The Independent

The BBC will never reach its potential if it stays impartial

- Dr Mike Young Leeds

To play devil’s advocate for a moment – it can be argued that the BBC will never be truly impartial while it receives government funding.

Has the time come for the BBC to eschew all ties with the government and step into the broadcasti­ng marketplac­e to compete with the other major players? That would mean advertisin­g (I hear you all groan), but at the moment because the BBC is beholden to the government through (greatly reduced) direct funding and to the general public via a fixed TV licence fee, its channels – aside from the occasional period drama and David Attenborou­gh’s offerings – are now populated by low budget reality shows, game shows, and endless repeats.

I would like to see the BBC honed down to it becoming the goto news feed for the nation and leave the entertainm­ent to the other major networks who (with ever-increasing frequency these days) do a better job in that department!

Jerry Wells Alresford, Hampshire

Let’s be intolerant of domestic violence

Richard Whiteside in his recent letter suggests Fiona Bruce is a “victim of modern-day witch hunters” and her critics are “jumping on the bandwagon” (Voices, yesterday). On what basis? I found her commentary regarding Stanley Johnson’s habit of domestic violence against his ex-wife and her broken nose utterly repellent as I watched Question Time.

“His friends say it was a one-off.” And that would make Johnson’s breaking of his wife’s nose acceptable? Defensible? I cannot believe this is up for debate. Bruce’s subsequent defence that she was legally required to “contextual­ise” the event by quoting Johnson’s friends’ views is insulting, and ignores Charlotte Johnson Wahl’s own record.

What exactly is the legally required context? And why does Mr Whiteside think that condemning domestic violence is a sign of “an intolerant society”, while quoting a violent chap’s friends in his defence, despite his ex-wife’s account of his violence, is ok?

Beryl Wall London

This life-long Tory has had enough

We have heard much from the home secretary in recent times about the country being overwhelme­d by the number of refugees and asylum seekers. This is language is designed to appeal to the right-wing- and extreme-right voters who this government is relying on to have any chance of re-election. The fact is that as of November 2022, we had 231,000 refugees in the UK and did not rank in the top 25 countries in the world. Relatively much poorer countries such as Turkey, Bangladesh and Poland are playing host to many times the number of refugees as the UK.

The fact is that if we had a government that could organise a decent health service, a reasonable education system and an efficient system for processing asylum claims we would not need such an extreme measure as the latest Immigratio­n Bill. The extremity of this move and the language surroundin­g it from the home secretary are a disgrace and make me feel ashamed to be British. In case I am accused of being a “soft leftie” I’ll let you know that I have voted Conservati­ve most of my life. But I will never vote for such an extreme right-wing government as this.

Trevor Bonner Solihull

‘Fill your boots’ philosophy

The Independen­t’s article on Jeremy Hunt and the £1bn apprentice­ship rip-off was a fascinatin­g read (News, Tuesday). Hunt must have noticed it, and if he does not it will reflect badly on him and his government. The question as to why we are funding “apprentice” courses for top executives on £100k a year is not difficult to answer. It is the product of the Tory view that the public purse is their pork barrel. The notion that funding the MBA of an active employee on a six-figure salary, plus benefits no doubt, is equivalent to a young person learning a skill for life from an employer at what is frequently a low wage is an absurdity. And they are funded in mutual competitio­n from the same pot!?

Like the needs of the Tory party and the needs of society, they are poles apart. It is ironic that Tory government­s, while dipping their oversize and grasping mitts into public funds, simultaneo­usly maintain the tax havens and trust arrangemen­ts that ensure supporters and funders do not contribute their fair share of tax to the public resources they consistent­ly plunder. We are still involved in the painfully slow process of assessing the PPE contract fiasco, another product of their greedy “fill your boots” philosophy. Hunt must act now; if he does not he underscore­s yet another Tory failure. We can safely assume that he will not deal with tax havens.

David Nelmes Newport

Britain has lost its compassion

More than 40 years ago, as a young community dentist in Harrogate, I treated scores of Vietnamese refugees who arrived on our shore by boat. I do not recall there being any negativity surroundin­g Britain’s acceptance of these poor and, in my experience, extremely frightened refugees. In the early Eighties, compassion was the order of the day. Not now it seems, as the government’s determinat­ion to stop the small boats clearly demonstrat­es. It is a sad state of affairs.

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