7 October 2013 Sharland Liz and Anna
I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark
Our heroes are in trouble they are back from leave and Pertwee is in early what can he have been up to?Priceless.
Sharland, Liz and Anna come to lunch
We watch Glums
Scrabble today Mary wins and get under 400. perhaps I might win tomorrow.
Professor Ralph Miliband
From our edition of June 7 1994
Professor Ralph Miliband with his son, Ed
12:53PM BST 01 Oct 2013
Professor Ralph Miliband, who has died aged 70, was an inspiring teacher of politics and an internationally renowned figure of the British Left.
Though committed to socialism, he never hesitated to criticise its distortion by Stalin and other dictators. He also inveighed against the timidity and limited horizons of West European social democracy. The ideal he sought was a democratic and open Marxism.
Miliband’s scholarly writings, at once passionate and lucid, had great influence not only on students and dons but also beyond academic circles.
His Parliamentary Socialism (1961), in which he attacked the Labour Party for its lack of radicalism, became a classic text, as did The State in Capitalist Society, which analysed Western power structures.
Ralph Miliband was born in Belgium on Jan 7 1924, and fled to Britain in 1940 to escape the Nazis. He studied at the London School of Economics, where he was deeply influenced by Harold Laski, who became a friend and then a colleague.
Questions over BBC ‘Labour bias’
05 Oct 2013
Miliband’s studies were interrupted by three years in the Royal Navy. He returned to the LSE to finish his degree, worked on a PhD (under Laski’s supervision), and later, after a stint teaching at Roosevelt College in Chicago, became a lecturer in the LSE’s department of government.
In 1972 Miliband took up the Chair of Politics at Leeds University, where Lord Boyle of Handsworth, the former Conservative minister Sir Edward Boyle, was Vice-Chancellor. Despite their different political perspectives, Miliband and Boyle developed a considerable mutual respect.
In his inaugural lecture at Leeds Miliband warned against treating Left-wing orthodoxy as a substitute for hard critical thought. Five years later he accepted a Chair at Brandeis University in America, and he subsequently taught at York University, Toronto, and the City University of New York. London, though, always remained his base.
Miliband was never a cloistered academic. From 1964 he edited the annual Socialist Register. An entertaining and witty speaker, Miliband was able to stimulate debate as well as to clarify complex ideas. He was in demand throughout the world, especially in North America.
A man of great warmth and generosity, Miliband was endowed with an infectious sense of humour.
He married, in 1961, Marion Kozak; they had two sons.
Ralph Miliband, born January 7 1924, died May 21 1994
IndepeYou don’t need to cross the Irish Sea to find a fast, exciting sport played for love, not money (In praise of hurling…, 3 October). Shinty (camanachd) demands stick skills that excel those of hurley, and competition is intense in the Highlands. The players give up much time to their sport, but receive no financial reward. Some of their games are shown on BBC Scotland and BBC Alba.
• As ever, Ian Aitken puts his finger on the core of the Daily Mail’s problem (The Miliband I knew was passionate but no traitor, 4 October) when he says its loyalty is not to contemporary Britain but to a legendary Britain of some distant golden (aka fictional) age. It’s the kind of false memory syndrome that Spike Milligan so wonderfully impaled with his repeated question: “Whatever happened to the crispy bacon we used to get before the war?”
• In this abundant year for English apples, it was great to see 10 best apple recipes (Bring out your bramleys and count up your coxes, Cook, 5 October). What a pity that most of them specified the use of braeburn and granny smith, neither of which are traditional English varieties.
• Three-quarters of page 3 devoted to a feud between two obscure singers (Don’t compare me 2U, 5 October)! Are you trying to keep up with the red-tops?
3. Photograph: Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images
Monday, 7 October, has been designated World Day for Decent Work by the International Trade Union Confederation. Unison, along with millions across the globe, will be calling for the creation of decent jobs for all.
Here in the UK, we believe that decent jobs for all are possible. We want to see good apprenticeships, support for a living wage, jobs that give security, and an end to zero-hours contracts and the vilification of people who have to exist on benefits because there are not enough suitable jobs around.
Mass suicides in electronic companies in China; deaths of young men building World Cup stadiums in Qatar; crushed bodies in a garment factory in Bangladesh; blacklisting for exposing dangers on UK building sites – these are some of the perils of working in the 21st century where rights and protections are either non-existent or steadily being eroded.
Providing decent work contributes to social cohesion. It ends discrimination against women, young people and migrant workers. Decent work with decent wages means people can live with dignity. But we are witnessing the destruction of decent work, and a rolling back of pay and conditions as governments and employers seek to create flexible workforces that can be hired and fired at will. Instead of protecting rights, governments such as ours are destroying them, labelling them as “red tape”.
General secretary, Unison
• Rhiannon Lucy Coslett (Why do the Tories hate us? 5 October) blames a previous generation for the ills suffered by under-25s. In fact, their maintenance grants and payment of tuition fees were funded by a fully employed, tax-paying workforce, with near zero price inflation. Strong trades unions protected wages, and zero-hours contracts were unheard of. The welfare state was the most cost-effective social organisation ever seen in the UK. To blame the generation who created and worked in and for it is a travesty of the political reality of the present.
‘The laws … do little to stop thousands of British state security employees discovering our bank account details, passwords and online activities.’ Photograph: Kieran Doherty/Reuters
I was alarmed by John Lanchester’s assessment (Inside the Snowden files, 4 October) of the extent of GCHQ’s surveillance operations and the lack of effective legal restrictions on its ambit. Even more worrying was his description of a GCHQ legal briefing on the scope of article 8 of the European convention on human rights. This apparently suggests “it is legal for the state to breach article 8 ‘In the interests of national security, public safety or the economic wellbeing of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others’.”
Without any qualification, this advice is breathtakingly Orwellian. Hopefully, the briefing also contains what all human rights lawyers know is a crucial preceding phrase in article 8: “There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right [to respect for private and family life] except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society.”
The difference between Lanchester’s account of GCHQ’s legal briefing and article 8’s true wording might appear a cosmetic one. Any GCHQ operative would assuredly claim that his surveillance was necessary, despite infringing an individual’s article 8 rights.
But in the event of a legal challenge from someone using article 8 to complain about state surveillance, GCHQ would have to satisfy the court that the infringement of that individual’s rights was justified as legal and necessary in a democratic society. The judiciary is not a pushover – so this just might be difficult.
Emeritus professor of law, University of Sussex
• I hope the GCHQ briefing John Lanchester refers to does not use his terminology. The convention does not speak of a “breach” of article 8, it explains when an “interference” with the rights under article 8 is allowed (the French text is similar). The rights, as one would expect, are not absolute but qualified. This is a standard technique in the convention, and the starting point for the approach of the Strasbourg human rights court and British courts in determining whether article 8 has, in fact, been breached in the case before them.
• Perhaps worries about surveillance are low in Britain because people don’t feel threatened by government activities here. The secret service has a record of targeting leftwingers, even MPs, but it has not obviously hurt them. So we feel that their knowledge of our present legitimate activities will not be dangerous.
However, as Ralph Miliband demonstrated so clearly in his writing, there is something we can characterise as a “ruling class”. If the rich and powerful were to feel really threatened (perhaps by an attempt to do something serious about the gross inequality in the UK), I have no doubt they would welcome ways of identifying leftwingers, perhaps by their reading material (even the Guardian!) and might be prepared to use illegal means to intern or even kill opponents, as happened in South America. Then we would really have cause to regret not stopping such activity now.
• I suspect that most of us have that hopeless feeling that these “thought police” don’t even believe these flimsy arguments themselves and merely do what they do because they can. We don’t even know how these systems operate. Do they trawl for key words to do a rough sorting process? If so, I suppose it’s a really good job that every email sent by every person in the land doesn’t habitually contain a random string of key words – sort of the equivalent of the “mass trespass”.
• “The state” comprises both its laws and its employees. The laws, as John Lanchester shows, do little to stop thousands of British state security employees discovering our bank account details, passwords and online activities. Such access is also available to contractors with the British security services – similar to the 480,000 contractors in the US. On a modest estimate, 30,000 people can readily get at our personal details. Assuming at least 1% of people are crooks, then, by state fiat, at least 300 crooks can skim our bank accounts or blackmail us. How many such cases have happened? Why have we not heard about any of them?
Although “12 years of terrorism have killed as many people in the UK as eight days [of road accidents]”, one security failure could add many thousands to the terrorist toll. So Lanchester is right that spying by states is needed. But we need urgent public discussion of how to minimise abuse. Abuse includes not only the Big Brother state but the more immediate prospect of Crooked Cousin: mass, virtually undetectable cybercrime masquerading as state security.
• Many years ago I was working as a consultant on a housing project in the South Wales valleys; it was a publicly funded scheme and a part of the funding came from the Housing Development Directorate (HDD), part of the Department of the Environment. To research the effectiveness of increasing the insulation of houses under the better insulated housing programme some homes on this project were elected to be better insulated.
To monitor the way the houses were used, – by way of example, the effects of opening a window was opened in one house – small sensors were put on the walls in each room so differences in usage could be taken account of when energy comparisons were made. These sensors were small plastic devices that looked quite innocuous and yet were linked to the HDD in London.
On one occasion I heard that a child had hung a sock on a sensor and a letter was received from the HDD asking for whatever had been placed on the sensor to be removed as this was affecting its performance. And the year? 1984.
Katherine Butler is spot on to identify ageism as mirroring the sexism and racism of previous eras (3 October ). It is so pervasive that older people themselves have become negative about growing old.
Working in mental health services, one finds that older people referred for help often say things such as “Of course I’m depressed, I’m old”; “I’m too old to change”; “Someone younger deserves help more than I do”; or ”Getting older is a terrible thing”. It is leading to unnecessary ill health, poor wellbeing, compounding existing health problems, leading to hospital and care home admissions, poor quality of life and early death.
These beliefs are being developed due to a society that is inherently ageist, and social change would have a much bigger impact than individual therapeutic change. We do need to think about our language and how older people are represented, and emphasise the positives that are possible when growing older, rather than focusing always on the negatives.
We need to be proud to be grey and the opportunities it can bring rather than ashamed about what is an inevitable part of our life cycle.
Dr Chris Allen,Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Maidenhead, Berkshire
One reason why the elderly are so hated by the youth of today is that the young are constantly told that the state pension is a benefit and not something that has been earned. State benefits are not taxed, but HMRC treats the pension as earned income. So who is correct – the Revenue who continue to tax it or the politicians being their usual duplicitous selves?
Time to take the old age pension out of the welfare budget? All it needs is a rebranding exercise. It won’t cost anything extra to call it what it really is.
Roger Chapman, Keighley, West Yorkshire
May blames judges for doing their job
I was dismayed to read Nigel Morris’s article headed “May condemns judges over human rights law” (1 October). The Home Secretary is once again blaming the judges for doing their job, as she did at the time of the Abu Qatada saga. Has she never heard of the basic principle of the separation of powers as between the legislature, executive and judiciary?
May I quote for her information what in 1985 the United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders adopted as Principle 1 of the Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary (unanimously endorsed by the General Assembly): “The independence of the judiciary shall be guaranteed by the State and enshrined in the Constitution or the law of the country. It is the duty of all governmental and other institutions to respect and observe the independence of the judiciary.”
If Theresa May doesn’t like the law, she can change it. If she doesn’t like the Human Rights Act, abolish it. But don’t blame the judges, or put unlawful pressure on them to misinterpret the law as it is. She apparently told the Conservative conference that she was “sending a very clear message to those judges…”. If that isn’t usurping power, I don’t know what is. She adds: “Conservatives will put the law on the people’s side”. As a member of the legislature she can and should do that, but it sounds to me as if she wants to be the legislature, the executive and judiciary all at once.
Clearly, unless judges, prosecutors and lawyers are able to exercise their professional duties freely, independently and impartially, and unless the executive and the legislature are likewise always prepared to ensure this independence, the rule of law will slowly but steadily be eroded, and with it effective protection of the rights of the individual.
Robin Grey QC, London, EC4
Pointless risks run for charity
Fiona Sturges (Voices, 1 October) could have added a further category to her list of self-indulgent charity acts: the expedition.
These charity jaunts can take several forms. One involves doing something already done many times before, such as climbing a chronically congested mountain, or trekking through snow to an arbitrary point, and then trekking back again. Another is the entirely pointless activity, such as rowing single-handed across an ocean – sails and engines have been attached to boats out of the eminently sensible desire to avoid such dangerous and onerous work.
Expedition participants are vocal in informing us of the dangers and privations they “selflessly” submit themselves to in the name of raising money (or awareness); if it’s so dangerous or awful, how about simply not doing it? You don’t have to, after all.
However, the truth is that they are doing things that they want to do anyway. Charity is simply a cover for running unnecessary and pointless risks, which they would otherwise be castigated for. It also provides a source of funding to pay for the self-indulgence. Not to be forgotten as well is the ego-boost supplied by ostentatiously suffering for charity, thus broadcasting what a thoroughly good person you are.
Giving your time or money to charity is a noble act. If you feel so inclined, then just do it. Don’t use it as an excuse to pay for your adventures. And, most of all, don’t tell us about it.
Barry Richards, Cardiff
McCarthyism at the ‘Mail’
The Daily Mail article accusing Ralph Miliband of hating Britain has sparked a debate about patriotism.
I have friends who grew up in South Africa in the 1950s and 1960s. They hated the apartheid regime but loved their country. They had no wish to leave.
To be patriotic does not mean you have to support the prevailing consensus, if there is one, let alone subscribe to Daily Mail or Tory values. You do not have to support the institution of monarchy to love this country. You do not have to support more privatisation to love this country. This article smacked of McCarthyism which, thank goodness, we in Britain have never subscribed to.
John Boaler, Calne, Wiltshire
Many of those, such as on BBC Question Time, who excuse the late Ralph Miliband’s insulting comments, aged 17, about the English, because “we all say and do stupid things at 17”, also propose giving the vote to 16-year-olds. And of course, Michael Foot’s description of Norman Tebbit as a “semi house-trained polecat” is deemed acceptable!
John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife
Who pays for workfare?
The as yet sketchy plan to introduce a wider US-Style “workfare” programme, partially unveiled by David Cameron in his Conservative conference keynote speech (“Earn or learn: Cameron gets tough on the under-25s over welfare,” 3 October), could run into difficulties due to the way several political responsibilities are devolved to the Scottish Government, Welsh Assembly government and Northern Ireland Assembly administration.
If the Westminster-based Coalition Government wants to force young people off welfare benefits, a UK-wide responsibility of the Department for Work and Pensions in London, and into a training or further education, this will transfer financial responsibility to Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast to administer for the devolved nations of the UK.
But with such new responsibility, will the Treasury provide the appropriate resources to support this? Have the devolved administrations been consulted over this initiative? And if so, what is their response?
Dr David Lowry, Stoneleigh, Surrey
NHS pay freeze the final straw
Can someone explain in this time of us “all having to share the pain” why pay freezes for public service workers are acceptable, but temporary profit freezes for multinational energy companies are a threat to life as we know it?
Tom Simpson, Bristol
The announcement by Jeremy Hunt that most NHS staff will not receive a pay rise next year is the final straw. NHS unions must respond with ballots for industrial action involving co-ordinated strikes.
Andrew Travers, Gillingham, Kent
The Seventies, age of equality
I was born in the 40s, and like Andy McSmith (Voices, 5 October) I remember the 1970s with more fondness than I do the 1980s. A statistic that he did not mention is the ratio of the relative incomes of the most and least well off. Back in the 70s it was about 50 to 1. Now it’s about 400 to 1.
In 1960 I was taught that the previous 100 years had been a period of gradual but constant narrowing of the gap between the rich and the poor. Thatcher certainly changed all that. Why do we put up with it?
Mike Coggles, Retford, Nottinghamshire
Send MPs to the front line
We will not solve the problem of irrational defence cuts (“How defence cuts helped Taliban devastate Camp Bastion”, 5 October) until every MP, as part of their contract, has to do an annual two-week attachment to any theatre of war, where they can ride in soft-skinned vehicles, equipped with a gun that jams and sharing the flak jacket.
David Newman, Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Those somewhat older than David Cameron would not have been able to listen to his trite reference at the Conservative conference to Magna Carta without thinking fondly of the great Tony Hancock and his Twelve Angry Men speech: “Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain?” It would be better to leave such speeches to those who actually intend to make us laugh.
Stan Hughes, East Hagbourne, Oxfordshire
In order to help Mike Wright escape the horns of a dilemma (letter, 4 October), whether “All in it together”, or “Greenest government ever” is the biggest lie, might I suggest “The NHS is safe…” or, cutting to the chase, “Compassionate Conservatism”?
Paul Abbott, Nottingham
I feel sorry for the man convicted for self-scanning all his shopping as loose onions. What happened to “The customer is always right?” What if he really didn’t know his onions?
Ian McKenzie, Lincoln
Insurer commissioners, like their NHS counterparts, should be supported in seeking to ensure safe and cost-effective treatment
Sir, Private medical insurers (“Private healthcare”, letter, Sept 30), like their NHS counterparts, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), are commissioners of treatment and have a similar responsibility to their members to try to commission safe, appropriate, cost-effective care with an outcome that benefits the patient. Consultants and other healthcare professionals have the same responsibility but generally to individual patients; although some might still argue about their responsibility to be cost-effective.
I understand the concerns of professional associations when they accuse private medical insurers of “interfering with clinical pathways” but, over 16 years as chief medical officer of the Bupa group, I can recall many discussions with representatives of those same organisations about the huge, well documented and frequently unwarranted variations in clinical treatments, often significantly outside the clinical pathways prepared by organisations such as National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (the pathways usually promoted by insurers such as Bupa) and carried out in the name of “professional independence”.
However, when asked if they were prepared to monitor adherence to evidence-based clinical pathways and to tackle those whose practice exhibited unwarranted variation, there was usually a distinct lack of enthusiasm.
Commissioners in the NHS, among many other things, have been charged with tackling unwarranted variation, surely insurer commissioners should also be supported in seeking to ensure consistent, safe, appropriate and cost-effective treatment for their members.
Sir, It is natural that private medical insurers (PMI) should wish to control their costs, but this cannot be achieved by unilaterally reducing reimbursement to doctors and surgeons while continuing to hide what they pay to hospitals behind the smokescreen of commercial confidentiality (“Health insurers ‘restricting patient choice’ on referrals”, Sept 30). There is enormous variation in the fees that PMI agree with hospital groups, both between providers and within each provider’s policies, most of which the patient is unaware of until the hospital invoice arrives.
Compare this with the majority of consultants who continue to charge procedural fees based on charges established around 1995 without any increase for medical or general inflation, while paradoxically both hospital charges and PMI subscriptions inexorably have increased every year. Many PMI, with the notable exception of the two dominant companies, remain happy to reimburse these historical charges, possibly recognising that improvements in techniques and efficiency offset the impact of inflation which thereby help to constrain overall costs for patients.
In the Alice in Wonderland world of PMI, for “Open” read “Restricted to the cheapest doctor”, and “Overcharging Consultant” actually means “Underpaying Insurer”. The best advice to most patients is to keep the money in the bank and self-pay for their elective surgery, which offers much better value for money as well as unlimited choice.
Dr Hamish M. A. towler
Articles by Western scholars on China’s history appear in Chinese historical journals and CUP has published a history of China written by Chinese scholars
Sir, Jung Chang’s fears that her latest book, on the Empress Dowager Cixi, will not be allowed to circulate in China calls for sympathy. However, her comment as reported (Oct 5) that “liberalisation of Chinese society had reversed in the past five years to its most oppressive form since the days of Mao” requires modification. In the past five years particularly, leading Chinese universities have been inviting scholars from Europe and the US to deliver lectures on subjects of China’s history, and these have been attended by large numbers of students; or they have acted as keynote speakers at conferences. Books and a pen are thrust into the hands of such lecturers, who thereby learn that their scholarly works have been translated into Chinese. Articles by Western scholars on China’s history appear by no means infrequently in Chinese historical journals. Here at home at least one publishing house (Cambridge University Press) has responded by publishing an English translation of a four-volume history of China, written mainly by the scholars of Beijing University (Beida). It is difficult to think that Mao would have countenanced such activities.
University Lecturer in Chinese Studies, Cambridge, 1963-90
In the experience of one reader, it seems that rural Britain’s communications have not progressed since the days of James Herriott
Sir, It is not only broadband which is lacking in Britain’s rural areas (letter, Oct 1). With the demise of the roadside telephone box and lack of any mobile phone signal, I was recently left to walk 12 miles to Hereford pushing a laden bicycle that had suffered a massive tyre blow-out.
Calling at a filling station that advertised phone facilities, I was told that these had been withdrawn more than two years ago. Wondering what the attendant would have done had I been an armed robber instead of a cyclist in distress, I followed his direction to “walk up and down the road until you get a signal”. I found one after 6 miles. My daughter, a vet on the Welsh borders, struggles to keep in touch with clients once she leaves her house. Rural Britain’s communications have not progressed since the days of James Herriott.
Mr A. D. French
As one reader observes, vitriolic comments directed at those of opposing political views are not solely the preserve of the right-wing press
Sir, The Daily Mail’s assertion that Ed Miliband’s father “hated Britain” sounds quite mild when compared with Nye Bevan’s “deep burning hatred for the Tory party” and their being “lower than vermin” in his famous speech in Manchester in 1948.
The new circuit would save racing enthusiasts having to travel to continental events to receive value for money and an enjoyable experience
Sir, It is difficult to feel any sympathy for the anger expressed by the owners of Silverstone and other circuit operators in the UK towards the development of an international motor racing facility in Wales (Sport, Oct 3). After spending many years and considerable expense in attending racing fixtures in this country and after being thoroughly ripped off and embarrassed at the second-rate facilities and the attitude shown to paying spectators by UK racing circuits, I applaud any new initiative to improve standards. The new circuit would save me having to travel to continental events to receive value for money and an enjoyable experience — neither of which is currently available in the UK.
Turning the clock back would undermine the UK’s world-class university system and would be an entirely retrograde step for the economy and for society more generally
Sir, Universities that were awarded university titles more than 20 years ago have been net contributors to economic growth and their graduates have been vital to many new and emerging markets, including in the creative industries where Britain is now a world leader (letters, Oct 3).
Whether in the automotive industry, improving quality in supply chains or ensuring that the NHS and other public services have access to the latest technologies, the translational research undertaken by these universities has been a game changer. It was a Conservative Government that realised the potential of these institutions and their students, allowing them to apply for university titles. These institutions have been transformative presences in their cities and regions and now trade successfully across the world.
Turning the clock back would undermine the UK’s world-class university system and would be an entirely retrograde step for the economy, HE exports and for society more generally.
Professor Michael Gunn
Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Staffordshire University
SIR – Many people have a lot to thank the Sunday Telegraph for. Firstly, for publishing the letter headed “Radar operators” from Joan Frazier on September 15, and for two letters the next week headed “Putting Battle of Britain Heroes Back on the Radar”.
On that first Sunday, I was privileged to attend the Battle of Britain thanksgiving and rededication service at Westminster Abbey, where I met three other ex-radar operators.
Since then, the word has got around. I have had six phone calls from other ex-radar operators and we have had wonderful chats on the phone.
We all agreed that our role in the war had been overlooked. Plotters have been often been talked about but they got their information from us.
We ended up as corporals, but our families thought we should have been commissioned. We were sworn to secrecy for 30 years. No one was interested then, but they are now.
The choice between the Conservatives and Labour is now clear
06 Oct 2013
P A McNicol
SIR – I was a WAAF radar operator stationed at Whitstable in Kent, which was one of a chain of stations on the east coast covering the German aircraft as they approached from the sea. We had to assess the number of aircraft from the size of the green “blip” on the screen and judge the distance by using a range finder. The information was then sent on to Fighter Command 24 hours a day.
There was no RAF station as such – I was billeted with the local policeman and his wife. You were either working or sleeping.
My son says I must be the oldest radar operator in England. I am 93 next February – is he right?
Brighton, East Sussex
SIR – What we have witnessed over this party conference season hasn’t been seen since the election of Margaret Thatcher as Conservative Party leader in 1975. The Tories and Labour have realigned themselves in ideological opposition to one another once again.
The Prime Minister’s “land of opportunity” rhetoric puts economic freedom and enterprise at the top of the agenda and places the individual rightly before the state.
This is in stark contrast to Ed Miliband’s nostalgic renewal of the socialist post-war consensus and tripartite corporatism that crumbled underneath its own contradictions in the Seventies.
The choice is clear and for the first time in a long while, there is visible distance between Labour and the Conservatives.
James Adam Paton
The radar operators who tracked each other down
06 Oct 2013
SIR – The stage-managed Conservative Party conference, attended by many lobbyists and pressure groups, but fewer and fewer of its MPs and grassroots members, reinforced the perception of the party as presenting rhetoric dressed as policies and obsessed with staying on the centre ground.
No wonder the current defeatist leadership is mulling over a second coalition that simply reacts to events instead of showing determination to set a new political agenda.
I hope to see a post-Cameron Tory Party that has ambitious, innovative policies for economic recovery, based on simpler and lower taxes, funded by lower public expenditure and led by those serious about our country’s prosperity and the wellbeing of all its citizens.
SIR – It is unfortunate that David Cameron has waited until gay marriage has passed into law to express his regrets. Prime ministers are elected to foresee the great problems this sort of legislation engenders.
In my many years as a local councillor, this one act has engendered more anger within my local party than any other.
It will take many years to resolve.
Cllr Lewis Birt
SIR – David Cameron pushed through gay marriage legislation despite widespread anger. His regret is insincere given that his proposed tax breaks for married couples include both traditional and gay marriage. He is only electioneering, in a futile attempt to rebuild relations with his grassroots.
There is not a lot of difference now between the parties. The Conservatives have betrayed their core values.
If a vote for Ukip is a vote for the Labour Party, then so be it.
Muir of Ord, Ross-shire
SIR – Regarding David Cameron’s “earn or learn” proposals: with unemployment among 16-24 year olds at over 900,000, what is someone under 25 without a job in an area of high unemployment, without a supportive family and denied Jobseeker’s Allowance or housing benefit, to do?
What if the only way to get a job is to move to another part of the country? How does it square with the bedroom tax?
SIR – Might not David Cameron, in tackling the “broken” property market and offering people immediate help to get on the housing ladder, acknowledge that ladders go down as well as up? This could result in the most fearful distress for some in years to come.
SIR – Tax breaks for less well-off married couples are to be welcomed, but if the Tories really wanted to help the lower paid, they would exempt people on the minimum wage from tax altogether. This, combined with more stringent benefits regulations, would help to give unemployed people a real incentive to find work. It would be largely self-financing, with lower overall welfare bills, lower immigration and more pay going back into the economy.
HS2 is not the solution to rail overcrowding
SIR – In Matthew d’Ancona’s interview with David Cameron (News Review, September 29), the Prime Minister stated that there were 4,000 people standing on trains every morning into Euston and 5,000 into Birmingham.
He did not mention the number of passengers standing on trains into London Bridge (32,000), Waterloo (29,000), Liverpool Street (15,000), Victoria (12,000) and Fenchurch Street (6,000), which HS2 will do nothing to help. Trains into Euston have fewer standing passengers in the morning peak than almost any other London mainline station.
HS2 will be an intercity service. Virgin trains, which are intercity, do not having standing passengers in the morning peak. The standing passengers that the Prime Minister quoted for Euston and Birmingham come from London Midland, London Overground, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry and Arriva Trains Wales. It is the commuter trains that need extra capacity now, not the intercity trains.
SIR – Andrew Gilligan (Opinion, September 29) asserts that Leeds is the only place in West Yorkshire that remains solidly supportive of HS2. But there are many of us living here who do not support what amounts to an environmentally damaging vanity project with a particularly poor economic return.
While everyone is keen to promote the city of Leeds and the North, there are far better ways of spending £50 billion and rising.
Cllr Clive Fox
East Bramhope, West Yorkshire
SIR – When questioned about HS2 on the Andrew Marr Show last Sunday, David Cameron said: “We will definitely go ahead, as £50 billion has been set aside for this project.” He also said this was only a third of the £150 billion proposed to update other rail infrastructure.
If he has all this money, why isn’t some of it set aside to build some new roads to link our cities, towns and villages, so motorists no longer have to endure the antiquated, pot-holed roads that were designed for horse and cart as they try to get to work every weekday?
SIR – In a democratic system such as ours there can be little dispute that representative politicians should be elected by a roughly similar number of voters. It is grossly unjust therefore that the Lib Dems have blocked the Boundary Commission’s attempt to even up constituency sizes.
Apparently this was in retaliation for the Tories’ vote against the Lib Dems’ proposed House of Lords reform, which was agreed by most observers to be flawed.
New Milton, Hampshire
SIR – It would be scant compensation, but does not British subject Mitul Shah, who was killed in the Kenyan massacre, deserve a posthumous George Cross for his selfless act of incredible bravery in offering his own life in order to save the lives of children?
SIR – Jenny McCartney hit the nail on the head when she compared aspects of the Islamic terrorism we are witnessing to the Nazi regime (Opinion, September 29).
We are witnessing the same murderous violence, the same religious and racial hatred, the same cultural intolerance. And both ideologies have the same objective, namely to subjugate everyone to their will.
Mawnan Smith, Cornwall
Eden in Jamaica
SIR – Tim Stanley states that “In 1956, prime minister Anthony Eden announced that he felt a bit under the weather, then took three months off to go and live in Jamaica” (Opinion, September 29.) This is not quite the case. Doctors had been advising him to take a break on health grounds for some time.
Eventually he accepted Ann Fleming’s offer of Goldeneye, a remote home in Jamaica, for a short convalescence. It was not as exotic as people imagined. “The plumbing is not good at the moment,” Ann Fleming told the press. “The Edens will have to rough it.” They also shared the house with an Alsatian guard dog called Max, named after Lord Beaverbrook.
D R Thorpe
Biographer of Sir Anthony Eden
A dry read
SIR – Our new hairdryer was accompanied by a booklet carrying more than 2,000 words: nearly more words than the number of hairs on my head.
All I needed was simple guidance on how to switch it on and off, not all the hair-raising warnings of dangers to watch out for and unnecessary advice.
Leaving the EU would solve the begging issue
SIR – There was an interesting juxtaposition on the front page last week. First you reported on the Romanian beggars who were given taxpayer-funded tickets to go home in the summer but who have already returned to Britain (report, September 29).
Then, you quoted David Cameron saying in your interview with him that the European Union deserves “one last chance” to change before voters are given a say over whether Britain should quit in a referendum by 2017 (report, September 29).
Neither the beggars nor the EU have any intention of changing, but our Government continues to give them the chance. Both problems could be rectified with our own Single European Act.
Pudsey, West Yorkshire
SIR – The problem of Roma beggars on the streets of London is a direct result of the EU’s freedom of movement of labour policy, but entirely against its spirit. If the Romanian government wishes to maintain any sort of responsible reputation within the EU it must work with our Government to prevent such an exodus and cooperate in the return and retention of offenders. A joint police task force is the first step.
SIR – David Cameron said: “We need to get out of this idea that Britain is committed to ever-closer union” (News Review, September 29). This provision is in Title 1, Article A of the Maastricht Treaty, which Britain signed on February 7 1992.
A W Maude
Sutton-in-Craven, West Yorkshire
SIR – Your report on Tony Blair’s new jet (“Tony gets a £30m Blair Force One”, September 29) mentions that he is, inter alia, a “Middle East peace envoy”.
Further comment would seem superfluous.
Bradford Peverell, Dorset
SIR – My wife, a native of Westmorland, is convinced that the unusually high degree of damage to the region’s holiday cottages is because the beer is better, which encourages people to drink more of it.
The West Country suffers from a similar damage problem, and I believe that the potent local cider is responsible there. Perhaps a university would like to fund further research into the subject. I am available to help with the fieldwork.
Aftermath of the Seanad referendum
Mon, Oct 7, 2013, 01:10
First published: Mon, Oct 7, 2013, 01:10
Sir, – The Taoiseach may brace himself for wallop number two and three when the European and county council elections come around in 2014.
This will certainly come from the thousands of people who will have to retire in 2014 on reaching their 65th birthday.
These retired employees will have the humiliating experience of signing on for Job Seekers’ Allowance until the reach their 66th birthday, as this Government has decided to do away with the transition pension. – Yours, etc,
DENIS O SULLIVAN,
Knocklyon, Dublin 16.
Sir, – Judging by the East-West divide in the Senate referendum vote we can say that history really does repeat itself. The descendants of the victims of Cromwell have just failed in their attempt to curtail our delicate nascent democracy. In England it was roundheads versus cavaliers. What do we have? Graduates versus agrarians? – Yours, etc,
Firhouse, Dublin 24.
Sir, – The Grand Coalition of Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Féin, with Dessie O’Malley as an outrider, has fallen at the first hurdle. Will we ever see the like again? – Yours, etc,
Raymond Street, Dublin 8.
A chara, – Yes 19 per cent; No 20 per cent; Don’t care 61 per cent. – Is mise,
LOMAN O LOINGSIGH,
Sir, – Voting last Friday was like taking a Mensa test set by Éamon Ó Cuív. Did it have to be so hard? – Yours, etc.,
Whitehall Road, Dublin 14.
Sir, – Did you hear the one about the country that voted to keep a political institution even though 99 per cent of their electorate were not eligible to vote for that particular institution? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Flushed with success, the Senators can get back to claiming milage from the far side of the moon. – Yours, etc,
Mount Tallant Avenue,
Sir, – The Seanad is to remain following the referendum. If it is correct that the No voters wanted reform and the Yes voters wanted abolition, do we now have a Seanad that no-one wants? – Yours, etc,
Ard na Dara,
Sir, – Our Senators may be breathing a sigh of relief as they go back to work today, however, the Irish people are sadly deluding themselves if they believe for one minute this Government will engage in realistic reform of the Senate, now that the voters have rejected the Government’s plan to abolish the second house. Lewis Carroll sums it up best. “ ‘There’s no use trying’, Alice said. ‘One can’t believe impossible things’. ‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast’. – Alice through the Looking Glass. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – It is good that the country has voted to keep the Seanad. Our Government should recognise that the people have spoken! Or will it be like the European vote: we keep on till we get right?
Is it not time to to reform Dáil Éireann? Is it not far too big and costly for our present needs? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Unlike some poor unfortunates, the well-heeled occupants of the Seanad got to keep their house. Let’s hope the reprieve will encourage that institution’s parliamentarians to finally get their opulent residence in proper working order.Otherwise,they could well face eviction some time in the near future. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – As former British prime minister Harold Wilson, once said, “A week is a long time in politics”. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The result of the Seanad referendum confirms one thing. The Irish electorate prefers the Seanad, with all its limitations, to diktat from the four-person Economic Management Council with its unelected advisers. There is still room to express a view in the Seanad, a facility which seems to be fast disappearing in the Dáil. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The loss of the referendum to abolish the Seanad should not be a surprise to the Government. The manner in which some of the very important and far-reaching recent legislation has been pushed through has left a very uncomfortable feeling in the voting populace. The public however, unlike party members, does not have to obey a party whip, a factor which is doubly important in these financially beleaguered times. – Yours, etc,
Donnybrook, Dublin 4.
Sir, – A simple first reform: close nominations for the next Seanad election before polling day for the Dáil. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – 14,355 spoiled votes were cast in the Seanad referendum: 1.2 per cent of the total. How many of these resulted from Breda O’Brien’s misguided call to voters to write “Reform” on their ballot papers (Opinion, September 28th)? Ironically, given the narrow margin of victory for the No side, Ms O’Brien’s ill-informed and irresponsible advice came dangerously close to producing the opposite result from the one she advocated. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The Irish people, in their ineffable wisdom, have voted. As far as I can see they have voted to continue subsidising expensive, elitist, pointless windbaggery, but there you are. Not so much turkeys voting for Christmas. More puddings voting for hams? – Yours, etc,
Maretimo Gardens West,
Sir, – I take issue with the contention that wind energy will mean more expensive electricity for business and householders (Cantillon, October 3rd).
If the wind generators were not there the electricity would have to be manufactured by fossil fuels. What price will gas, coal and oil be for the period up to 2020? At least the cost of wind is known. Demand for fossil fuels is growing, as is its price. Recently we saw the Commission for Energy Regulation grant a price increase for gas. The cost of wind remains constant.
For much of my life the world reference for oil was circa $2 per barrel. From 1985 to 2003 the world price was a reasonably steady $12 to 18 per barrel. Now it is $110, and all the big commodity houses such as Barclays don’t have it going down. Whatever is paid by way of public service obligation will be looked on by our multinational manufacturers as a price risk reduction premium.
But Cantillon omits to mention the main point of wind energy. The marginal cost of wind-powered electricity is precisely zero. It causes the wholesale cost of electricity to fall. During 2012 the Public Service Obligation for wind was €50 million. The actual reduction in the wholesale price of electricity directly attributable to wind was €75 million.
Looking forward to 2020: the installed wind capacity will contribute (at a conservative 35 per cent capacity factor) some 12.264 terawatt hours to our electricity supply.
According to the US Environment Protection Agency, the CO2 released from this equivalent in fossil fuels would be 8.65 million tonnes. At €20 per tonne this would mean a bill of €173 million per year, at €40 per tonne the annual bill would €340 million.
Besides all this, the support scheme lasts for 15 years and thereafter the price can fall dramatically. – Yours, etc,
Power, Arena Road,
First published: Mon, Oct 7, 2013, 01:05
Sir, – Regarding the HSE/IMO engagements aimed at reducing non-consultant hospital doctor (NCHD) working hours, Dr Irwin Gill (October 4th ) states incorrectly that the HSE has “misrepresented” the position regarding sanctions. The sanctions that Dr Gill refers to relate to measures that can be taken against hospitals that fail to comply with agreed timelines for reducing maximum shifts for NCHDs.
Despite Dr Gill’s assertions, the IMO is seeking a type of sanction that would involve an additional payment to NCHDs in the event of non-compliance. Such a measure is prohibited under the terms of the Haddington Road Agreement and one HSE management has absolutely no discretion to negotiate. No matter how you dress this proposed sanction up it can only be called a cost-increasing pay claim.
Instead, the HSE is proposing an alternative form of sanction, whereby the management team of a hospital or hospital group will be held directly responsible for non-compliance. In the event of not achieving the agreed measures, this sanction can impact on individual senior managers and clinicians in hospitals personally and collectively, can impact on the hospital financially and may have an impact on the hospital’s position vis-a-vis future hospital trusts. In effect, this is a much more robust type of sanction on hospital management than what the IMO is seeking and is indicative of the Minister’s and the HSE’s intent on dealing with this long-standing issue. – Yours, etc,
National Director of
Sir, – Peter Molloy (October 2nd) expresses his belief that it is Labour’s opponents who “continue to peddle snakeoil remedies”; but he seems not to have noticed that the party has not only bought said ubiquitous toxic elixir wholesale, but picked up the retail franchise to distribute it to an electorate which refuses to swallow yet another teaspoonful, no matter what pink PR saccharine it sweetens it with.
Labour voters did not vote for Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil fat-cat conservatism. They voted for government of the market, not by the market, for the market. The latter is “mere anarchy . . . loosed upon the world”; and is tending again towards the cyclical consequences of such historical myopia. – Yours, etc,
Headford, Co Galway.
Sir, – Further to your article, “Adoption patterns have changed a lot in recent decades, forum hears” (Home News, September 30th): the one pattern that hasn’t changed since the introduction of the Adoption Act 1952 is the right of the adopted person to know who their mother is.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, for once in Ireland, the rights of the adopted person was precedent. The Adoption Authority of Ireland and the Department for Children have never dealt with the rights of the individual once adopted.
Sixty-one years is a long time to wait for the law to change. We’ve been promised by successive governments that our voices would be heard and yet, here we are late into 2013 with nothing changed and no foreseeable changes in the near future. We are the last minority group in Ireland to be discriminated against.
Let none of us forget that the majority of children adopted since 1952 were done so under forced adoption procedures and also illegal adoption procedures, neither of which the Adoption Authority or the Government appear willing to investigate. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The geographical spread for two of the European Parliament constituencies is bewildering (Home News, September 26th). Surely there’s a case here for 11 single seat constituencies across the country. Another referendum? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I am glad to see from Seán Duffy (September 26th) that a major historical conference on the subject of the Battle of Clontarf will be held in Trinity College, Dublin, on April 11th to 12th next year. I trust it will be well attended and I expect the usual revisionist historians will be on hand to claim it never happened. – Yours, etc,
BRIAN P O CINNEIDE,
Durban, South Africa.
Madam – Husband – Did you hear that backdating of the car is changing in September, love? We must get that car of yours signed off on up at the barracks.
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Rule 42 still in GAA rules
Dear Leader is the invisible man
Big langer indeed
Wife – I will, I will! Will you stop fussing all the time? I went up to them yesterday and there wasn’t a sinner in the place.
Husband – Did you walk or drive?
Wife – I drove, sure it was lashing out of the heavens. Come on we’ve to go do the shopping. You’ve the keys there.
Husband – Right! Well don’t forget to go back up when they’re there, and will you not drive for God’s sake?
Wife – Why not?
Husband – Off the road, Mary, he won’t stamp anything for a car out in his front yard!
A couple of months later …
Wife – Is today that deadline for the tax, Tommy?
Husband – Be God, it is! I’ll head up to the tax office. I’ll walk.
Husband (On the phone) – Mary, can you hear me? I’ve been queuing here for two hours.
Interviewed on RTE News …
Husband – It’s a disgrace so it is. Wouldn’t you think they would have a better system rather than leaving us to stand out in the cold.
Interviewer – And has the car been off the road long?
Husband – Yeah, with this recession now and that shower above in Dublin, we’ve had it sitting on the drive for nearly a year.
Deadline passes …
Husband (On the phone) – Mary, come and collect me, will ya?
Wife – In your car or mine?
Edenderry, Co Offaly
Madam – “Up the Dubs” in reply to a query from a citizen wishing to know about the Senate referendum, and “You look like a man in need of a day’s work” to a protester three years ago in Athlone. They are the only two quotes I have heard from the man charged with leading our nation during one of its most painful eras.
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Big langer indeed
OECD data far too old for article
Driven round the bend
That Eircom and the GAA had removed not just the Taoiseach’s images, but also the images of the movers and shakers of this great little nation, shocked me. Having worked 30 years within the criminal justice system the only ones who covered their faces or had them blurred out, were the criminal fraternity or those allegedly so.
That RTE and certain media outlets allow themselves to be told what to and what not to record in reference to our Dear Leader is truly shocking. Enda Kenny’s handlers are paid handsomely from the public purse. Indeed had they and the other diners at the political trough been gotten rid of, we would save the €20m red herring over the Senate.
Democracy is precious. Once the media and its servants stop doing their job then we are doomed on the ground. It’s not enough to revel in the glory of the title ‘The Fourth Estate’ whilst the other three raid our nation, free from hindrance or tackling. Indeed since I chose a sporting metaphor let’s take it to its logical conclusion.
Any team representing me needs to be back-boned with men of steel. The tricky little corner forward with the pretty side step and the dressing room banter is useless to you as the clock runs down and he stands cowardly behind the full back line looking for the easy ball. Enda has been shielded by his handlers. That smacks to me of two things. One is they are in charge of his persona and he rubber-stamps their beckoning. Or two, they don’t but he is happy to lie behind them. Either scenario is an absolute disaster for the common man.
Dunboyne, Co Meath