We must rise above the darkness of our times

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Saturday 21 January 2017 18:09
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An image of President Donald Trump is seen on a placard during the Women’s March in London, UK
An image of President Donald Trump is seen on a placard during the Women’s March in London, UK

Listening to Trump spitting out his distaste for American society and politics yesterday, as he deliberately deconstructed the entire recent history of the US in an attempt to portray himself as a crusader come to “make America great again”, it was not the overblown rhetoric that surprised me. Or the Canute-like arrogance that he can turn back industrialisation single-handedly. Or even the entirely populist promises that he will never keep.

No, it was his spiteful hate of those who succeed within the very system of wealth and privilege that spawned him, and that he has abused throughout his life to his own selfish and avaricious ends. That same anger that now stalks British politics where you are a “remoaner”, or worse still an “expert”, if you dare to question the will of the people.

That anger that drives Geert Wilders to abuse foreigners coming to the Netherlands. That anger lurks under the barely-disguised racism in France, Poland and Hungary. It is a function of dissatisfaction, to be sure, but it is also anger manipulated by those who would use honest dissatisfaction to their own ends. Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen, Donald Trump: all egotistical individuals who show little sign of worrying that pulling structures down with no clear plans for constructive replacement is the work of a brutal child pulling wings off an insect. That is stupid, hurtful and ignorant, and ultimately destructive for us all.

We must rise above this darkness of our time, throw out the anger and start to talk with, not at, each other again. Anger erodes and corrodes hope. It does not make America or any other country great, but very much diminished.

John Sinclair
Pocklington, East Riding

How can President Trump hope to make America great again when in his inaugural address he said nothing to reassure those US citizens who voted against him?

John Wilkin
Bury St Edmunds

Donald Trump heralds a new era in realpolitik, foreign policy and climate change. He represents an ambitious, bold and radical divorce from past American policies. Those who bemoan his victory should remember that previous American administrations have failed to find feasible solutions to the implacable trajectory of climate change, to the ongoing tragedies in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, to the longstanding Arab-Israeli conflict, to the religious persecution of minorities in Burma and elsewhere, and to gender disparity, political chaos, social alienation and religious and ethnic discrimination.

Trump is a deal maker. He promised he will make America great and safe again; he will beat terrorism, he will extend a hand of friendship to all. Let us give him a chance.

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob
London, NW2

Trump calls critics 'enemies' at inauguration ball as he vows to keep his Twitter account running

There are parallels between Kennedy-Johnson and Obama-Trump. For all the hype Kennedy accomplished very little and the civil rights reform we associate with him was passed by Johnson with a political cunning JFK simply didn’t have. Similarly, Obama used up his political capital forcing through a health “reform” which was little more than an expensive extension of Medicaid. After that he did nothing apart from bombing twice as many Islamic nations as George Bush. In the end LBJ was derailed by JFK’s only real legacy – Vietnam – and one can only hope Obama’s health legacy doesn’t do the same for Trump.

Rev Dr John Cameron
St Andrews

Now that we can see just how xenophobic and protectionist President Trump intends to be, perhaps the UK should seek its own protection by using the strength offered by being a member of an alliance as big if not bigger than the USA. Oh, sorry, I’ve just remembered – we don’t need the collective strength of the EU, we’re big enough to resist Trumpism all on our own.

Tim Brook
Bristol

I blame the Republican Party for choosing Donald Trump as their candidate. They knew what kind of man he was from the start. All of his braggartly lies and bullying tactics are on record. The Republicans should hang their heads in shame. Abraham Lincoln will be rotating nicely!

Adrienne Fitzwilliam
Tunbridge Wells

Finding policies amongst the slogans in President Donald Trump’s inaugural address was a tough ask. But I did get a sense that Nato countries which do not spend enough on defence will incur the presidential wrath. The rivets holding Nato together may start to rattle as Trump huffs and puffs, but the same also applies to the EU. It was just an embarrassment and irritation when Nigel Farage got a golden pass to Trump Tower, almost amusing in some ways. But imagine the response of the French and European political elites if he meets with Marine Le Pen. Somehow rupture between Trump and continental Europe seems almost inevitable.

In a world of polarisation and self-interest we should beware the polarisation, but ruthlessly pursue our self-interest. Theresa May needs to put understandable concerns to one side and make sure she is Trump’s best friend. There are risks involved, but huge potential economic and geopolitical benefits if we play our cards right. We might also help the world avoid some of the worst case scenarios lurking on the road ahead.

John Gemmell
Great Barr, Birmingham

Saturday’s front page on the Trump inauguration – “So help us God” – was well worth the price of an Independent Daily Edition subscription. Congratulations!

Kristina Dupar
Cromarty

US president Donald Trump vows to put America first

Labour’s chance for another referendum

I respect James Moore’s view on the failure of the Labour Party to take a distinctive and different path to Theresa May on Brexit, but I also believe that there is now an opportunity for Labour to seize the democratic high ground in the Brexit debate. May’s behaviour in Parliament this week showed her in a worrying light, behaving in a wholly autocratic despotic fashion, only prepared to give Parliament a say in the outcome of the Article 50 negotiations on the basis that it would count for nothing because she would have already cast the die and we would be on our way out anyway.

Her attempts to stymie Parliamentary involvement at every turn is leaving a window open, and I believe there is a mechanism which Labour can now employ to assert a clear direction in this debate: Labour should now poll its half million plus members to democratically establish their views which would then inform Labour’s position. This would give Jeremy Corbyn an unquestionable democratic mandate to pursue his party’s vision. It would give Labour the chance to ask of its members the questions that were not asked in the binary referendum vote on EU membership in June last year.

While no one should assume the outcome of such a plebiscite, I would argue it should include the following proposition: “Do you believe, in light of the lies told by the Leave campaign in the EU Referendum and given the ‘hard Brexit’ which is now being pursued by Theresa May and her Government, that Labour should support a second referendum which would include the option to reverse the original referendum decision, and that Labour should lobby for support with our European allies to accept a reversal of Article 50 should the majority of UK citizens vote for this?”

Were this to be the majority view then Labour would emerge as the major force in the anti-hard Brexit camp. Were a different line to be chosen, then the door would be opened for a new centre-ground movement to emerge as champions of the 48 per cent.

Ian Dust
Waltham Cross

I am interested to know how Lord Kerr can be so confident that Article 50 can be revoked. Surely the issue is not that legal and academic opinion in this country thinks Article 50 can be revoked but that the EU agrees it can? Until we leave the EU we are still bound by our commitments to the EU and any dispute would have to be settled in the ECJ. Would it not be prudent to get their opinion before we embark on this venture?

Tony Taylor
Nantwich

Don’t let the NHS fail now

I am the great granddaughter of Sir Frederick Messer, who helped to bring about the NHS in 1948 by seconding the NHS bill through Parliament. If he was alive today I think this is what he would say: “My mother died when I was 12, shortly afterwards I left school and went to work. By the time I was 16, I was supporting my two younger sisters who later died of TB, caused by malnutrition. I later developed TB myself due to malnutrition and working to support my family. I went on to develop curvature of the spine and was permanently crippled. Healthcare should be made available to all regardless whether rich, or poor. This is for the benefit of my great grandchildren and future generations of our country.”

It has worked for nearly 70 years, why force it to fail now? The inspiration for the NHS was born out of the suffering of people like my great grandfather, and we must not forget our ancestors’ hard work for our benefit. Is it right that people should choose between food and healthcare? Do we want the people of Britain to return to the poverty and suffering of 1900?

The inquiry into the sustainability of the NHS that has gone through the House of Lords is of concern to me and I am sure many people in Britain. The future of the NHS should be carried out through a democratic process and the people of Britain consulted through their elected MPs. The NHS should not be funded by a tax on the sick, which is what the inquiry is proposing. It would be far better to simply increase National Insurance contributions for all, so the sick do not face the punishment of paying on top of being ill.

The NHS is not free; it is paid for through taxes, like the National Insurance contribution. After all it is a service and the poor should not be made to suffer in the same way as in 1900. Our country is better than that and the NHS is the pride of Britain, and the envy of the world. Let’s not lose that.

Corbyn: Theresa May is in denial over the NHS crisis

Ruth Messer
Bournemouth

Have GP practices improved over the last 30 years? Back then a practice would have two or perhaps three doctors and a couple of receptionists, plus a district nurse for natal and aftercare who might cover two or three practices. If you needed to see the doctor, you would go to the surgery and sit in the waiting room until it was your turn. If you needed a repeat prescription, which would be handwritten by the doctor, you ordered it, by telephone, in the morning and collected it at afternoon or evening surgery.

Today we have medical centres with six or seven doctors, several nurses, who cover jobs that used to be done by a doctor as well as natal care, and a whole army of administrative staff. Yet it can take days to see a doctor and repeat prescriptions, which are printed from a computer, need 72 hours’ notice. Is this really progress?

John Hudson
Derby

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