but he left so much to think about and to make you happy.”
His many poems include those to friends and acquaintances who died or were killed during the 30-year conflict in Northern Ireland and to loved ones, fellow poets and others he knew, who passed away.
His older neighbour from childhood, Barney Devlin, who used to run a local forge, spoke of how Seamus’s poetry enabled him to be an unofficial tour guide and to meet people of all nationalities and he was grateful for that.
It keeps him so busy at times that he barely gets time to himself, but he didn’t mind at all and loved it.
Barney is 94 and had two poems written by his friend about his anvil skills.
Perhaps his passing will encourage others like the young girl to discover his poetry, myself included.
WHO’S NEXT TO LEAVE FG?
* It is no surprise to hear that Peter Mathews has left Fine Gael – they always seemed like an odd fit.
Mr Mathews brought a fresh perspective to scores of issues, many of them in divergence with party policy.
His forthright views on the banking crisis were instructive, while his conscientious position on abortion legislation comes to mind.
At times, badgered by the career politicians in FG, he stood firmly by what he believed in – all the time remaining affable and calm in the political bear pit.
Whispering in the corridors will have already begun – who will be next to leave?
Dunleer, Co Louth
KNOCK ON WOOD
* Reading the report suggesting that DIY is the key to long life comes as a hammer blow to me, in that I cannot drive a nail.
THE LUCK OF THE DRAW
* It seems that the GAA can reverse some decisions no bother but others remain cast in stone. The hurling league has been restructured to allow Cork and Limerick back into an eight-team division.
Would the same reinstatement have taken place had Clare been relegated instead of Cork? No wonder Jimmy Barry-Murphy wasn’t too worried at the time. By the same token, why can’t the seeded draw decision in the Munster football championship (which keeps Cork and Kerry on separate sides) be reversed, given that the other four Munster counties want an open draw? To paraphrase George Orwell, ‘six teams good, eight teams better’ – especially when one of those teams is Cork.
Athlone, Co Westmeath