Calling for a statue of the suffragette Emily Davison in Parliament, Jeremy Corbyn says her sacrifice “left a deep impact on our politics and country” (“Frontrunner for feminism may get a statue at last”, 6 March). The day a young woman walks on to a racecourse and into the path of the king’s horse clearly isn’t easily forgotten but must never be commemorated.
Davison had a reputation for recklessness, once attacking a man she mistook for the Prime Minister, and the Women’s Social and Political Union had cut her loose from the organisation in 1913. They exploited a tragic accident by declaring her a martyr to their cause.
More female statues would be a great honour to influential women but let there be none of the suffragettes, or their leader Emmeline Pankhurst, whose fanatic and violent actions made them the extremists of their time. If anyone deserves a figure in Parliament it is Millicent Fawcett, leader of the forgotten suffragist movement. Respected politicians supported her long but peaceful campaign for women’s votes, and it was these methods that eventually achieved it.
Indeed, Jane Merrick (“Remember Harold – in stone”, 6 March), Harold Wilson should be honoured, not least for supporting to the hilt the setting up of the polytechnics (I am a proud alumna of Leeds), the Open University (I qualified for an MBA from their Business School), the local playhouses (as a school pupil I attended Nottingham Playhouse regularly), and of course the National Theatre, which I go to now. Wilson was a man of culture and vision who achieved many things and encouraged his colleagues to do the same. What would we not give for a politician of his calibre now?
I’ve good news for the National Gallery’s Gabriele Finaldi, who thinks Cold in July is the only film in which the protagonist is a picture framer (“Food for Thought”, 6 March). There’s another one in Wim Wenders’ 1977 Highsmith adaptation, The American Friend, played to perfection by Bruno Ganz. Things don’t go well for the framer, but the film is fitting fare for a discerning National Gallery director.
DJ Taylor may have a point that even in the early 1960s Coronation Street did not reflect accurately working-class communities (“Well I’ll go to the foot of our stairs!”, 6 March).
The wider point however is not as Taylor claims that working-class communities no longer exist but that in order to continue they have to be dynamic and open to change.
Living in central Tottenham there is still a sense of community, including street community groups, but it is hardly the same as in the 1960s. For example my neighbour, a Polish woman, sometimes brings round Polish dishes while I in turn help her with some of the more labyrinthine bits of British official life. We converse on Facebook.
It is inaccurate to say “The number of people arrested for driving under the influence of drugs has soared by 600 per cent” (“Drug-driving tests soar in first year of roadside testing”, 28 February). The levels for illegal drugs detected in the system are set so low that driving would not be influenced or impaired in any way.
Roadside “drugalysers” punish people because traces of an illegal drug have been detected. No other evidence is needed to convict. People will be fined or have their licences endorsed or taken away. They may lose their job or businesses. Their lives ruined just because they have been disobedient. They have chosen to use an illegal drug which they may prefer because it is less harmful than many legal ones.
This is another example of our indiscriminate and cruel drug laws which are not based either on evidence or science. Until the government addresses this, innocent people will continue to suffer and no one will be any safer.
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