Letters: May’s police cuts increase terror threat in UK

These letters appear in the January 19 edition of The Independent

Independent Voices@IndyVoices
Tuesday 20 January 2015 17:13

Theresa May acknowledges that the Jewish community feels “vulnerable and fearful”. What she failed to mention was that protecting the Jewish and other communities would be far more effective and practical with the 16,000 officers that she has removed from UK policing.

Even without the current “severe” threat from jihadist terrorism, police forces across the country would have been struggling to maintain the standard of service that the public have a right to expect.

She complains that intelligence gathering is being hindered by the refusal of Parliament to pass legislation that allows internet data to be retained and examined, yet is destroying another vital source of intelligence: community policing.

Not only has she presided over a dramatic reduction of police numbers at a time of national crisis, she has also ensured that police morale is at its lowest-ever ebb.

It is little wonder that many police officers have made it clear that, should they die in the line of duty, they don’t want “that woman” crying crocodile tears anywhere near their funeral.

Chris Hobbs (Metropolitan Police, 1978-2011)
London W7

Anti-Semitism is a nasty thing – so is Islamophobia. I grew up in the North of England, at a time when people often used the expression “to be Jewish” meaning to be mean with money. In the same era “Paki bashing” meant physically attacking Muslims.

Theresa May has denounced anti-Semitism. She said that the Jewish population of the UK can expect full protection and support, She, however, made almost no reference to the Muslim community. Last year in the UK there were far more attacks on Muslims than on Jews – both acts just as despicable.

The implication of such a speech is that Jewish people, according to the Government, are considered more valued than Muslims. The danger is, surely, that it will encourage yet more anti-Semitism.

Thomas Eisner
London SW14

Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are equally wrong. Anti-Islamic demonstrations and attacks on mosques in some European countries, which predate the Paris attacks, as well as attacks on Jewish targets should be condemned.

Anti-Semitism, however, should not be used to justify confiscating Palestinian land and destroying Palestinian communities in order to build illegal settlements for European Jews fleeing anti-Semitism.

Mohammed Samaana

In the wake of the Paris attacks, there has been much media discussion of the rise in so-called anti-Semitic attacks. We need to be very clear about the difference between being Jewish and being Israeli.

Because of Israel’s 47-year military occupation of Palestine, its continuing violent land grab, illegal settlements, and numerous violations of international law, you can understand people from around the globe being upset. Then we had the slaughter in Gaza in the summer that killed more than 2,100. If there has been a rise in tensions lately, this is the most likely reason.

Israel is a self-proclaimed state for Jewish people, and those who are not Jewish have few rights (if any), and are often “encouraged” to leave. There have been many accusations made against Islamic states (by Western media and leaders) of late, but none has been made against Israel.

Colin Crilly
London SW18

Theresa May stated that she never thought she would see the day when members of the Jewish community would say they were fearful of remaining here in the UK. She says “without its Jews Britain would not be Britain”.

This came as much of the media highlighted the findings of the so-called Campaign Against Anti-Semitism that 25 per cent of British Jews were considering leaving for Israel, and that 45 per cent considered that Jews had no long-term future in Britain.

The CAA’s poll was methodologically flawed, according to the Institute of Jewish Policy Research. Anyone on the web could, and no doubt did, vote in it.

A poll for The Jewish Chronicle, properly conducted last week, found that 88 per cent of Jews had not considered quitting the UK. The CAA’s primary motivation is to shield Israel from criticism via unfounded charges of “anti-Semitism”. This includes conducting a poll using loaded questions.

Theresa May’s concern about anti-Semitism and Jews leaving Britain is highly opportunistic and motivated by a desire to increase mass surveillance of British citizens and criminalise opinions she disagrees with.

If her concern is about racism against a minority population, she should turn her attention to those who single out the Muslim community.

Tony Greenstein

Free speech comes with responsibilities

I was in Berlin a year after the wall came down and asked an East German journalist how it felt to young people to now be free. He replied: “It’s great – the problem is we don’t know how to use that freedom.”

My community of Marlborough has had a 32-year relationship with the Muslim community of Gunjur in The Gambia. In conversation with friends there since the events in Paris, they have said they are all appalled at the murders that took place, supposedly in the name of Islam.

At the same time, they are confused by the demands for the protection of freedom of speech when that speech is gratuitously offensive, not even humorous and is fundamentally about making money through the sale of a magazine.

Hands up, those who do not think that with freedom comes responsibility.

Dr Nick Maurice
Marlborough, Wiltshire

Some correspondents have failed to grasp what free speech means. It is irrelevant whether or not you like what someone says, draws or prints – it is their right to do it. Some believe that religion is an ancient male psychological disorder, which is why it sends young men mad.

It is irrelevant how “offended” any believers are; it is the right of all of us to believe – or not believe – what we freely choose.

Carole Penhorwood
Brentry, Bristol

Fair trials could soon be only for privileged

The Lord Chancellor has been warned time and again that his cuts to legal aid would result in a surge of self-representation among defendants (“Defendants face court alone due to legal aid cuts”, 19 January). Today’s research is a classic case of a self-fulfilled prophecy, highlighting that Chris Grayling’s wrong-headed reforms are pushing the justice system to its limits. Treasured principles, including access to justice and equality before the law, will be further undermined if his plans for crude and forced consolidation reducing the number of providers by two-thirds goes through.

That is why, in conjunction with the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association, we are fighting in a judicial review in the High Court over the introduction of these plans. If we are unsuccessful in our challenge, we could be consigning the notion of a fair trial to the dustbin of history for all but the privileged.

Bill Waddington
Chairman, Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association, Hull

Why can’t Parliament work from home?

How refreshing to read your editorial (“Tax and mend”, 19 January) and its admonishment to encourage people to work from home.

A shift towards working from home, which could transform our national lifestyle, supercharge our national productivity and be the laxative required to relieve our constipated national infrastructure, is constantly undermined by prejudice and moral cowardice. Businesses recoil at the idea that they might trust their employees, and politicians lack the vision or conviction to fight this fear.

How can we escape from this paralysing paranoia? An unambiguous demonstration of courage and commitment from Government would be a great start. What if, rather than merely endlessly extolling the digital highway, they actually embraced it and relocated the House of Commons online? MPs could live in their constituencies, accessible to their electorate, free of the prowling lobbyists and unencumbered by second homes.

If this example were followed, it would mean that commuting, and thus further massive road and rail investment, would be curbed; it could mean that the population drift towards London, and hence property demand and prices, might be reduced; it might mean that Britain would lead the second industrial revolution, rather than endlessly playing catch-up to countries that have overtaken us since the first. Gordon Watt


Greet readers with a compromise

Would “Morning some of you” keep everybody happy?

David Watson
Goring Heath, Oxfordshire

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