Ellie andRichard

20 September 2014 Ellie and Richard

I jog around the park I still have arthritis in my left knee, but I manage to get round the park. A sunny but cool day. Ellie and Richard come to call.

Mary’s back much better today, breakfast wt up rabbit for tea and her back pain is still there.


Angus Lennie – obituary

Angus Lennie was a diminutive Scottish character actor who played Steve McQueen’s ‘cooler’ companion in The Great Escape

 Angus Lennie as Shughie McFee 'Crossroads' TV Programme. - 25 Jan 1979

Angus Lennie as Shughie McFee in Crossroads Photo: Rex Features

5:19PM BST 19 Sep 2014


Angus Lennie, who has died aged 84, was a comedian turned actor best known for his portrayal of a British airman in the classic wartime action film The Great Escape (1963); he became a household name playing Shughie McFee, the Scottish motel chef in the television soap Crossroads.

As the Hollywood star Steve McQueen’s “cooler” companion in The Great Escape, Lennie’s character, Flying Officer Archibald (“the Mole”) Ives, met a shocking end when he was machine-gunned after walking despondently to the perimeter wire of Stalag Luft III in broad daylight as if in a daze and clambering up it.

After nearly reaching the top, he was strafed with bullets by a guard in the watchtower, and Ives’s body was left hanging lifeless on the wire. “I had to wear a jacket lined with blanks with a steel inner [layer] next to my body,” Lennie remembered. “There was a wire down my trouser leg which went across the street, where some guy pressed a button and all the bullets exploded outwards. Luckily, there were only two takes.”

Trained as a dancer, Lennie worked as a comedian before going into straight acting. He always reckoned that the American director John Sturges cast him in The Great Escape because he made McQueen look very tall: as the USAAF officer Virgil Hilts, McQueen stood only 5ft 9ins while Lennie was a diminutive 5ft 1in.

Despite criticism about many inaccuracies in the film, Lennie’s character was based on a real prisoner-of-war, who scaled the fence in plain sight , apparently knowing it was suicide. The film was a huge international hit and has become a bank holiday television staple .

Lennie also appeared in another wartime adventure film 633 Squadron (1964) as Flying Officer “Hoppy” Hopkinson, describing the moment when he and the star Cliff Robertson had to escape from a burning aircraft as “the most frightening thing I ever did”.

“They used gas jets to simulate the fire but they didn’t take into account that the Mosquito was made of wood and it went up in flames. The close-ups of us scrambling to get out of the plane were real,” he recalled.

Angus Lennie as Shughie McFee and Noele Gordon as Meg in Crossroads

Angus Wilson Lennie was born on April 18 1930 in the east end of Glasgow and was encouraged to go into showbusiness at an early age by his stagestruck father. Educated at Eastbank Academy in Shettleston, he started as a song and dance man at the age of 14 with Jimmy Logan’s parents at the Glasgow Metropole and was a comic on the variety circuit before making the transition into acting at Perth Theatre in the late 1940s.

He worked with several repertory companies in Scotland and England and appeared on television as Sunny Jim, the “cabin boy” in Para Handy: Master Mariner (1959). His film breakthrough came the following year when he landed a part in Ronald Neame’s Tunes of Glory (1960), starring Alec Guinness and John Mills.

After The Great Escape, Richard Attenborough, who had appeared in it with Lennie, cast him in the film version of Oh! What A Lovely War (1969). Lennie appeared in two Doctor Who stories on television, The Ice Warriors in 1967, with Patrick Troughton, and Terror of the Zygons in 1975, with Tom Baker. He continued to be in demand in a number of Scottish supporting roles, including that of Mr Tumnus, the faun, in a 1967 television adaptation of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

Having made a one-off appearance in the ITV soap Crossroads as a travel agent in 1972, he was cast three years later as Shughie McFee, the hot-headed motel chef. His character suffered a breakdown in 1980 and Lennie made his last regular appearance the following year, returning briefly for a final time in 1985.

Between 2001 and 2003 he played Badger, the loyal valet to Earl Kilwillie (Julian Fellowes) in the BBC’s Monarch of the Glen.

He appeared regularly in Scottish pantomimes — in 1990 he and the comedian Stanley Baxter were the Ugly Sisters at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh — as well as in regional English theatre.

Angus Lennie, born April 18 1930, died September 14 2014


Scots turn out to vote in Scottish referendum A motorcyclist takes his daughter for a spin in the side-car of his bike as he rides through central Edinburgh. Photograph: EPA/ANDY RAIN

The opening salvoes in the debate on the “West Lothian Question” have already been fired by Cameron and Farage, but they are woefully off target (Scotland’s history-makers, 19 September). The current arrangements have worked well through changing circumstances over the 35 years since the question was first put and will continue to work. When a joint arrangement is an unequal one between partners of different sizes, the smaller partners need additional tools to even up the disparity and having a seemingly unfair voice in the larger partner’s “private” business is such a tool. If Scottish constituency MPs sought to act in concert in an anti-English way, they would be immediately put down by the English majority, so the problem as it is stated does not really exist.

The existence of an English parliament would do nothing to address the disparity in wealth and opportunity that exists in the poorer parts of England – and indeed would make it worse because it would further centralise power and resources, rather than spread them. In the wake of the Scottish referendum it is the “Westminster question” that needs asking. We must devolve power to viable elected regional and local democratic structures throughout the UK, be they city states built on to the remnants of the metropolitan counties in Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield, or regional assemblies.

There is now an opportunity to reverse decades of cancerous centralisation which has led directly to the rotting away of local government, the abysmal standard of both political debate and representation, and to the low esteem that those in politics are held. Yet on day one we are in danger of heading off in entirely the wrong direction.
David Helliwell
Holmfirth, West Yorkshire

• It was always predictable that once the result of the referendum had been announced in favour of the union, some politicians south of the border should proclaim the current settlement as discriminating against the downtrodden English. My understanding is that the UK parliament legislates for the whole UK and that the effects of that legislation may be modified or qualified according to local circumstances and the degree of responsibility devolved to local administrations, whether national parliaments or assemblies, or local government districts and counties.

It was not the Scottish MPs in the UK parliament who foisted on an unsuspecting England such abominations as the bedroom tax, the dismantling and selling off for private profit of the NHS, the failure to address the housing crisis, and the financial and blatantly political squeeze on local authorities, with its consequent destruction of essential public services. The responsibility for all this lies fairly and squarely with the Tory party, and its predominantly English MPs and supporters, who have dominated government within the UK for far too long, and who now see an apparent opportunity to permanently cement their English majority. I hope that this partisan opportunism will be seen for what it is and will be resoundingly kicked out along with its Tory authors in next May’s general election.
Paul Selby
Redhill, Surrey

• The referendum result is welcome and heartening. The prime minister’s instant reaction is neither. His false equation of the West Lothian question with “English votes on English laws” obviously foreshadows an attempt to fob us off with a clumsy constitutional fudge, pretending that MPs in English constituencies can be an acceptable substitute for an English parliament when they can provide no accountable English government, no English government departments or civil servants to staff them, no distinctive English elections, and no way of identifying draft legislation or other parliamentary business that will affect only England.

Increasing the powers of English local government bodies is similarly hopelessly inadequate. We English should refuse to accept anything short of our own parliament, with internal self-government at least equal to what is now promised to Scotland; and that inevitably requires, in turn, the extensive safeguards against English domination that only a full federal system can provide. Mr Cameron’s promise to solve these monumental constitutional issues, along with further devolution to Scotland, on the same timetable, within a few months, is frankly ludicrous.

Labour’s feeble and non-committal response to these great issues is terribly disappointing, especially after it was left to Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown to supply the intellectual and emotional case for preserving the United Kingdom. LibDem support for federalism is sound, but the LibDem voice is half-hearted and almost inaudible. We face the depressing prospect that the only political leader making the incontrovertible case for an English parliament and government is Nigel Farage. Labour needs to act urgently to prevent Ukip’s support for what plainly needs to be done becoming its kiss of death.
Brian Barder

• I am pleased Scotland voted no, but understand why many yes voters sought to give a complacent, self-serving British establishment a pasting. I hope people of good heart now push for a new UK settlement to create a more federal country like Germany. This new UK will have a written constitution and bill of rights enshrined in British law, written in ordinary English that students can learn at school and immigrants can read when they settle here. It will define us as citizens not subjects, declare us all to be equal under one law, and enshrine our commitment to live sustainably within our means.

It will create an English parliament to sit alongside Scotland’s, Wales’ and Northern Ireland’s, devolve powers to the regions (allowing them to keep a percentage of VAT), and allow cities to retain a percentage of income tax and business rates, encouraging innovation and addressing the regional poverty that blights us. I hope this also diminishes Ukip. The problem has never been the EU; it’s the British establishment that prevent this nation from becoming a modern democracy. Let all who want positive change encourage whatever party they support to bring a new settlement to all the UK’s people.
Christian Vassie

• Following the inclusive Scottish campaign, we cannot allow plans for English devolution to be rushed through in weeks by the same discredited group of Westminster politicians. Nor can we permit the arguments to be hijacked by the Tory party. We must prevent a narrow Westminster-based solution with the added sops of extended powers to a handful of big cities. Each of us deserves a say on fundamental changes to our constitutional settlement. If it was right for five million Scots, it must be right for 50 million English.
Nigel Watson
Leyburn, Yorkshire

• In the face of a few polls suggesting a yes majority in the Scottish referendum, the three major English party leaders showed the collective backbone of a jellybaby. In their panic to bribe the Scots at the expense of English voters, they have handed an issue to Ukip on a platter. They will not be able to placate English voters with promises of English devolution, an issue which most of them find tedious and irrelevant and Ukip would enjoy asking them if they really want more politicians in their lives. Ed Miliband would have the additional problem of explaining why he is consulting voters on English devolution but continuing to deny them a referendum on EU membership.
Richard Heller

• And there I was thinking it was about Scotland’s future and it turns out to be about the English parliament.
Saveria Campo

So it’s a no, but only just. And what a journey. I wonder if it might have made a difference if the yes had been to stay and the no a big negative to the union. There was something about the yes for me, as a Scot living in Birmingham, that made it feel disloyal to Scotland not to want to go with the yes. No might have felt less of a rallying cry and the results might not have been so close. And what of tribalism, anyway? The Breathes There the Man poem by Sir Walter Scott, which I recited at school, has hugely tribal sentiments; and I proudly waved a Scottish flag at the annual gala march. We bullied the English girl who came to our primary school. Then I went to live in Nigeria, during the Biafran war, and witnessed the effects of tribal hatred – of course, it was about oil too – but decent Ibo academics were killed or forced to leave their homes and jobs. I began to have a feeling of being a citizen of the world: feeling the colossal unfairness that the accident of birth bestows. I felt I was not part of any cultural group there. This detachment from a group identity meant that there were no longer cultural clues to place people with: class, accent, clothes – nothing helped. Plus the fact that many intelligent people were poor and uneducated. So I had to take people as they presented themselves, to learn to read them using other, un-culturally cluttered, information cues.  

So here I am again, the same amount of Scottish as yesterday, but where yesterday it felt like a layer, a foundation of my being, today it feels somehow less important. It doesn’t matter today as it might have done if the yes vote had won, and Scotland had become an exclusive club, excluding me from being Scottish.

This is what I find difficult – the subtle difference between national identity, national characteristics and stereotypes. The Scots are … what? A continuum like every race, country, group, family. Now when I think “Scottish”, I am back to imagining a vast continuum that includes tartan and bagpipes, and that horrible chalky Edinburgh rock, through to trainfuls of drunken, puking, loudmouthed football fans; juxtaposed with my mother’s kind, bridge-playing, friends and my father’s decent, working-class, thoughtful parishioners.

When the no vote won, it felt like an enormous relief. I can still feel Scottish, then, perhaps even more so since not excluded. I can be as Scottish as I choose, whatever that means. Thank goodness. We are all world citizens. We might as well try to get along.
Judy Tweddle

Smartphones in the US are more direct (Letters, 19 September). An American friend recalled the time he roundly abused his phone, to be reproached by its sweet-toned voice reminding him that “I treat you with respect”.
Pat Lyes-Wilsdon

• I did enjoy your page three male totty (M&S advert, 19 September). It made one old lady very happy. Thank you.
Kay Ara
Trinity, Jersey

• Congratulations to the male members of the R&A golf club on voting to accept women (Report, 19 September). Now they’ll almost certainly have bigger and better balls. At Hogmanay, for example.
Fr Alec Mitchell

In your editorial on election day (18 September), you say that the debate now should lead to decentralised powers from Westminster. It seems to me that the Tories have been very clever – in fact they are already attempting to shore-up their power in London by addressing the West Lothian question, so that Scot’s MPs can’t vote in westminster on certain important English policies. See how rightwing England goes then. Combine that with a possible EU exit, and maybe the Guardian might consider it could have been more hopeful about an independant Scotland.

As someone brought up in England, having lived in Scotland for 20 years, I strongly believe an independent Scotland would have thrived. Many Guardian journalists wrote eloquently and passionately in favour of independence. The paper sided with the no campaign. If the promises of Cameron, Clegg, Miliband, Brown and Darling that Scotland will have prompt devolved powers in the event of a no vote prove hollow, I hope the Guardian does not shy way from exposing those politicians as dishonest opportunists, and reconsiders its position on the idea of Scottish independance.
John Macdonald

• The Conservatives may well be trying to take the initiative on future UK devolution, but before the dust settles on the referendum, we need to remind ourselves of a few facts. The union was almost destroyed by the Tories. Because they have been able to rely on support from the south of England, the have ignored the way in which they have alienated Scots in the last 35 years. What does it say of a political party that it has only one Westminster MP returned by Scots? No wonder Scotland was tempted by independence. Doesn’t it also speak volumes that Cameron had to rely on two Labour politicians to head the no campaign and save the union? Instead of jumping on the devolution bandwagon, the Tories ought to be asking themselves how can they engage more with people north of the border, how can they improve their standing in Scotland, how can they make their politics more acceptable to the whole of the UK and not just to the affluent south of England.
Arthur Gould
Loughborough, Leicestershire

• The Scottish debate has given us the opportunity for the most innovative debate on our constitution and politics since 1945. But much of the talk about devolution misses the main point. It may be readily accepted that local authorities should have more power within their localities. But the crucial need is for a constitutional counter to the power exercised  by dominant capital interests (increasingly foreign) through our national government. We need a system of regional governments – say eight English regions, alongside Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – playing a direct, constitutional role in the machinery of central government, for example, through mandatory representation in cabinets alongside departmental secretaries of state.
Richard Pengelly

• Now the Scottish people have demonstrated that the public are prepared to engage with politics when they feel that their vote counts, couldn’t this be the ideal opportunity to consider some form of proportional representation of regional representatives into a reformed second chamber?

And surely this is the time for Ed Milliband to lead the drive for fairer society, which was one of the main demands of those supporting the vote for independence. Limiting pay differentials between the CEOs and lowest paid staff, increasing taxes on the very highest paid and a review of property taxes would be a strong and welcome start in demonstrating that you don’t have to be Scottish to value fairness.
Steph Crutchley
Newton Abbot, Devon

• Now that the Scottish people have voted to remain within the United Kingdom, will our UK parliament instigate an international programme of education to inform the wider global community that the terms “England”, “Great Britain” and “United Kingdom” are not synonymous. Further, will all media organisations promise to take steps to correct interviewees, correspondents and contributers when they use the terms inappropriately. It may seem a trivial matter to some, but with repetition comes resentment.
Hugh Craig

• David Ward (Letters 18 September) should indeed incorporate swithering into his vocabulary. He should also add scunnered – as I am today.
Tom McFadyen

• In the wake of the Scottish referendum result the PM is dangerously wrong to press for “English votes for English laws” as the answer to the West Lothian question. Such an arrangement would be utterly inconsistent with the constitutional doctrine of responsible government. For instance, it is entirely possible that a future Labour administration would have enough UK-wide MPs to govern the UK while the Conservatives formed a majority in England. What then? Will we have two administrations sitting side by side in the House of Commons responsible to two classes of representatives? How will executive government be conducted in these circumstances? For instance, if the English executive loses the confidence of English MPs will there be an UK-wide general election? And so on. In practice, Cameron’s proposal is not a solution to the West Lothian question but a recipe for chaos and ultimately the dissolution of the UK.
Richard Edwards
Senior lecturer in law, University of Exeter

• Surely the answer is staring us in the face: the House of Commons becomes the English parliament; the House of Lords becomes the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Elected! By PR. The remaining questions: What would the leaders be called? If one of them is prime minister, how about the other being first lord of the Treasury? That way, 10 Downing Street wouldn’t have to change its letter box. Oh, but where would the other one live? No 11? No 12? We’d better have that constitutional commission…
Ian Chown

• I was moved almost to the point of tears when I saw 16- and 17-year-olds enthusiastically entering the polling booths in their school uniforms to cast their vote in the referendum. Surely Westminster needs to move on this very quickly and amend the Representation of the People Act to lower the voting age and extend the franchise in time for the 2015 general election? We could even motivate young people by allowing them to vote in school.

However, I’m under no illusions that the Westminster establishment will find procedural and other reasons to block this.
Steve Flatley

• So UK citizens aged 16 and 17 voted for the very first time. Many older Scots voted for the first time for a long time; some for the first time ever. People have been involved, excited, engaged and empowered in a political discussion as never before. The political landscape in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as in Scotland has been changed. No small achievement.
Chris Birch

• The Scottish referendum must be taught in schools. Scotland has gained worldwide admiration for its ingenuity, rationality and democratic performance. No deployment of tanks and military personnel such as the case in the Crimean peninsula, no electoral fraud and rigging as the case in many parts of the world, and most importantly, no illegal forms of voter intimidation. The voting was a happy ending, a colourful demonstration of a strong sense of belonging to the UK. The UK has asserted itself as the bastion of freedom and democracy. As Cameron put it: “Now it is time for our United Kingdom to come together and move forward.”
Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob

• What a relief! Never again should there be a referendum on secession in this island. A decision based on a simple majority, which could for example be affected by the weather on the day, is not appropriate for a choice so massive and final. But more than that, after 300 years and all we have been through together, surely the island belongs to everyone.
Myer Salaman

• Following the result of the Scottish referendum, I have a suggestion for our relatives, friends and neighbours north of the border, beginning perhaps with those in Glasgow and Dundee. It has occurred to me that in Italy there is a Northern League, which works to defend the privileges of that country’s northern cities. Our northern cities, both English and Scottish, have fewer privileges to defend, but we could work together to promote their prospects in the face of the strong power base in the south-east of England. How about it Liverpool, Tyneside and Hull?
Kate Allen
Guisborough, Cleveland

• It is to be hoped that the result of the referendum will be seen as a massive rejection of nationalism and independence and that the concepts will be put to bed for good. There is then a need to rebuild relationships which have been damaged during the campaign and two steps would help to accomplish this. First, Alex Salmond should recognise that his personal credibility as leader has been rejected and he should resign. Second, the SNP has lost its ultimate raison d’etre and should re-name itself: the Scottish Democrats would be a possibility.
Dr D J Rowe
Newcastle upon Tyne

• Now that the Scottish referendum has settled their question “for a lifetime”, please remind me why the European one of 1975 no longer applies.
Mike Mulliner
Belper, Derbyshire

• Thank you, Scotland. Memo to the UK parties: Keep your promises, devolve powers, and give England a voice. Strengthen the Union by three simple immediate steps: 1) Make it clear that God Save the Queen is the British national anthem: tell English teams never to play it before a game; 2) Rename the Bank of England the British Reserve Bank; 3) Disestablish the Church of England.

Get on with it: England expects.
Ian Turner
Melbourne, Derbyshire

• So good to see the democratic process working in Scotland, despite the absence of the promise of a referendum in the Conservative 2010 manifesto. In the interests of democracy, could we please have the opportunity to vote on new party manifestos and a properly constituted conference before new laws for devolution in England and the rest of the UK are passed, or indeed could we have a referendum on the issue? Anything else will be a gross misuse of political power and a denial of democracy, for the rest of the UK.
Dr John Crossman
Sherborne, Dorset

Having supported the yes campaign pretty much throughout, I had tears in my eyes this morning when it was a no. Tears of thanks, relief and of being deeply moved. That after all this, Scotland is not going – it’s not over. Some very important things have been said, felt, explored, dreamed and Scotland is going to stay – for the time being, at least.

I know of course that it was never going to be a complete and acrimonious separation. And I know that independence might have led to something extraordinary; a new paradigm for life on this island, that may even have spilled over to the south one day. But right here right now there’s just relief that Scotland and England are not parting ways. That after everything has been said, we are staying together.
Tim Foskett

• As an Englishman who spent several happy years living and working in Scotland, I commiserate with those who voted for independence. A golden opportunity to create a fairer society has been missed. Burns got it right: “We’re bought and sold for English gold. Such a parcel of rogues in a nation.”
Paul Hewitson

• A narrow escape for Cameron, whose cavalier approach nearly sank the union, thanks to Gordon Brown, whose passionate oratory probably saved it.
Roy Boffy

• Thank God. Scotland is trusting us to drive for real change now. We must sort the lack of UK democracy out, especially in England. We mustn’t let their trust down! Now we all have a real chance in our future together. Well done to both sides in the debate. (And can we please have this Gordon Brown back? Labour, heed: timidity gets you nowhere.)
Olivia Byard
Witney, Oxford

• And there I was thinking it was about Scotland’s future and it turns out to be about the English parliament.
Saveria Campo

• If nothing else the Scottish referendum stands as a reminder that it is not the people who are unwilling to engage in real political debate, it is the politicians.
Jane Thomas
Eglwyswrw, Pembrokeshire

• I suppose it’s too late to check the hanging chads, isn’t it?
Simon Aves

• Alex Salmond must be the most relieved man on the planet.
Jim Eccleston
Alicante, Spain

• Being half Scottish, the result for me showed two important things that our politicians should note: 1) That almost half the population of Scotland is disillusioned with English rule. 2) That 97% of the population actually voted, revealing a strong commitment to the democratic process. For me it was summed up by the words of an old man from a poor estate interviewed for the BBC who said: “Whatever the outcome, it shows that a large percentage of Scots are disillusioned with all three party leaders.”

If there can be one lesson to be learnt from this, it should be for Cameron, Clegg and Miliband to seriously reconsider their values. For Cameron, the shameful attacks on the NHS and for the poor in our society; for Clegg, his shameful about-turn on student fees; and for Miliband, following in the footsteps of Tony Blair, his rejection of the true values of the Labour party. If we are a truly democratic country, could we please have a referendum on essential decisions such as the NHS.
Lorraine Haldane
Hove, Sussex

• Three factors are required for a high turnout: a clear choice; a strong campaign on both sides; and continuing doubt about the outcome. This enables the maximum number of voters to feel qualified to decide, to be encouraged to vote whatever their preference, and to believe their personal choice has consequences. This conjunction is relatively rare, as are very high turnouts.
Paul Martin

• Clearly some of the yes vote reflected support for the SNP. However, when it comes to major cities like Glasgow, it was surely something rather more than that. The grassroots anti-austerity campaigning of the left made its voice heard and felt. No doubt Mr Cameron will continue to ignore that voice as he has since 2010, but Mr Miliband would do well to take note. The referendum vote was about much more than yes or no to independence.
Keith Flett

• Further to Niall Cooper’s suggestion (Letters, 19 September) that parliament should move out of London, wouldn’t now be a very good time to announce that the capital of the still United Kingdom was to move to Edinburgh? This would demonstrate the establishment’s commitment to Scotland, help to rebalance the British economy and defuse the absurd London housing market all in one go.
Peter Malpass

• Now the result is in, can we think about the phrase “devo max” a bit more carefully. It surely should not be taken to mean just a few extra tax-raising powers (which a future Westminster government could nullify by cutting Scotland’s block grant), but rather maximum devolution, that is, full home rule.

When around 40% of the total electorate say they would like to leave the union and a large number on the other side are undoubtedly in favour of substantial change, something on this scale is clearly what is required. And that in turn demands careful consideration of the implications for the structure of the UK state as a whole. Rushing through badly thought-through, piecemeal legislation is not the answer.
Richard Middleton
Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway


A number of positive things came out of the referendum, civility and engagement being just two, but I feel the most important was the huge turnout. We need to look  at how we can replicate  this in every election, whether for council, Parliament or EU in every part of the United Kingdom so that we get the type of Government we want.

It seems to me that a key element for the huge turnout was that the Scottish people not only thought it was important but felt also that their individual vote counted and would affect the final result.

 This morning we hear again about the West Lothian question. Rather than this being divisive could this not be an opportunity to tackle the issue, along with the need for people to feel that their vote counted? Is it not time to look again seriously at proportional representation as a solution? It could help Labour, which feels threatened by some possible solutions to the West Lothian question, and would help engage people who feel their vote does  not matter.

John Simpson
Ross on Wye

With a conclusive result against independence, Scotland is now in a “win, win” by having the comfort and security of staying in the UK and yet more devolved powers given to our Parliament.

The remarkable turnout of 84 per cent endorses the result of the referendum and kicks independence into the long grass for the foreseeable future as the people of Scotland have now spoken loud and clear in the matter.

Dennis Forbes Grattan
Bucksburn, Aberdeen


I am a Scottish voter who cast his vote in the referendum on the Yes side. I had many reasons for doing so, but by far the largest one was that I am constantly angered and shamed at the things the UK government does around the world, supposedly in my name. Our national Government is base and evil and without any moral compass. I had hoped that the new Scottish nation could break free from this and forge its own path as a real democracy, with a foreign policy which reflects the wishes of its people. What I am left with is the feeling of being trapped in a system which will never change and which will continue to make enemies around the world for years to come.

Ross McCleary 
West Lothian

As the collective sigh of relief echoes around Westminster and the City of London, it would be encouraging to think that lessons have been learned. Firstly, that the democratic process thrives on passionate debate and vision. The chances of next year’s election producing a healthy turnout will not be helped if Messrs Cameron, Miliband and Clegg continue in their current styles. I do not wish to see misty-eyed declarations of what they “passionately believe in” but I want to hear their passionate advocacy of their radical solutions to the issues that confront our country. Bland, anodyne party politics is killing UK democracy at its roots.

The second lesson is that many found the threatening, bullying pronouncements from the leaders of the financial and business world distasteful to say the least. Our political leaders must have the strength to resist threats from unelected figures, who often speak only for themselves and their vested interests. If fear of change drives our future the outlook is bleak and our decline assured.

John Dillon

It was a Scottish Labour MP, Tam Dalyell in 1977 (yes, 37 years ago), who pointed out the obscene unfairness of Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh MPs voting on issues that pertained only to England.  Why have Labour and Conservative governments taken so long to address the West Lothian question?

Stewart Birks
Northfield, Invergordon

The Scottish referendum must be taught in schools. Scotland has gained worldwide admiration for its ingenuity, rationality and democratic performance. No deployment of tanks and military personnel such as the case in the Crimean peninsula, no electoral fraud and rigging as is the case in many parts of the world, and most importantly, no illegal forms of voter intimidation.

The voting was a happy ending, a colourful demon- stration of a strong sense of belonging to the United Kingdom. The UK has asserted itself as the bastion of freedom and democracy. As Mr Cameron put it, “now it is time for our United Kingdom to come together and move forward”.

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob

A tragedy that Scotland voted No. I was looking forward to Nigel Farage (why isn’t it pronounced Faridge?) bleating on about repatriating the Scots who live in the rest of the UK.

Keith Barnes

The answer to the English question is so obvious that politicians can’t see it: abolish the House of Lords, put an elected English assembly in its place and make the House of Commons the upper house, with over-arching authority over all four national parliaments.

Michael Leapman

Our political ‘‘leaders’’ may well be feeling some relief at Scotland’s choice to stay with the Union but none of them can claim victory: the vote went the way it did not because of them but in spite of them. Not only David Cameron but also Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg jeopardised the very fabric of our country through their obstinacy, their ignorance and arrogance. We don’t need a referendum to know that the people of Britain have no confidence or belief in these stuffed shirts.

Julian Self
Milton Keynes

The disunited kingdom may thank those who behaved poorly during the course of the Scottish referendum. It reminds the rest of us of the dangers of nationalism. Like Mr Farage, Mr Salmond can- not easily control fellow-travellers. As we know from the past, other potential nationalist leaders may not even want to.

Cole Davis


In victory, the leader of the Better Together campaign, Alistair Darling, has proclaimed the primacy of unity over division. Yet he was part of a government that presided, untroubled, over the longstanding division of Ireland.

Throughout the campaign, a definite hypocrisy and dishonesty has been at work, and David Cameron’s government has no option now but to support and facilitate the unity of Ireland, without delay, in the interest of justice and democracy.

Cadhla Ni Frithile
Wexford, Ireland

Scotland’s decision, followed by Cameron’s announcement of a “fair settlement for all parts of the UK”, presents the problem of the disproportionate size and power of an English assembly. Suppose that there were not just one ‘‘English assembly’’ but several, with each assembly serving a population of, say, eight to 10 million.

This would offer not only the benefits of equity and balance, but could also build on institutions already in existence (the mayoralty of London, for one), while directly addressing the opportunity to devolve more power to large cities. The parliament in Westminster would be the seat of the government; the next level would be Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and a series of regional assemblies across England – with names, perhaps, such as Mercia, Wessex or Northumbria.

Dennis Sherwood
Exton, Rutland

Before folk in England rejoice at the thought of a form of devolution, they should reflect on the reality of the Welsh Assembly. Here we have an over-manned talking shop, distributed across an archipelago of expensive and ultra-modern office blocks that stand half empty in small rural towns “distributing democracy” to a disillusioned population.

English regional administrations will have exactly the same disposition to providing themselves with equally well-provided accommodation. Instead of streamlining the British government in our medium-sized country, with its faltering economy, we have chosen to expand admin-istration and entangle ourselves with a multi-layered series of govern- ments when we could have reinvented ourselves as a federation of states, governed by a House of Commons and an elected second house. We have another British fudge of confusion that will preserve the Etonian/Harrow ruling elite beneath a phoney veneer of radical reform.

Vaughan Thomas
Gwent, South Wales

In the midst of his relief that the UK is still intact, Mr Cameron would do well to consider how close his government and its policies came to destroying it. With almost half of Scotland voting to quit the Union, I am not sure anyone can call this a victory. Can I suggest he prioritise social cohesion and a sense of justice throughout the country that is felt by all. With that in mind, he would do well to immediately scrap the Bedroom Tax, a levy so disastrously conceived that it has gone a long way to almost changing the shape of the nation.

 Mike Galvin


Sir, Your editorial “For Valour” (Sept 19) quite rightly highlights the greed and crassness displayed by the RFU. I am, however, disappointed by the opinion in the final paragraph as to the action which the RFU might now take. The only decent course of action is to withdraw the shirts from the market immediately. To allow their continued sale would set a most undesirable and unhealthy precedent.
David Jones
Tring, Herts

Sir, These shirts should be scrapped immediately; that is the only acceptable apology, but I suppose that money will win and the RFU will brazen it out.
WR Armstrong

Sir, I have no intention of purchasing an overpriced England shirt. I do, however, propose to make a donation to the Victoria Cross Trust.
Hilary Hardie
Nassington, Northants

Sir, Stephen Pollard (Thunderer, Sept 18) is wrong: homeopathy can be a matter of opinion since interpretation of evidence is debatable. The researcher Dr Klaus Linde has written of the confusion of “too many anomalous results in high quality studies to rule out a relevant phenomenon”, and a research group from the University of York reported in 2010 on eight systematic reviews providing evidence that the effects of homeopathy were beyond placebo for a range of childhood conditions. The existence of meteorites was formerly dismissed, and journals rejected early reports of manned flight. It is always thus with developments that break the mould. Allegations of quackery, however, with its moral undertone, are uncalled for.
Earl Baldwin of Bewdley
formerly Joint Chairman, All Party Parliamentary Group for Integrated Healthcare), House of Lords

Sir, I am 86 years old. I recently switched my eight-seater Peugeot 505 diesel estate for a secondhand five-seater Ford Focus diesel with a smaller engine. My comprehensive insurance went up from £340 to £1,017. I wonder if this is an example of an increased charge as depicted in “Older drivers exploited by insurers”, (Sept 18)?
D Thomas
Rugeley, Staffs

Sir, As leaders of faith communities in Britain we believe that one significant contribution to a safer world is the abolition of nuclear weapons. It is unacceptable that British citizens should be persuaded that their security depends on a credible threat to kill millions of innocent people.

Our faith traditions reject the notion that reliance on the threat of mass destruction could ever be right. We believe the government should cancel the replacement of Trident. The £100 billion saved should be diverted to combating poverty at home and overseas; in providing affordable homes, and investing in education and the NHS.

The government must take a lead in current global initiatives which aim to create a nuclear weapon-free world. Our security does not exist in a vacuum: we must work for genuine global security in its many aspects. Tensions between states with nuclear weapons must not divert attention from initiatives that would give impetus to the goal of the non-proliferation treaty to bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament.

Cancelling Trident would be a momentous step in this direction. Britain can lead the way.

The Right Rev Stephen Cottrell
Bishop of Chelmsford

The Rev Sally Foster-Fulton
Convener of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council

The Rev Kenneth Howcroft
President, Methodist Conference

The Most Rev Malcolm McMahon
Archbishop of Liverpool

The Most Rev Barry Morgan
Archbishop of Wales and Bishop of Llandaff

Juliet Prager
Deputy Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain

The Rev John Proctor
General Secretary, The United Reformed Church

Sir, Is it too late to get my 1963 GCE exam papers re-marked, if only to stop old school friends who still allude to my remarkably poor performance?

Alan Phillips

Epping, Essex


Public-school boys: stars of the stage but not the pitch

When will football teams start recruiting at Eton?

Eddie Redmayne: QPR’s new goalie? Photo: Boo George

6:58AM BST 19 Sep 2014


SIR – Class discrimination is the current accusation levelled against the acting profession as a result of the coincidence of young stars such as Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne being products of leading public schools. It is, of course, nonsense, as Sean Connery, Michael Caine, James Corden and hundreds more starry Equity members demonstrate.

If you want empirical evidence of class discrimination, look no further than the Premier League. Why do no public school boys play for Chelsea, Manchester United or Everton? It is blatant prejudice.

What is Greg Dyke, the chairman of the Football Association (not, so far as I know, an old Etonian) doing about this?

Lord Grade of Yarmouth
London SW1

Road closures

SIR – One of London’s busiest roads, the North Circular, was closed recently because of a fatal accident. This is not uncommon and is always a tragedy.

The accident happened at 8.45am and the road was only partially opened at 6pm.This caused queues of over nine miles. All of north London was snarled up, and after 12 hours traffic was still at a crawl.

This happens after every accident. The police must do their job, but thousands of motorists and local residents must ask why it takes so long, when in most European countries the aim is to gather data and open the road again within three hours.

Russ King
London N11

Friendly shops

SIR – I agree with Jane Shilling about the virtues of individual shops (Comment, September 13). Having recently moved from a village, I miss its excellent shop, where staff knew all its customers. I’ve found a very good butcher, and enjoy the market, but nothing touches the friendly service of an individual shopkeeper.

Diana Goetz
Salisbury, Wiltshire

Bendy trend

SIR – Tony Hill (Letters, September 18) mentions an “electric soup maker”. This week, the Telegraph shop offered “lightweight and flexible ladies’ leather shoes”. What does it have for overweight and arthritic ladies?

T A Willetts
Tarporley, Cheshire

Recognising Palestine

SIR – The Conservative Middle East Council (CMEC) was established under Margaret Thatcher in 1980, following the Venice Declaration, when the then nine members of the European Community registered their concern over the continued building of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (Comment, September 17). They saw this as an obstacle to peace and resolved that the traditional ties and common interests which link Europe to the Middle East obliged them to play a special role in working towards that peace.

Thirty-four years later, we are no nearer to peace, and another 1,000 acres of the West Bank is to be taken over by settlers.

Britain, more than any country, has an obligation to the Palestinians and we should fulfil that obligation by recognising Palestine at the United Nations. As a good friend of Israel and Palestine, the UK has always supported a viable Palestine alongside a secure Israel, and we believe this vote will help to move us closer to that goal; at the very least it will mean that the Palestinians can sit a little taller at the negotiating table.

Baroness Morris of Bolton
Chairman, CMEC
Sir Nicholas Soames MP
President, CMEC
Sir Alan Duncan MP
Deputy Chairman, CMEC
Adam Holloway MP
Vice Chairman, CMEC
Dr Phillip Lee MP
Vice Chairman, CMEC

On board

SIR – Having been expelled from three convent boarding schools (Letters, September 15), I have some experience in this field. However brutal the reality (and mine was), there are advantages to be gained from boarding. The idea of leading two separate lives, one at school, one at home, is surely an engaging concept, and one cannot learn too early that life does not revolve around oneself. And why on earth should parents not have holidays? Mine certainly deserved them.

Jane Cullinan
Padstow, Cornwall

Better safe. . .

SIR – On checking into my hotel room, I was grateful for the warning displayed on my room safe, which was 6in by 4in across: “Caution – suffocation danger exists.”

John Stephen
Paphos, Cyprus

What’s behind the price of a good cup of coffee

The price of your latte may be rising, but the farmer in Colombia isn’t seeing the profits.

Full of beans: Brazil grows about a third of all coffee, making it by far the biggest exporter

Full of beans: Brazil grows about a third of all coffee, making it by far the biggest exporter  Photo: Paul Smith/Bloomberg

6:59AM BST 19 Sep 2014


SIR – In your leading article (September 16) about the rising cost of olive oil due to increases in wholesale prices, you suggest that readers should compensate by giving up their “outrageously priced cup of coffee from a shop”.

As a farmer who grows fine Arabica coffee in the Colombian Andes, I thought that your readers might be interested to ponder why those prices are so high, and only ever go in one direction, when the amount paid to growers for the coffee goes in the other.

The price that the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia (FNCC), the co-op of which I am a member, pays us for our coffee fluctuates in line with the international commodity exchanges.

Coffee is the second biggest traded commodity, in value, after oil. But while the price of fuel at the pump reflects the movements in the commodity exchanges, this does not happen with coffee. None of you is paying less for your coffee than you were three years ago. And yet the commodity price of a pound of coffee dropped from $3 (£1.89) in 2011 to around $1 (£0.65) in 2013.

Earlier this year, because of problems with the crops in Brazil and Central America, the price of coffee rose 34 per cent and it was announced that retail prices would have to rise, even though they had never stopped rising over the years that commodity prices were sinking so low.

Cafeteros (coffee farmers) cannot grow quality coffee more cheaply. It is labour-intensive, and we have to pay everyone who works with us every week because that is what feeds their families, puts a roof over their heads and educates their children.

When the coffee price is good, we are all happy. It is when the coffee prices fall, and the co-op, the government, and middlemen still take the same big cut that we start to get upset.

But we are not the only losers in this equation: you are, too, as you are paying an ever-rising price for something that costs a fraction of what it once did.

Next time you enjoy your fine cup of coffee, spare a thought for those of us who grew the beans that make it so special, and ask your supplier why the price has never reduced in line with the cost of those coffee beans.

Barry Max Wills
Anserma, Caldas, Colombia

The play’s the thing

SIR – Roger Croston (Letters, September 18) asks when the works of William Shakespeare will be translated into “everyday, understandable English”. The answer is that they are already understandable, and that any attempt to rewrite them would be a crime.

The trouble with Shakespeare is that too many of us (myself included) harbour traumatic memories of studying him at school: dry textual analysis with all the joy leached out.

Shakespeare never intended his plays to be pored over in this manner; he wrote for the stage, not the page. It is best to see his plays at the Globe, where they are presented with unmatched joie de vivre. And much of the theatre’s back catalogue is available on DVD.

Steve Howe
Grays, Essex

The genie of nationalism is out of the bottle and spreading intolerance to ever smaller communities

The United Kingdom is divided by nationalist intolerance.

Whether you're hoping for a Yes or No on independence: how to spend result night

Will the Scottish referendum inspire Cornwall and Yorkshire to demand self-governing powers? Photo: PA

7:00AM BST 19 Sep 2014


SIR – The nationalist genie is the idea that, if you have nothing in common with those elected to govern you, then you reduce the size of the electorate until you have. This genie is now out of the bottle.

So we have people in Yorkshire and Cornwall demanding self-governing powers. As we in North Wales have little in common with those in South Wales, why are we governed by them? Next those who use Welsh will be demanding that only Welsh speakers govern them, and the same with those who use English.

Nationalist intolerance – the belief that our own needs are different and more important than those of others – is continuing to cause most of the world’s conflicts.

Brian Christley
Abergele, Denbighshire

SIR – Scotland’s problem has been with Westminster, and the financial centre that is London, sucking all profit to itself, reserving its rewards for an international elite that never doubts its right to them, and, apart from a booming trade in exponentially priced second homes in favoured regions, excludes the rest of the United Kingdom.

Why don’t we all secede?

K M Stewart Hamilton
Sheerness-on-Sea, Kent

SIR – What grates with this Englishman is how, after making a complete mess of the referendum campaign, the three leaders of the “Westminster mafia” then tried to bribe, for that’s what it was, the Scottish electorate with our money.

J D Mortimer
Great Harwood, Lancashire

SIR – Mark Lauder (Letters, September 18) regrets the hijacking of the saltire by the Yes campaign.

The Cross of Saint George suffered the same fate many years ago at the hands of the National Front. Only in recent years have we seen it flown or exhibited with honour and esteem. I am still waiting for celebrations on April 23. Perhaps 2015 will be a good year in which to start.

Rosie Harden-Vane
Holywell, Northumberland

SIR – I was moved to tears when I read Neil Oliver’s Comment piece yesterday.

Whenever I am asked for my nationality, I always write or say, without thinking, “British”. Now I know why.

Sheila Culver
Hook, Hampshire

SIR – Exactly 70 years ago, after the launching of Operation Market Garden, the ferocious fighting at Arnhem was at its height. The brave men of the King’s Own Borderers played their full part, particularly in the defence of the landing grounds as the Paras fought heroically against the odds.

Yesterday, many Dutch homes, as I have seen, were flying flags in salute of their united action, while here the anniversary went almost unnoticed, as all attention was upon the question of whether the Scots would vote to split the Union.

Philip Morris
Cookham, Berkshire

SIR – When visiting Scotland, I have always felt that I was welcome and among friends. The rhetoric used during the campaign by the Scottish National Party has, sadly, destroyed that feeling. How many Englishmen and women feel the same?

Bryan Gane

SIR – I shall now view with great suspicion all those who live in Scotland, as I shall not know how each voted.

Robert Hood-Wright
Bodmin, Cornwall

SIR – The people of Scotland now need Archbishop Desmond Tutu to facilitate reconciliation between the opposing sides.

Barry Rochfort
Dereham, Norfolk

Irish Times:

A chara, – Bought and sold for English gold? No, this time it’s just a handful of magic beans. I’m waiting for England’s generous rolling out of the desperate promises they made to the Scottish people.

I’m not holding my breath. – Is mise,


Glasdrumman Mor,

Drumkeeran,Co Leitrim.

Sir, – I congratulate the Scottish people. Not for voting No, but for the manner in which they conducted themselves throughout the campaign. We listened to debates and opinions that were both robust and passionate but with few hysterics. Irish parliamentarians, please take note. – Yours, etc,


Riverside House,

Dunleer,Co Louth.

A chara, – The 307-year-old union as been saved. The people have spoken. Scotland remains part of the family of nations that make up the United Kingdom. However it does so amid a flurry of promises, vows and reassurances of further devolution and increased autonomy over tax, health and welfare. Much analysis will be done as to why the Better Together campaign succeeded. Some will cast blame on what many interpreted as scaremongering, with RBS and Lloyds banks threatening to move operations south of the border should independence have been endorsed. What has been intriguing is that economic arguments featured as the key to influence and not any ideology based on language, culture or identity. Scotland and its people have always had a clear and distinguished identity in this regard.

Westminster has made promises that it must keep with Scotland. Now that the genie is out of the bottle Westminster must give equal regard to other areas of the United Kingdom – Wales, England and Northern Ireland. Failure to do so would could lead those nations to feel “Bitter Together” and not “Better Together”. – Is mise,


Clare Village,

Malahide Road, Dublin 17.

Sir, – The will of the people of Scotland was determined with out the loss of one life. The biggest win of all. – Yours, etc,


Radolfzeller Strasse,

Allensbach, Germany.

Sir, – Repeated attempts to denigrate England failed to convince a fair-minded people. We, too, have had little else but slurs and put-downs from our propaganda-mills for a century. And where have our huddled masses, failed by this State, headed for? Why to England, of course, where they received full citizenship rights and plentiful opportunities. What a shame the Irish people were never asked. They would have settled for “Devo-Max”, but what they got instead was “Dev Max” and a partitioned country. – Yours, etc,


Ardmore Road,

Holywood, Co Down.

Sir, – As a Scot living in Ireland, I really don’t understand why so many people voted No but, like their children and grandchildren, who won’t understand it either, I fear that we’ll all live to regret it, and maybe in unexpected ways. The referendum was never actually about nationalism, or at least not in the anti-English sense that the No camp tried to paint it. It was about admitting that the politico-economic union of the last three centuries has simply run its course, and that Scotland and England have been moving in different directions for at least a generation now.

The socio-cultural union, which stretches back for a millennium or more, is rich and rewarding and we are very much “better together” in that sense. The overwhelming majority of Yes voters wanted it to continue yet, ironically, independence was the surest way to safeguard that it did. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.

Sir, – Interesting that David Cameron’s first act for Scotland is to ask an unelected peer, Lord Smith of Kelvin, to oversee the process of devolving more powers over tax, spending and welfare to Scotland. – Yours, etc,



Ballina,Co Tipperary.

Sir, – There are lesson for our European leaders in this. Let’s hope that they are alert to the effects the referendum will have across Europe and the need for substantial changes to give regions and the general population far more say in EU decisions. – Yours, etc,


O’Callaghan Strand,


Sir, – In what way was the result like a cold in the head? Sometimes the Ayes had it and sometimes the Noes. – Yours, etc,


Avenue Louise,


Sir, – Scotland the Brave? Yeah, right. – Yours, etc,


Stamer Street, Dublin 8.

Sir, – To the thoroughly disappointed – though by no means despondent – Scottish nationalists I say this – if at first you don’t secede, try, try again. – Yours, etc,


Beacon Hill,

Dalkey, Co Dublin.

Sir, – Scotland seems to be saying “Never, not now, possibly”. Remember that even Big Ian said yes eventually. – Yours, etc,


Clybaun Heights,

Knocknacarra, Galway.

Sir, – The Scots are a canny lot. It would appear they went along with Hilaire Belloc’s advice – “and always keep a-hold of nurse for fear of finding something worse”. – Yours, etc,


Marina Village,

Malahide, Co Dublin.

Sir, – The pollsters had it neck and neck, while Paddy Power had it by a distance. – Yours, etc,


Merlyn Park, Dublin 4.

Sir, – At least that’s the Scottish question answered – now know what’s not under the kilt. – Yours, etc,


Market Square,

Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath.

Sir, – I note that Enda Kenny (“Turn off tap when brushing teeth to save water’, says Kenny”, September 18th) has taken to endorsing the advice of Barney the Dinosaur, who sang “While I’m brushing my teeth and having so much fun, I never let the water run, no, I never let the water run”.

In the grown-up world, does the Taoiseach have any suggestions as to how cash-strapped citizens are going to pay €400 water bills? I’m all ears! – Yours, etc,


St Columba’s Villas,


Co Meath.

Sir, – I would hope that the regulator will include in any compensation scheme for contaminated water those households which must run a sinkful of water first thing each morning due to lead contamination from old pipework.

There are about 100 such households in Dundalk. – Yours, etc,




Co Louth.

Sir, – Your interpretation of the OECD position (Editorial, September 18th) that Ireland should “move sooner or later to end abusive tax avoidance” by multinationals should equally apply to ending our tolerance of mechanisms and regulatory interpretations that support social dumping on a continental scale.

In 2009, the Revenue Commissioners closed one loophole preventing the abuse of sole trader status as an acceptable means of engaging pilots in the Irish aviation industry. Unfortunately, the exploitation of pilots continued in an evolved model, requiring them to become directors of limited companies for no obvious benefit to the pilots themselves.

Ireland’s apparent tolerance for such “clever” arrangements brings our national good name further into disrepute. Ireland is increasingly seen as a peddler of cheap employment practices in the service of corporate engorgement.

Given its potential to destroy the lives of individual workers and to undermine the social fabric of society, it is past time to review the export of abusive social and employment practices from Ireland, as much as it is time to curb the abusive tax avoidance schemes that the OECD has so clearly identified. – Yours, etc,



Irish Airline

Pilots’ Association,

Corballis Park,

Dublin Airport.

Sir, – After three years and some media attention, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has had an epiphany and decided that cleaning positions may not be suitable for JobBridge, despite them appearing on JobBridge.ie for years (“Cleaners in schools ‘not best use’ of JobBridge, says Burton”, September 18th).

What I am disappointed by is how JobBridge has had a detrimental effect on jobseekers with disabilities. It was not until 2012 that most disabled people were given access to the scheme, while vision-impaired people continue to be barred.

The Department of Social Protection will tell you that there are “other schemes” for blind and disabled people, just as there were “other seats on the bus” for black people in the US before the civil rights movement. The positions I am qualified for are not advertised on schemes like the work placement programme or the other schemes “for my kind”. I did not put four years of my life into a degree just so I could go weaving baskets!

Would it not be better for the Minister to put her efforts into giving access to schemes to those who want the experience of work rather than wasting money by forcing people into positions they may not be interested in or suitable for? – Yours, etc,


Peter O’Donovan Crescent,

Ballincollig, Co Cork.

Sir, – When I read Gabrielle Brocklesby’s letter (September 19th) I had to go and dig out Jennifer O’Connell’s piece from last Monday (“Two men and a baby now so wonderfully ordinary”, September 15th). I expected a major full-page gay rights propaganda piece, driving home the benefits of having two fathers with remorseless logic and vigour. Instead I found a short, neatly written description of an encounter in a park with two parents of a newly born baby. Ms Brocklesby’s letter was longer than Ms O’Connell’s article!

If Ms Brocklesby wants us to challenge gay adoptive parents as to the whereabouts and psychological state of the natural mother of their child, then we should do so with all adoptive parents. This has nothing to do with same-sex marriage.

As a nit-picking aside, the article is written from California so the parents were never in Ireland, and the accompanying picture is obviously a stock photo, not an actual picture of the family.

It is essential that the Minister for Justice removes the issue of adoption from the debate by clarifying our adoption laws before any referendum. Let us discuss the issue of same-sex marriage on its merits and not have other issues brought in to confuse the issue. – Yours, etc,


Wilfield Road,


Dublin 4.

Sir, – John Bruton again asserts that the Easter Rising was unnecessary (on the basis of no evidence whatever) and that the offer of home rule should have been pursued (“Scotland shows 1916 Rising a mistake, says John Bruton”, September 18th).

Mr Bruton seems to have forgotten that the Irish people overwhelmingly voted in the 1918 general election for independence and this exercise in democracy was comprehensively dismissed and disregarded by the British government, which decided to meet the wishes of the Irish people with military might.

Perhaps Mr Bruton could explain how the Irish were at fault here? Perhaps he could also let us know if he considers that any of Britain’s colonies were right to take up arms in a bid for freedom ?

Maybe if the American people hadn’t had the temerity to seek and win independence they might be expecting an offer of home rule any day now. – Yours, etc,


Newtown Road,

Celbridge, Co Kildare.

Sir, – Former taoiseach John Bruton in drawing parallels between Irish and Scottish Independence models once again rebukes our revolutionary past.

Addressing a Reform Group seminar at the Royal Irish Academy, Mr Bruton said Scotland had decided to seek a mandate for Scottish independence from the UK without loss of life and without the bitterness of war and Ireland could have followed the same peaceful path towards the independence that Scotland is now considering taking.

The fight for Irish separatism was not just an ideological strike for independence. The Irish people had endured for centuries the violence of colonisation by our imperial masters This colonial violence inflicted on the dispossessed peasantry included the punitive policy of transportation to the penal colonies for minor infringements of law. It also forcibly imposed the plantation of Ireland, the Penal Laws that led to the “hedge schools” and Mass rocks, harsh evictions, harsher landlordism and chronic hunger. The violence of the Famine, which saw Ireland lose millions of her poorest children to starvation, disease and emigration, despite being an integral part of the wealthiest and most powerful empire in the world, was more than sufficient reason to forcibly rid this country of British rule. In the general election of 1918 John Redmond and home rule were overwhelmingly rejected by an electorate that espoused separatism. This wholly constitutional and parliamentary decision of the Irish people was rejected by the British government, a rejection which led to “loss of life and bitterness of war”. – Yours, etc,


Templeville Road,


Dublin 6W.

A chara, – John Bruton says that “Ireland could have followed the same peaceful path towards independence that Scotland is considering today”. He is forgetting (or pretending to be ignorant of the fact) that half a million Ulstermen and women swore to reject Ireland’s first step to separation from the UK by force of arms, and that the British army threatened mutiny if sent to counter this threat; two minor details that do not exist in Scotland’s situation. – Is mise,


Church Street,

Killaloe, Co Clare.

Sir, – John Bruton’s fixation on the 1916 Rising is bordering on a Freudian obsession. – Yours, etc,


Harcourt Terrace,

Dublin 2.

A chara, – I attended the conference at which John Bruton spoke. While Mr Bruton understandably is accorded full coverage for his praise for John Redmond and John Dillon in taking the Home Rule Bill to the statute book on September 18th, 1914, it was made quite clear at the conference that this was a mere parliamentary achievement which would never achieve reality. A speaker from the floor outlined James Joyce’s contention that British political leaders from Gladstone to Asquith never seriously intended to accede to home rule to Ireland but were stringing the Irish Parliamentary Party along.

This Joycean view was substantiated by Ronan Fanning, at the conference, based on his book Fatal Path, which studied the process from the British government records.

It is a pity that in his attempt to bolster the standing of John Redmond, John Bruton has to seek to undermine the heroic revolution of Easter 1916. – Yours, etc,


Gilford Road,

Dublin 4.

Sir, – If Alan Shatter (September 19th) in office had pursued the penalty points issue with the same vigour as he is pursuing it now that he is out of office, he would probably still be minister for justice. – Yours, etc,


Belton Terrace,


Co Wicklow

Sir, – If Alan Shatter (September 19th) in office had pursued the penalty points issue with the same vigour as he is pursuing it now that he is out of office, he would probably still be minister for justice. – Yours, etc,


Belton Terrace,


Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Further to correspondence relating to Eircode, if the Government is so insistent on the widespread use of the “Eir” prefix, why isn’t Enda Kenny called the “Eirhead”? – Yours, etc,


Ballyraine Park,


Co Donegal.

Irish Independent:

Love him or loathe him, Paisley – the enigma – will be missed

Letters to the Editor

Published 20/09/2014 | 02:30

Ian Paisley

It is crystal clear from the various views of Ian Paisley that at the end of his life he was an enigma to g people, especially to the opinion-formers trying to assess him.

Paisley was a tub-thumping anti-Catholic bigot on the stump. This was a man who bullied, intimidated and shouted down people who opposed him while at the same time exercising great charm in one-to-one meetings.

I still remember an amazing ‘Late Late Show’ with Gay Byrne hosting Paisley and what seemed like the majority of the Paisley family during his pre- First Minister period.

Paisley came over like everybody’s favourite film star. He was humorous, affable, witty, tolerant and extremely charismatic.

There was no sign of the Free Presbyterian preacher who would rail against ‘Romanists’, the Pope, Sinn Fein and the Nationalists. Dr No was replaced by Mr Nice. Those who said that the last time Paisley said “yes” was when he married his wife were confounded and dumbfounded. As I recall, the Rev Ian made such a good impression that night that Rhonda, his daughter, presented the ‘Late Late Show’ some time afterwards.

The big question, of course, is why he changed his long-ingrained policy of no truck whatsoever with the IRA and Sinn Fein to form a power-sharing government with them.

It was as if he had suddenly stopped reading the Old Testament and started reading the New Testament.

It will take a better and more-informed writer than has appeared so far to satisfactorily explain the life of Ian Paisley.

One thing is certain – love him or hate him he’ll be missed.

There is nobody around with his peculiar mixture of religion, politics, bile, hatred, humour, sarcasm and just downright hyperbolic demagoguery.

The verdict of history on Paisley will be interesting.

Liam Cooke, Coolock, Dublin 17

Commemorating Home Rule

I have decided to throw my pen behind the calls for Home Rule and John Redmond to be gloriously commemorated, but feel it should not be celebrated as a stand-alone event.

What I propose is that we have a ‘Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda Day’.

While I am sure the hardline republicans will be somewhat distressed to see the Home Rule Act receiving support, I suggest to appease any derision from this quarter by proposing we include ‘Nice 1’ and ‘Lisbon 1′ in any national day of commemoration.

Nice 1 could be the ‘we could have held onto our right to determine our own future’ argument commemorated.

Lisbon 1 could be a celebration for all those who argue that austerity and the banking collapse would never have happened had it been passed in our own parliament ?

I would also like to propose a date for the celebration of such a day – let’s say, April 2 – just to keep all those who are staunch supporters of Nice 2 and Lisbon 2 happy. And who knows we might get Brian Cowen out of political retirement and away from his day job to officially cut a ribbon, or plant a tree.

Dermot Ryan, Athenry, Co Galway

Cost of providing for asylum

There can hardly be better proof of the correlation between the political ‘silly season’ and the fine weather than the current controversy about direct provision for asylum seekers.

Much has been made of the fact that some people and their Irish-born families have been in the system for up to a decade.

Apart from the trademark state inefficiency, they are there because they have chosen not to accept the answers given to their asylum application and appeal, which were negative.

These processes are now dealt with in 12 and 18 weeks respectively, according to the 2013 ORAC/RAP reports. They are instead pursuing an eight-stage process at tax-payers’ expense, which has resulted in more than 849 appeals being listed at the High Court on June 14 and many more at Supreme Court level. The total cost of this asylum industry in the last five years is €1.27bn, according to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

Ted Neville, Douglas, Co Cork

Vote for FG? Not anymore

Much as I admire Enda Kenny and his government for the difficult decisions and work they have done in turning our country’s finances around, I cannot, in all honesty, vote for any Fine Gael candidate in any future election.

The reason for this are the continuing pronouncements from John Bruton on any matter pertaining to the Irish nation!

K Nolan, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim

Bridging the Scottish divide

I think it is time we built a bridge from Ireland to Scotland as our next big civil engineering project. That would be from the nearest point, of course, from south west Scotland to Northern Ireland. We can do this together now we are staying as one country.

We could use a fixed link to revive the economy of both of these islands. The Chinese have built bridges over 26 miles long. Th e distance between south west Scotland and Northern Ireland is a mere 16 miles.

How many jobs would we create? We are greater together than apart. Now the sterling zone is staying as it is, perhaps we should rejoin sterling and take part in the type of negotiations we nearly had to have with Scotland?

Nigel F Boddy, Darlington, England

Spread knowledge, not illness

We should be grateful for the generosity of the US for sending 3,000 troops to combat Ebola.

This is a war worth fighting. The current outbreak is the deadliest, the most complex and most severe since the virus was initially discovered four decades ago. The speed of infection and the number of fatalities outpace the capacity of authorities to contain the virus.

People are highly vulnerable to diseases and infections which science is supposed to solve.

This is due to weak health systems and the failure to base policies on existing knowledge. And since the transmission chain of infection is from wildlife to livestock to humans, and it occurs from the consumption of bushmeat and burial practices, knowledge becomes an effectual tool to curb the spread of this virus, especially in under-resourced countries. Knowledge leads to the improvement of health as it becomes assimilated into the daily lives of people.

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob, London, England

Irish Independent


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