SIR – When the concept of the Nobel Peace Prize was first devised, it could hardly have been thought that over 100 years later it would be awarded so cynically and with such little regard to the reality of what damage the European Union has caused (Leading article, October 13).
The EU is not a union that has contributed to peace, but an uneasy alliance of member states eating and stealing from the same trough. It is without honour either in concept or in delivery. The fallout from the forced adoption of the single currency by member states has created huge tensions, which will continue a pattern of social unrest.
This prize heaps much discredit on those who have awarded it, matched by those who receive it.
SIR – When President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, I was saddened that such an auspicious committee had succumbed to political influence. With the EU winning this year, the transformation is complete.
Alfred Nobel would be hugely disappointed that his dream of recognising true advances in all walks of life has been hijacked.
SIR – It is hard to imagine a more effective way to discredit this once prestigious award.
SIR – Yes, a great union of nation states, born out of the chaos of two world wars, has kept the peace in Europe during six decades.
Today that union richly merits a Nobel Peace Prize. It is, of course, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
SIR – Peace in Europe was secured by defeating militarism and Nazism in two world wars, by the West facing down Communism, and with the ultimate deterrent in the form of nuclear weapons.
Eighteen million citizens are without work and rioting is commonplace; the EU is the least likely bringer of peace.
SIR – Given the lack of suitable candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize, I would like to nominate my dog, Lassie, and next door’s cat, Sammy Fudge. They spent a lifetime chasing, scratching and warring, but in recent years have relinquished hostilities and co-exist on the carpet together.
Keith R Ashworth-Lord
SIR – I assume the EU was not nominated for the Nobel prize for economics?
Handcross, West Sussex
SIR – We have welcomed the Government’s commitment to pursuing renegotiation of the European Working Time Directive and revision of the professional qualifications directive as they pertain to the delivery of healthcare in Britain. The working time directive, in combination with Britain's New Deal, has made it more difficult to deliver a high quality service, disrupts continuity of care and has distorted clinical training.
Free movement of the clinical workforce is to be encouraged. It allows talented healthcare professionals to develop their skills and serve the patients of our country. Appropriate and equal regulation needs to apply to all clinicians whether they have trained within Britain, the EU or elsewhere. The current professional qualifications hinder appropriate functioning of regulation for doctors who come from within the EU and the current revision of this directive provides the opportunity to improve it.
Recent evidence shows the application of both these elements of legislation need urgent revision to allow greater flexibility of application if our healthcare system is not to be adversely affected.
Sir Richard Thompson
President Royal College of Physicians
Prof Norman Williams
President Royal College of Surgeons
Judging Savile’s crime
SIR – Like most people, I am horrified by the stories of abuse committed by Sir Jimmy Savile, although I am amazed by the number of people who were in contact with him, and knew about his behaviour, and said nothing.
However, I find the vindictive criticisms of him abhorrent (Letters, October 13). This man, whatever wickedness he has done, is dead and unable to defend himself. The police still have to complete their investigations and produce a report. Have we forgotten that in this country we are innocent until proven guilty?
SIR – At one end of the country we have a police association flexing its muscles and trying to force the resignation of a senior politician whom it accuses of insulting one of its number, thus impugning its integrity (report, October). At the other end we have a much nastier situation in which a large number of police officers have impugned the integrity of the entire force following the Hillsborough disaster.
According to my dictionary, a pleb is a member of the lower classes, so to describe someone in this manner is snobbish condescension, but not criminal. It is certainly not deserving of the hours of police time that have already been spent in pursuing what appears to be a vendetta.
Hemingford Grey, Huntingdonshire
SIR – I have hitherto regarded myself as a tolerant man, but in the light of recent accusations against Andrew Mitchell, the Chief Whip, and Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France champion, I have now refused to let my daughter marry a cyclist.
SIR – Bill MacDonald notices the great distances walked in Wuthering Heights (Letters, October 12). My great-uncle Frank, a gentleman’s gentleman in Harley Street, used to walk from London to Blackburn every year to visit relatives. I remember his arrival on a few occasions, by which time he was in his mid-sixties.
SIR – Theodore Dalrymple prophesies a new remedy for colds (Comment, October 11). In 1973, I visited a spice mill. The air was thick with spice fumes. I asked if the workers died young from lung disease. They laughed, and said they never got colds thanks to daily spice fumigation.
We now have cinnamon and ginger on our porridge, and no colds or flu.
Kirby Bedon, Norfolk
Turn off the bake-off
SIR – Linda Trotman (Letters, October 11) states, with reference to the French launching their own version of The Great British Bake Off, that they are “as obsessed with cookery programmes as we are”.
I spend most of my time trying to avoid cookery programmes, as well as those dealing with the collection of antiques, and the sale and purchase of houses. As far as I am concerned, we should give all these programmes to France, leaving us with a more cultured and uplifting diet of television viewing.
Evidence on drugs
SIR – Each year, Britain spends at least £3 billion on tackling the problems caused by use of illicit drugs, and much more on addressing indirect costs, including family breakdown and wider health problems.
Some of Britain’s drug policies are supported by evidence; these have reduced HIV rates in drug users to among the lowest in the world and helped growing numbers to recover from addiction. But much of what Britain spends on addressing drug problems has little or no basis in factual evidence. We continue to pursue policies that have either been shown to offer poor value for money, or for which there is no evidence in favour or against.
The UK Drug Policy Commission publishes our final report today on how drug policy can be made more efficient.
But more important than particular policy proposals is our plea for a new relationship with evidence. We should not accept that billions of pounds are spent with only minimal effort, or none at all, to evaluate whether policies are making any difference and whether they can be improved. Drug policy is more than simply the debate about which particular drugs should be illegal or how to wage war against their use. This polarised focus has held us back in other areas where we could make more progress at less cost.
We need a body to collect and promote the evidence for what works. This could cost less than 1 per cent of what we spend on drug policy in total, and, if appropriately supported, should easily pay for itself while also helping to save lives and bring relief to communities menaced by the illicit drug trade.
Dame Ruth Runciman
Chairman, UK Drug Policy Commission
Honorary President, UK Drug Policy Commission
Professor Baroness Haleh Afshar OBE
Professor Colin Blakemore FRS
David Blakey CBE QPM
Professor Baroness Ilora Finlay of Llandaff
Jeremy Hardie CBE
Professor Alan Maynard OBE
Vivienne Parry OBE
Professor John Strang
SIR – After reading the report warning of the dangers of consuming lead in game, a lean meat, which is low in cholesterol (October 9), I don’t feel too concerned. I am inundated with pheasant, duck and partridge each season.
For 35 years my family has consumed huge quantities of game. My two children were fed puréed pheasant as babies. Between them, they have achieved three degrees from good universities.
How much better they would have done without all the lead they may have inadvertently consumed?
Long Sutton, Somerset
A school report can be the making of a student
SIR – Most of the letters in response to the story of the school report of Professor Sir John Gurdon are at the expense of the teacher for not recognising a future Nobel prizewinner (October 11).
Prof Gurdon wasn’t a Nobel prize-winning scientist then. He was an uninterested schoolboy, bored by rote-learning, wanting to work in his own way, placed in a rank order that reflected a narrow approach to education on the part of both the teacher and the school.
But Prof Gurdon thinks the report is more important than that, or why else would he display it over his desk all these years later? Perhaps he knows now what made that report memorable: it pointed out that he was wasting his potential.
A teacher may see lazy self-absorption stunting the development of latent possibilities and, as happened here, may sharpen their pen a little. This report appears to have been a wake-up call, never to be forgotten.
Battle, East Sussex
SIR – After a complete term in the Lower Sixth, during which I attended no divinity lessons, the report read: “A little reticent”. Repeating the attendance record next term provoked: “Could be more vocal in class”.