Having spent much of Saturday 26 March watching some 500,000 peaceful demonstrators go by my window in Piccadilly while a handful acted violently, I was dismayed by much of the news coverage, and commentary of the violent few and not of the larger public discontent. The Independent on Sunday was the exception among British newspapers. Your leader, "A march for fairness", was one of the few that viewed with perspective what is being done to Britain by the current Tory/Lib Dem coalition. I find it odd that my country and the brave British forces are fighting for those most despised and oppressed in Libya at great cost, while the UK Government and US Republicans are fighting our young, the old, the sick, our poor, and undoing our joint future.
Harry C Blaney III
Senior fellow, Center for International Policy
Washington DC, USA
Under an apocalyptic front-page photo of riot police you asked, "Should we allow the violence of a tiny minority to detract from Britain's biggest demonstration in eight years?" The photographs that you published answered your question: four more showing acts of violence and only one depicting the half a million people demonstrating peacefully.
I was disappointed to read allegations that our decision to seek to opt-in to the EU directive on human trafficking was "shuffled out" ("UK signs trafficking directive after 10-month delay", 27 March). We always said we would make a decision on applying to opt in to this directive when a final text was agreed. This is what we have done, and we have asked Parliament to scrutinise our decision. The UK Human Trafficking Centre already works with law enforcement agencies providing valuable tactical advice, intelligence analysis and expertise in anti-trafficking operations 24/7. In the spring, we will publish a new trafficking strategy with a greater focus on enforcement and improved support for victims.
Home Office minister
House of Commons
Elizabeth Taylor belongs to the generation of film stars created by the studio system ("The eclipse of stardom", 27 March). In that era, an actor's life and career were carefully groomed, creating the effect that she lived in a remote, rarefied realm. While the system was flawed, it also produced Hollywood personalities who captured the global imagination. Today, celebrity sex tapes, public meltdowns and reality shows have cheapened stardom and democratised fame. It is impossible for today's movie actors to have Taylor's mystique.
Standing in the wings waiting to go on for Imelda Staunton and Mathew Horne in Entertaining Mr Sloane, my fellow actor and I heard the announcement saying that they were indisposed and we were taking their place ("A crisis on stage...", 27 March). We were not thrilled to hear the chorus of booing from the audience. Understudies have about 10 per cent of the rehearsal time allotted to the "real" cast, but are still expected to turn in a more than adequate performance in. I've been in audiences when understudies have been announced, and if it was someone I'd particularly wanted to see, I've been disappointed. But I've also seen some astonishing performances which may have surpassed the originals.
With universities soon to be increasing their fees, and some charging the maximum, should we be asking for them to be accountable? During recent lecturer strikes over pensions, many students have lost lectures and seminars, some being refused a replacement. The universities will have a reduced salary bill while the strikes are on, but seminars are not replaced, nor support offered to those students disadvantaged in comparison with students on the same course who had their seminar or lecture just because the strike did not fall on that day. Hard-working students and parents struggling to pay their fees need this issue to be addressed by the universities.
Marilyn G Cadman
Stephen Brenkley wrote a perceptive piece about cricketer Michael Yardy's problems with depression ("BBC should still act...", 27 March). Geoffrey Boycott does not like to talk about his state in 1974-1976, when England batsmen Steele, Edrich and Close were battling the extreme pace of Lillee, Thomson and Holding. Though not physically injured, he expected understanding of his reluctance to play. Boycott should show similar understanding of Michael Yardy's decision to return home for India.
Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Given that tall people are paid more than short people ("Upper classes really do look down their noses at us", 27 March"), tax rates should be adjusted to compensate the vertically challenged.
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