Nigel Farage complains that while he is willing to engage in argument, his opponents are engaging in orchestrated violence against him. As someone who was manhandled out of the Ukip public meeting in central London last Wednesday after heckling one of the speakers, I take issue with this.
Since there was apparently no room for discussion from the floor, how else could a challenge to Ukip’s toxic, scapegoating views be made? Heckling is a long-established democratic tradition and to equate it with violence is ludicrous.
Nigel Farage and Ukip talk a lot about free speech. They certainly receive more than their fair share of it. They have received remarkable levels of media coverage.
In reality, what Farage and Ukip object to is being challenged over their views at all. They expect a free ride and wish to intimidate their opponents. We won’t shut up.
Mark L Thomas, Stand Up To Ukip, London N16
It would be all very well for Aidan Harrison to berate Ukip for its irrationality (letter, 10 May) if he also berated the main political parties for the same.
A significant section of the Conservative Party shares Ukip’s denial of climate science, and the complex tax system supported by the three main parties that has allowed companies such as Amazon to pay little or no tax is wholly irrational.
Peter Moyes, Brightlingsea, Essex
My wife’s 86-year-old aunt turned to me, knowing of my support for Ukip, and said: “I received my postal ballot form today and I see there are two Independence parties.”
She had been confused by the inclusion of the clumsily but deliberately named An Independence for Europe. I thought I’d mention this just to let Mike Nattrass and his fellow party members know that their apparent plan to confuse voters has met with some success.
The Electoral Commission can decide to refuse to register a new political party if its name is confusingly similar to another party’s. One has to wonder why this did not happen in this case.
Tom Trust, Redruth, Cornwall
There is more than a whiff of hypocrisy about a party that celebrates freedom of speech when a member talks about “bongo bongo land” and labels women as “sluts”, but as soon as it disagrees with a negative comment about it, it calls the police (Ukip complaint prompts police to question Green blogger”, 13 May).
It speaks volumes that this party can pick and choose when the free speech argument can be used, and we should be very wary of any political party that thinks it could possibly be right to use uniformed officers to crush dissent.
Simon G Gosden, Rayleigh, Essex
Nigel Farage and Ukip state that over 75 per cent of our laws are made by the EU. Are not these laws passed by the European Parliament whose members happen to include English MEPs one of whom is Nigel Farage?
So it is not as if we don’t have a say in the framing and ratification of these laws. Perhaps he should do a better job at arguing his case if he believes they are poor laws.
Ken Osborne, Hayling Island, Hampshire
In the run-up to local and national elections in Holland large roadside boards appear plastered with the posters and slogans of competing parties.
I note that of the 20 different parties displaying their opinions, 50 per cent were anti-EU. Of these most were demanding that the Netherlands withdraw from EU membership.
As for the remaining 10 parties – almost all acknowledged anti-EU sentiment by emphasising that they placed Dutch interests above those of Brussels. This in a country which at one time was uncritically besotted with the vision of a united liberal Europe.
Adrian Marlowe, The Hague, Netherlands
Torture is different in the real world
It is sad news that 44 per cent of Britons reject the idea of a global ban on torture (“‘24’ effect: a third of Britons think torture can be justified”, 13 May)
In fictional dramas such as 24, as in many books, films and video games, it is easy to set up a scenario in which cruelty to an enemy is necessary in order to save the lives of innocents.
First, we should realise that such situations almost never occur in real life. Even the notorious waterboarding of terror suspects by US personnel was found to produce little or no lifesaving information that was not already obtained by normal interrogation.
What it did do was erode the standards of treatment of prisoners, which had been unquestioned for decades in the armed forces.
Second, we need to look at how torture is actually used in those many countries where it is routinely practised. It is not employed to save innocent lives. It is used by those in power to suppress dissent, to persecute minorities and to humiliate and terrify political opposition. There are no good reasons to oppose a ban.
Sue Gilmurray, Ely, Cambridgeshire
It is depressing that so many people support torture. Perhaps they mistakenly think that only the guilty are tortured. Maybe they should imagine themselves or their children or parents being tortured, when innocent; I wonder if they would then support the practice.
Peter Cave, London W1
let’s have more of the Edith Cavell spirit
The final episode of the BBC’s television series about volunteer nurses in the First World War chose to draw a parallel between one of the main characters in the drama and the real-life nurse Edith Cavell.
The Crimson Field has been described by critics as “fluffy”, a “period soap”, and an “opportunistic mishmash” of previous hit TV shows. So the reference to Edith Cavell may be aimed at offering some sort of “balance” by touching on the real-life courage and ultimate sacrifice of those involved in the war.
While the hospital sister in The Crimson Field faces execution by the British for refusing to disclose the whereabouts of her German fiancé, Edith Cavell was tried and executed for helping 200 Allied soldiers to escape from German-occupied Belgium.
The two “offences” sit worlds apart. But it is a pity that the courageous, caring exploits of Edith Cavell were largely overlooked by the producers. Instead, her inclusion in the storyline seemingly only serves to deliver an anti-war, anti-establishment message by one of the other characters saying there is nothing like an executed nurse to “reignite the fervour” and get everyone behind the war effort.
It was the outcry from the general public following Edith Cavell’s death that led to the Cavell Nurses’ Trust being set up in her memory and it continues to support retired and current nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants in need today.
It is to be hoped that if a second series of The Crimson Field is commissioned, then the sense of duty, vocation and self-sacrifice shown by nurses such as Edith Cavell will be uppermost in future episodes.
Kate Tompkins, Chief Executive,, Cavell Nurses’ Trust , Redditch
First remove the beam from your own eye
I was amused to see that the Archbishop of Canterbury wishes to eliminate homophobia from church schools (“Welby condemns anti-gay bullying in schools”, 12 May).
He could start by getting rid of the verse in the Bible which states that people who commit homosexual acts should be put to death. While he’s at it, he should also get rid of the verses that relegate females to a lower status than men, as well as those that condone slavery, and those that indicate that the Earth and the universe are only a few thousand years old.
Not to mention the numerous passages where his deity comes across as nasty and vindictive.
Or he could just admit that he cherry-picks the bits of the Bible that fit in with his own opinions and ignores the bits that don’t.
David Love, Torquay
German or not, royals should stand down
John Dakin’s letter (13 May) saying that the royal family are not German may be true, but there is one inescapable fact with our royal family and that is that their claim to the throne is illegitimate.
They are descended from the Tudors via the Stuarts, and the Tudors are descended from the illegitimate Beaufort family which was John of Gaunt’s second family while still being married to Constanza.
When will the Windsors relinquish the throne and allow a legitimate heir to claim it?
J K Apps, Bury St Edmunds
This sounds like a standing joke
If it really is true that Network Rail’s proposed Northern Hub will “handle 700 more trains a year, carrying 44 million extra passengers” (“‘Oldest railway station in the world’ threatened by Network Rail plans”, 12 May), can I be guaranteed a seat?
John Driver, Abberley, Worcestershire