Examples of our published letters
This page contains some examples of the letters we've had
published in newspapers or read out on radio, etc. For email
addresses of letters sections see our Letters
to newspapers page.
Tony Blair dismissed the Lancet report on Iraqi deaths. He
also dismissed the LSE report on ID-card costs. He now dismisses
the Chatham House report linking the London bombings to the
Iraq war. Is it rational behaviour to simply dismiss everything
that contradicts one's worldview?
(Printed in both the Times
and the Independent, 20/7/2005)
[Incidentally, the Times printed
our letter quite prominently, in a separate section next to
a letter from the Iraqi Ambassador. The latter reads like
a catalogue of bad logic it "argues" that
the Chatham House report (which claimed that the Iraq invasion
increased the likelihood of terrorist attack in Britain) is
"gravely misleading", without saying why]
The cost of identity fraud in the benefits system is 400 times
less than the potential cost of ID cards, according to recent
estimates - ie £50 million (DWP identity-fraud estimate)
compared with £19 billion (LSE ID-card estimate). Is
this good value for the taxpayer?
(The Guardian, 6/7/2005)
Let me see if I've got this right:
1. Britain bombs Iraq without UN legitimacy.
2. The British government warns France and Germany not to
undermine the UN over the rebuilding of Iraq.
Where is the line drawn between news and satire?
(The Independent, 18/4/2003)
This country is much wealthier than in the 1970s, when most
students paid nothing for their education. The "funding
crisis" in higher education is created not by lack of
funds, but by a dubious political ideology.
(The Sun [remarkably],
So, no public money to improve pensions, none for public-sector
wage increases or students, and precious little for improving
public transport. But didnt productivity rise dramatically
during the technological revolution? Didnt national
wealth soar? So where is all the money going, and what happened
to the dream of increased leisure?
(The Guardian, 19/12/2002)
The government has overlooked an obvious way to tackle road
congestion: give employers financial incentives to allow staff
to work from home. If only 10% of office staff worked one
day a week at home, wed notice a significant reduction
in road traffic (and pollution).
(Printed in both the Independent
and the Daily Express, 18/12/2002)
If Tony Blair thinks we cant afford the firefighters
16% pay rise, maybe its time to close the tax loopholes
exploited by the super-rich. That should generate around £85
billion (according to previous press reports) more
than enough to fund generous public sector pay rises.
(The Sun [surprisingly],
One reason for the popularity of the far right in France is
public fear about crime. The British media should learn from
this that exaggerating the crime problem doesnt merely
sell newspapers it can have damaging repercussions
for society too. When newspapers interpret an increase in
cell phone theft as crime spiralling out of control,
they play a dangerous game of scaremongering.
(The Independent, 26/4/2002)
Gordon Brown says full employment
is achievable. Problem is, half of UK jobs produce no real
wealth, no resources or services useful to human life.
These pointless jobs (many in financial services) have no
effect except to move money around in databases, benefiting
the rich. It used to be called usury. People actually burn
up fossil fuels travelling to these pointless jobs.
(The Independent, 16/3/2001)
The way this government
talks about work reminds me of the infamous Arbeit Macht
Frei (Work Makes One free) Nazi concentration
camp entrance sign. Hitler provided full employment. Prison
workshops have full employment. Coercion can always create
What happened to leisure?
Weve seen incredible advances in labour-saving technology
over the last 30 years, yet working hours have risen
during this period. And now government ministers want to promote
a work first culture. Are they insane?
(Read out on BBC Radio 4 PM
The way politicians talk, you'd think welfare fraud and juvenile
delinquency were the two greatest threats to civilisation.
Being young and unemployed, I feel more threatened by politicians.
(News Of the World, 10/12/2000
the bit about being "young and unemployed"
wasn't 100% true)
The total cost of welfare is £99 billion per year. Of
that, £44 billion goes to the elderly. That.s ten times
the amount spent on Jobseekers Allowance. Yet there is widespread
poverty amongst old people. Many of the elderly are able-bodied.
Let.s put them to work. There.s no excuse for laziness and
depend- ence. If they can use a phone or walk a dog, they
can be em- ployed in telesales or supermarket trolley shepherding.
Why should only the young benefit from pointless, low-paid
Financial Times, 2/8/2000 would
have printed this letter, but they phoned us first to ensure
we'd written it exclusively to them. In an uncharacteristic
moment of honesty, we admitted that we'd sent the same letter
to ten other newspapers. It's the only letter here that wasn't
The New Deal has created
approximately 50,000 jobs which otherwise wouldnt exist.
But it cost £5bn (five billion) to set up. By my calculation,
that means each job created cost the taxpayer £100,000.
(The Guardian, 15/7/2000)
On average, less than 10
children are killed each year by strangers in England and
Wales, according to government figures. Road accidents, however,
kill or seriously injure several thousand children every year.
The media obsession with paedophiles distorts perceptions
of risks to children.
(The Sun, 26/7/2000)
Re: Flu Epidemic
Last years Government clamp-down on sick-note
culture was regrettable. Taking time off sick is increasingly
seen as a bad career move, with the result that everyone in
the office catches flu. My advice: prevention is better than
cure, so call in sick before you get ill.
(The Guardian, 12/1/2000)
The Eyes of a Child [BBC1] was supposed to be about
poverty but it seemed merely an excuse to show children confessing
shock- horror "antisocial behaviour". In one interview,
a boy who looked about four years old gleefully described
how he "hot- wires" cars. Yeah, right, and his mother
sprinkles heroin on his cornflakes. This wasn't about poverty,
it was about programme-makers getting young children to utter
(Radio Times, 25/9/1999
letter concerned a BBC docu called 'The Eyes of a Child')
The coverage of crime on Crimewatch UK [BBC1] contributes
to a climate of fear out of all proportion to the real threat
of crime for most people. We keep hearing about the "rising
tide of crime", but why can't the crime rate figures
be explained in detail (perhaps with graphics such as those
used by the BBC on election nights)? This would take into
account factors like the vastly improved crime detection technology
and the creation of new laws, both of which increase the official
crime rate, without any increased threat to the public.
(Radio Times 'Letter of the
Week', 17-23 July 1993)
In the past, the TV licensing operation has targeted local
newspapers with press releases intended to frighten "licence
dodgers". There is now a growing campaign against the
heavy-handed practices of the TV licensing brigade.
Opinion polls consistently show 65-81 percent
of the public opposed to the licence fee as a method of funding.
The BBC prosecutes 130,000 people a year for watching TV without
a licence. Many or most are on minimum wage or benefits. The
BBC thus needlessly criminalises poverty.
The licence interferes with your right to
receive information. (You are not allowed to receive other
channels that are not funded by the licence without first
having a licence to watch the BBC.)
The BBC is not accountable to those who
pay its bills they must pay without choice. And it
has suppressed debate on the future of the licence fee. A
senior adviser to the government recently accused the BBC
of being a "cultural tyranny".
The BBC produces a large range of services,
including at least 10 television stations, for most of which
there is no demonstrated demand. It is also launching many
new radio stations and internet/digital services. All with
money extracted under threat of criminal prosecution. Many
of those prosecuted for not having a licence cannot afford
the services which the BBC would spend their licence money
Greg Dyke says there is "no alternative"
to the licence fee, but he told the Media Society in
1993 that it was possible to finance the BBC through subscription.
A further concern is the claimed "neutral", "independent",
"public service" nature of the BBC. For example,
a study quoted by the Guardian (22/4/2003) accuses
the BBC of broadcasting government propaganda and failing
to reflect the high level of public dissent over the Iraq
In fact, the licence fee does not make the
BBC independent but completely dependent on government, which
renews the fee and appoints the Chairman, Director General,
Should the TV licensing people come to you
with press releases, I would ask you please to bear in mind
the above points. Going by the polls, I think the majority
of your readers would thank you for not publishing their threateningly
worded material. For further details on the campaign. Please
www.tvlicensing.biz or http://www.bbcresistance.com.
(Sent to 80 regional newspapers in
2003. Judging from the feedback we received, many of them