Letters: Lib Dems need Farron and Lamb, heart and head

These letters appear in the 23 June edition of The Independent

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In answer to Saturday’s editorial on the Liberal Democrat leadership election, I had the privilege to hear both Tim Farron and Norman Lamb speak at the leadership hustings in Leeds. I went fearing I would be disappointed, but how wrong I was. The party needs both men in order to move forward.

Norman Lamb is a mighty liberal intellectual who will be essential to the party forming good policy. He will appeal to those who know they are liberals and have thought through the issues facing our country.

However, if Liberal Democrats are to see the party grow and develop they need to win the hearts and minds not just of the intellectuals, but of ordinary men and women, in their everyday lives. To win seats they need to attract the floating voters, not just the established liberals. Tim Farron has the ability to move people. He has the ability to make them say “Yes, I believe in what you are saying. Yes, I am with you,” and beyond that to make people say, “Now tell me what you need me to do to make a difference.”

In an ideal world the Liberal Democrats might have a party where Tim Farron leads and where Norman Lamb directs policy. They would form an immensely powerful team. As to their own policies, as they spoke it was clear that there was little to separate them and that in itself is a powerful statement for a party ready to rebuild.

As a Christian, my faith is the cornerstone of believing in the equality of all people, in justice and fairness for all. It is not at odds with my liberal values and nor does it appear to be for Tim Farron. While Norman Lamb might resonate with many who already read The Independent, to win elections the Liberal Democrats need to win the votes of readers of other newspapers and of none.

Rosemary J Kind
Tholthorpe, North Yorkshire  


Your editorial on Saturday was a welcome addition to the current party leadership elections for the Liberal Democrats. Having heard both candidates speak at a London area hustings on Wednesday, I was pleased to read your comments about Norman Lamb. I found him the more impressive of the two candidates.

You write: “Britain’s Liberals are feeling lonely and low”. I don’t think that is correct. After 50 years’ membership of the current party and its predecessors, I can’t recall a more up-beat atmosphere in the party. Yes, we lost a lot of valued colleagues to (primarily) Tory propaganda designed to frighten the electorate, but that will change once the electorate realise just how they were conned, in my opinion.

Since 8 May, close to 18,000 new members have joined the party. Liberalism is alive and well and the country is beginning to wake up to how much it needs that philosophy to be a part of our political life.

Richard Fagence


Time for British Muslims to speak out

As a proud British citizen who also happens to be Muslim, I understand why David Cameron felt the need to make his controversial speech about radicalisation. These past months I too have watched in dismay as young, impressionable people have turned their backs on their homeland.

The Foreign Office estimates around 500 Britons have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join Isis, and some believe the true figure is closer to 2,000. I feel deeply saddened and angered by atrocities carried out in the name of my religion. I know the vast majority of Muslims feel this way. Some of us have been vocal. But the painful truth is that most have remained silent for too long. The time has come to stand up and be counted.

I have taken it upon myself to reach out to fellow Muslims; to the estimated 10,000 Indian restaurant owners in the UK employing almost 100,000 – mostly Muslim – workers; and to community groups serving the Muslim population. I am calling on my brothers and sisters in the restaurant trade to stand up for British values. Talk to your staff  and customers  about what it means to you. I feel proud to be part of this great country, and it disheartens me to see fellow Muslims shun all that it has to offer.

It is incumbent upon us, as proud, hard-working British Muslims, to reach out to the disenfranchised pockets of our communities and enter into dialogue with them. We can do this on many levels – through community events, by setting up youth forums, and by being vocal and consistent with our messages in mainstream and social media. If we truly want to reverse this worrying trend that is tainting our religion, then the impetus must come from within the Muslim community.

Avi Malik
Gateshead, Tyne & Wear


Tory austerity destroys dignity

A friend of mine, who is wheelchair-bound as a result of her lifelong disability, has been told that her care provided by care workers will be reduced. Savings must be made. This will mean, among other things, that she will spend many hours unable to attend the toilet, as she needs assistance to perform this task.

She has been told that she will be provided with adult nappies, as this will “increase her independence”.

How does this foster dignity? How can this be called “support”? Where is the caring empathy of the strong for the vulnerable?

“Austerity” translates into wilfully ignoring the pain, stress and fear created by the way these policies are being implemented, in the pursuit of purely ideological aims. Our government is behaving with cruelty towards vulnerable people. This cannot stand.

Corneilius Crowley
South Harrow, Middlesex


In your editorial “Cutting edge” (22 June),  you say: “No one can deny that the  Conservatives have a mandate to proceed in this direction” (to further destroy the lives of the poorest). I beg to differ. Sixty three per cent of us did not vote for this truly nasty set of rich ideologues. They are only in power by virtue of an electoral system that is unfit for purpose.

Philip de Jonge


A predictable shortage of GPs

Some parts of the country are experiencing a shortage of GPs. Although it has crept up on the politicians and health quangocracies, and come as a complete surprise, as usual, it is at least 15 years since women became 50 per cent of medical graduates.

Many women are heterosexual and live with or marry men. Seven out of ten graduate jobs are in London and the South-east. Most women medics live with or marry graduates. Many of the men are not medics and seek their careers where the jobs are.

The blindingly obvious and predictable are always difficult concepts, especially when politicians and health advisers deliberately, as a matter of policy, ignore medical advice. Failure to adapt the system to the known future workforce, as called for by many, has resulted in the present wholly preventable mess.

Peter Whelan
Pool in Wharfedale, West Yorkshire


Who needs this crumbling palace?

The Palace of Westminster is apparently going to cost £3bn to £6bn to renovate and take years to complete, and no doubt the cost would increase every month. 

Scotland and Wales each have beautiful new efficient assembly buildings, so why not follow their examples?  The existing world-famous old building could then be given a new lease of life and pay for itself as a museum, arts and visitor centre with prime-located hotel. 

Sue Thomas
Bowness on Windermere, Cumbria


I have lived in Aberdeen, Bristol, Edinburgh, Kent, the Isle of Skye and Warwick. Distance matters (even if only moderately). The farther one is from Westminster the worse one is governed.

So Parliament may have to leave its Palace? Who says it has to come back again? A parliament that moves has many advantages. Let us see what they are.

JPC Bannerman


Stern bank manager for Greece?

When I am minded to contemplate the deteriorating circumstances around the Greek economy and get my head around the monetary numbers and options, I consider a similar situation at a personal level.

If I owed my bank £10,000, and had had many final demands and was summoned to a meeting with my bank manager, what do you think his response would be if I were to suggest that he loaned me a further £20,000 so I could then pay off my debt?

Michael G Scott-Robinson
London E4


Beyond ‘Othello’, a new theatre

Martin Heaton (letter, 22 June) is on the right track, but we could go further to create a purer theatre experience.

Why stop at not “blacking up” for Othello?  We could lose make-up altogether, and maybe costumes and scenery. I envisage a theatre where naked, randomly-chosen actors perform on an unlit bare stage, free from the conventional thespian constraints. I’m not so sure about cinema.

David Ridge
London N19