Letters: Labour infighting

Blair-Brown backbiting will deny Labour power for many years
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The Independent Online

Sir: Your editorial about personal attacks and backbiting (9 September) does not go far enough. For some time we were fed the narrative that yes, Tony Blair was damaged goods but we only had to wait patiently for Gordon. He was a man of stature with relatively clean hands. But now we are told he is rubbish and will be no good at rescuing his party. No one can rescue the party now. It will be unelectable for I don't know how many years.

KATIE GENT

LONDON SW13

Sir: Terry Francis (letter, 11 September) suggests actions that might get the message over to Tony Blair at the TUC conference. The most effective is to stand and turn your back. That could never be misconstrued as any type of terrorist threat and endures throughout the speech, instead of just leaving empty seats.

BRIAN BURBAGE

INVERLEIGH, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA

Sir: When the full extent of Tony Blair's deceptions over the Iraq invasion was exposed his position as leader of the Labour Party remained unassailable. When the consequences of this invasion were shown to be an unmitigated disaster for East and West alike, he was effectively unchallenged. But only now, when Labour is faced with losing seats in the coming elections, is the Party of Socialist Principle dumping him.

LAWRENCE HANSEN

ALBEFEUILLE LAGARDE, FRANCE

Sir: Would someone mind telling me where John Prescott is in this row over the Labour succession? We were told he owed his Deputy Prime Minister's job to being the only man who could organise an orderly transfer of power. Come on, John, get your croquet mallet out and bang a few heads together.

JOHN POLLEY

SALISBURY

'Nazi' Israel has no gas chambers

Sir: On 11 September you published five letters on the Israel/Arab conflict - all extremely hostile to Israel. In those letters Israel is variously compared to the Nazis and said to be engaged in genocide, and a comparison made to the Warsaw Ghetto.

Is rational debate really assisted by such emotionally charged false parallels? For the information of your letter writers Israel does not have death camps; there are no gas chambers; no Dr Mengele medical experiments; no mountains of bodies and no mass graves etc etc. Nor does Israel preach a doctrine of extermination of so called sub-humans; unlike Hamas, Hizbollah and the president of Iran. In the rhetoric to their own people they have all called for the extermination of the Jews and Israel.

None of your letter writers acknowledge the fact of over 50 years of Arab attempts to destroy Israel. Nor do they acknowledge that that is Hamas's avowed aim. For instance two of the letters call for the restoration of EU financial support to the Palestinians. If Hamas wants the EU financial support restored, all they have to do is to renounce their aim of destroying Israel.

None of the above is to say that Israel should not be criticised, but for criticism to do any good, it needs to use rational arguments based on a recognition of the true facts. For example, that Israel is engaged in a fight for survival, which if it loses will result in a mass extermination of its Jewish population.

One-sided emotional hyperbole achieves nothing.

TONY SOMERS

LONDON SW5

Sir: The readers' letters comparing the actions of Israel to those of Nazi Germany made me, a refugee from the Nazis, literally cry.

The world was told openly that the aims of the Nazis were to conquer the world and to exterminate the Jews. In contrast, Israel has one aim and wish, after 56 years, to be left in peace with all its neighbours.

There can, and will, be peace in Israel/Palestine if the Arab states would only say yes. In 1947, when partition was on the cards and a Palestinian state was offered, they said no.

At an Arab summit conference 1967 in Khartoum they declared: "No negotiation with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no peace with Israel." And now again Hamas and Iran say no to the existence of Israel and avow that it is their aim to eradicate Israel.

RABBI HARRY JACOBI

NEW BARNET, HERTFORDSHIRE

Sir: Your letters page on Monday (11 September) was dominated by letters criticising Israel.

There is indeed much that is troubling in the recent and present policies of the Israeli government (though hardly of it alone, in the Middle East). But I was astonished that four out of these five letters - to a liberal British newspaper, not a jihadist website - called into question not only Israel's conduct but its existence, referring variously to: "this artificially created state"; "the understanding that Zionism perpetuates anti-Semitism"; "the Zionist propaganda machine"; and how Britain "aided theft of Palestinian territory".

As Andreas Whittam Smith observes, there is a chance for European "soft power" to increase its influence in the Middle East, but unless and until our engagement with Israel is framed within an unequivocal mainstream acceptance of its right to exist, then our exhortations and criticisms, however well-justified, will always be treated with a degree of suspicion of our motives.

SARAH LUDFORD MEP

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT EUROPEAN JUSTICE SPOKESPERSON MEMBER OF THE HOUSE OF LORDS LONDON N1

Sir: EU protests against Israel's illegal withholding of the customs duties used to pay Palestinian salaries are undermined by its own refusal to recognise the Hamas-led government.

Talks with an elected government do not have to mean the same as agreeing with it, yet there can be no better way of influencing policy direction. EU ministers last April should never have allowed their policy to be determined by the "Quartet", which means, in practice, by the US, and in turn by the Israeli lobby.

The warnings voiced when I visited Gaza in April have come terribly true. Worse may follow, yet it need not have been like this.

If there had been active engagement between the EU and the Palestinian government could the rocket attacks against Israel have been halted? Would Israel's vicious onslaught against Gaza have been mounted? Would the fire that destroyed half of Lebanon ever have been lit? EU ministers should bitterly regret their decision.

CHRIS DAVIES MEP

(LIBERAL DEMOCRAT, NORTH WEST OF ENGLAND) STOCKPORT, GREATER MANCHESTER

Why Alan Turing killed himself

Sir: That was an interesting piece by Terry Kirby (7 September) on the rebuilding of the code-breaking bombe, until the last paragraph and the inaccurate sideswipe at Alan Turing.

He did not commit suicide because he was tormented by his homosexuality: he was tormented by a secret service and establishment which, after it thought it no longer needed his services, classed him as it classed all male homosexuals at the time as "traitors or potential traitors". He was no longer allowed to work or study or do anything which he wanted or could do with his brilliant mind.

Turing was driven to feel guilty and paranoid until he did the only thing which was expected of homosexuals at the time, he killed himself. (King George V's comment on a homosexual courtier was: "I thought men like that shot themselves.")

The appalling way he was treated by a "grateful nation" was one of the reasons why liberal and rational people finally persuaded the establishment that it was not homosexuality but the illegality of it that meant clever people were vulnerable to blackmail by criminals and Soviet agents.

After more than a decade of quiet and diplomatic campaigning, the Sexual Law Reform Act of 1967 is as much a tribute to the memory of Turing as the statue in the park in Manchester.

MIKE DAY

LONDON SW2

Racist incident at the county show

Sir: I wish to take issue with the account by Nadeem Butt of events at the Kent County Show in his article "This prejudice is forcing me to leave Britain" (1 September). The incident he refers to apparently relates to a dispute over a parking-place.

Mr Butt suggests it was Kent Police who decided the racist incident he describes did not warrant any further action. The contrary is true. Officers were prepared to investigate the behaviour of Mr Butt and the other party but neither wished to support such action. Mr Butt withdrew the allegation and he signed the officer's notebook to that effect.

As for officers forming the opinion that Mr Butt must have said something to warrant the verbal abuse, this was not their opinion but the counter-allegation made by the other party, which they put to him.

Kent Police do take all racist incidents seriously. Officers spent nearly an hour with Mr Butt, taking every care to ensure he was happy with the outcome and fully understood the implications of withdrawing his allegation.

MICHAEL FULLER

CHIEF CONSTABLE, KENT POLICE MAIDSTONE

We had to confront radical Islam

Sir: Your interesting front page of 11 September, giving various figures related to the Twin Towers attacks, leaves out something that cannot be known for sure but can reasonably be guessed in its magnitude: namely, how many deaths would have resulted from America and Britain not meeting the threat of fundamentalist Islam head-on after the attacks.

The human memory is all too short, with history often being rewritten and believed very soon after events. We should go back and read the newspapers of the Nineties when we all felt like sitting ducks vis-a-vis threatening radical Islam, and wondering just when weak western governments and the immobilised UN were going to take some action to help the frightened and persecuted people of Iraq, Africa, and elsewhere.

FRANCIS REILLY

ORPINGTON, KENT

Trail laid through hunt law loophole

Sir: The report "Two years after ban, hunts attracts new followers" (9 September), fails to mention the gaping hole in the Hunting Act called "trail" hunting, which could explain why some people are able to continue to kill foxes for fun.

The scent used in trail hunting is fox urine imported from America, from farmed animals. This scent actually draws foxes to it because of a new scent in their territory, which makes its use by hunts a blatant flouting of the ban, and its licensing by the Forestry Commission even less defensible.

If hunts lay trails of fox urine across land where they have traditionally hunted foxes and where they know foxes to be (as they do in the area where I live), surely there can be no accidental killing of foxes? If the Government does not close this loophole in the Hunting Act, then all the Parliamentary time, and taxpayers' money spent, will have been in vain.

HELEN WEEKS

WEST COKER, SOMERSET

Schooling in two languages

Sir: Genevieve Roberts reports (9 September) on the opening week of the "first bilingual state school in Britain"; the Ecole Wix may be the first bilingual state school in England, but there have been bilingual state primary and secondary schools in Wales for many decades.

Pupils at such schools (including myself) have benefited from a bilingual education, for the reasons highlighted in the article. In addition to Welsh and English, there are compulsory European language lessons; perhaps now the opposition to bilingual schools will decline and a bi- (or tri-) lingual education will finally be seen as preferable.

GETHIN RHYS THOMAS

RHYDAMAN, CARMARTHENSHIRE

Traditional brewing

Sir: Here in Devizes our beer is still being delivered by heavy-horse-drawn drays. Tetley's, Young's and Adnam's stables may have closed (letter, 7 September) but ours are open and Wadworth's beer still ranks as one of the best.

ROGER DAY

DEVIZES, WILTSHIRE

Children with autism

Sir: Jeremy Laurance's timely article on autism (6 September) refers to greater public interest in the condition. Sadly, this does not translate into adequate public services for people with autism. More than a quarter of children with autism are excluded from school at some point, and only one fifth of teachers have had any training in autism. Now that prevalence is estimated at 1 per cent, so failure to address the needs of children with autism should be a concern for us all.

LINDA REDFORD

DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT, TREEHOUSE, THE NATIONAL CHARITY FOR AUTISM EDUCATION, LONDON N10

Wrong sort of American

Sir: As Cooper Brown trashes yet another part of our country and culture, this time the Proms (7 September) one can only hope that he will soon be as fed up with his presence here as we are and return home. Incidentally, had Cooper studied the programme for the Prom he attended (Prom 62 on 31 August is the only one that fits his description) he would have discovered that the soloist was the most welcome Richard Goode, who is, of course, an American.

STEPHEN DAY

FAKENHAM, NORFOLK

Animal experiments

Sir: For the sake of clarification, I would like to respond to the letter (11 September) by Professor Tipu Aziz. Your readers should be reminded that it was not I but your writer Dominic Lawson who made the incorrect assertion that Aziz discovered the technique of deep brain stimulation "through experimentation on the brains of live chimpanzees". I merely pointed out this error in my letter printed on 7 August.

ANDRE MENACHE MRCVS

SCIENTIFIC CONSULTANT TO ANIMAL AID, TONBRIDGE, KENT

Marmite recipe

Sir: I must take issue with Morris Graham's recipe for that very special comfort food, the Marmite sandwich (letters, 5 September). The toast must be warm when the butter is spread, and not cold as he suggests. The Marmite should be spread on the toast as thickly as your taste permits. The melted butter and Marmite mix and are absorbed in part by the toast. Try both his method and mine; I guarantee that you will enjoy mine more.

DAVID STALLARD

SWANSEA

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