We are ashamed of the role psychology played in gender care

<span>The Tavistock Centre in London, which closed last month, was criticised in the Cass report.</span><span>Photograph: Guy Smallman/Getty Images</span>
The Tavistock Centre in London, which closed last month, was criticised in the Cass report.Photograph: Guy Smallman/Getty Images

We write as clinical psychologists with longstanding concerns about the scandal unfolding at Gender Identity Development Service clinics. Some of us are former Gids clinicians. While welcoming your editorial stance, we would like to point out that it is not just the medical profession that has “much to reflect on” (“The Observer view on the Cass review: children were catastrophically failed by the medical profession”).

These were psychology-led services. Whether intentionally or not, and many were doing their best in an impossible situation, it was clinical psychologists who promoted an ideology that was almost impossible to challenge; who, as the Cass report found, largely failed to carry out proper assessments of troubled young people, and thus put many on an “irreversible medical pathway” that in most cases was inappropriate; and who failed in their most basic duty to keep proper records.

It is also our professional body, the British Psychological Society, that has failed (despite years of pressure) to produce guidelines for clinicians working with young people in this complex area; and that, forced into making an official response for the first time, now minimises its own role in events and calls for “more psychology” as the answer. We are ashamed of the role psychology has played.

What happened at Gids was a multi-factorial systemic failure, but when the Observer rightly calls for “accountability for the managers and clinicians who pursued such unethical practice and caused avoidable harm to young people”, we believe the role of our own profession should be fully examined.
Sixteen senior clinical psychologists
Names supplied

It’s one rule for them…

Angela Rayner, one of the few authentic working-class voices in the shadow cabinet, is being hounded for a possible failure to pay a few thousand pounds in capital gains tax (“Angela Rayner to continue campaigning despite police inquiry”). On the other hand, despite benefiting from huge salaries and payouts, allegations of possible perjury and perverting the course of justice, no one in the disgraced upper echelons of the Post Office has even been prosecuted.
Jane Ghosh

India right to resist the west

Simon Tisdall is right to point out the problems with Narendra Modi’s divisive domestic politics (“A nagging doubt plagues world leaders wooing India: whose side is Narendra Modi really on?”). I have not voted for Modi or his party at any point and, as a supporter of the Aam Aadmi party, earnestly wish for more diversity in our political conversation, which is trapped between the Congress and the BJP.

That said, the second part of Tisdall’s article betrayed his true concerns: how will India align with the west? The western world has never really cared for democratic politics in developing countries. From Augusto Pinochet to Mobutu Sese Seko, Park Chung Hee to François Duvalier, the list of authoritarian rulers supported by the west is too long for this space.

Modi’s foreign policy prioritises India’s interests, as it should. I fervently hope that we continue to resist getting involved in the next western crusade. We have seen the consequences of this stupidity in Pakistan, which has consistently privileged geopolitical games over its own domestic priorities.
Aditya Pant
New Delhi, India

Two tales from the high seas

With regard to “Jail for holding a placard? Protest over the climate crisis is being brutally suppressed”: in the days of sail, when ordinary sailors felt oppressed and had no means of protesting, an anonymous hand would remove a cannonball from the rack and leave it rolling about the deck in the night. This could be dangerous and difficult to fix.

If the government closes the gap that enables people to express their anger and fear about the climate emergency, it won’t be long before anonymous hands start doing damage that it cannot control. The protests of doctors and organic farmers will pale in comparison.
Dan Papworth
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

As a postscript to Tim Adams’s piece about the Royal Navy dropping the requirement for new recruits to be able to swim (“If you’re seeking a good old British farce, look no further than Liz Truss’s memoirs”), it’s worth remembering that many sailors in past times could not swim, since there was little incentive or opportunity to learn. Sailors did, however, fear being buried at sea, hence the popularity of wearing a gold earring, to pay for a proper burial if they died away from home.
David Hughes

Act now on child poverty

Michael Savage rightly argues that acting early on child poverty could give an incoming Labour administration “a guiding purpose” and highlights the abolition of the heinous two-child limit as key to this (“Labour’s first 100 days: what is their grand plan for government?”). A first step to demonstrate intent would be to commit now to include in the manifesto a comprehensive cross-government child poverty strategy as agreed by the 2023 annual conference following its adoption by the national policy forum. While we need to continue to press for specific reforms, even though they will cost money, a clear commitment now to such a manifesto commitment would serve to reassure that tackling child poverty will indeed form a guiding purpose for the party when child poverty is deepening and growing.
Ruth Lister, Labour, House of Lords
London SW1

How can the climate emergency not be one of the five key battlegrounds outlined in your analysis of Starmer’s first 100 days? What is more important than that? There are going to be impacts in so many areas like food security, flooding and immigration. The UK is walking into an energy crisis because of the weak capacity of its privatised national grid. The Conservatives under Rishi Sunak have reduced the UK’s spending on the energy transition and they are using the term “luxury belief” about climate policies. One of the main reasons to vote Labour would be to elect a government that would take this seriously.
Jackie Kemp
Leith, Edinburgh

A flavour of Birmingham

Rebecca Nicholson’s profile of Dads Lane allotment holders in Joe Lycett’s guest edit (“Life on a Birmingham allotment”) gave a lovely flavour of Birmingham’s allotment community. Her findings are fully reflected in the survey of Birmingham’s allotments we have just completed with Birmingham University.

With the support of the local allotment confederation, nearly 900 plot-holders completed the survey. It showed that half the tenancies are held by women; on average each plot grows 100kg of fresh fruit and veg a year; and the main benefit identified of having an allotment is peace of mind and relaxation.

Allotments are an unglamorous, neglected feature of Britain’s urban life. Yet they offer a vital source of physical and mental health as well as fresh food to hundreds of thousands of people – often in unglamorous, neglected communities.
David Draycott, secretary, Moor Green Allotments Association
Moseley, Birmingham