As a campaigner for electoral reform for many years, I was pleased to see the excellent article on the subject ("Labour manifesto must back electoral reform, say activists", notizia). If this article were to become the stimulus leading ultimately to the replacement of our abysmal first-past-the-post system by an alternative that yields a better reflection of the electorate’s views, poi 23 Maggio 2021 will surely qualify as a seminal day for democracy in the UK.
I would have preferred for this watershed moment to have been on 5 Maggio 2011, when we had the chance to adopt the alternative voting system (AVS), and then we would surely now not be under the control of such a dominant Conservative government.
We can only hope that the Lavoro duro e faticoso activists achieve their aim and create an unstoppable popular movement towards electoral reform, both for their party’s benefit and for the greater aim of enhancing our democracy. The other “progressive” parties seeking fairer representation would also be beneficiaries of such a development and, per me, the icing on the cake would be if the consensus within this “affiliated” group were for the introduction of the AVS.
Broughton Astley, Leicestershire
In your editorial about the Bashir interview ("The betrayal of Diana is no excuse to wreck the BBC"), you said: “To view Diana one-dimensionally as a helpless girlish victim – weak, mentally unstable and easily manipulated – is to betray the memory of a formidably intelligent woman” who was “no fool”. è, ovviamente, possible to be both vulnerable and intelligent.
Neither a two- nor a one-state solution will emerge with the Arab or Israeli leadership ("From the river to the sea, Jews and Arabs must forge a shared future", Comment). One must look elsewhere for people of vision. Palestinian Marwan Barghouti (in prison) has shown a willingness to compromise. In Israel, Ayman Odeh has pointed out that Israel’s desire to project a westernised image hides the fact that Mizrahi/north African Jews constitute the majority. Recognition of Israel as a Middle Eastern country with a shared culture would help to catalyse peaceful coexistence and, one day, evolution to a single state.
Andrew Rawnsley’s excellent article omits two other significant points that demonstrate that the government’s attitude to aid is negative ("Boris Johnson, you can’t claim to be a world leader while savagely cutting aid", Comment”). Primo, nel 10 anni, there have been seven secretaries of state for international development: Andrew Mitchell (2011), Justine Greening (2012), Priti Patel (2016), Penny Mordaunt (2017), Rory Stewart (2019), Alok Sharma (2019) and Anne-Marie Trevelyan (2020). What does this say about the commitment to development assistance, the potential for developing strategies with countries requiring aid and the relationships with civil servants if there is this constant turnover of “bosses” at the top?
Second, the merger of the Department for International Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office simply means that money destined to support communities in the poorest nations can be used for so-called diplomacy. It’s an outrage.
Dr Nick Maurice
Dr Hannana Siddiqui advocates a “Banaz’s law” to ensure that if a crime is committed for alleged cultural reasons, such as in an “honour” killing, that should be treated as an aggravating, not a mitigating factor ("‘No one believed my sister was in danger.’ Why race is leaving abuse victims at risk", Observer campagna).
Il 2006 Banaz Mahmod case did prompt legislation the following year to prevent such killings. Forced marriage civil protection orders allow those similarly threatened to take immediate action in the family courts to protect themselves. Hundreds obtain such orders each year. Given the reluctance of domestic abuse victims to criminalise family members, it is disappointing your article made no reference to these civil orders, for which legal aid is available, as it is for non-molestation injunctions generally.
Jan Williams, the Campaign for Effective Domestic Abuse Laws
Knaresborough, North Yorkshire
As part of a large but informal group of residents in the Primrose Hill area of London, we feel compelled to respond to your article ("Anger as Starmer calls for gate to keep public out of London park", notizia). Reporting solely from the standpoint of a small group opposed to permanent gates on the park, you failed to take into account any other point of view.
Sir Keir Starmer, our local MP, was responding to well-documented testimonials, videos and nightly logs of disturbances that include all-night raves, open drug dealing and abuse, underage drinking, physical assaults on residents, vandalism, defecation in gardens and doorways, knives and fighting.
In Meadowbank, we suffer some of the worst abuse. We have residents whose lives have been severely affected by the sustained disturbances. But those negatively affected include old folk in sheltered housing and an adjacent council estate. Many have been terrified by the disturbances and simply want some sense of safety. It’s certainly not a class or race issue, as implied by your article, nor is it Tory v Labour. All our councillors are Labour and strongly support 10pm-till-dawn weekend closures as a “circuit breaker”.
Primrose Hill park is the only central London royal park that isn’t gated and closed at night. This has made it a vast, open-air and unregulated night-time destination, with partygoers travelling from all over London and beyond. The police have publicly stated they are unable to police the park effectively and have asked for gates to secure closure from 10pm-till-dawn weekends only. Starmer stepped in only after Royal Parks ignored these requests. Our MP, who acted on behalf of his constituents after months of frustration and a year of suffering, just happens to be leader of the opposition. We are grateful to him for his actions.
Virender Khanna and Lucy Kelsey
Interesting to see an old map of the area round south Bermondsey station being revamped as the roadmap out of David Mitchell’s imagined Covid-ridden hellhole ("This roadmap is leading us in metaphorical circles", the New Review). Bit unfair though; it’s not that bad round there.