And so it rolls on, the Boris bandwagon, with the full acquiescence of the metropolitan press, the Tory grassroots and the people of London.
The London mayoralty has become something of an indulgence to the people of London as it bounces from the grand old man of the hard left, Ken Livingstone, to the darling of the gilded right, Boris Johnson. The rest of the country looks on in disbelief as reality in our capital city is suspended. While Ken’s best political days are behind him, and he has no reason to burst out of the London bubble of fantasy, Boris is taking baby steps in that direction.
He is in for an almighty surprise when confronted with the reality of opinion in the bulk of the country. Aside from the utter contempt of people on Merseyside and the bewilderment of the Celtic fringe in Wales and Scotland as to how he ever became such a magisterial figure, he will quickly have to face up to the truth that the majority of people in this country recognise the need for a serious, thoughtful and inclusive figure at its head.
Meantime the people of London will presumably move the carnival on and elect another political celebrity to bang the London drum.
Boris has bounced back on to the stage, providing us with the prospect of watching the antics of two jolly jokers in the pack in the run-up to the election next year.
It will be intriguing to see who trumps whom and whether Boris can single-handedly neutralise Nigel’s anti-European appeal with some of his casual, throwaway witticisms, and so induce Tory voters to return.
In the meantime, you give us the pleasure of reading Nigel’s weekly musings on various subjects, not one of which suggests that he has any meaningful policies to offer. Could Boris be persuaded to make a similar appearance on the same page? It would be extremely diverting to compare these two cheerful chappies.
I’ve just heard a radio programme concerning a Kurdish community in Turkey, and was amazed and gratified to hear that they now have co-mayors, always one man and one woman.
What a great idea. We are way behind. Just think who could be a female co-mayor with Boris.
Ancient community faces a grim fate
Your readers have been aware for some time of the terrible plight of the Christians and Shi’ites of northern Iraq following the occupation of Mosul by Islamic State (IS) forces. Now they will also have read about the parallel fate faced by the Yazidi community after the IS capture last weekend of the town of Sinjar, the subsequent reported cases of murder and abduction, and refugees dying of exposure in the open.
The Yazidi religion is an offshoot of ancient Iranian beliefs, with later Islamic and Christian influences. Once widespread across the region, it now flourishes only in Sinjar and Sheikhan, where their holiest site of Lalesh is located.
Yazidis have long lived in harmony with their neighbours, but for the IS they are not “People of the Book”, and thus have been singled out for particularly violent oppression and murder.
Yazidis have been protected in recent years by the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) and its peshmerga forces, but their retreat before IS leaves the Yazidis exposed to forced conversion or death, and their sacred shines subject to certain destruction.
We call on the policymakers of the UK and its allies, and on all concerned NGOs, to take all possible measures to assure the survival of the Yazidi community in its ancient homeland, and to channel all possible humanitarian aid to the KRG.
Professor Christine Allison
Professor Dr Andreas Ackermann
Professor Hamit Bozarslan
Rt Rev Dr Christopher Cocksworth
Bishop of Coventry
Professor Clive Holes
Professor Philip G Kreyenbroek
Professor Gareth Stansfield
Emeritus Professor Sami Zubaida
University of London
and 28 others.
An Israeli challenges the Galloway ban
I note that George Galloway has declared Bradford an “Israel-free zone”.
I’m an Israeli citizen intending to come to Bradford (when I’m in England) this October to visit my grandmother’s grave. My grandmother was the child of Jews who fled anti-Jewish violence in Eastern Europe just a little over 100 years ago and settled in Bradford, where she met my grandfather and lived there till her death.
May I respectfully ask if Mr Galloway’s “Israel-free zone” is permanent or temporary? When I come in October, will he be blockading Bradford and checking those who come in and go out? Should I apply to him for a special dispensation to visit the Shalesmoor Jewish cemetery? Let me know so I can make my travel plans.
Obviously, I’m aware that he won’t respond, as I’m Israeli. However, I also hold British citizenship, so he doesn’t need to get nervous or worried about responding.
Simon Ben David
Presumably those calling for an arms ban on Israel will also be asking for a similar ban on all the Gulf states funding Islamist extremism, including Saudi Arabia.
Given that the Islamists currently murdering their way across the Middle East are causing far more death and suffering than the Israelis, it would surely be inconceivable to target only Israel, unless of course those UK politicians involved are cynically seeking the Muslim vote.
David Cameron strongly feels that any country is entitled to “defend itself”. Does he feel that any people under occupation also have a right to resist that occupation?
Educated view of gay marriage
SM Watson (letter, 6 August) believes that Ruth Hunt of Stonewall may have a “persecution complex”, and knows nobody who “would be deliberately rude” to a homosexual. However, the letter comes across as dripping with homophobia – phrases such as “infiltrating infant and nursery schools with homosexual material” are a dead giveaway.
Infant children should be educated in the fact that a minority of people are homosexual and may marry people of their own sex, and that these relationships are legal and acceptable. One day, those children might have friends, family members or colleagues who are gay, or they might be gay themselves, and they need to see this as a source of joy rather than pain.
I am as delighted today to hear that two close male friends are to marry as I was last week to see the wedding photos of two other friends, a man and a woman.
Children in an art gallery
I can’t believe the pretentious claptrap that’s being written about young children visiting art galleries (Rosie Millard, 5 August).
I have taught children of all ages and from varied backgrounds and, many years ago, came to the conclusion that most have an intuitive appreciation for contemporary art – and the more art they are exposed to the better. Does it matter if they “understand” what they’re seeing? Shame on anyone who might quell an early interest by a didactic approach which fosters the boredom of a child like Rosie Millard’s.
Taking 60 children aged four and five to Tate Modern when it was newly opened convinced me of the necessity of art in children’s lives: they were overwhelmingly stimulated by the experience, and, through their talk, opened my eyes to different aspects of exhibits I had previously just walked past.
The last word should go to a seven-year-old boy I was teaching many years ago who, unable to find words to express his feelings, blurted out: “When I grow up I want to be Jackson Pollock!” He would be in his late twenties now: I hope he’s retained his excitement and hasn’t had it beaten out of him by an intellectual view of what art is “really” about.
Japanese way to remember
Japan has got something right. What a lovely picture of lanterns floating in the Motoyasu River in commemoration of Hiroshima (7 August). How much more serene and respectful than the loud fireworks that so many countries see fit to let off to commemorate just about anything.
We should float lanterns instead. They look beautiful and promote quiet meditation.
Worthing, West Sussex
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