Amid the horror of the Woolwich killings, politicians from all shades of the political spectrum appear to be agreed on one thing: whatever the grievances of the suspects, their actions cannot be justified by British foreign policy.
But the political establishment is in denial. There is a world of difference between justifying an action and explaining it. To seek to immediately shut down a debate on why our soldiers are killing people in different parts of the Muslim world in our name, is to play into the hands of people who commit atrocities on our soil. Indeed, to refuse to discuss these issues looks as if we have something to hide.
We should try to understand why a small section of the British Muslim community identifies more with citizens of other countries to the extent they advocate murder on our shores, and challenge this dangerous ideology.
To do this, we must confront and counteract their ideas about our foreign policy, and not refuse to enter into such a debate for fear of looking as if we are accepting justifications or excuses. By doing so, we stand a much better chance of exposing their ideas, and marginalising them, both inside and outside the British Muslim community.
Eventually, we will have to talk to such people, just as we have talked to other “terrorists”, such as the IRA.
Dr Shazad Amin
Sale, Greater Manchester
The Woolwich suspects were clear about their objective, “to start a war in London”, creating enmity between British citizens. Now, the Muslim community needs to help solve the problem within its ranks, as they suffer the backlash.
That is the purpose of a small minority of Muslims, and if their “victories” are to be denied, it is essential that the majority take a stand and “out” such individuals to the authorities.
If the Muslim community fails to do this then it becomes a collaborator. If the community cannot determine whether it is prepared to give up those intent on causing violent dissent, then the mosques that fail to report those people to the authorities should be closed.
Woolwich may have altered the course of British politics. It was also an attack on Queen, country and above all, freedom, to which David Cameron issued a robust retort. The allegations that the reaction betrayed a “racist” agenda are nonsense (letters, 25 May).
The Prime Minister’s statesmanlike response has surely silenced the backbench murmurings against his leadership, albeit temporarily. This leaves potential challengers and Ed Miliband sitting on the sidelines.
The Prime Minister’s decorum in the wake of the tragedy also made a telling contrast with the Mayor of London’s attempt to promote his own political agenda.
With the challenge of the Syrian crisis looming and his NHS reforms faltering, Mr Cameron has less than a year to prove he is more than a one-term Prime Minister.
Staines Upon Thames, Middlesex
The GPs of today, and of yesterday
I think Dr Clare Gerada (Voices, 23 May) overstates her case by saying, “We routinely see up to 60 patients on a daily basis”. Giving an average of 10 minutes per patient, that represents 10 hours of surgery time a day. Few in this part of the world will believe this.
Some years ago, when a previous government wanted to create super-surgeries, the Family Doctor panel of the BMA put out a leaflet stating their belief in the importance of the relationship between family doctor and patient.
Alas, this does not extend to night time and weekends, when patients never know who they might have to deal with. Given that uncertainty, is there any wonder that they go straight to A&E for attention?
Wolsingham, Co Durham
I entirely agree with the Secretary of State for Health that the problem with A&E is related to the opting out of “on-call” care by GPs. But the problem goes further back than the last extraordinary pay rise for GPs.
I worked as a GP for 27 years and retired in 1998. I was happy to do my fair share of out-of-hours cover. I was a believer in continuity of care, and GPs covering their own practice out of hours was an important part of that.
But the authorities did not share this view and we were paid what we considered a pittance for the night and weekend work we did. It was little wonder that younger GPs were likely to take any opportunity to relieve them of this duty. Before I retired, my partners took this route and joined a co-operative. I didn’t follow them on a point of principle.
I kept a record of all the out-of-hours visits that I had done between 1991 and 1998: a total of 1,117. I tried to analyse them to determine how many patients I had saved from making an unnecessary visit to A&E or an unnecessary 999 call.
I presented this to the partners at a clinical meeting mainly to illustrate why we should be paid more for the visits. Only 120 of those 1,117 (10 per cent) were referred to hospital, meaning the rest I could advise and/or treat myself.
Knowing many of the patients and families was a considerable advantage, as was having access to the notes of those of my partners. Apart from visiting, I can think of numerous occasions when a word of advice to a family over the phone had been enough, (plus giving them the option to phone again if needed, and they knew they would speak to the same doctor), and often no follow-up visit or even treatment was needed. I concluded that the GP is the perfect person to do the initial “triage”.
Dr Grahame Randall
We should use a stand-by airport
Simon Calder (25 May) is wrong to link the extensive flight delays on Friday to the constant calls for more infrastructure (ie runways). All that is required is the equivalent of a motorway hard shoulder, a nearby civilian or military airport prepared for emergency landings.
This would have the extra benefit of not requiring the stricken plane to fly back across central London, which surely only adds to the risk of disaster?
Your coverage of an ailing British Airways flight returning to London Heathrow included a map of its route. If accurate, it raises two significant questions: first, why did the aircraft not divert to Stansted, which was almost underneath the revised flightpath?
Second, why was a malfunctioning aircraft with a full load of fuel, allowed to circle back and fly over central London, the most densely populated area of the country?
Pros and cons of the EU
The pro-EU campaigners seem to forget a simple fact when howling about the “loss” of business if UK were to leave the EU. We would still remain members of the EEA just like Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. Switzerland is slightly different but has a close arrangement with the EU. Being outside the EU did not have much impact on Iceland’s banking sector a few years ago.
As a member of the EEA, we would enjoy many of our present EU membership advantages plus regaining control of our EEZ. We would still have to adopt many EU directives into national law, but would have more choice over which ones. We would lose voting rights, but as many EU decisions are by QMV, we probably would not lose much.
The business elite who wish to stay in the EU fail to answer how Britain can protect its borders as a member of the EU. As a member, we cannot prevent Britain being used as the dumping ground for Europe and the world`s surplus populations.
We have a welfare budget which has risen since 2010 from £194bn to £220bn. The UK Government fails to publish how much of this rise is attributable to the ever-rising number of immigrants claiming benefits.
T C Bell
Blindness or a cunning plot?
I wonder if George Osborne’s reputation as an astute politician might be justified. He and his fellow neo-liberals are possessed with an extreme-right-wing hatred of what they refer to the State and we might think of as the public realm.
That ideological disgust extends to include welfare, or, particularly, the NHS. The only explanation for Osborne’s persistence in economic policies which have been proven not to work and never will is that they create the circumstances under which the extreme right can argue for curtailing expenditure in the public realm (except for Trident) and which will allow for the destruction of the NHS in particular.
A class act
The apparent scepticism of Ukip and the Tory right over climate change suggests that the British education system has lamentably failed. Otherwise, why do so many fail to understand scientific research? The Government could easily introduce scientific research classes within weeks. Sadly, I doubt it will, being scared of upsetting Ukip’s voters.
The rump UK
Your correspondents need not worry about a name for the remainder of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland if or when Scotland secedes. The constitutionally correct name would be the United Kingdom of England and Northern Ireland. As ever, Wales doesn’t get a look in, having been annexed to the then-Kingdom of England by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542.
An idea blossoms
On my rail commute from New Southgate to Finsbury Park I pass miles of green embankments. The plant life seems to consist of grass, nettles and weeds. Why don’t councils plant wild flowers in such areas and stimulate insect populations? It would make the journey a bit more pleasant.
That’s for sure
A C Grayling (Voices, 24 May) rightly praises the “careful estimations of a scientific world” in which “nothing is certain”. Yet he appears to have no problem claiming with certainty that there is no God.