Letters: Another win for the politics of aggression

The following letters appear in the 5th December 2015 edition of The Independent 


Independent Voices
Friday 04 December 2015 20:08
Syrians inspecting damaged buildings following an air strike in Douma
Syrians inspecting damaged buildings following an air strike in Douma

It is sad to hear that Mr Cameron describes Mr Corbyn and like-minded people as “terrorist sympathisers”. The like-minded people may well be most of the population.

I find it alarming that the Prime Minister should not have understood the consistent views of those who oppose an extension of our miserable record of interventions in the Middle East. Think of the consequent mess that has emerged.

What chance is there that Mr Cameron will begin to understand the motives of the different factions in Syria when he cannot empathise with the views of those he meets every week?

One has to ask why our parliamentary leaders are so much more inclined to get involved in these wars than the general population. Do they really think that the bombing of London, Vietnam and the rest weakened the resolve of those who were attacked?

It seems to me that our political system inevitably selects people of an aggressive and antagonistic bent. I became politically aware at about the time of the Vietnam war, and while there have been some success stories since then, the overall effect of our attacks on developing nations is to generate the terrorist factions that we meet now.

Who would claim that the attack on Iraq was for the best? Is more bombing really going to change the hearts and minds of those we want to attack, or is it more likely to enlarge the ranks of those who really will be terrorist sympathisers?

Dr John Meers

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

David Cameron must stop being awestruck by the short-term results offered by Britain’s war machine. Bombs may have impressive names like Brimstone and Storm Shadow, and the MoD may talk euphemistically of “degrading” Isis, but this policing from the sky does not protect the innocent or solve long-term regional problems.

Britain needs to choose the harder course of rethinking relationships with oil-rich despots, and improving the social and material position of ordinary people in the Middle East, even if this means British arms companies lose business.

Ian McKenzie


I write with great sadness at the decision of parliament to launch air strikes against Daesh, which will only lead to more bloodshed, violence and killing and a rise in the profiteering of the arms industry. Since 9/11 the years of war and terror in many parts of the world, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, have only led to more instability, violence and chaos. How will this cycle of terror be stopped by still more bombing?

Imam Arshad


The Tories won the debate about the bombing of Syria and Hilary Benn is the champion. Tony would be spinning in his grave. Meanwhile, Labour members who supported the bombing have been subjected to bullying (with much media coverage), while David Cameron has officially bullied (with little media coverage) anyone of any political persuasion who had the temerity not to support it.

Beryl Wall

London W4

As a professor of history in the United States, I have spent most of my life in the classroom combating the collective historical amnesia to which Americans are prone, replete with false analogies that are used to justify America’s global interventionism. As one who has long admired the high quality of British political rhetoric, I can only look across the Atlantic with despair at the widespread praise given to Hilary Benn’s baseless analogy between European fascism and the Islamic State.

Jeffrey Cox

Professor of History

The University of Iowa

Iowa City, USA

Alex Salmond’s comment on Hilary Benn’s speech is not just offensive but wholly inaccurate. He has let Scotland down badly by this outburst. In fact, Tony would have been very proud of his son – not just for his courage and impressive oratory but also because he, like Michael Foot, knew real fascism when he saw it. Too few on the left do these days and it is a shame that Mr Salmond has identified himself with them.

Hugh Hetherington

Sandwich, Kent

It’s worth remembering that Hilary Benn spoke passionately and convincingly in favour of the Iraq war...

John Mitchell


Good riddance to bad courts charge

You are right to take pride (Editorial, 4 December) in the part The Independent has played in securing the abolition of the criminal courts charge.

But why wait until 24 December to abolish it? I suggest that it can, and should, be abolished with immediate effect, and that all charges imposed on defendants by courts since it came into effect should be cancelled and the (relatively small) payments made towards satisfying such orders be repaid. Further, the more than 50 magistrates who resigned in protest at the grotesque effect of the charge, should (if they so wish) be reinstated forthwith.

Finally, the papers in the Justice department leading to the decision to impose the charge, and at the rates it was set, should be published, so that the public can see what advice was given to ministers about its likely effects before its introduction.

David Lamming

Boxford, Suffolk

The bright side of zero-hours contracts

Outlook (4 December) suggested that the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s report on zero-hours contracts was an exercise to “whitewash” well-documented problems with this kind of contract, based on unrepresentative data. However, to ignore the evidence within that research is a greater injustice.

While not perfect, the sample of 368 zero-hours contract employees is, to the best of our knowledge, representative and probably the most reliable sample of zero-hours contract employees collected to date, excluding the Office for National Statistics Labour Force Survey. Where we are able to compare our findings with ONS data, for example on average hours worked, we find similar results. Indeed, according to ONS figures only about a third of zero-hours contract workers want more hours and just 22 per cent are looking for a new job, suggesting as our research does that most people on these types of contracts are satisfied with their working arrangements.

We recognise that these contracts do not suit everyone and our report identifies where these contracts can be improved, based on the negative findings.

However, it is also our duty to report on the positive findings. To dismiss any positive data is to deny the flexibility, satisfaction and opportunity to work these contracts can provide.

Mark Beatson

Chief Economist, CIPD

London SW19

Spain’s falling population

Concerns about Spain’s declining population (“Economic woe sees more deaths than births registered for first time since civil war”, 4 December) are misplaced. Spain’s population is two thirds larger than it was in 1950. One in five of the population are unemployed. Spain’s environment is one of Europe’s most diverse, but many species are threatened by development and pollution. Yes, it does have to ensure an ageing population can contribute and be cared for, but this is not insurmountable. Spain, like most countries, would benefit from fewer people, not more.

Simon Ross

Chief Executive

Population Matters

London E4

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