Class wars are alive and well in the case of Lavinia Woodward

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Tuesday 26 September 2017 16:57
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Oxford University student Lavinia Woodward leaving Oxford Crown Court where she has avoided prison after receiving a 10-month suspended jail sentence after she stabbed her boyfriend with a bread knife
Oxford University student Lavinia Woodward leaving Oxford Crown Court where she has avoided prison after receiving a 10-month suspended jail sentence after she stabbed her boyfriend with a bread knife

The case of ”talented” Oxford student Lavinia Woodward spared jail after a knife attack on her former boyfriend is illustrative of a number of unresolved themes in British society.

Back in 1934 the workers Film and Photo League produced the short film called Bread. The film features the plight of starving working-class man who was jailed for stealing a loaf after having been denied means tested welfare. This experience is juxtaposed with that of a group of upper-class university students who had upended a market trader’s stall – thereby robbing him of his livelihood for the day – and whose actions are excused imprisonment on the basis of youthful student hi-jinks.

Similarly, Lavinia Woodward of Christ Church college Oxford who stabbed her then boyfriend and hurled a laptop, a glass and jam jar at him, has been spared a custodial sentence. This is not because she was reacting to some form of gender based violence or intimidation but because, as Judge Ian Tingle originally stated, “to prevent this extraordinary, able young lady from not following her long-held desire to enter the profession she wishes to would be a sentence which would be too severe.”

Woodward can thank her lucky stars she is not working-class and/or black. Despite many Conservative and neoliberal prime ministers having boasted that Britain is now a classless society, the reality is we are still manifesting many of the class based problems complained of in the 1930s.

Dr Gavin Lewis
Manchester

Hobson’s Brexit choice

Politicians of both major parties are doing the British electorate a huge disservice in squabbling amongst themselves whilst depriving the voters of the opportunity of expressing second thoughts on Brexit, since realistically millions of voters are not suddenly going to switch to the Lib Dems at any election provoked by Brexit meltdown. The fact that delegates at the Labour conference were deprived of a serious debate and vote on Brexit, when a majority of Labour voters are believed to be Remainers, is symptomatic.

A majority of MPs of all parties were (before the referendum) Remainers. But for reasons either of internal party politicking, or in fear of losing their individual majorities at the next election, they are either just keeping their heads down or arguing weakly for retention of the benefits of the single market and/or the customs union but outside the EU. However, it is perfectly clear – on the principle of not letting us have our cake and eating it – that the EU governments and their negotiators are never going to concede the retention of the key economic benefits of being in the EU to any country wishing to leave.

Although the swing is not yet dramatic, polls suggest that a narrow majority now favours Remain. This is hardly surprising since a growing number of indicators are confirming the broad thrust of the original Remain arguments. There was enough banging on about the “will of the people” after the very narrow referendum result, but if and when the May Government collapses or the Brexit negotiations reach a terminal stalemate, and we face a general election, the current will of the people about Europe will be frustrated, with no one to vote for when neither major party now backs Remain.

Hobson’s choice is not democracy.

Gavin Turner
Gunton

Why I raised my child as a vegan

My eight-year-old daughter has been a very happy and healthy vegan since birth (“Benefits and Risks of Raising a Vegan Child, According to Experts”). She’s the picture of health and very proud of her 100 per cent school attendance record. There was never any question over whether to raise her as a vegan: I’d be worrying too much about her well-being and happiness if I were feeding her meat, eggs, and animals’ milk.

Responsible parents would never consider giving their children cigarettes or alcohol, because we know that they harm our health and can cause huge problems later in life, particularly when that damage starts early. Meat, egg, and dairy consumption is no different, as it increases our risk of suffering from obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

There’s so much pain and hardship in the world that we have limited ability to change, but each of us can easily do something to make the world a less violent place every time we sit down to eat: we can make a decision that won’t contribute to the misery of cows on dairy farms or the disappearance of fish from our oceans – we can choose a plant-based meal.

Dawn Carr
London

No party can ever be united on Brexit

Your assertion that Sadiq Khan leaves Labour unity in tatters with call for a second referendum is a misleading. No single political party can ever be united on Brexit; such a complex political, economic, commercial, legal, environmental, religious and social matter.

Brexit is like walking through a treacherous path or worse it is like sleeping in a minefield. The virtues of open markets, free movements, accountable governance, human rights, representative democracy and European juristic and legislative procedures remain the envy of the world. We can either walk forward or retreat into a world along the fault lines of nationality, race, religion and tribe; a world where journalists’ voices are muzzled, freedoms quashed, potentials squandered and where terrorists continue to prey on the youth and vulnerable in our midst.

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob
London, NW2

Trump is clinging to patriotism

In regard to President’s Trump remarks regarding the actions of the National Football players and the playing of the national anthem.

Truly this a good example of what Dr Johnson meant when he commented that “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”.

George D Lewis
Brackley

Twitter needs to regulate itself

Now that Twitter has reached such undisciplined prominence in world affairs, is it not more duty bound than ever to terminate accounts whose use might be deemed malicious, offensive and threatening. Just a thought.

Rick Biddulph
Farnham

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