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Wednesday, 3 April, 2002, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Your say on the issues of the day
Welcome to the World at One letters page.
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I listened to your report on grass roots concerns at Tony Blair's presidential style, lack of input from grass roots and impact on domestic and foreign policy, including potential problems with the trade unions. I guess you could have added any number of topics of concern, but I am surprised that you did not include the current situation regarding Iraq, or public-private finance.
I am a Labour Party member who has given up trying to engage through my CLP. For a start, we only get notification two days before meetings (a handy and old trick for controlling who turns up), because those present at the last meeting are told the date then, whereas other members have to wait for the minutes. What's more, it is a given that dissenting opinion would be rubbished in the same way that the Millbank wonk dismissed your survey. I have tried expressing my opinions about public private finance initiatives to my chair, and got a very dusty response. So much for representation. I can imagine that my CLP would have been one of the 'loyal' (or spineless) respondents, for fear of getting into trouble - and we have the infamous Teddy Taylor as our MP, so it's not as if she's got anything to lose.
I would have thought that a more meaningful survey would entail speaking to grass roots Labour Party members, not just the activists, but those who are effectively disenfranchised by the mechanisms of the CLP and Millbank machinery, or are so turned off by the current Labour Party and government that we would now refuse to actively canvas. Of course, getting hold of us would be tricky, but perhaps you could use the website and radio programme to put out a general call for responses, or devise a website questionnaire. Then the apparatchiks wouldn't be able to ignore it so easily.
I am not a Labour Party member, but the so-called "news item" surveying Labour officials about their attitude to Tony Blair was a disgrace. Despite the fact that more than 80% of those surveyed expressed support for Blair, the World at One chose to highlight as "news" the fact that "nearly" one-fifth did not. What is news? Is it what people actually say or do or what you would like them to? This was an example of spin as bad as that coming from any political party machine. Get real!
Since the government is already having trouble with the trade unions, it doesn't take much thought to realise it is sure to have more trouble before the next election!
The item about the 'constituency parties unhappy with Blair' was a joke. 20% of those who responded expressed some concern, and this is supposed to have Blair trembling in his boots? The Labour man was right: you had clearly invested the money in this daft survey, so felt that you had to sell it hard.
There were important issues to deal with in the Middle East today. This 'constituency' item used up time that could have been better spent.
Of course Parliament should have debated the Middle East crisis today. It was disgraceful how, after the death of the Queen Mother, world news, including that of the all-important Middle East conflict, was more or less abolished from you and other BBC news bulletins while listeners anxious to know about other happenings were forced to put up with a lot of tedious, sanctimonious 'royalspeak'.
Although it is sad that the Queen Mother has passed away, it's hardly a big surprise. The way the media has totally over-reacted along with the unnecessary recall of Parliament, l find a lot more surprising!!!
I applaud the tributes to the Queen Mother whose example has been an inspiration to all. I also have great sympathy for the call to use the recall of Parliament as an occasion to record the greatest concern for the terrible situation in the Middle East. It was not to be expected this was addressed today but I do hope it is the subject of lengthy discussion and diplomatic effort on the part of our Government soon.
Parliament should have discussed the crisis in the middle east. The Queen Mother's death is a sad occasion for the family and many members of the public but she was 101 and has lead a full & privileged life. Her death is not a crisis - what is, is the tragic death of so many innocent victims of middle east politics - a far more pressing matter.
I think it ridiculous for you to lead with the recall of parliament to honour the Queen Mother.
You should have led with the events in the middle east followed by the above. I am sick of the appalling sycophancy shown by the BBC, though I agree that the Queen Mother was in her time, once, she was the only member of that unfortunate family with any charisma
It is not often that I agree with Tam Dalyell but this time I do 100%. It is an absolute disgrace that Parliament - having been recalled - is not debating the Mid-East crisis. Particularly as the PM will be with Mr Bush at the weekend.
It beggars belief that as the crisis in the Middle East goes from bad to worse with unimaginable consequences for all of us (including the Royal Family) that with the recall of Parliament today for tributes to be paid to the life of the Queen Mother, not a word is mentioned in respect of that unfolding desperate catastrophe.
It's even harder to understand given Britain's historic involvement in the setting up of the State of Israel, and the "special close relationship" that Britain is supposed to enjoy with the United States who alone have the power to actually play a crucial part in any salvation. Who else is there?
It's at times such as this that despair comes to the forefront. What is Parliament for for god's sake!
We have Sharon, Arafat, and Bush. It seems that there's no one else. No one with any conviction outside of these three, and the latter's is questionable.
Is Parliament relevant or isn't it?
Israeli settlements have continued to expand under cover of their army - this is the underlying factor behind the conflict.
If my country was being taken over by military force, I'd feel like blowing up people myself!
Having just seen the news, it seems that the CIA is choreographing Israel's military operations!. As usual the West stands by while Middle East events run out of control. In an act of revenge Israel is now targeting ambulances while their injured occupants die on the road side, surely this will only harden their enemies resolve. Mr Sharon, it appears, is now repeating his previous incarnation during the 1982 Beirut refugee camp massacres.
Our illustrious PM Blair is totally silent as the Middle East crashes towards all out war. As usual Mr Blair and the UK have to get permission to blink let alone think from Washington!.
> I wish to complain about Nick Clarke's interview with a Palestinian politician regarding alleged harassment of red crescent ambulances by the Israeli Defence Forces. What Nick Clarke did not bother to point out was the reason for this.
1. IDF soldiers in the last few days stopped a Palestinian ambulance. Inside the ambulance under a sick child the soldiers found an explosive belt and other explosive charges. 2. IDF soldiers allowed a Palestinian ambulance into Arafat's compound to evacuate two wounded Palestinian soldiers to hospital. When the Israeli soldiers inspected it on its way out they found 14 healthy Palestinian gunmen trying to smuggle their way out.
These two incidents are not the only ones. There have been others where suicide bombers have used ambulances to carry bombs and explosives. Why did your newsreader allow the Palestinian politician to make out that Israelis are harassing the Palestinian ambulances when it is quite clear that the Red Crescent organisation is abusing its neutrality. What else can they expect from the Israelis when they behave like this.
How can Israel possibly be expected not to inspect red crescent ambulances while the above behaviour carries on. Of course I did not expect the BBC to point out these FACTS given their bias reporting the Israel/Palestinian conflict. A long time devotee of Radio 4,I no longer take much notice of your reports relying on other sources on the internet for a more accurate picture.
It seems to me that Israel has demonstrated to be as aggressive and vicious as many Middle Eastern countries have claimed for decades. It is high time that Israel is shown where to stop. I'm not anti-Semitic but very anti-Israel. It was wrong to associate all Germans with the NAZI party and it would be equally wrong to associate all Jews with Israel but that country needs to learn a lesson and fast!
I note that the majority of your correspondents on this topic are anti violence, but that two of your contributors K.B. Lyons of Stoke and Lam of Cardiff, appear to perceive this argument as somehow anti-Semitic.
Diplomacy and talk has not and will not produce a solution until both sides are put onto an equal status.
For me this would be the forcible disarmament of Israel by the international community with or without the involvement or blessing of the US Jewish political lobby.
I suspect that no one, not even the combined strength of the EU, have the guts to stand up to American political, fiscal and military power.
The alternative must be for us to arm the Palestinians so that the War can be evened up a little and they can direct their animosity toward the armed Israeli uniformed thugs rather than the unarmed Israeli citizen. Palestinians should empathise with the Jewish civilians their fanatics are massacring as the Jews should empathise with the Palestinian civilians, now subjected to the worst terrors that, in the past, the Nazi's could inflict on the Jews.
It is very reassuring to know that Tam Dalyell is concerned about the fate of HM's subjects in Palestine. Would that he showed equal concern for the many tens of thousands of Jewish British nationals living in Israel, too.
I share Tam Dalyell's view that the Queen Mother was a beautiful woman and a great character but she has sadly gone now, whereas the suffering in Palestine continues. I think five minutes spent on the first issue and 25 on the latter would have been a more appropriate balance.
I am utterly sick of the sycophantic style of the reporting of the death of the Queen Mother. I am 53 and have not met a person of my age recently who feels any connection whatsoever to the royal family. I long to be free of this awful hierarchy so out of touch with the lives of real valued citizens. I can think of many citizens of Bristol who would be worthy of mention in the news for the good they have done for others and whose lives should be remembered.
The longer the media keep up this love affair with the system the longer we shall all be trapped in this strait jacket, afraid to be ourselves and behave as mature people free of this paternalistic model of how to behave.
The BBC coverage of the Queen Mother's death was absolutely fine. Not too much, and definitely not too little. I can only assume that the vox pop you keep using on news programmes must be heavily edited as I have only met one person who feels anything other than respect for a death, as you would any death. It was hardly unexpected, she was 101. And I didn't hear Prince Charles say he was "absolutely devastated" when his wife died. Such hypocrisy!
To say that we all "loved" her is nonsense. Even more so is the comment that we all looked up to her. She was a rich and very privileged woman who would not have given the time of day to some of the ordinary people who say how much she meant to them. The Guardian ran an interesting article yesterday on what is happening to those people who worked for her in her "court" or household. They are out on the street, no job, no money, no pension and nowhere to live. That is how "sweet" and caring she and other members of the Royal Family are. Time for them and their privilege to go.
It was ridiculous that in the face of an exploding Middle East, members of parliament were recalled from all around the country today to discuss her death for two hours and not to discuss something which is likely to affect all of us a great deal more than the death of a rich old lady.
I shall be 60 in less than 2 years, so am not some kid that doesn't remember the Queen Mother. She's been around all my life, but that does not in itself earn respect or devotion.
The Queen Mother was 101 and at this age she did not have a great future ahead of her. The public should accept that her death was to come, if not now then, in the very near future. Hundreds of young people and children are dying in Israel while we spend so much of parliamentary time on paying tributes to an old woman who was expected to die. time to reflect on our values and priorities.
Some of the claims made about the Queen Mother do not stand up to examination. She was not born in Scotland, her mother was English, and her father a member of the Scottish aristocracy which had been fully anglicised for about 100 years. She returned to Scotland for holidays otherwise her routine and tastes were very much English upper class. As a unifying force. During her life Northern Ireland fell apart, the Empire disintegrated, and Wales and Scotland warmly embraced devolution.
As usual it seems that Labour is as out of step as many others in Britain. Talking to people in general over the death of the Queen Mother nobody would wish her dead. They do not however see the need for endless hypocrisy to be endured on their behalf.
I think Mr Marr's report on Barcelona tells of a new political era which will not last. Berlusconi's right wingism will topple as Mussolini did. The fact Blair is not putting huge value to workers rights is wrong. Mr Brown is incorrect to argue in favour of European competion, when the idea of Europe is for harmony and peace. I hope there are limited troubles in Barcelona, from angry protesters who rightly fear the USA of Great Britain souring our old English culture of wit, but respect - at least nowadays - for our neighbours, perhaps more culturally apt...
Your correspondent who now watches Channel Four News instead made me laugh! Jon Snow is just as capable of working up a lather as our Nick! If she really wants to get away from the dancing on a pinhead about who said what to whom and find some news of real import, she ought to listen to the BBC World Service, watch BBC World on satellite TV and maybe give BBC Four news a try. The jury's still out on that last one, though.
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