01:28, September 20 121 0 theguardian.com

2020-09-20 01:28:04
Letters: Suella Braverman – blindly in thrall to Cummings and co

The arrogant and duplicitous nature of Boris Johnson’s government is summed up by the attorney general’s assertion that, despite the proposals to “disapply” part of the Brexit withdrawal deal, the government remained “committed to the rule of law” (“Top lawyers slam minister for wrecking UK’s reputation”, News). Breaking international law in a “specific and limited way” should be anathema to all members of the government. The inability of Suella Braverman and her fellow travellers to see what is staring them in the face and apparent to anyone not in thrall to Johnson is simply staggering. It is surely a case of the blond leading the blind.

Mike Pender


Act now to avoid destruction

The condemnation of Extinction Rebellion’s blockading of certain newspapers as anti-democratic was to be expected. It was disappointing, however, that Keir Starmer took the same, blinkered view (“Fry and Rylance join defence of climate activists”, News).

What this response failed to appreciate was that the pinprick of disruption to normal life of stopping publication of some papers was aimed at helping to prevent the immeasurably greater disruption, indeed destruction, of life as we know it, which will follow if we don’t fundamentally change the toxic system that is business as usual.

It’s high time that politicians and the media faced up squarely to the peril we are in, rather than deflecting attention by sniping at those who are desperately working for such change. They now have a powerful opportunity to do so by getting behind the climate and ecological emergency bill, which had its parliamentary launch just before the XR action, and which, with sufficient support, would take us a significant way towards creating a better future.

Teresa Belton


Twitter ye not

I read Stephanie Merritt’s column with joy in my heart that many of my favourite authors eschew social media (“What do writers gain – and lose – when they eschew social media?”, Comment).

I had to smile when I read that Hilary Mantel shuns it, because the main protagonist in her monumental trilogy, Thomas Cromwell, would undoubtedly have enjoyed tweeting all about the court’s machinations. I almost feel like abandoning my refusenik behaviour and tweeting that Mantel was robbed for not reaching the latest Booker prize shortlist.

Judith A Daniels

Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

It’s time to tax the polluters

Phillip Inman makes sensible proposals (“Neither Tory austerity nor tax rises are the answer to this crisis”, Business). However, it is disingenuous to speak of a national debt crisis when the majority of the debts incurred by the government are, in effect, to itself (in the guise of the Bank of England). The same is true of talk of whether we can afford public spending when, for more than a decade, the government has been pumping billions into the financial markets via quantitive easing.

We must shift the conversation away from a binary debate of austerity versus taxation to one of how do we build an integrated response to the multiple crises we face, using public investment to implement a Green New Deal and the taxation of wealth, polluting practices and consumption of non-renewable resources rather than labour. This will stimulate desirable economic activity (not “growth” – another outdated and unhelpful concept) involving and benefiting the many, not the few.

Dave Hunter


Gambling still blights us

Not much has changed for the better since 1972 (“From the archive: a nation of gamblers, 1972”, Magazine). Quite the reverse, with the deplorable act of the Blair government to liberalise gambling law. The only reasonable excuse it could have had is not anticipating the massive amount of evidence on the harmful effects from online gambling on the lives and livelihoods of individuals – including an alarming number of children – and their families. Regrettably, since liberalisation, the tendency of humans towards addictive behaviour of this sort and consequent financial ruin seems to have been exploited as much by governments as the industry itself.

The harm caused now outweighs all revenue gains and the Johnson government should act with some urgency to remedy the situation.

Geoff Naylor

Colden Common, Winchester


How well is your school?

We are now weeks into the new term, and it is evident that we have no bigger priority in schools than supporting the recovery of young people’s wellbeing. We have seen young people return anxious and in need of support. As a group of 33 teachers and headteachers representing 23,219 young people, we are encouraging every school leader to put wellbeing at the heart of school life. Wellbeing should permeate all aspects of culture and every element of education, including teachers; post Covid, their wellbeing is fundamental.

With the help of the charity Youth Sport Trust and Bupa Foundation, we will be launching a new community of Well Schools to share expertise, resources and advice with every school that wants to join us. As the 2020 Children’s Society’s Good Childhood Report shows, young people in the UK are among the most unhappy and least satisfied in Europe, and the evidence shows this correlates with lower achievement and attainment too. The case for change could not be more compelling.

We believe that supporting young people’s and teachers’ wellbeing should be the greatest priority for schools now and into the future, and must not fall victim to a narrowing of the curriculum and over-focus on academic catch-up. We invite every headteacher, teacher and school worker to join the Well School movement on 22 September: www.youthsporttrust.org/wellschool.

Sian Hall, St Breock Primary School; Tracey Ward, Stanley Grove Primary Academy; Chris Oke, Swindon Academy; and others online; Jeremy Hannay, Three Bridges Primary School; Scott Pennock, Wallace High School; Chris Dyson, Parklands Primary School; Matt Carroll, Rushbrook Primary Academy; Sean Doyle, Shenley Brook End School; Neil Reynolds, South Shore Academy; Emma Rowland, Park House School; Ben Levinson, Kensington Primary School; Sarah Wilcock, Manchester Communication Academy; Alice Coyle, Marton Primary Academy and Nursery; Sue Warner, Melland High School; Steven Loder, Mullion School; Nia Rees Williams, Conwy Healthy Schools; Will Smith, Coombe Wood School; Dougie Keast, Crown Hills Community College; Jane Young, Durham Trinity School & Sports College; Suzzanne Ijewsky, Friars Academy; Annabelle Harder, Gamlingay Village Primary; Jayne Allen, Highfields School; Janice Allen, Falinge High School; Sam Davidson, Carter Community School; Michelle Bennett, Cedar Mount Academy; Kevin Byrne, Clare Mount Specialist Sports College; Neil McAvoy, Clavering Primary School; Stephen Munday, Comberton Village College; Lisa Fathers, Altrincham Grammar School for Girls; Susan Foster, Arran High School; Sarah Connon, Ashton Community Science College; David Bailey, Biddenham International School and Sports College; Adrian Bethune, Broughton Junior School