27 October 2013 Books
I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark
Our heroes are in trouble Pertwee has been fiddling the stores and has sold everything off. Priceless
Sort the books, Shanti rings
We watch Hancock its not too bad
Scrabble today Mary wins get just under 400, though perhaps I will win tomorrow.
Jamalul Kiram III
Jamalul Kiram III was the dispossessed Sultan of Sulu who struggled to reclaim the riches his predecessors lost to the British Empire
Jamalul Kiram III sent militants to attempt to retake Sabah this year
6:18PM BST 25 Oct 2013
Jamalul Kiram III , who has died aged 75, was descended from an ancient, majestic line of sultans in the tiny Philippine island province of Sulu; earlier this year, as its self-proclaimed Muslim head of state and to reclaim his ancestral birthright, he dispatched a puny seaborne force of armed militants to seize part of Borneo, the third largest island in the world.
Borneo is divided between Indonesia in the south, and Brunei and the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah to the north. In February it was to Sabah, on Borneo’s north-eastern tip, that Kiram ordered his followers to take up arms in a bizarre territorial dispute dating from the days of the British Empire.
From his ramshackle command post in the Philippine capital Manila, Kiram ordered his younger brother to lead a flotilla carrying 200 warriors from Sulu across a narrow stretch of sea to retake Sabah, a state that his ancestors once ruled. More than 60 people were killed in the fighting, which caused the most serious security crisis in Malaysia in more than a decade and strained the country’s relationship with the Philippines, which also claims the disputed territory.
The sultanate of Sulu is much older than either the Philippine republic or Malaysia, and for more than four centuries ruled over vast tracts of land and ocean — including parts of Borneo — from opulent palaces in what is now the southern Philippines. Sultans are recognised throughout the Islamic world as sovereign rulers of the land they reign over.
Historical documents would seem to support the sultanate of Sulu’s claim to have been granted sovereignty over Sabah as long ago as 1658 by the Sultan of Brunei in return for help repelling foreign invaders.
Even then, in spite of its fairytale name, the sultanate was sufficiently hard-headed to recognise the value of Sabah’s abundant natural resources. Over the next two centuries, however, agreements were signed with British trading companies which ended, in 1878, with Sabah being leased to Baron Von Overbeck for the British North Borneo Company. The exact terms of the agreement are disputed, however, and eventually the British Crown claimed absolute sovereignty. When Malaysia was granted independence in 1963, Sabah voted to became part of its territory. Today, Malaysia still pays annual compensation to the sultan – but only about $1,700.
One of Kiram’s predecessors as Sultan of Sulu (seated, with the cane) in 1878
In a further twist, just before Malaysian independence the Philippine government staked its own claim to Sabah because the then sultan of Sulu, Esmail Kiram, was already a Filipino citizen and had signed an agreement with the Philippine government giving Manila the right to claim the disputed territory. The claim has gravelled Philippine-Malaysian relations, which were once strained to the point that both countries broke off diplomatic ties, since restored.
Sabah is about the size of Ireland and rich in natural resources including oil, timber, fish and marine products, and diamond and gold mines. But once the region joined Malaysia, the Sulu realm effectively vanished, leaving the Kirams dispossessed and with little more to do than nurse a historic grievance.
Jamalul Dalus Strattan Kiram III was born on July 16 1938 in Maimbung, a small town in the province of Sulu in the Philippines. He was the eldest son of Sultan Punjungan Kiram and Sharif Usna Dalus Strattan and was directly descended from the first Sultan of Sulu, Sharif ul-Hashim of Sulu, of the Banu Hashem tribe.
From Sulu High School he moved to Notre Dame in the Sulu capital, Jolo, and then to Manuel L Quezon University in Manila, where he studied Law. But he did not complete his degree course, and later worked for a radio station in Jolo as programme director and later as station manager.
Having joined the Ruma Betchara (Council of the Sultan) during the reign (1962-74) of his uncle, Sultan Esmail Kiram, he ruled as “interim sultan” while his father, who ruled between 1974 and 1981, was absent in Sabah. In 1984 he was proclaimed the 33rd (or possibly the 39th) sultan of Sulu and was crowned in Jolo in 1986.
In 1999, with an 87-man entourage, Kiram paid a royal visit to China which concluded with the signing of an agreement between a Chinese province and the Sulu sultanate on the exchange of agricultural technology. He also forged trade ties with Japan.
The Sulu sultanate was founded in the early 15th century by Sayyid Abu Bakr, who changed his name to Sharifur Hashim and took the title Sultan Sharif, denoting his descent from the Prophet Mohammad. Until the arrival of the Spanish, the region enjoyed relative peace and prosperity, with settled political and trading systems. But the spread of Catholicism impinged upon the sultanate’s independent identity and ambitions to expand its Islamic heritage.
Kiram explained that under the laws of the sultanate, the title of sultan is bestowed upon the first son (daughters being ineligible). While the sultan always outranks officials like the mufti (the senior religious head) and the kaddi (chief spiritual adviser to the sultan), he is not a dictator but governs with a council of advisers, in the way that a president is assisted by the cabinet.
Once enthroned in magnificent royal palaces, the sultanate was latterly reduced to a shabby two-storey house in a Muslim enclave in a poor suburb of Manila. Ailing and half-blind, Kiram struggled to discharge his limited royal duties while receiving dialysis for his failing kidneys.
On the walls of the makeshift palace, visitors found formal notices proclaiming “Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo” pinned alongside maps of the region once ruled by the sultanate and a certificate of appreciation from the local Rotary Club. Any ancestral treasure had long since vanished. “I’m the poorest sultan in the world,” Kiram admitted.
Sultan Jamalul Kiram III’s family coat of arms
In 1993 Kiram had threatened to wage a jihad (holy war) to secure Sabah if Malaysia did not recognise his sovereignty over the disputed state and pay him $10 billion (£6.5 billion).
Following the incursion in February, some of the sultan’s followers were charged with rebellion in Malaysia and Kiram himself faced calls for his extradition. Even President Benigno Aquino of the Philippines weighed in against Kiram, saying the insurgency had caused death and suffering among his own people.
But while the invasion failed, it did succeed in drawing attention to the historical claim by the Philippines to parts of Borneo, a claim it maintains it has not given up.
Jamalul Kiram III is survived by his two wives and eight of their children. His successor is expected to be his younger brother, Esmail Kiram II, who supported the Sabah incursion. Historically, successions to the sultanate have been marred by violence among factions within the family and in later years by multiple claimants to the title of sultan, one of whom, Rodinood Kulaspi Kiram II, asserted in October 2004 that he had been crowned the previous weekend.
Jamalul Kiram III, born July 16 1938, died October 20 2013
Instead of just worrying about the effects of unqualified teachers on schools and the reputation of academies and free schools, (“Clegg turns on Gove over his ‘ideological’ school reforms”, News), why doesn’t Ofsted intervene to address the source of these problems by conducting an inspection visit at the Department for Education?
I would suggest six areas to score them on, namely: leadership effectiveness, feedback links with teaching professionals, staff qualifications, individual and collective teaching experience, education research and development processes, and strategic outcomes to date. Should the department be found to be “inadequate” then perhaps performance-related pay could be introduced?
It is a relief to see the Liberal Democrats waking up at last to the need for professional knowledge and experience in those who teach our children. What is rarely mentioned is the scandalous situation pertaining to children with special educational needs. If your child is deaf or blind you can rest assured that his or her teacher has been trained in how to support their learning in the most appropriate way. If your child has autism or severe/profound disabilities, forget it.
Since mandatory SEN training was abolished, pupils with the most complex learning difficulties imaginable are increasingly in the care of teachers who, whatever their praiseworthy commitment, have no experience and no training. The generation of teachers who did have adequate (and mandatory) training has now reached retirement age. How can a prime minister, with direct personal experience of the need for specialist input to allow our most challenged learners to succeed and develop in our schools, allow this situation to continue?
Nicola Grove (retired speech and language therapist)
How shortsighted of Nick Clegg to round on Michael Gove. Obviously having completely unqualified teachers is a great cost-saving scheme which pushes up the numbers in work. I look forward to having our local surgery open 24/7 once a similar scheme for recruiting unqualified doctors gets underway, and think how much could be saved by cutting out training for frontline troops. It seems shameful to waste money on training soldiers who might be killed anyway. Mr Clegg will never raise his party’s poll ratings into double figures if he carries on with this sort of ungrateful carping. He should be ashamed of himself, but not perhaps as ashamed as he should be of the fact that it has taken him this long to realise the damage that is being done, and comment upon it publicly.
Nick Clegg is right to criticise Michael Gove’s ideologically driven free schools programme. The cost to the taxpayer and to the children’s education at Al-Madinah, suggests that there is no such thing as a free school.
The Liberal Democrats seem at last to be waking up to their folly in not securing a schools portfolio directly after the 2010 election. That could have tempered Gove’s ideological experiment, which three years on is undermining national standards in teaching and the curriculum as well as dismantling England’s local democratic education base. The Liberal Democratic party has remained silent while allowing free schools to spring up without local oversight and many secondary schools and some primaries to opt out of local democratic accountability and into the hands of academy chains. The party has a lot of ground to make up, not just with its local activists, but with those many teachers nationwide who are committed to inclusive and democratic state education.
Professor Colin Richards
It is incorrect to imply as Animal Aid do in their letter (“Use humans, not animals, for research into treatments”) that medications for Parkinson’s were developed solely through human trials. All three of the drugs named involved research using animals in their development.
Levodopa was developed following Nobel prize-winning work in rabbits to understand dopamine, the chemical that is gradually lost in the brain in Parkinson’s, and became available as a drug in the 1960s. It remains the most effective treatment for Parkinson’s to this day and has transformed the lives of millions of people.
We all strive to minimise the need to use animals for research and are committed to improving welfare but animal science plays a vital role in developing life-saving treatments. We would not have discovered antibiotics, chemotherapy or medical procedures including the use of deep brain stimulation for the treatment of Parkinson’s, without the use of animals.
Professor Sir John Tooke
President, Academy of Medical Sciences
Dr Mark Downs
Chief executive, Society of Biology
Dr Kieran Breen
Director of research and development,
Chief executive, Association of Medical Research Charities
Give men proper parental leave
Cherie Booth rightly observes that cultural assumptions about men and women’s roles remain outdated (“‘All women should have the chance to have a family and a career'”, News). Yet her prescription for improving the position of mothers ignores the pivotal role of fathers. One way in which society can “do more to enable mothers to play a full role at home and in the workplace” is to encourage and enable fathers to play a full role at home. The example of the Nordic countries shows that a key first step would be a period of parental leave for fathers on a “use it or lose it” basis. The coalition government proposed this but then got cold feet. I will be moving an amendment to the children and families bill to give fathers an independent right to parental leave.
Baroness (Ruth) Lister of Burtersett
House of Lords
More TV awards for women
I’m sure Vanessa Thorpe’s article (“Comedy needs more female writers, says Veep’s Iannucci”, News) resonated with many people; it’s extremely encouraging that comedy writing is slowly becoming a more popular career choice for women.
The example of Drifters – the new comedy show from the producers of The Inbetweeners – is a great one. Written by Jessica Knappett, it’s up there with the best of them that we’ve had the pleasure to post-produce.
While Knappett felt no “sex imbalance in the writers’ room”, this may not be the case for many. It would be good to see more awards and events to celebrate the growing success of female writers, producers and directors.
Managing director, Suite TV
We let other states run the UK
From my first job in 1950 until my final retirement in 2012 my work was for British industry. I share Will Hutton’s shame at George Osborne’s courting of the Chinese (Comment). This country built the world’s first nuclear power station but now we have to get organisations from other countries to finance and manage the design and construction of a new power station.
One little appreciated consequence of the shutdown and sell-off of British companies is the closure of their R&D. Thus we no longer have the know-how to design a nuclear power station. Apart from the serious commercial implications of all this the extreme irony is that a government determined to sell off every state-owned enterprise is happy for nationalised companies to provide our energy and run our railways (German railways operate a significant number of trains here).
Be proud of our courts
Nick Cohen states that “foreigners now make up almost two thirds of the litigants in the commercial court” as if it were a criticism of our current culture. But he is quite wrong on two counts (“Why Frieze art fair reflects London all too well”, Comment). First of all, I believe that a similar proportion has obtained since at least the second world war. Secondly, it is a matter of pride rather than shame. A very large numberof maritime and commodity contracts contain clauses which require disputes to be resolved according to English law and procedure. Parties having no connection with England are happy to leave the resolution of their disputes in particular to the commercial court, because of the richness of English law, the wide range of experienced lawyers and the integrity of the judiciary.
The availability of the commercial court to foreigners gives rise to a huge source of revenue for the United Kingdom. I suspect that Nick Cohen had in mind the lamentable dispute between Messrs Berezovsky and Abramovitch; but it should not be overlooked that the Treasury would have benefited very substantially from tax on the fees received by the lawyers in that case
Anthony Hallgarten QC
DJ Taylor seems to feel that the 19th century was full of people with high morals whereas in the 21st century mammon is firmly in charge (20 October). In between he has a pop at trade unions who he seems to feel are only concerned with wages, suggesting an unfamiliarity with the work of the TUC bordering on total ignorance.
No doubt there are many in positions of authority today whose moral compass is either broken or never existed. On the other hand Victorian society quite happily – at the top – put up with the Workhouse. Perhaps we might reflect that a society whose dominant values are taken from market economics is always likely to struggle with high moral principles.
I agree with Nick Clegg, that free schools and academies should only employ qualified teachers (“Clegg draws a line in the sand against Tories on schooling”, 20 October). But I also hope that in the Lib Dem election manifesto there is a pledge to require independent schools to employ only qualified teachers, and that all schools spend a certain percentage of their budget supporting professional development.
West Bromwich, West Midlands
Your report about our licensing exam for general practice (“Trainee doctors held back by racism, warns expert”, 13 October) ignored the fact that the recent independent and official review of our exam commissioned by the General Medical Council made no finding of discrimination.
There are indeed differences in the pass rates between doctors from white ethnic backgrounds and those from minority ethnic backgrounds. The College has been very open about the differential pass rates for many years, and has commissioned and supported research to try and identify what the cause, or causes, may be.
As an organisation committed to equality and diversity, we take multiple steps to ensure our exam is fair, including making sure that all of our examiners and role players receive equality and diversity training. We have also ensured that there is a diversity of ethnicity and gender in our examiners and role players.
The College welcomed the recent GMC review and collaborated with those carrying out the work by sharing data and inviting them to observe our exam processes. It is our job to ensure that, through a fair process, all of the doctors who qualify as GPs meet the requisite standards for ensuring safe patient care. That is what the public expects of us, and that is what we deliver.
Dr Clare Gerada
Chair, Royal College of General Practitioners
Privatisation of defence procurement (“MoD staff not properly consulted over semi-privatisation plan”, 20 Octobber) will do little to prevent the calamitous cost overruns that have become synonymous with big UK defence projects. It has been shown time and again that the private sector is unable and unwilling to stomach the financial risk associated with defence procurement. If the government wants to sort out its poor track record on defence procurement, a better place to start would be to improve speed and quality of decision-making within the Ministry of Defence, which means fewer jobs for the boys, fewer “special advisers”, an end to military officers running projects and more widespread use of truly independent consultants and industry experts.
Dr Mark Campbell-Roddis
Birmingham is NOT Britain’s second city (“What’s in a name?” 20 October). That’s Glasgow. Birmingham is England’s second city. No wonder the Scots want independence.
Ian K Watson
It’s ironic that female descendants of peers want modern ideas of equality applied to the inheritance of aristocratic titles (“The hares take on the heirs in Parliament”, 20 October). These titles are the product of medieval patronage and official favouritism. Fairness was never the intention. If they don’t like the system, these would-be heirs should campaign for social equality and justice, not for the perks of a privileged few.
Bloody Sunday has left an indelible imprint
LAST week’s editorial “Time to draw a line under Bloody Sunday” was disappointing. The intended prosecutions should continue. Despite the passing of time, the murders, lies and cover-ups still cause deep divisions, and the former soldiers should go through the courts so that the truth can come out. I feel no sympathy that some are in their sixties and seventies; for decades they have enjoyed a better deal than those they murdered.
A late punishment is better than none at all. The soldiers lost control and it is simply not acceptable to absolve them of blame by saying they were “badly deployed and badly controlled”. To be an effective soldier requires control. The dead and their relatives deserve more.
John Reilly, London
Leading from the front
There is a well-known maxim: “There are no bad soldiers, only bad officers” (“Bloody Sunday troops face murder arrests”, “End to impunity for the men of 1 Para”, News, and “The guns have gone, old soldiers are dead, but the law grinds on”, Comment, last week). Soldiers do what they are ordered to do.
The uncharacteristic but appalling lack of leadership demonstrated by officers on Bloody Sunday in Londonderry is the real source of the massacre of 14 innocent, unarmed civilians. Let the soldiers be and address the culpability of the officers.
Tom Wall, London SE1
It is worth remembering that more British soldiers were killed in Northern Ireland than in the current Afghanistan conflict. Parachute Regiment combat troops should never be deployed against civilians.
Colin Campbell, Inverness
While republican thugs and killers freely roam the streets and hold public office, and £200m has already been spent on “inquiries”, we now face another “lengthy and complex investigation”. This seems another cynical and politically inspired stunt. It is of no benefit to the public who have to foot the bills for the legal gravy train. We’ve had enough inquiries into the Troubles.
Ernie Boyd, Belfast
Bloody Sunday was a disaster that put an end to peaceful demonstrations in Northern Ireland and sent thousands into violent and criminal activities. A conflict that could have been solved by decent people on both sides dragged on for 20 more years. The then Irish taoiseach Jack Lynch is supposed to have said to the British prime minister, Edward Heath: “When will you people ever understand the Irish?” To judge from your editorial, I would say never.
Ena Keye, Terenure, Dublin 6
Crime and punishment
Your editorial provoked disbelief, despair and anger. These soldiers were in a position of responsibility, and were highly trained in the use of deadly weapons and identifying threat. They clearly faced unarmed civilians but chose to use deadly force and then to conceal the truth for 40 years, even to the point of blaming their victims.
For them not to be publicly held to account for their actions — and if necessary prosecuted — flies in the face of all that is just, humane and decent in a civilised world. Had Bloody Sunday happened in any other part of the UK, I imagine the backlash would have been catastrophic for the government.
Raymond Michael Cranley, Baldoyle, Dublin 13
Line of fire
Let us drop the myth that the army was not fired on during Bloody Sunday. It’s easy to forgive our soldiers for losing control in the middle of a gun battle once in decades.
Patrick Walker, by email
Word of advice
Now might be the time to draw a line under Bloody Sunday. One way the world will know there was a cover-up is to ensure the word “widgery” gets its due place in the dictionary. As you say, Lord Widgery’s inquiry “erroneously concluded that the soldiers had been fired on first”.
Finbarr Slattery Killarney, Co Kerry
Nationalists have recently laid, with great ceremony, a plaque commemorating Thomas Begley, who was killed when a bomb he was planting to blow up an Ulster Defence Association meeting exploded prematurely.
The nationalists want convictions after the Saville inquiry while not accepting any responsibility for their own actions. Justice is a two-way street. In our dash for peace and reconciliation we’ve never insisted Sinn Fein and the IRA go through the same process. We even let countless infringements by the Provisionals go unpunished.
Christian Garswood, by email
British troops fired into crowds of unarmed people who were running away or trying to shelter from the onslaught. Many were shot in the back or the head — several of them while attending to the dying or wounded. Shooting people in the back cannot be offset against other murders or wrongs.
Hugh McKenna, Bournemouth
Applaud Osborne for reaching out to China
CAMILLA CAVENDISH is a decade too late (“That’s our children’s future you’re selling to China, Mr Osborne”, Comment, last week). In 13 years of a Labour government nothing was done to bridge the gap between coal and the next- generation nuclear power, or any other means of securing our future energy supplies.
Added to this was a dumbing-down in education, with “Mickey Mouse” courses replacing core subjects such as mathematics, physics, chemistry and computer technology. Meanwhile, France and Germany were powering ahead in engineering and nuclear sciences, and years before us had been tapping the markets in India and China.
George Osborne should be congratulated for confronting the problem, and taking the initiative to provide important employment and training for the next generation of nuclear physicists and engineers — always supposing that Michael Gove’s reforms succeed.
Sheila Jones, Evesham, Worcestershire
Cavendish is spot-on. I was embarrassed to watch Osborne go to China, begging bowl in hand, and to learn that its totalitarian regime is to invest in this country’s critical infrastructure. It must be obvious to even the most simple-minded of our political class that the Chinese, with their new-found wealth giving them access to global commercial markets, are on a mission to take over the world. You only need to look at their activities in Africa for proof of this.
If we can no longer afford to build our own nuclear power stations, and the Chinese are to be our new best friends, then surely we no longer need Trident missiles, or GCHQ.
Kevin Hunt, Corsham, Wiltshire
When I was at university in the 1960s we always thought that optimists learnt Russian and pessimists learnt Chinese. How wrong we were.
Eric Richards, Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear
Police out of order on Mitchell
AS A retired police officer, I say we can trust the force (“Can we trust the police?”, Focus, last week). However, I cannot believe that three Police Federation officers still deny, despite a tape recording, that Andrew Mitchell gave them an explanation of the row in Downing Street. They should be suspended, at least while further investigations are carried out. Mitchell has my sympathy.
David Lovell, Golberdon, Cornwall
Called to account
Your article highlighted the amount of compensation paid out by the Metropolitan police to settle complaints, a sum not dissimilar to that paid by the NHS, another public body seemingly in denial and considering itself above the law. The irony is that most of the people in power retain their jobs in spite of the fact that they failed to address the problems in the first place.
Derrick Scholey, Sheffield
Many Christians will be embarrassed by your article “Christian sues over Sabbath working” (News, last week). The caring professions and the emergency services require seven-day cover and most Christians working in these areas will surely see it as their prime responsibility to be a conscientious employee and a supportive colleague. This will include taking their turn for Sunday and other “unsociable” shifts. If they demand a right to be exempt from Sunday work, their colleagues, who might wish to share their Sundays with their families, will have to shoulder a greater burden. Can a Christian accept that with a clear conscience?
The Rev Dr John Harrod, Bodmin, Cornwall
Case for the defence
Azerbaijan is not a tyranny, or its president a tyrant (“SAS hired out to woo tyrant of Azerbaijan”, News, last week). There is long-standing defence co-operation between our countries and it should not come as a surprise that UK special forces train Azerbaijani counterparts. This is essential for further strengthening the Azerbaijani army, not for silencing domestic opposition, as you implied in the article.
Fakhraddin Gurbanov, Ambassador of Azerbaijan, London W8
You state that “Charles and Diana spent their wedding night at Northmore in Suffolk” (“Propping up princes for 50 years”, News Review, last week). I watched a train, said to have the newlyweds on board, bound for Broadlands, the Mountbatten estate near Romsey in Hampshire, which was put at their disposal for the start of a honeymoon.
Peter Robson, Basingstoke, Hampshire
Tarquin Hall writes that Mahatma Gandhi adopted the notion of celibacy from Leo Tolstoy (“The making of him”, Books, October 13). As a young man Tolstoy was dissolute, visited brothels and had affairs with serfs. Later his wife Sofia bore him 13 children. Hardly a celibate life.
Sam Banik, London N10
An Oxbridge too far
Kate Spicer reports that the new Cambridge Brew House sits between three colleges: Christ Church, Sidney Sussex and Jesus (“Cheers! Coming soon to a boozer near you”, Magazine, last week). In that case the pub must be in Bedford, which is indeed central to all three, given that Christ Church is in Oxford.
Ann Keith, Grantchester, Cambridgeshire
In your article “Second-home owners bring huge benefits, says minister” (News, last week) Kris Hopkins, the new housing minister, dismisses suggestions that wealthy city- dwellers are fuelling the shortage of affordable housing in the countryside and says that they bring a catalogue of benefits, including generating jobs and boosting the wider economy. How? The only employment they might generate is for cleaners and gardeners and there is already a dire shortage of them in this neck of the woods. I suppose these workers — along with the cost of housing — will now become beyond our means. It would be sensible for Hopkins to give some thought to the fact that most Conservative constituencies are rural and to stop coming out with such nonsense.
Clive Cowen, Ramsden, Oxfordshire
John Cleese, comedian, 74; Francis Fukuyama, philosopher, 61; Glenn Hoddle, footballer, 56; Simon Le Bon, singer, 55; Joseph Medicine Crow, Native American historian, 100; Maria Mutola, athlete, 41; Kelly Osbourne, reality TV star, 29; Vanessa-Mae, violinist, 35
1914 birth of Dylan Thomas; 1958 Iskander Mirza, president of Pakistan, deposed in a coup; 1962 Major Rudolf Anderson of the US air force becomes the only person killed by enemy fire in the Cuban missile crisis when his U-2 is shot down; 1986 Big Bang: deregulation of the London stock exchange
Corrections and clarifications
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SIR – As I looked through this week’s issue of the Radio Times I added up the hours that were dedicated to cookery programmes.
They accounted for the grand total of 28 hours. I am interested in food as much as anyone, but surely this is too much.
Could that be why we have so many obese people in this country?
SIR – The proof of the pudding is in the size of the audience.
SIR – Lieutenant General Sir Paul Newton is rightly fighting for the retention of the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, and there is a good case for it.
But you also reported that General Sir Nick Houghton, the Chief of the Defence Staff, was again criticising those who complained of the demise of the Territorial Army as taking a “Victorian” view of military power.
Whoever advised the MoD to scrap the brand “Territorial Army” in favour of “Army Reserves” has taken no account of history. The TA has served the nation well since it was formed in 1908. Its role has always been to support the regular force, not to replace it. Moves in the past to integrate the two have failed.
As the Army Commander’s adviser in the early Eighties I was sent to brief the secretary of state and the minister for the Army on why their ideas on integration wouldn’t work. It was then proposed instead to raise the establishment of the TA and Home Service Force to 94,500. When the Berlin Wall came down, we had more than 85,000, with plans to reach the target.
As a result of the end of the Cold War, the then secretary of state and the Chief of the General Staff said that there was no role for the TA. They were immediately told that there were at least four: support to the regular Army; duties in aid of the civil power; defence of the realm; and the unexpected.
Stuffed with a diet of cookery programmes
26 Oct 2013
All have come to pass since. Well over 20,000 Territorials have served in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan, many with distinction. The Army Medical Services in particular would have found it hard to cope without help from the TA.
The present plan to drop the brand, disband numerous units and unnecessarily move others will not raise the Army reserve strength by 2020 (or later) to anywhere near the 30,000 projected.
And whoever thought of privatising recruiting? Current plans will not attract recruits or the support of many employers.
The plans for both the regular Army and its reserves should be halted before further damage takes place.
Brigadier TA, 1982-85
Ashford in the Water, Derbyshire
SIR – I write as an ex-Fusilier among 500 who proudly marched to Parliament last week. If the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and other regular units are cast aside before recruitment of reservists to replace them is achieved, then the Army’s necessary fighting strength as decided in 2010 will not be reached.
Recruiting (now privatised so that there are no longer local recruiting offices) is failing miserably. Ending up with a reserve Army of 30,000 is a pipe dream.
The right thing to do is at least suspend regular unit disbandment plans immediately, pending the final outcome of the recruitment fiasco.
The next King
SIR – It would appear that the Prince of Wales is in no rush to take on the role of monarch.
The solution is simple. He could step aside and allow the Duke of Cambridge to become heir apparent to the throne.
Prince Charles could then continue with his many interests for the rest of his life knowing that our monarchy will be in very capable and popular hands.
If he took this route, we should admire his generosity and common sense.
SIR – I remember one of those present in 1894 when the four monarchs, Victoria and the future Edward VII, George V and Edward VIII were recorded on film. My great-grandfather, Robert Box of the firm W & D Downey’s, took that photograph. He died in 1936 aged 96.
Mrs Merkel’s phone
SIR – Angela Merkel grew up in one of the worst examples of a Communist police state. With the demise of the old East Germany, she could have been forgiven for thinking she had left all that behind.
Now, as Chancellor of a united Germany, she finds herself spied on by intelligence services working for the leaders of the free world, who she thought were her allies.
Blandford Forum, Dorset
SIR – Mrs Merkel should accept General de Gaulle’s maxim: “States do not have friends, only interests.”
SIR – The notion that world leaders are the sort of people we should intuitively trust is ridiculous. A boss once advised me that if ever I had something to tell someone which I really, truly didn’t want others to overhear, I should never use a telephone.
Thus far I have managed my stroll through time without having to put off any telephone call. True, a few conversations would make me blush, but no more than that. However, I have never forgotten that advice from a rather clever boss.
Why, then, are national leaders so stupid?
SIR – When Sir James Dyson has finished designing all manner of silent fans, maybe he could turn his talents to packaging – and start by inventing a yoghurt pot foil cover that, when removed, does not squirt its contents all over the opener.
SIR – A great waste of food can occur with potatoes. Having run out, I urgently bought a
2.5-kilo bag from Asda last weekend. Their date for display was until October 21. Any unsold bags will have been dumped.
But yesterday I bought a 56lb sack of potatoes from my local farmer, which will last me all winter without any waste.
Alan J Burton
SIR – I am offended by the thousands of pumpkins on sale for Hallowe’en. Their sole purpose is to be hacked about and left to rot after this mindless celebration.
Autism and education
SIR – Next week, members of the House of Lords will discuss a crucial amendment to the Children and Families Bill. If adopted, it will mean local authorities will make decisions about whether to support disabled young people in education based on their individual needs and aspirations, and not on their age.
Young people with disabilities such as autism can and do thrive and succeed in further education. Yet currently, fewer than one in four access further education and fewer still go on to live independently.
The Children and Families Bill is the Government’s chance to reverse these trends. With the right education and support, disabled young people can become more economically active, and there is a long-term benefit to the state, to their own health and wellbeing, and to their families.
Chief executive, Ambitious about Autism
Chief executive, Disability Rights UK
Chairman, Association of Colleges
Chief executive, Association of National Specialist Colleges: Natspec
SIR – It is useful to be reminded that Grangemouth is part of a complex world-wide industry, where the circumstances have changed radically over the past half-century. Tired old jibes about heartless capitalist fat cats, or trade union chiefs recommending that their members should cut off their noses to save their face, are not helpful.
But did anyone actually explain the complexity of the subject to the workforce? Why was Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland, scuttling down at the last minute to deal with a subject that should have been at the forefront of his agenda long since?
SIR – The 1570 and 1535 Societies can remain but mere fledglings against the 1525 Society of Sedbergh School. The society calls for legacies from old boys and girls, helping Sedbergh power its way through the 488th year since its foundation.
Dutch auction over?
Wearing a sweater at home harms no one
SIR – Anyone over the age of 60 should be used to cold homes. In our childhood, only the very rich had central heating.
The advice to put on a woolly jumper is very sound – when I go into other people’s houses, I have to remove my jumper as it is too hot.
It is common sense only to heat the rooms that are in regular use. As a child, my bedroom was always cold and I am none the worse for this.
Northallerton, North Yorkshire
SIR – The advice to the elderly by Public Health England to heat only their living rooms during the winter daytime is not terribly helpful.
All of us have to be careful in limiting heating to certain rooms during the bleak mid-winter because bathrooms and kitchens – which have water supplies running to and from them – could get frozen and then bring absolute chaos to an affected household.
SIR – When I was feeling the cold in my snow-hole in Norway, a little vigorous exercise, a Mars bar and a mug of tea always brought on a glow that lasted for a few hours. It still works 40 years later.
SIR – Perhaps MPs would like to join those this winter who are only able to afford to heat one room during the day and their bedrooms for an hour at night.
SIR – The simple solution to reducing domestic energy costs is for the Government to remove the 5 per cent VAT on all bills. Or is this also forbidden by EU regulations?