Around this time last year you were kind enough to publish a letter from me pointing out that nine out of every 10 people who had had the opportunity to vote Ukip in local elections hadn’t taken it. A similar calculation (share of vote times turnout) this year shows the proportion of Ukip rejecters to have risen to about 11 out of 12.
Yet much of the Great British media is implying that the party is on an inexorable rise. Equally oddly, the analysis of Labour’s winning more than 300 extra seats has generally been presented as a disaster for Mr Miliband and his party. Given that the last time most of Thursday’s seats were contested was on a general election day when the much higher turnout would have favoured Labour, to have won so many with only this year’s depressingly low turnout doesn’t look like failure to me.
Brian Hughes, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
Now that Ukip is evidently a powerful force in British domestic politics, I wonder if you could prevail upon Nigel Farage to use his weekly column to do two things? While we know Ukip’s policies towards Europe and immigration, we remain ignorant of what they are on such crucial issues as health, education, defence, the economy. Perhaps Mr Farage would be gracious enough to enlighten us in detail?
Second, we are not unreasonable in expecting senior politicians to be people of high intellect, general capacity; people of bottom if you like. I’m sure your readers would be interested to know what authors Mr Farage admires, which are his favourite artists and composers, which historians have influenced his thinking; indeed to learn more generally about the culture that underpins his politics.
Michael Rosenthal, Banbury, Oxfordshire
I was amused to hear Nigel Farage’s boast that “the Ukip fox is in the Westminster hen-house”. Unlike the great majority of the British public – 80 per cent in one recent poll – Mr Farage is strongly in favour of fox-hunting. Besides which, although many of us have a liking for the fox as a clever and handsome fellow, we also all know that hens are productive and foxes are destructive and the only course of action when a fox gets into your hen-house is to do everything you can to expel it.
Or, if you think like Mr Farage, just shoot it.
Huw Spanner, Harrow, Middlesex
Now that the local elections are over can we please end the blanket coverage of all things Ukip. In a two/ three horse race they finished fourth and control diddly squat. Please grant them the irrelevance they duly deserve.
Paul Armstrong, Workington, Cumbria
Unsafe discharges from hospital
The British Red Cross shares the concerns over the practice of discharging patients from hospital at night (report, 22 May). We know from experience that, for older people with frailty in particular, being discharged without any support network can lead not only to readmission but also to a long-term decline in independence.
The other side of the story is that many older patients remain in their hospital beds past the stage of needing significant clinical assistance. Many NHS staff are fully aware of the vulnerability of an older person living alone after a period in hospital and will therefore sometimes delay discharge. All too often it comes down to a choice between unsafe discharge and keeping patients in hospital unnecessarily.
This is frustrating for patients, costly for the NHS and completely avoidable. In many hospitals, voluntary organisations like the British Red Cross are already helping patients to return safely home, including follow-up visits from volunteers. We have evidence that this basic support can go a long way towards building confidence and well-being, thus reducing the likelihood of another crisis.
We second the Patients Association’s assertion that “patients need to be treated with care, compassion and dignity”. We hope investigations of this sort will eventually lead to better-supported discharge and recognition of the crucial role of the voluntary sector in providing this care – and that ultimately hospitals will be less relied on as a substitute for support at home.
Mike Adamson, Managing director, British Red Cross, London EC2
Once again you report on the dire straits facing the National Health Service (“Hospitals plead for emergency loans”, 22 May). Always, it is due to a lack of funding, in spite of Coalition promises, and a Coalition agreement, to support the NHS and maintain expenditure, and impose no top-down changes. And yet now a “health tax” is being suggested.
And yet there is one area of government expenditure where money is no object, namely the Trident nuclear missile project. Its costs are estimated to be £50bn to £100bn, and it is untouchable. Ask yourself, what is the point of the NHS; is it of value to you? What is the point of Trident; is it of value to you?
Allan Williams, London E8
Stop these assaults on Baha’i faith in Iran
We were deeply troubled to learn in recent reports that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is destroying a historically important Baha’i cemetery in Shiraz. Nearly a thousand Baha’is are buried in this cemetery – including 10 women whose 1983 hanging came to symbolise Iran’s barbaric persecution of the community. More than 200 Baha’is have been executed since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The violation of this site is illegal under Iran’s own laws. Desecrations of Baha’i cemeteries are just one morally repugnant part of a state-sponsored campaign to eliminate Iran’s Baha’is as a viable entity.
The Baha’is number some 300,000 people, the country’s largest religious minority, but they enjoy no rights under the constitution. Baha’is are denied jobs and education, they are vilified in the media, and they are harassed in their daily lives. More than 100 Baha’is are in prison on trumped-up charges.
President Rouhani has promised to respect the rights of all Iranian citizens. But the human-rights situation for Baha’is has only become worse, while Christians and other minorities also continue to suffer. We hope that our voice, as a group of British parliamentarians, will remind others to hold the President to account. Deeds, Mr Rouhani; not words.
Baroness Berridge, Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on International Religious Freedom, Louise Ellman MP, Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Baha’í Faith, Sir Tony Baldry MP, The Lord Bishop of Coventry, Lord Alton, Mary Glindon MP, Kelvin Hopkins MP, Baroness Hussain-Ece, Naomi Long MP, Neil Parish MP, Adrian Sanders MP, Andrew Selous MP, Stephen Twigg MP, London SW1
Privatised probation will risk public safety
The concern expressed by a correspondent over the proposal to privatise the Land Registry service (Letters, 19 May), with the loyalty of the staff who control the property of the country transferred to a private company, is justified. However, the splitting of the Probation Service between a private company and the vestiges of the public service – which would already be in place if the changeover had not gone pear-shaped – should be frightening.
Public safety in this area depends absolutely on the ability of the service to share information seamlessly across different regions, including Scotland and Northern Ireland. Yet the very nature of the plan will mean there is going to be reluctance to share information even between the private profit-making and the public-service parts which are being established within individual regional offices. The temptation to pass the buck between the different parts of the new “service” will be increased by the increased ease with which that will be possible.
Tony Pointon, Portsmouth
A haven of safety for irregular verbs
I am delighted to be able to relieve, however slightly, Jean Elliott’s gloom (“Have we losed our irregular verbs?”, Letters, 24 May). Every Sunday evening, thousands of us church choristers sing the Magnificat which contains the words: “He, remembering his mercy, hath holpen his servant Israel.” Given the Anglican propensity for thoughtful change, this wording should survive for some centuries – and with it “holpen”.
Ted Clark, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
It’s not Charles who’s the problem
Normally the comments of foolish old men are by definition disregarded (Letters, 22 May). The problem, however, lies with the media, which regularly report at length Charles Windsor’s private opinions and often uninformed utterances.
Peter Lack, London N10
How dare David Wheeler (Letters, 23 May) describe Prince Charles as old? He is the same age as me, which is late middle-aged.
Sue Thomas, Bowness on Windermere, Cumbria