Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is to be commended for exposing the Tories’ sleaze (7 July). Their hypocrisy when attacking Labour for trade union financial support, while at the same time running these murky, private fund-raising gatherings of multimillionaire supporters, is breathtaking. Their methods of raising these huge sums are hidden behind the closed doors of “gentlemen’s” clubs, in return for God knows what favours.
We have seen politics descend to the pits in the recent past, and this government seems determined to drag it down even further. This Tory party is all about looking after their wealthy mates in the City – the very group who were instrumental in bringing the country to its knees – while making the blameless poor pay for the City’s recklessness.
David Cameron and his ministers are always banging on about transparency and openness, but it seems that much of their dealing is done in secret, safely away from the prying eyes of the electorate, with people whose only qualification appears to be great wealth, and a desire to exact advantage from their huge and sly support of the Tories. Disraeli and Churchill must indeed be spinning in their graves!
W P Moore, Norwich
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown mentions the Tory fundraiser attended by Russian millionaires, rich Arabs, eastern European magnates and home-grown hedge-fund gamblers. Such frequent occasions raise this somehow never-asked question: if our politicians are supposed to represent the interests of the British nation – and I am unaware of any controversy on that issue – then whyever are they permitted to accept donations from people who are not British taxpayers?
If political parties – of whatever colour – are selling influence to offshore interests and tax-avoiders then there is an undeniable conflict of interests.
If the electorate is ever again to have any faith in our political system, the political funding must be utterly transparent, with no suggestion of the protection of interests elsewhere.
Surely the time has come to demand that there is no representation without taxation.
Julian Self, Milton Keynes
What about Brazil’s real problems?
My eyes could not believe what they were seeing as I watched the Germans dismantle and humiliate the Brazilians on their own turf in the World Cup semi-final. At the end players and fans alike were sobbing and there was utter dejection and despair.
Anyone who didn’t feel some sympathy for the Brazilians must have a heart of stone. However, maybe now Brazil will reflect and realise that there are more important things in the world than football, and hopefully the politicians will address the circumstances of the majority of ordinary Brazilians, who have not benefited from economic growth in the country.
Liam McParland, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
We are coming to the end of the most exciting and eventful World Cup for many years, yet you choose to print three whingeing letters bemoaning various aspects of “the beautiful game” (8 July).
Football has always been a physical game; a golden age of pure football never existed. Such legendary names as Harry Cripps of Millwall and “Chopper” Harris of Chelsea, not to mention Norman “Bites yer legs” Hunter of the Leeds team of the 1970s, make the point well enough.
Yes, we do see a lot of niggling in the penalty area now, but only because about 40 cameras are trained on every movement a player makes. Do you think such things didn’t happen before?
Paul Street, Leeds
My sympathies are with your correspondents (letters, 8 July) who have complained that the 2014 World Cup has shown football at its worst.
Taking the biscuit for bad sportsmanship has to be the Netherlands for replacing their goalkeeper, who had been in place for 120 minutes against Costa Rica, with the substitute Tim Krul for the penalty shoot-out. It appeared to me that it had been planned for Krul to intimidate and harass those taking penalties against him.
Chris Sexton, Crowthorne, Berkshire
Tim Krul dragged football to new depths by his gamesmanship against Costa Rica during their penalty shoot-out with the Netherlands. Krul gave one of the best examples in years of the current win-at-all-costs approach prevalent in football. The Costa Rican goalkeeper set a better example by simply pitting his skill as a goalkeeper against the skill of the penalty-taker.
Stuart Russell, Cirencester
Niqab: a question of liberty
Mary Dejevsky’s article “The French ban on the niqab has been upheld. Quite right too” (4 July) favours the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, and argues for the need “to observe the prevailing social norms”.
She then offers a number of comparisons to the wearing of a niqab that prove she does not understand the issue. Almost all of her examples pertain to acts of aggression that contravene individual liberty. She advocates infringing upon the liberty of others in order to promote a vague idea of what constitutes national identity.
Throughout the article two key questions were never answered: why should the state have the right to impose a subjective idea of cultural identity on its citizens; and how is the state justified in using force to achieve this goal?
If the ideas advocated by Dejevsky were implemented it would only breed hostility towards the Islamic community. Furthermore it goes against the very principle of cultural tolerance.
Robert Dunne, Dublin
I too enjoyed Mary Dejevsky’s article, and welcome the support of the European Court of Human Rights for the French ban on face-covering. I wish our own government would respond similarly.
I find the niqab as worrying and intimidating as I would a person wearing a balaclava, motorcycle helmet or hoodie over their face in the street. The ECHR have cleverly separated the two issues, so the ban on face-covering is not a criticism of the Muslim religion, but an upholding of, yes, European norms.
Robin Barrett (letter, 7 July) recognises that he now can no longer shop with a full-face helmet on, so why should we accept other intimidating forms of face-covering in public?
Janette Davies, Bath
Democracy in Azerbaijan
We feel obliged to react to some groundless claims in relation to the human rights situation in Azerbaijan (“Zaha Hadid is architect of controversy after her building glorifying dictator wins prize”, 1 July).
We should make it clear that all fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and assembly, are guaranteed constitutionally in the country. It is a completely distorted reality to call the country a dictatorship; it is, rather, a young democracy with an independence of just over 20 years.
The establishment of a mature democratic society is a conscious and strategic choice of the leadership and people of Azerbaijan, and significant achievements have been made on this path. Azerbaijan’s active participation in the work of key European democracy and human rights watchdogs such as the Council of Europe and the Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe is a testament to its strong commitment to strengthening democracy and human rights.
We are aware that there is a long way to further strengthen and solidify democracy in Azerbaijan, the priority that the current government will determinedly pursue in the years ahead.
The Heydar Aliyev Centre, designed by Dame Zaha Hadid, is an architectural masterpiece and will continue to win well-deserved prizes. Baku proudly hosts this great work; attempts to cast shadow on it will fail.
Polad Mammadov, Second Secretary, Embassy of Azerbaijan, London W8
A more urgent inquiry
As the people who allegedly operated a paedophile ring inside Westminster during the 1970s and 1980s are all, presumably, older and nearer their graves than Tony Blair, can we assume the findings of the latest inquiry will be published before those of the Chilcot inquiry?
Chris Newman, Felliscliffe, North Yorkshire
Margaret Lyons, asks: “Why do we need to know that Theresa May made her statement ‘in a sombre all-black trouser suit’?” (letter, 9 July). Simple really: it adds a bit of interest.
Ron Dawson, Winterborne Stickland, Dorset
(Written wearing a pair of flip-flops, blue denim jeans and a grey T-shirt)