In the week in which we were treated to the sight of the global elite enjoying each other's company on the Davos slopes, it was good to have the thoughts of the Rev Giles Fraser lifting our minds to higher matters ("I've spent my life on the naughty step", 22 January). The former canon chancellor of St Paul's took a principled stand by supporting the Occupy protest – something none of the Davos "leaders" seemed willing to do – and is paying the price by having to find new work for himself and a home for his family.
No one sensibly believes that dealing with the consequences of the bankers' spree is a simple matter: we live in a complex world where many things remain hard to understand, never mind control. But we are not likely to honestly and squarely tackle the fundamental issues behind the present crisis except by following the lead of Dr Fraser when he says: "I struggle to live out what I believe in a way that has authenticity and is real."
Every time I saw a Davos "leader" tell us why the rich need to be even better rewarded and the rest of us to be further impoverished by loss of work or social support, I found myself asking by what "authenticity" they decide their priorities and make their policies.
I was at the sharia [Islamic law] debate at Queen Mary, University of London that was abandoned when, as Joan Smith reported, an Islamic extremist filmed attendees by mobile phone and threatened to track down any that said anything negative about the Prophet Mohamed ("Strong religious belief is no excuse for intimidation", 22 January). To protect free speech in future, one approach, used at some universities, would be to require the handing in of mobile phones to security prior to meetings. But there is a wider issue. Are people to be deterred from legally demonstrating by the threat of being filmed by opponents and later pursued?
To Westminster, Scotland is a sideshow, a small boy to be given his pocket money and told to be a good boy ("We're proudly Scottish – but still British", 22 January). As Alex Salmond put it, the days when Scotland went down on one knee when a British prime minister spoke have gone. Scotland wishes to control her own destiny, control her own finances, and stop being used as a sideshow and a dumping ground by Westminster. Why not moor Trident submarines in the Pool of London? Scotland wishes rid of London's mess; the idea that if it is not in London, then it does not happen has gone.
Scottish people have more spent on them per capita than the English, and that gap will increase with devo-max. Their MPs vote on English-only matters at Westminster. It is only fair that the English be given an opportunity for a referendum on the Scottish issue. It could be that they don't want the Scots.
I have managed to catch a few of the Springwatch and Autumnwatch programmes on BBC2 over the years, and it was always fascinating to see the presenters' interaction with badgers. Now we may see the badgers featured on Springwatch being shot on Autumnwatch, as the first of the two trial badger culls commences. Most of the newly elected MPs into this Parliament – in the main, career Conservatives or Tory-supporting Liberal Democrats – will support a badger cull when presented with selective evidence. It will be a sad day for our wildlife when culling, hunting and shooting are expanded and the countryside treated like a fairground attraction – stack them up and butcher them down!
It is shocking to read that in the 21st century many mothers fear for their daughters in childbirth ("Thousands of women could be at risk from 'silent Thalidomide'", 22 January). The most important job in the world – producing the next generation – is still a dangerous undertaking for too many women globally, whether imperilled by impoverished healthcare or deliberate negligence. There is a critical shortage of midwives in some parts of Britain too. Honouring Gandhi's wisdom that a society is measured by how it treats its weakest members, among those we should include its babies.
Sacrebleu et gorblimey. Have General de Gaulle's remains moved from Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises in the Haute-Marne? I know De Gaulle is revered by anyone in France, but he has, apparently, moved himself posthumously to Versailles in Ile-de-France. Am I wrong? Or was it Jonathan Meades in Meades on France, as reviewed by Matthew Bell (22 January)? I only ask for information ...
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