Letters: The real problem with pro-Palestinian marches over this solemn weekend

Marchers on Vauxhall Bridge in London on Saturday
Marchers on Vauxhall Bridge in London on Saturday
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SIR – Britain is a largely secular country, but there are occasions that could be regarded as our national holy days. 
Remembrance weekend – which affirms our history, our identity and our culture – is surely a prime example.

For anyone, or any group, to disrespect this time of national reverence by promoting mass events – such as yesterday’s pro-Palestinian march in London – that risk spreading hatred and division, the message should be loud and clear: you are sowing the wind.

Richard McNeill
Okehampton, Devon

SIR – The real issue with the Armistice Day demonstration in London was not whether it should have been banned – but, rather, why any British citizen would wish to organise or take part in such an event on a day that the majority of the country holds in the deepest respect.

Jim Kirkwood
Kilmarnock, Ayrshire

SIR – The pro-Palestinian marches are an abuse of our freedom to demonstrate, and should be seen as such.

There has been an element of menace about them, which must be keenly felt by Jewish people. Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, has stood tall in condemning them – but even though we are informed that a large number of her MP colleagues support her privately, she has been a lone figure.

There is no reason why these marches need to be regular events. In the meantime, action must be taken to reassure Jewish people that they are safe in this country.

Mick Ferrie
Mawnan Smith, Cornwall

SIR – As one of those “decent British people” referred to by Suella Braverman (report, November 9), I cannot think of a more appropriate date for a peace march than Armistice Day. On November 11 1918, the guns of the First World War fell silent. Isn’t silence what the children of Gaza need now?

Anne Watson
Truro, Cornwall

SIR – Regarding the demands for a ceasefire in Gaza, David Lander (Letters, November 7) suggests that wars only end when weapons are laid down.

However, I’m afraid the reality is that Golda Meir’s statement in 1973 remains true 50 years on: “If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel.”

Vincent Phillips
Naburn, North Yorkshire

SIR – Pakistan is in the process of deporting up to two million undocumented Afghan refugees, some of whom have lived there for three decades (report, November 4).

Their homes are being bulldozed and their possessions seized. They have nowhere to go in Afghanistan, and there is no infrastructure to support them through the coming winter.

I wonder if our streets will now be filled with protesters censuring Pakistan for this persecution.

Ian Goddard
Wickham, Hampshire

HMRC howlers

SIR – The letters on HMRC (November 5) reminded me of the occasion long ago when our local authority sent me a demand – through the post – for 1p to settle my outstanding business-rate liability.

I paid it by taping a 1p coin to the payment slip and posting it back to the authority using a second-class stamp. I explained in a covering letter (typed by my secretary, at a cost to me of £2) that the overall cost of this episode was about £4.

I deduce that the authority took my point, as I did not get either a reply or a receipt.

Hugh Whitlock 
Milford on Sea, Hampshire

SIR – There is no dilemma for John Prescott (Letters, October 29) when it comes to addressing his demand for £0.00 in tax.

As HMRC requires nothing, he should do nothing. If it persists in sending absurd demands, he should send a registered letter or email to the head of the service (copying in the Chancellor of the Exchequer for fun) saying that the demands are causing distress.

If it continues, a criminal offence has been committed and a civil cause for damages arises under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. This proved to be effective in my legal practice before I retired.

John O’Donnell
West Mersea, Essex

SIR – I’m happy to report that last week I received an unexpected and unrequested cheque from HMRC to the tune of £327.60.

I gratefully banked it immediately, before there was any change of mind.

Andrew C Pierce
Bickington, Devon

SIR – More than 50 years ago, I remember my father pulling his hair out while getting conflicting missives from the taxman (Letters, November 5). He would hold one up in his left hand proclaiming “demand from Tweedledum”, and the other in his right proclaiming “refund from Tweedledee”. Nothing changes.

Deborah Soutar
Ceres, Fife

What of Ukraine?

SIR – Why is the BBC ignoring the war in Ukraine? Since Hamas’s attack on Israel, it has barely been mentioned.

David Sutton
Romsey, Hampshire

Nature notes

SIR – It is reported (November 5) that Tony Juniper, the chairman of Natural England, “failed to declare potential conflicts of interest” before approving controversial conservation schemes.

I have several times written to Mr Juniper, asking why more of Natural England’s board meetings could not be open to both the public and the press, in the interests of openness and transparency. He has never replied.

However, I did once receive a response from his legal team, informing me that it was the organisation’s policy to “deliver transparency”. I had no answer to that.

Jim Wright
Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire

Paucity of poppies

SIR – I was stunned a few days ago when, after arriving at London Bridge station on a trip to the capital to visit the Imperial War Museum, I saw virtually nobody wearing a poppy, nor anyone selling them, though I walked for miles through the city.

Is this a sign of the times?

Tom McKenzie
Stonegate, East Sussex

SIR – The number of people wearing poppies appears to have dropped quite markedly this year. There are at least two reasons I can think of.

First, it is extremely difficult to fix a modern poppy to everyday outdoor wear, now that they no longer have an adhesive tab attached. These days, very few garments have lapel buttonholes and one is reluctant to pierce waterproofed fabric with a pin. Added to this, the green poppy stems, which are made from flaccid paper, are virtually impossible to force between the warp and weft of a knitted garment.

Secondly, the use of cash has declined, so collection boxes are no longer fed with loose change.
The British Legion should at least reconsider the design, so we can wear our poppies easily and with pride.

Mike Lawrie
Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire

SIR – After more than 70 years, I was amazed to find there is a correct way to wear one’s poppy. The leaf should be pointing to 11 o’clock. Makes sense.

Angela Sissons
Ilminster, Somerset

In-house spies

SIR – A few years ago, I attended a tech conference hosted by Microsoft (Letters, November 9). One of the keynote speakers announced that they were working with Amazon’s Alexa division and UK social services to develop a system whereby Alexa devices would be permanently listening in on the houses of the old and vulnerable. They would then use AI to determine if the pattern of activity was unusual and suggested an incident had occurred, at which point the relevant authorities would be automatically called.

At this announcement the hall burst into applause. I sat in the middle, looking around, wondering if I was really the only one concerned at the idea of microphones in our homes constantly listening to us. Sadly, it seemed that I was.

Andy Tuke

Trying to work at home while the children play

Making a splash: Children at the Basin by the French painter Berthe Morisot (1886)
Making a splash: Children at the Basin by the French painter Berthe Morisot (1886) - Alamy

SIR – Sir Peter Lampl has clearly never tried to work from home while the children are in (Comment, November 5).

When I’m working from home, rather than being tempted to keep the children with me and out of school, I pack them off at the first possible moment. I love my children dearly, but the noise of them playing is a distraction. All my telephone calls need to be scheduled before 3:30pm, which is when they return home.

Either way, I don’t buy the argument that working from home encourages parentally authorised truancy, as stay-at-home mums have existed for years, with no disruption to school attendance.

James Dunmore
Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire

Hats in church

SIR – Shirley Puckett (Letters, November 8) decries the wearing of hats in church.

I recall an occasion at the church in Otley, some 30 years ago, where there was a special service dedicated to Sir Thomas Fairfax, the Lord General of Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army, and attended by members of the English Civil War Society. As was the custom of those days, we kept our hats – as well as one or two lobster-pot helmets – firmly on our heads.

Tom Stubbs
Surbiton, Surrey

Ubiquitous vape shops

SIR – Walking through a Hampshire town, I was disappointed to see, in the space of 50 metres, three shops selling vaping equipment (Letters, October 29). I also noticed other such shops open in the same town.

Do we wish to encourage young people to vape? It is already known that it has a negative effect on both the heart and lungs. Have we not learnt the tragic lessons of cigarette smoking?

Paul French
Andover, Hampshire

Bad Christmas ads

SIR – I have just seen the John Lewis Christmas television advertisement (Letters, November 5). What an awful representation of what Christmas is all about. Forget the Nativity, forget present-giving in a gentle family atmosphere – the emphasis now is on grabbing anything and everything within sight.

What on earth has happened to the company’s management?

Ann J Collins
Horsham, West Sussex

SIR – It would be nice if the small boy in the John Lewis ad remembered to say “please”.

Janet McNeill
Upper Basildon, Berkshire

SIR – Having seen the ghastly TV advert for Waitrose, I shall confine my Christmas shopping to Tesco.

Charles Hobbs
Winchester, Hampshire

SIR – Chris Clarke (Letters, November 10) asks if people shop at stores because of their Christmas advertisements.

I am equally curious to know if they choose perfume on this basis. The television is awash with couples dancing in improbable places, horses being ridden through towns, women cavorting with wild animals and pretty young things frolicking in flower-covered meadows. Not one actually tells us what the product smells like.

Charles Smith-Jones
Landrake, Cornwall

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