Sir: Once I finished chuckling at Neil Brown’s words on Christopher Pyne’s NPC plan for encouraging innovation in this country ( Brown Study, 23 Jan.) it occurred to me that joking aside, the actual sentiments behind the waffle are actually sound. I didn’t hear or read any transcript of Pyne’s speech, but it sounds like that in his typically clumsy, inept, gormless, ham-fisted and clueless politician’s way, what Pyne was advocating was something like a US-style Chapter 11 bankruptcy regime for business. If this is the case, it is long overdue, and I think it would be a positive move by a notionally pro-free enterprise government. Whilst in the US Chap.11 is sometimes abused to enrich Directors (or at least provide them with well-funded Golden Parachutes) to the detriment of employees – keeping in mind that in most cases most of those employees still have jobs at the end of it all – if properly administered here, a Chapter 11-style system could save a lot of companies & jobs by allowing companies in difficulty to restructure financially whilst obtaining breathing space from creditors (which would have to include the ATO), and in the case of small family-owned businesses, could save many business-owners’ homes. Far from rewarding failure, it would be recognition that making (honest) mistakes is a normal part of life & business, and should not automatically be punished so severely as now.
East Lindfield, NSW
Levelling the cricket pitch
Sir: As a cricket addict and believer in state education, it pains me to agree with Michael Henderson’s assertion that the future of England’s Test side rests in the hands of private schools (‘Elite sport’, 23 January). The high-performing, 1,700-strong school where I am the head teacher has a grass area for sport that is not large enough for a rugby pitch, let alone a cricket square. As far as the coaching, equipment and pitch maintenance required to play our summer game properly, money talks. While we receive £4,000 a year from the government for each sixth-former we educate, at a local independent school parents are charged over £5,600 per term even before ‘extras’ such as exam entry fees are added in. With more than four times the resources, such schools are able to provide a rich extracurricular diet for the elite few. While we are fond of asking for a level playing field in this country, the pupils at my school would simply like a playing field.
Sir: There is still hope for the widening of interest by the young in cricket. Chance to Shine is a charity which in recent years has introduced more than two million youngsters from state schools to the great game. It deserves all the support possible.
What Brexit won’t do
Sir: Daniel Hannan’s article on ‘What Brexit would look like for Britain’ (23 January) is disingenuous. He cites the ‘migration and euro crises’ as risks of staying in the EU, yet Britain would continue to be deeply affected by both crises after a Brexit. Our leaving the EU would not make the French more co-operative in stemming the flow of economic migrants, and financial instability among our neighbours would continue to affect us. Nor would a Brexit magically make us as wealthy as Norway or Switzerland. The EU administers multiple international agreements on behalf of its members and can use its size to get the best deals. Leaving the EU would increase Britain’s bureaucracy and reduce its influence. Britain has retained its sovereignty, as it showed when it ignored the advice of France and Germany not to help America to invade Iraq; it would not increase its power by losing its membership of the EU.
A moveable feast?
Sir: Justin Welby’s ‘solution’ to inter-Anglican wranglings over sexuality may be a fudge. But the archbishop does at least understand what A.N. Wilson seems not to (Diary, 23 January): that people generally have no interest in the relationship between Easter and Passover — though some might wonder how Christians came to hijack a Jewish festival in this way in the first place.
What irritates is the inconvenience to schools, and the fact that the spring holiday weekend (it’s no more than that for most of us) can occur anywhere between late March and late April. All power to Welby, Pope Francis and co. to sort this out; though I fear any plan to fix the date of Easter will be stymied by one or more of the Orthodox churches, as has happened before.
Chichester, West Sussex
Sir: Matthew Parris’s idea (23 January) of burying Mugabe beside Rhodes is, while satisfying in principle, grotesque. For all his faults, Rhodes did not deliberately slaughter the indigenous people of Rhodesia for purely political ends. Mugabe did. Not just the Ndebele, but his own tribe as well. Starting in the Eastern Highlands and using the vicious 5th Brigade from North Korea, he slaughtered thousands of Mashona people. It was only after this that he really got going on his old enemies, the Ndebele in Matabeleland, where he slaughtered thousands more. In subsequent elections, more of his citizens were tortured and killed. By killing and forcing white farmers off their land, he turned the bread basket of Africa into a begging bowl. He trashed the currency. He is not a nice man. A more fitting burial place would be down a well, where many of his subjects are interred.
Craven Arms, Shropshire