Labour supporters must learn from the mistakes of the local elections

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The Independent Online

Rather than despairing at the local election results, as I'm sure a great many will, I believe that we must regard them as being instructional, particularly in the run-up to the forthcoming general election.

All those who so often say “there's no point in voting around here, such-and-such always gets in” ought now to be reminded that the only pointless behaviour in any election is to stay at home and sit on one’s hands. There is no such thing anymore as a “safe seat”, only presumptuous voters and non-voters. Every election is up for grabs, just so long as the electorate themselves remain engaged.

In the words of our local publican: “You’d all bitch and moan soon enough if you didn't have a vote, so be sure to use it while you’ve still got it.”

Julian Self
Milton Keynes

Theresa May doesn't know how to negotiate a Brexit deal

Theresa May and many of her followers appear to be under the illusion that she will be a great negotiator while she seems to be breaking every rule in the book. She has made no attempt to understand the perspectives of the EU states and has set out absolute negotiating positions in advance, depriving herself of any flexibility.

Her stated position, of leaving the single market and customs union but keeping free trade with the EU, is unobtainable. Her temperament is one of bullying those who confront her, not working with them towards a solution, and her threats to crash the UK out of the EU with a “no deal” risk causing immense damage to EU and UK citizens alike.  

May starts the negotiations with little or no respect from the skilled team the EU is putting forward to meet her. Yet a majority of the British public are still under the illusion that if she stamps her feet and shouts a bit, the EU will capitulate. Whatever our views on Brexit (evenly split for and against, according to recent polls), it is frightening that our futures will be in the hands of someone so obviously incompetent as a negotiator. 

Charles Freeman

Does Theresa May really believe that by winning this election, she will strengthen her hand in negotiations with the EU? If so, she is either more deluded than her European counterparts already think, or she is even more badly prepared for the forthcoming negotiations than we feared. 

Any negotiator worth her or his salt prepares for negotiations by getting to know the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition. May seems to believe that European Brexit negotiators are operating in some sort of political vacuum with no knowledge or understanding of British politics. How breathtakingly arrogant or stupid, or both. 

They will have done their research. Of course they know that this election has been called purely for party political purposes, and that May has called the election because of the perceived weaknesses of the opposition and because the Conservatives will get five more years in power instead of the three that they will likely get when they screw up the Brexit negotiations. 

The EU negotiators know all this and will not care a jot if what majority May gets. They still have all the aces.

Antony Robson

The left should join forces rather than campaign against each other

There should be no delay, especially in light of the recent local election results, in the formation of a progressive alliance in British politics. At the very least this should include Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens. Key aims should include achieving proportional representation, social justice and concern for the environment.

The three parties could keep their existing structures and programmes but commit to not fighting each other in elections, at least for the time being. At some point, especially if Brexit goes wrong, people will tire of the Tories and want to vote for the opposition, assuming that this appears competent and united. The work needs to start now.

Andrew McLuskey

The French election could end with another example of the West's discrimination against Muslims

As the French cast their votes, Muslims feel under siege and are often vilified, demoralised, highly discriminated against and portrayed as aliens to Western civilisation.

It is true that Christians endure atrocious torments, persecution, mass atrocities, discrimination, beheading and more in a few Middle Eastern countries. However, from a statistical point of view, Muslims are the greatest victims whether there or even in Western societies.

As your report showed, in Nice, many of the victims of that gruesome terrorist attack were Muslims, who suffer from racial and religious vilification and profiling. They have contributed enormously towards the advancement of the West politically, culturally, economically, spiritually and socially.

There are several shining examples that could act as a template for peaceful and harmonious coexistence such as the Amman message, the common word or the international week for interfaith harmony that preach tolerance, openness, moderation, modernity and inclusive societies. It is time to unite against the menacing scourges of hate and bigotry. 

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob
London NW2

The secret to a long life

On reading in John Rentoul's column about the world's oldest person I was reminded of a story I once heard about a Canadian lady who, on reaching one hundred years, was interviewed by her local newspaper.

She was asked what she ascribed her great age to, and the reporter was obviously expecting one of the usual answers. "I put it all down," said the old lady, "to the fact that as a young girl, I didn't get on the Titanic."

With age and perspective comes great wisdom.

D Leddy 

Concern over Prince Philip's retirement fund

While I am sure we all would wish Prince Phillip a happy retirement, I am alarmed by the news that the latest EU conditions imposed on Greece entail yet a further cut in pensions. I do hope His Royal Majesty is not too badly affected.

Nick Wright