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.

Dear Editor,
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]

Dear Editor,
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)

Dear Editor,
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)

Dear Editor,
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], 28/1/2003)

Dear Editor,
So, no public money to improve pensions, none for public-sector wage increases or students, and precious little for improving public transport. But didn’t productivity rise dramatically during the technological revolution? Didn’t national wealth soar? So where is all the money going, and what happened to the dream of increased leisure?
(The Guardian, 19/12/2002)

Dear Editor,
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, we’d notice a significant reduction in road traffic (and pollution).
(Printed in both the Independent and the Daily Express, 18/12/2002)

Dear Editor,
If Tony Blair thinks we can’t afford the firefighters’ 16% pay rise, maybe it’s 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], 28/11/2002)

Dear Editor,
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 doesn’t 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)

Dear Editor,
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)

Dear Editor,
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 full employment.

What happened to leisure? We’ve 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’ news, 5/7/2001)

Dear Editor,
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)

Dear Editor,
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 jobs?
(The 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 published)

Dear Editor,
The New Deal has created approximately 50,000 jobs which otherwise wouldn’t 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)

Dear Editor,
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)

Dear Editor
Re: Flu Epidemic – Last year’s 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)

Dear Editor,
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 TV-appropriate soundbites.

(Radio Times, 25/9/1999 – letter concerned a BBC docu called 'The Eyes of a Child')

Dear Editor,
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)

Dear Editor,
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 on.

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 issue.

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, etc.

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 visit http:// www.tvlicensing.biz or http://www.bbcresistance.com.
(Sent to 80 regional newspapers in 2003. Judging from the feedback we received, many of them printed it)