P&O’s human resources strategy shows how damaging it is to treat experienced employees as expendable and to abandon human values even in times of financial crisis (“No offshore experience necessary, says an agency announcement for P&O crews”, News). As a resident of the Isle of Wight, during lockdown when our cross-Solent transport services were under extreme financial pressure, I saw the value of collaborative ethical leadership in keeping us connected to the mainland and ensuring that all passengers, especially key workers, had access to their workplaces.
As a member of the Hover Travel User Group, I have heard how the company has reached out to help ambulance services get patients to the mainland quickly. The crew underwent rigorous training and many seriously ill patients benefited. The group, made up of commuters, health charities and support groups, schools and island traders, is being consulted on changes in practice. His advice and suggestions are taken seriously and often implemented. The company knows it’s not always successful, but works with its customers to ease the pain. Such openness and service to the community ensures that we and the company have survived turbulent times. There may be a lesson here for P&O.
Ryde, Isle of Wight
Crime does not pay
Rana Mitter observes that Russian elites consider China nekulturny, or uneducated, having never produced a Dostoyevsky (“Sino-Russian relations carry deep memories of mutual respect… and contempt”, Commentary). China would do well, in the spirit of “boundless friendship”, to remind its new friends that the author of The player and The idiot also wrote Crime and Punishment.
Put people before plants
Your article on cycling and walking infrastructure plans (“Get on your bike? Not if some Tory councils get it…”, News) makes no mention of ill-considered plans, introduced without any equality impact assessment . Where I live, planters (glorified packing crates) and benches (who wants to sit on the street?) have been used to obstruct parking spaces, preventing people with reduced mobility from accessing shops and amenities.
To the glory of the tides
The sun doesn’t always shine, the wind doesn’t always blow, but the tide rises and falls reliably every day. Why was tidal power not mentioned in your article about the choices we have for energy sources? It now looks very myopic to have abandoned the Severn Estuary project. Whatever the price then, it would be good value now.
Who are the real hypocrites?
Nick Cohen’s scathing piece that derides those he sees as Russia’s defenders/apologists/propagandists is particularly noteworthy for its condemnation of the moral hypocrisy that afflicts people who “extend the double standards of democracies while by excusing or ignoring the crimes of dictatorships” (“Collaboration grows in daily vanity and ambition. Just look at RT wannabes”, Commentary). This presents only part of a circular debate. For many, those who unflinchingly condemn the actions of the Russian state while ignoring the death, destruction and displacement caused by illegal Western-led invasions or sustained illegal occupations perpetrated by their allies embody everything Cohen denounces.
The problem of privatization
I’ve worked in or alongside children’s social services for many years and remember when privatization was first promoted (“Revealed: Top 10 child care providers made $300 million profit sterling”, News). Much like academies and free schools, the rhetoric gave control, whether to experienced nurses, parents or teachers; removing services from bureaucratic control. Gradually private equity took over and cost cutting began to maximize profit. One such measure was to sell the properties in the urban areas where the children had grown up and replace them with cheaper alternatives, often disused farmhouses and remote cottages, often detached from the communities. Local authorities who place vulnerable children must accept what is offered.
When a child needs a placement that is when there should be a suitable vacant place but, to maximize profits, the facilities should be full most of the time. This is where the problem arises, which only financial investment can solve; profit means limiting vacancies, while choice and availability means keeping vacancies in the system. Add to that the fact that the millions of pounds of profit that accrues to shareholders is entirely taxpayers’ money, provided to care for vulnerable children, and we have a clear example of why we should not privatize public services.
Drayton Market, Shropshire
While agreeing with the general argument of Kenan Malik’s insightful article (“As Imperial ties are cast aside, a royal tour was always going to be a farce”, Commentary), his reference to the Chagos Islanders was misleading. In fact, the extension of citizenship to the descendants of those shamefully expelled from the Chagos Islands is the result of an effective campaign led by the Chagossians themselves.
Their campaign resulted in a Lords Amendment to the abysmal Nationality and Borders Bill which was passed by more than 80 votes, with strong support from all benches, including the Tories. This, together with support in the Commons from MP Henry Smith, led to the government’s concession. Campaigns for the right of Chagossians to return to their homeland and for citizenship are not and should not be mutually exclusive.
Baroness (Ruth) Lister of Burtersett
House of Lords
The cost of Brexit
Thanks to Will Hutton for drawing attention to the catastrophic economic impact of Brexit with the words “the reign of silence on Brexit – and that includes you, Labor – means the damage goes unnoticed and uncriticized” ( “For brazen cynicism, I have seen nothing to do with Sunak’s plan in 40 years”, Comment). Elsewhere in the document, reports such as 400 people a week leaving the NHS and the substantial erosion of the wages of teachers point to the pressure on public finances and the need to explore all possible options to increase the necessary tax revenue.In this context, any rational government or future government should surely re-examine the self-imposed Brexit, an issue that should have a net cost to public finances of £30bn a year, or, to put it another way, around £570m a week less to spend on the NHS.
The need for a reconsideration is reinforced by polls indicating that people are increasingly beginning to realize the cost of Brexit, with three to one now seeing it as bad for the economy.
Great Linford, Milton Keynes
Role models with ropes
As a big fan of Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet, I was saddened to read about Gerry Anderson’s difficult childhood (“Why Mother’s Day Wasn’t a Cause for Thunderbirds Creator” News). However, since I had a rather overprotective mother and a father who let him down soon after my conception, the Tracy family, as well as Colonel White, Lieutenant Green and the indestructible Captain himself given a clear idea of what it is to be a man. , albeit small, plastic with strings attached.
Gordon Bennett, Llangollen Canal