Don't treat us like children in the wake of a terror attack – we need to understand politics now more than ever

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The Independent Online

Your editorial on 27 May would seem to be playing into the belief that we must all be treated like children at the present time, unable to cope with valid points (political or otherwise) made about our country’s involvement in foreign conflicts resulting in the kind of poisonous atmosphere in which zealots can be recruited and used for murderous ends.

The people who are grief stricken are the bereaved relatives and friends of the poor people who were killed in the Manchester atrocity. The citizens of Manchester are extremely shocked at this terrible event in their midst; the rest of us are appalled. While staunch solidarity with one another is highly commendable, scenes of mass public emotion might actually encourage the terrorists, making them feel very powerful. They obviously want to cause anguish and, in their religious fanaticism, believe people outside their own mindset are worthless, so in their warped view do not merit any compassion.

As a country we would be advised to show grit and level headedness in the face of the seams of fanaticism that lure young men into such feverish thoughts that mass murder and simultaneous self destruction become not only acceptable but desirable. If more police officers getting to know locals and picking up vital information is a route to greater protection for the public, I want to know about it. And if a political party has undermined this through austerity measure, I want to know that too. 

Penny Little
Great Haseley, Oxfordshire

Theresa May, then the Home Secretary, addressed the Police Federation Annual Conference 2016 in Bournemouth and said, “We must never underestimate how the poison of decades-old misdeeds seeps down through the years and is just as toxic today as it was then. That’s why difficult truths, however unpalatable they may be, must be confronted head on... So we must not let the lessons of Hillsborough and other past injustices go unheeded, and we must not be afraid to face up to the challenges of today.”

Wasn't the invasion of Iraq another past injustice, which, to their credit, Jeremy Corbyn and Labour Party members have faced up to and confronted head on, however unheeded and unpalatable this difficult truth is to her and some members of the Tory party?

Geoff Naylor

Please do not overlook the extraordinary statement from Amber Rudd that she has not changed her view on securing the safety of the nation. Does she really expect us to support a Home Secretary that doesn't acknowledge that security situations are constantly changing and demand changing approaches and updated insights? Such hubris in a Home Secretary is extremely dangerous.

Robin Bradbury

Who is responsible for the invisible Tim Farron?

You refer to a survey which found that half the electorate don’t know who Tim Farron is. Do you think this has anything to do with the ongoing refusal of the broadcast media to refer to anything to do with the Liberal Democrats, let alone Tim Farron? Do you think it has anything to do with the print media – with the honourable exception of The Independent – refusing to print anything to do with the Liberal Democrats?

I have been a member of this party and its predecessors for more than 50 years. I can never remember a time when this refusal to acknowledge our existence has been so blatant. The fastest growing political party in the UK, with a membership that has now doubled to over 100,000 in recent months, the only political party representing the views of the 48 per cent who voted to Remain, simply airbrushed and edited from the debate. It is a scandal and a disgrace.

Richard Fagence

What motivates a suicide bomber?

Many people find it difficult to understand what goes on in the minds of suicide bombers, but one version of Islamist fatalism makes it perfectly comprehensible. According to this, the precise time of each person’s death is fated, but not the place or manner of death. For example, when 1,426 pilgrims died during a stampede in a tunnel in Mecca in July 1990, the Saudi ambassador to the UK was reported at the time as avoiding responsibility for the tragedy by saying that they would have died at that time anyway, even if they hadn’t gone to Mecca. So on this view, it is impossible to commit suicide in the sense of dying earlier than one would have from some other cause.

Yet dying in an act of martyrdom nevertheless guarantees a place in paradise, whereas dying in a mundane way might mean dying in a state of sin, thus leading to eternal damnation. This would also explain why such a high proportion of suicide bombers have a background of criminality, or of sinning against Islamist morality: the act of martyrdom cancels out their earlier misbehaviour. 

The only solution is for Islamic philosophers and clerics to educate people away from this incoherent and dangerous form of fatalism.

George MacDonald Ross

It has taken 2,000 years for Europeans to live in peace with each other. Mixed marriages have led to more and more European families with double nationality. I am British and have spent most of my adult life living in continental Europe yet I can never imagine myself as an Italian, German, French or Spanish national.

So can someone explain how and why Britain and EU nations hand out passports like candy to people from other continents with totally different cultures, laws and religions who are not and can never be European. Yes, we had colonies but they all wanted, and have been granted, independence. Nevertheless, we now have British and French Libyans, Somalis, Nigerians, Indians, Pakistanis, Turks, Afghans, Algerians, Moroccans, Senegalese, Congolese etc etc. The system is becoming uncontrollable and unfair to most of the population.

No Westerner could get passports from these countries if they wanted them. It is one-way and causing tremendous social transformation, as well as creating segregated communities in our towns and cities which are becoming the breeding grounds for anti-Western feelings and terrorism.

It is time to end dual or triple nationality. We each have a different culture and history. This does not mean people cannot live in another country, but everyone should only have one nationality and one passport to end the abuse. 

Peter Fieldman

Angela Merkel is demonstrating unusual foolishness

Clearly Angela Merkel had a bruising time at the Nato and G7 summits, and her view of President Donald Trump is probably at an all time low. But her public statement that Germany and Europe could no longer rely on the US – and even, it seems, the UK – is out of keeping for Merkel and surprisingly foolish, even allowing for electoral manoeuvring.

She risks igniting a row with Trump that could know no limits. She is probably outraged at his attitude to the Paris climate change agreement; that is one thing, but nuclear security in Europe is something else entirely and of far more immediate concern. We must endure and survive a four-year Trump presidency, not escalate disagreement to such an extent that he effectively walks away from Nato.

Merkel should be careful: Europe would not be able to secure its eastern borders without full US engagement. A drift towards neutrality and acceptance of Russian influence would begin, and even the UK might eventually give up on our defence commitments to the European mainland if EU leaders continue to take the tone that Merkel has just adopted.

Brexit and Trump have much to answer for. Merkel should not make things worse

Angela Merkel: 'We Europeans must take our destiny into our own hands'

John Gemmell
Great Barr, Birmingham

Angela Merkel, in placing the importance of defence and security of Europe on the agenda, does rather hint at the obvious solution on Brexit. The UK should raise spending on its armed forces to an appreciable greater level and with more continental deployments. In return, the EU should grant the UK a favourable Brexit settlement. 

John Barstow 
Pulborough, West Sussex

Not your average corner shop

Your article on the “Waitrose effect” influencing house prices suggests an average boost of £21,512 of houses close to a supermarket compared to similar houses in nearby areas and quotes a premium of as much as £36,000 in some instances. This seems to be the economics of the lunatic asylum. 

I get all my groceries and other household items home delivered and the cost ranges from £2 to £7 depending on the time and day of the week. Even taking the most expensive delivery rate, and the average boost of £21,500, one could get more than 3,000 home deliveries and still have change out of the house price premium. Assuming two food deliveries a week, it would take almost 30 years of deliveries to break even and if one also factors in the fuel and time saved it is a no brainer. 

It's good for the environment, too, to have one truck delivering goods rather than hundreds of cars using fuel and adding to congestion.

Patrick Cleary
Honiton, Devon

Searching questions

For an organisation which boasts it is one of the UK’s premier polling companies, the methadology used by ComRes in its recent survey of public opinion on abortion limits appears, to me, to be deplorable. In Sir Humphry Appleby style each question seems prefaced by a statement intended to “guide” punters into giving the answer required by those commissioning the poll. 

The “cut-off” question begins: “In most EU countries the limit for abortions is 12 weeks or less. In light of this difference what do you think the time limits should be in Britain?” But almost every EU country allows abortion on request up to 12 weeks and with medical advice up to the end of second trimester – essentially the same as in the UK. 

Only one in 10 UK abortions takes later than 13 weeks gestation, the vast majority due to serious maternal illness or a major foetal abnormality which cannot be detected or confirmed until after 16 weeks. The conclusion that “most people want abortion limits curtailed” brings the polling industry into disrepute.

Rev Dr John Cameron
St Andrews

Undiagnosed autism is a growing social problem

As the father of an autistic son, may I thank Paul Flint (Letters, 28 May 2017) for his comments regarding sentencing of autistic offenders.

It is generally thought that one in 100 of the population are likely to be on the autistic scale, but given the lamentable history of our health and education authorities’ interest in autism, the significant likelihood is that this figure is far larger. There is therefore every likelihood that a significant percentage of our prison population are undiagnosed autistics. These individuals were therefore imprisoned because the state failed to recognise their condition, and failed to offer them the support and counselling they needed to be good citizens.

This is a situation that, instead of improving, is likely to get worse as a result of the Governments’ pursuit of cost-cutting measures at every level of societies’ vital fabric. Yet, just like the proverbial “stitch in time”, wise and proper spending to diagnose and support all those with an autistic spectrum condition would ultimately save so much grief and money. 

David Curran
Feltham, Middlesex