The gruesome murder of James Foley is a progression from the routine beheadings of Alawites, Sunni and Christian supporters of the government in Syria by the Islamist rebels which we in the West have condoned by our silence.
The ideological well-spring of Isis remains the doctrine attributed to Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab, as now practised in Saudi Arabia, where beheading as a “Sharia” punishment is a standard practice and discrimination against women and intolerance of other religions are state policy.
No amount of bombing can stem this tide of barbarism in the name of Islam that has possessed a section of Muslim youths all over the world so long as we continue to coddle the oil-drenched sheikhs of Arabia.
M A Qavi, London SE26
James Foley represented an oft-derided profession which, in exponents such as him, unflinchingly risks its lives every day and in every corner of the world to expose the truth and expose evils for what they are. By doing this, photojournalists like Foley make themselves an anathema to the murderous God-forsaken dissolutes who took his life.
His death will have served a purpose, because it will galvanise governments to act in order to protect others who would, had they the choice, flee the terrors into which he so bravely strode. Thus the loss of his life will very probably save those of tens of thousands of likewise-innocent people.
In his final moments, James Foley would have known that. His job was, after all, to understand and report cause and effect. Let’s not let him down.
Paul Dunwell, Bedford
A Scot, but Britain is my nation too
As a native of Scotland , I am proud to call myself a Scot. I am also British by birth, having been born to a Scots mother and an English father in Glasgow (which lies within the old British Kingdom of Strathclyde), during a time when all the people of this island were united in a real struggle for freedom.
My problem is this: in the event of the majority of my fellow citizens behaving like the hero of Burns’ “Tam o’ Shanter” (who “tint [lost] his reason a’ thegither”), by voting “yes” for independence, do I lose my official British nationality? If so, to whom would I apply to regain it? Or, as with so many of the institutions which we share and take for granted, would this too be consigned to a historical footnote?
Of course the economic arguments will matter, but Better Together should not dismiss the value of national identity to their side of the debate.
Colin Crampton, Elderslie, Renfrewshire
The No campaign keep calling for the Scottish Government to produce a figure of the cost of independence, knowing full well that such a figure can never be produced without detailed discussions with the UK Government. The No campaign keep doing this to try to create as much uncertainty as possible in the minds of the Scottish voters.
There are many imponderables. How much will an independent Scotland inherit of the UK’s £120bn assets? What will Scotland’s share be of the national debt? How much will Scotland save in no longer having to pay for the House of Lords, Whitehall departments, and the refurbishment of the House of Commons?
How much will Scotland save in no longer having to pay its share of UK armaments, including Trident? What will be the cost of Scotland setting up the necessary government departments for running an independent country?
Regarding the last item, valiant attempts to find answers were made by Professor Dunleavy of the London School of Economics. He concluded: “A main reason why costs numbers are currently hard to estimate is that Whitehall has been completely forbidden by ministers from calculating any detailed transition costs for Scotland, in case some numbers get written down that could be copied and then used to undermine the Better Together campaign. Civil servants have been banned from even discussing any of the transition details with Scottish Government staff.”
John S Jappy, Urray, Muir of Ord, Highland
Why house builders drag their feet
I find it extremely strange that we have horror stories of a shortage of housing and house prices going up when developers are still coming back to planners saying their approved planning applications are not viable unless they get out of their affordable housing obligations. Clearly, if house prices are going up and up developers can afford to fulfil their obligations.
The other thing I find astonishing about these stories is the number of sites in Leeds that have had planning permission for some considerable time, yet when developers are asked why they are not being built on they turn round and say there is no demand. I know that in the current economic situation the buoyancy of the economy differs from one place to another, but in Leeds we have a strong and active economy.
It therefore seems to me that this is a serious case of land banking by developers, hence restricting supply and giving them an excuse to claim that more land should be released for development. It is quite clear to me that this is happening because developers do not wish to build on brownfield sites; they wish to develop greenfield sites where they will make much more profit.
Councillor David Blackburn, Leader of the Green Group, Leeds City Council
The lies Americans believe about the NHS
I am not at all surprised by Dr Jen Gunter’s surprise at finding that the British NHS gave her son good medical treatment (16 August).
As a regular visitor to the US, where I have many friends and relatives, I have been asked, “Have you had your death interview yet?” and was not believed when I explained that all over-70s were not being medically assessed to decide whether or not they should receive any NHS health care in the event of illness.
I was told that the NHS is too poor to do any medical research and that the UK is entirely dependent on US research. This from an obstetrician who was at that moment using a technique developed in a London hospital.
I was told in early 2010 that when the Conservatives were elected in the forthcoming elections – and they would be – they would throw the NHS open to American health and insurance companies and the NHS would thus be privatised. And that’s happening, isn’t it?
I also know of a Green Card applicant who was forced to undergo and pay for an expensive course of injections because the examining doctor said that the BCG inoculation did not exist and, in any case, the NHS could not possibly afford to protect such a large cohort, and that the applicant was a liar. This despite a letter from her English GP listing all her various inoculations.
The people making these statements had “read it in a newspaper” or “seen a programme about it on TV”.
Gill Ledsham, Windsor
‘Hard’ and ‘soft’ a-level subjects
Dr Giles Hooper judges the “hardness” of an A-level subject on the pass rate (letter, 20 August).
As an engineer, I realise that anyone educated in one of these “hard” subjects would not rush to conclusions without gathering, examining and analysing all the relevant evidence, as there could easily be other reasons for this outcome. Perhaps most of the less academic students were directed towards the “softer” subjects. I don’t know; and neither does he.
Ian Quayle, Fownhope, Herefordshire
‘They’re only doing that to please voters’
Eleanor Jarvis speculates that the reason for the Coalition’s free school lunch policy is “an election carrot to voters” (letter, 21 August).
Governments are on a hiding to nothing. If they take a tough decision in the interest of the country’s future, they are excoriated; if they try to make improvements to society, they do so merely as an attempt to secure re-election. Who would be a politician in such an age of cynicism?
Nigel Scott, London N22
Appeal for help with the non-crisis in jails
So Chris Grayling wants to assure us that there is no crisis in the prison service? That will be welcome news to all the retired prison officers who recently received letters inviting them to sign up to the “Prison Service Reserve” on short-term contracts. I wonder what he needs them for?
Mark Pilbeam, Newport, Isle of Wight
Magritte, Brel, Simenon and ...
That’s another famous Belgian, then – the last Neanderthal (“Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed”, 21 August).
David Crawford, Bromley, Kent