Sugar added tax
Sir: Julia Pickles (Letters, 14 June) suggests a sugar tax to combat the obesity epidemic and discourage food manufacturers from adding sugar to everything from bread to baked beans. A more realistic alternative might be to simply adjust the VAT rules: currently, VAT is levied on essentials such as loo paper, toothpaste and washing powder, presumably because they’re considered luxuries. Items such as breakfast cereals, however, are VAT-exempt, even though many are more than 30 per cent sugar and should really be in the confectionery aisles. Levying VAT on products with, say, more than 20 per cent added sugar and removing it from others could form a revenue-neutral policy for better health.
North Chailey, Sussex
Lord Spencer’s ringer
Sir: Charles Moore is right to draw attention to Boris Johnson’s appalling behaviour in bringing on Kevin Pietersen as a ringer for a friendly against Lord Spencer’s XI at Althorp (Notes, 21 June). But to be fair, there is history there. I once played for Boris’s ramshackle team in this fixture and was appalled to see who the cad Spencer had persuaded to open the batting for the home side: Jimmy Adams, the former West Indies captain.
Casting the first stone
Sir: If any Christian church or sect ever did advocate, or practise, stoning to death for adultery, as Jerry Emery suggests (Letters, 21 June), then they were in grave doctrinal error. The New Testament tells us that Jesus Christ halted just such a hideous event, and made it plain that it should never reoccur.
Sir: Joshua Fox (Letters, 14 June) confuses the teachings of Jesus Christ of love, forgiveness and equality for all and the abuse of power of the early Roman Catholic Church, which Christ would have condemned. The Mosaic Law of the Ten Commandments has not been bettered as a basis for human co-existence. The stoning of the woman to death (murder) for supposedly ‘dishonouring’ her family is not the teaching of the Prophet Mohammed, but a cultural abomination.
Joshua Fox, like so many others of his atheist ilk, appears to be unable to distinguish between the cruelty of man supposedly ‘religious’ or otherwise and the basic tenets of most if not all religions.
Sir: I have just read Ian Thomson’s glowing review of Viv Albertine’s autobiography (Books, 21 June), which sounds right up my street: pop history with human interest.
Nonetheless, I have to question his description of the Slits’ first album as ‘a masterpiece’ and also his contention that ‘without Albertine and co, it’s safe to say, a generation of British women may not have been emboldened to pick up the guitar and give it a go’. I have played in rock bands all my life, and I reckon the Slits had very little influence, if any, on the majority of musicians. They may have had a fleeting influence in London and the suburbs, but their subtle charms were lost on many up and down the country.
Despite all the hoo-ha for five minutes, the Slits were a very small musical footnote in the history of rock and roll. I wish them well, but the joke was over very quickly. By 1979, the excellent Sonja Kristina, for example, had released seven albums and travelled God know how many millions of miles touring. That’s a name I often hear from male and female musicians; likewise, Kiki Dee. Viv Albertine? Not once.
Sutton Mandeville, Salisbury
Silence on Scotland
Sir: I have to admit that I have always been a great fan of Charles Moore, who nearly always seems able to hit whatever matter he happens to be writing about so very firmly on the head. In this case of course it’s the stupidity of the BBC’s rules in preventing any serious discussion of the Scottish independence referendum, to the great advantage of the cause of Mr Alex Salmond (Notes, 21 June); the irony being that the corporation itself will have to change its name if Mr Salmond wins, since it will no longer have any claim to the description ‘British’!
Gerald Charles FitzGerald
Lock ’em up
Sir: I do hope the luminaries of Hacked Off (‘Coogan’s friends’, 21 June) will join me in congratulating the Egyptian government for jailing a number of journalists recently. If they tried a little harder, I am sure we could soon have the same magnificent system of press regulation in this country too.
Sir: Bruce Anderson (Drink, 21 June) does the malts of the Outer Isles an injustice by suggesting they evoke the piercing sound of bagpipes. I would recommend Verdi’s ‘Requiem’ as the ideal musical accompaniment for heavily peated malt whisky. Given that both are works of art that on first acquaintance can seem unnerving, it is with patience and an open mind that one may discover the subtle nuances of both and in a very short time (three or four drams, perhaps) their complexity and brilliance will emerge.