Arrest shows our rulers' attitude to civil liberties

From: Nick Martinek, Briarlyn Road, Huddersfield. IF the most senior civil servant in the Home Office and an Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police can authorise the arrest of the Opposition front bench shadow Minister for Immigration, Damian Green, by anti-terrorist police and without the knowledge of the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, then they are out of control.

Frankly, it stretches credulity to suppose that these senior people would not have the sense to refer such a constitutional bombshell to their political masters. So this leads us to the conclusion that the government is being "economical with the truth" in its denial of political involvement in the arrest of

Mr Green.

This is regrettably typical of the cavalier attitude of the Labour government to our civil liberties. The charge that Gordon Brown is "Stalinist" becomes all too credible as each incidence of the misuse of state power unfolds.

From: Duncan Anderson, Mill Lane, East Halton, Immingham.

IT really is quite pathetic the way the Tories have turned the police and their investigation into leaks from the Home Office into a political football.

The police have a proud and honourable tradition of being independent from politics; even their officers are banned from being politically active.

So the Tory Party's attempts to undermine this investigation shows how desperate they are becoming. Desperate Dave and his cronies are behaving like rats stuck up a drainpipe, attacking anything and everything.

We need to look at some of the facts; a Tory Party activist was leaking security sensitive material, the parliamentary Tory Party has admitted this. Neither Damien Green nor his staff challenged the police when they searched his offices in Westminster.

Little wonder the Tories are making so much noise. You have to wonder whether they would allow an independent review of the conflict in Iraq or would they interfere with this if they report doesn't say what they want.

Frankly, the Tories should be worrying more about their position on children's safety than trying to undermine the police's political independence.

From: John Abbott, Newland Avenue, Hull.

CLEARLY, if Terry Palmer's letter on Michael Martin's handling of the arrest of Damian Green (Yorkshire Post, December 16) is anything to go by, the old-school, knee-jerk class-war Neanderthal is not yet an endangered species.

Firstly, David Cameron was not born to rule – he was elected Tory leader in a free and fair ballot of Conservative party members. Secondly, what Mr Martin and Mr Cameron did before being democratically elected has nothing to do with the case.

Finally, if after a complete failure to do his duty to preserve the independence of MPs, the best Labour supporters can do in Michael Martin's defence is accuse the Tories of class war posturing, may be it is time the House of Commons elected a new Speaker. It doesn't matter who – Muffin the Mule could have handled the Damian Green business better than Mr Martin.

A false defence of the cruelty of fox hunting

From: HH Greaves, Lea Close, Leven,

near Beverley.

HARRY Stephenson, the joint master of the York and South Ainsty Hunt, tells us (Yorkshire Post, December 26), that the only victims of the hunt ban are the foxes.

To my mind, this is a convoluted argument, riddled with half-truths necessary to bolster a false defence of fox-hunting, a cruel sport that does little to control the predatory creature who lives as nature intended – without man's interference

He describes the riding members as being "ladies and gentlemen" rather than men and women, that being suggestive of a subservience to his masters/ mistrsses; whereas the "serfs"' who service the hunt, often on low wages supplemented by a passing of the cap, the proceeds to be divided, a la Charles Dickens' reformed Scrooge-style.

Next, even more wretched, is his false attack on the "lampers" who shine bright lights into the eyes of the foxes, then shoot these creatures, often leaving them to crawl away to a lingering death.

Inexcusable as that is, what is so different from running the animal until it is breathless, then to be savagely killed by the hounds bred for that purpose, or, even to be dug from its lair to be chased for the sport?

There always will be differing views in respect of fox-hunting, but we ought to be grateful that the "antis" are in the majority.

Perhaps the hunting brigade should form a cavalry to join our valient soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan to quell what are the real enemies of democracy.Right to die supported by public

From: Frank Pedley,

Wood Close, Gisburn Road, Hellifield, Skipton, North Yorkshire.

YOUR report that two thirds of the voting population support the abolition of the criminal law on assisted suicide puts into perspective the righteous mumblings of Phil Willis who has wheeled out again the mythical old lady bullied into suicide by greedy relatives (Yorkshire Post, December 11).

He should, as Harrogate's MP, know that when Lord Joffe's bill was presented two years ago, it was subjected to detailed scrutiny in a parliamentary committee, which built in watertight safeguards against such abuse.

But then he probably does know, but prefers to use palliative care as his excuse for inaction, even though the word itself implies a limitation on the ability to curb the searing pain so many terminal patients endure. I suggest that Mr Willis dusts down the ragged remnants of his liberalism and answer the following question: I am happy to support, financially and in any other way, those who wish to take advantage of the palliative care which is available. Why then should he and others deprive me of that same element of choice when I wish my life to come to an end, a choice which may need the help of a true friend in giving me that assistance?

In praise of libraries

From: Connie Hird, Mount Drive, Bridlington.

How good to read the letter from Kevin Maguire (Yorkshire Post, December 11) on public libraries.

Some 80 years ago, I joined my local public library in Bradford Moor and sat, entranced, one of a group of children, listening to the "story hour" read by the librarian. I could not wait until I was able to read books for myself.

They have been both a solace and a joy to me ever since. Wherever I have lived I have always joined the local library as soon as possible, and used them to my great advantage when working towards exams.

Here in Bridlington, we have two marvellous libraries. Now we are in the computer age, although I am not fully computer literate myself, the very kind and helpful staff are always willing to trace any information I require from the internet.

Although we pay for these services through our community rates, the courtesy and kindness of all the library staff is unbelievable. If you are not a member, do please join and enjoy what is freely on offer.

I could not live without books and though now at 87-years-old my eyesight is not as good as it was, the range and scope of the large print book section is marvellous.

Like the dawn chorus, all for free if you just look.

Hen harrier propaganda

From: Alasdair Mitchell, The National Gamekeepers' Organsiation, Bishop Auckland.

CONTRARY to Natural England's propaganda about hen harriers (Yorkshire Post, December 22), these birds are not rare or endangered. Instead, their UK population has risen by 30 per cent over the past 15 years.

There are now more than 800 breeding pairs in the UK – most of them in Scotland, where the bulk of their habitat is (and where there are plenty of gamekeepers too, for that matter).

It is true that there are still few breeding in England, but this lack of progress cannot be due to persecution alone.

Given the failure of its English Hen Harrier Recovery Project, perhaps it is time for Natural England to stop scaremongering and start listening to gamekeepers and others who actually manage important habitats.

Surely, given that we have a plentiful stock of hen harriers in the UK uplands as a whole, some fresh thinking could see a way of producing more hen harriers in those parts of England where they do not pose a threat to rural livelihoods or sensitive habitats?

Bill blackmail

From: Alan W Briglin, Sefton Street, Hull.

I AM absolutely outraged at the report (Yorkshire Post, December 10) of Kingston Communications' decision to impose a 98p billing charge on customers who do not pay

on-line.

It has been decided to post- date this act of blackmail until next spring because of many complaints from customers, including Hull and East Riding councils. I am a pensioner and I should think there are many like me who do not have on-line facility and pay their bills in other ways. I have always paid promptly by cheque.

This is pure blackmail to make customers pay the way which suits them.

Zimbabwe – a country destroyed by one man

From: John Watson, Hutton Hill, Leyburn.

I UNDERSTAND that the name "Zimbabwe" is derived from the Shona language meaning House of Stone. Well, that edifice is now a pile of rubble and all due to one man, Robert Mugabe.

I wonder how many Zimbabweans, lying on stretchers, and dying of cholera, yearn for the days when Ian Smith was in charge. Although constitutionally illegal, the Smith regime had the future welfare of the country at heart and at the time it was one of the most prosperous states in Africa. The agricultural sector was second to none, even though they were having to

put up with international sanctions.

So where are the sanctions against Mugabe? Why aren't South Africa and other powerful African states trying to sort him out when half the country is starving?

Why hasn't Nelson Mandela offered a solution to the problem? I know he is retired, but a word from him far earlier could have worked wonders.

Even Amnesty International, a movement in which I have lost a lot of respect for over the years, has codemned Mugabe who is using some sort of inverted racism to put across his case.

I consider that the "wind of change" blew far to early across Centra Africa, where, as we have seen, politically immature, power-mad, neo dictators were waiting in the wings ready to take charge with the dubious benefits of Western aid.

I wonder how many really stable democracies there are

on that continent, and I wonder how much financial aid gets to where it is needed?

The cost of immigration

From: David Quarrie, Lynden Way, Acomb, York.

SURPRISE, surprise. According to research carried out by Hull University, immigration, especially from Eastern Europe since 2004, has caused – and is continuing to cause – poverty, abuse and hostility.

I, and thousands like me, have been warning that this

was the inevitable consequence of unrestricted immigration, but we have either been ignored or silenced.

I now often meet East Europeans who are going back "home" or trying their best to move on to other nations, especially Australia.

The view from here

From: Iain Morris, Caroline Street, Saltaire.

TWO thirds of the Bradford Metropolitan District is rural, and one delight is to see Emley Moor mast and Drax power station, among others, in the same glance on a pleasant day from the top of Baildon Moor. The birdsong on a summer's day on the moors is just beautiful.

It is my belief that a bit of Yorkshire moorland is as good as anything.

Bring them all home

From: Roger M Dobson, Ash Street, Cross Hills, Bingley.

WHAT a magnanimous announcement by Gordon Brown that we are to pull all our troops out of Iraq (Yorkshire Post, December 18).

Wonderful news, but when is the operation of withdrawal going to be fully completed by all our men and women being pulled out of Afghanistan?

The murder of our troops has gone on long enough and must end now.

This must be the end of all action again.

Tony Mallett obituary

From: TA Mallett, Fitzgerald Avenue, East Sheen, London.

THANK you for running the obituary on Tony Mallett (Yorkshire Post, November 29), which was much appreciated.

There was just one point that was incorrect and I would appreciate the chance to put this right; he was not born in London, but was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, his father's job only taking them to London later on.

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