Letters: Suddenly, the SNP cares about foxes

These letters appear in the 16th July issue of The Independent

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The SNP has expressed negligible interest in animal rights until now, when it spotted an opportunity to pick a fight with the Westminster Government.  Until recently, Nicola Sturgeon was adamant her party’s MPs wouldn’t even vote on this issue.

Angus Robertson, the SNP’s House of Commons leader, admits his party is using this very important issue as a ruse for yet more of their constitutional game-playing.  

Opposing hunting will inevitably be popular; a recent poll shows nearly 75 per cent of British adults think it shouldn’t be legalised again.  Nevertheless, whatever your view may be on this matter, it must surely be wrong for the SNP to hijack such a serious animal welfare issue for the purposes of petty and divisive point-scoring against the Westminster Government. 

Martin Redfern



It seems that the SNP minority group of MPs were bent on adopting a wrecking policy and throwing spanners into the Westminster works at every opportunity. Whilst this may be a bit of fun for the SNP, the elected Conservative Government has a serious job to do in completing a full programme of legislation to fulfil their manifesto commitments.

The electorate will not tolerate such flippant and destructive behaviour from SNP MPs and will surely express its annoyance at the ballot box.

Dennis Forbes Grattan



The dispute over English and Scottish voting rights in the hunting amendments does not concern national issues but a moral one. That being the case, the SNP is perfectly entitled to vote against the proposal.

Malcolm Gregory

Deal, Kent


Who better represents democratically the 74 per cent of the English population who oppose fox-hunting? The SNP or the Prime Minister with his minority mandate from voters in May?

Canon Christopher Hall

Deddington, Oxfordshire


You quoted a Tory spokesman as saying that the SNP should abstain in the vote on the fox-hunting ban “as it does not affect Scotland”.

I’m sure many foxes in Dumfries and Galloway and in the Scottish Borders that commute regularly to England would disagree. They may lack the SNP’s territorial parochialism, but they nevertheless have the right to have their case for protection argued by Scottish Nationalists in the House of Commons.

David Head

Navenby, Lincolnshire


The Independent took a principled and admirable stand in opposing any change with regard to fox hunting.

I have always wondered why some people go hunting with the help of guns or hounds. If they were to take on an animal on their own I would have some respect for them.

Nitin Mehta

Croydon, Surrey


The Tory state of the unions

The poor are being targeted by the reduction of tax credits. The BBC is under attack for being biased, whereas the right-wing press is encouraged. The trade unions are being given impossible conditions before they can call a strike. The source of Labour funding is challenged whereas the corporate funding of the Tories is not.

Are we heading for a one-party state?

Tony Kane



Tory plans for trade unions reflect the reality that while there was, until recently, a considerable group of active Conservative trade unionists and an understanding of why this was important, today’s Tory party understands little of the realities of the world of work or why trade unions exist in it.

The proposed legislation treats unions as if they were head offices, full time officials and rule books. Of course, all these things exist. But at the grassroots, trade unionism is about people acting collectively because it is more powerful than doing so individually. No amount of Tory huffing and puffing and laws will stop people doing that if they feel strongly enough about something.

Keith Flett

Secretary, Haringey Trades Union Council, London N17


I’m impressed at the Government’s proposal that a strike ballot must produce a majority of 40 per cent of all eligible voters to be considered valid, and I trust that they will confirm their commitment to this principle by applying it retrospectively to May’s general election result.

Sarah Thursfield

Llanymynech, Powys


Why many Muslims are so angry

Dominic Kirkham (letter, 13 July) cannot even acknowledge that the Muslim world has a history of far greater tolerance of Christians and Jews than any part of Western Christendom. But why have we seen the recent rise of such violent stridency among a small minority of Muslims? Wahhabi and Salafi ideologies are not new, but they have only recently become so attractive to disenchanted young Muslims.

Mr Kirkham seems not to have noticed the provocations inflicted by our own political leaders, determined to impose their ill-informed view of how things should be in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere. This determination has led to the deaths of tens if not hundreds of thousands of Muslims directly or through the ensuing chaos in all three countries. So far Isis has inflicted only a fraction of the killing committed by the West. In the background, too, lurks the continuing story of Palestine, where Britain laid the groundwork for Zionist supremacy, and where it remains unwilling to defend the rights of the largely Muslim dispossessed.

No wonder many Muslims are angry. And it is essentially political. Remember Lynndie England humiliating prisoners at Abu Ghraib? Daily abuse of kidnap victims in Guantanamo? We now know that abuse and torture were sanctioned at the highest level. I am also angry; my values have been betrayed by my leaders.

The wonder is that Mr Kirkham seems not to share my anger.

David McDowall

Richmond, Surrey


Redefining the kilogram

In your article “Our kilogram is losing weight – can maths save the day?” (15 July) you refer to only one of the two current methods to measure mass in terms of a fundamental constant for the redefinition of the unit of mass. The other proposal, which is likely to be more accurate and is being pursued by the majority of laboratories around the world, is the watt balance.

The watt balance was invented at the UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and the best watt balance measurement has been made at the National Research Council in Canada using a watt balance designed and built at NPL.

The results of both techniques can be compared accurately and the results agree to well within their combined uncertainty, providing strong support for the proposed redefinition of the kilogram in 2018.

Dr Simon Reilly

Group Leader, Mass & Dimensional Metrology

National Physical Laboratory

Teddington, Middlesex


Academies aren’t always better

Richard Garner (Education, 9 July) is right to criticise Nicky Morgan’s answer to “coasting” schools – forced academisation.

As a governor at a Cambridgeshire secondary that suffered that fate despite moving from special measures to “good with outstanding features” within just four years, I  can bear witness to the potential damage.

Almost overnight the inspirational head left and a remote educational trust took over the management of the school. All sense of local accountability was quickly lost. The school changed its name, the curriculum narrowed and the school’s performing arts speciality that was doing much to inspire kids was quietly forgotten.

Neil Roskilly

CEO, The Independent Schools Association, Saffron Walden, Essex


Dickensian horrors

Let’s hope that when Cameron and Osborne have finished stealthily privatising the NHS for profit we don’t find ourselves back with the horrifying conditions Charles Dickens was obliged to reveal while resisting Establishment claims he was being “sensational” (“The unseen Charles Dickens”, 14 July).

The only sensational thing was what they were able to get away with, which is what sections of the business community are still attempting. Certain things have changed for the better since Dickens’ day, but not everything.

Terry Collcutt

Bletchingley, Surrey


Nuclear weapons in the Middle East

After the agreement with Iran, surely the West should continue to rid the Middle East of nuclear weapons, and to that effect Israel should be compelled to give up its nuclear weapons and submit to IAEA inspections to verify compliance.

Ian Dunlop

Staplecross, East Sussex