Pouring money down the toilet
In 2001, The Guardian journalist Polly Toynbee writing about Gordon Brown's obsession with the public private partnership (PPP) for London Underground, said: "By personally driving through the public-private partnership against expert advice, and against the will of most MPs and voters, this has now become the Gordon Brown Memorial tube: every late train, failed signal and heat-fainting passenger is his fault as from last week."
Roll forward eight years and we now have the National Audit Office confirming that as much as £410 million of taxpayer's money has already been wasted by PPP. In addition, improvements to this vital transport network (which as many people travel on everyday as the whole UK train network) have been seriously held up. If Blair will always be associated with errors over Iraq surely Brown's legacy will be his arrogance over PPP?
Cllr Caroline Pidgeon AM
Liberal Democrat London Assembly Transport Spokesperson
Challenge those who maintain state information
The current ‘expenses scandal' in respect of Members of Parliament has generated an amazing amount of discussion, comment and opinion. But I wonder if there are other readers who, like me, are extremely concerned about what is a much more serious problem than the knowledge that some people have a rather cavalier approach to claiming expenses?
Does anyone else share my concerns that the House of Commons may be relying on IT specialists who are more interested in showing what wonderful copying facilities they can provide rather than ensuring state information is only available to properly authorised individuals? This appears to be an expense payment - the cost of employing these IT specialists - that the nation should scrutinise very carefully.
Not much improvement
Paul Linford seemed confident in his assertion (Where are they now?, TP May 2009) that the appalling treatment of Maureen Colquhoun in the mid-1970s as an openly gay MP would not be repeated today. If that is so, where are all the other gay and lesbian MPs?
Israel must understand its responsibility
In the interview with Mark Regev (TP, June), he explains that much of the British media scrutinises Israel from a colonial perspective as opposed to an objective one.
What Regev plainly ignores is that this is not just an issue of David vs Goliath, but that Israel incessantly neglects to uphold its end of the bargains reached at the negotiating table. Proclaiming that the ground and air offensive into Gaza in January was the result of continued Qassam rocket attacks into southern Israel doesn't cut the mustard.
Surely Israel was also subject to concessions within that ceasefire agreement. Among other things, the stranglehold over Gaza's borders was to be loosened. Was it? No. Were the Palestinian people being starved of all manner of supplies and living in abject poverty? Yes.
The whole issue is cause and effect. This isn't a case of big vs small; there is currently no path for peace and with Regev's new boss in charge, it'll stay that way.
Posties should remain public
The argument for part privatisation of Royal Mail in last month's debate Should Royal Mail stay publicly owned? (TP, June) seems like yet another attempt to push through more redundancies and increase unemployment when times are already desperate enough.
There also seems to be an assumption that the service will be better managed when privatised - which seems a little surprising since it could make management less, rather than more, accountable for their actions. Although the idea proposed is for ‘part-privatisation', this is essentially the thin end of the wedge and a sign of worse things to come if it's successful.
Arts deserve some cash
I'm generally not that sympathetic to Conservative members, but I found myself warming to Jeremy Hunt in your article ‘Given a sporting lesson' (TP, June).
Particularly of late, it's really refreshing to see an MP genuinely enthusiastic about their department which was more than clear in his excitement for the 2012 Olympics. It does sadden me that, excited as he is, under a Conservative government there will be extensive cuts to public spending of the Arts.
As an avid fan of public art it concerns me that should the Conservatives come into power in the next election, heavy cuts will be made and the victims will surely be the British public. Our art and culture are worth preserving and shouldn't be left by the wayside.