Readers’ letters - May 19

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We need to stand up for freedom of speech

I should like to congratulate you on taking part in the Fighting Fake News initiative, which I read about in the Lancashire Post on my way home from running an Amnesty North West training course in Preston.

However, there is another point I would like to make.

Amnesty UK believes firmly in the vital role of journalists everywhere as ‘human rights defenders’.

As it highlights today in a new 44-page report, ‘Human rights defenders under threat – a shrinking space for civil society’, those who defend human rights in many countries – including journalists – face harassment, imprisonment and even death for speaking out on key issues.

Turkey is a recent example of a country where journalists have been severely oppressed and newspapers closed down.

Surely it could never happen here? With the general election coming up, the current Government proposes restricting human rights by withdrawing from the European Convention of Human Rights. It also wants to repeal the Human Rights Act, which has helped so many everyday British citizens like the Hillsborough families seek justice.

Meanwhile, The Investigatory Powers Act, already law, means nearly 50 government agencies can spy on the online activities of innocent citizens and some fear it could be used to prevent journalists from protecting anonymous sources of information such as whistleblowers. And, if implemented, Section 40 of The Crime And Courts Act 2013 would make newspapers pay the legal costs of people claiming libel, even if their cases are thrown out by the courts.

Much of this legislation and the retreat from human rights legislation is designed to counteract the activities of terrorists, money launderers, phone hackers and the like but the ‘thin end of the wedge argument’ applies.

We need to be careful that we do not sleepwalk into a state where laws targeted at specific instances are used more generally against innocent citizens and activists who have uncomfortable but important things to say.

So to ensure that journalists can continue to unveil fake stories and dig out the truth when it has been well concealed, we should also stand up for freedom of speech for all citizens!

Colin Taylor

NW Media Support Officer
Amnesty UK

politics

He is a ‘Walter Mitty’ politician

Jeremy Corbyn is a Walter Mitty politician. His different disguises include: one’s favourite granddad, the saviour of Great Britain, an Athenian Democrat, and a man who sheds tears over the plight of the poor. He hates grammar schools despite having been to one, he will defend our nation despite having criticised our armed forces while supporting the IRA. He is not anti-Semitic yet supports Palestinian terrorists.

He will sanction the use of our nuclear deterrent as a last resort but in the same breath condemns its use. In so doing, he revealing profound ignorance of the whole concept of nuclear deterrence.

Corbyn says he will reform the UN. In over 60 years a mountain of scholarly writing, plus current and past diplomats, have tried and failed to do this because it is impossible given its composition of sovereign states and the availability of a veto in the Security Council.

He advocates the old appealing notion of talk before military action. Don’t we all.

Unfortunately, Jeremy, terrorists and dictators don’t like to talk or, if they do, they do so with forked tongues.

Isis and the Syrian leader regard talk as a sign of weakness, and have said so.

In short, Corbyn’s knowledge and understanding of defence and international relations is even worse than his economics, and far, far more dangerous. He is, along with his shadow cabinet, totally out of his depth.

Barry Clayton

Colonel (retired)

Address supplied

sport

North End ‘ran out of steam’

I wish to comment on the demise of PNE, with their failure to complete the season – they ran out of steam!

Having witnessed the ‘shambles’ on ALL six closing fixtures, I can only feel for the club’s future.

We have an owner running the club on the lowest budget possible, attracting players that, in my opinion, are not up to the task.

Please note, I do not include Aiden McGeady in this opinion, as he has been a fantastic delight to watch, a credit to the club.

It is time the owner put some capital into the club and bought some decent players before we have a relegation battle on our hands.

The woeful display at Wolves says everything about the ‘quality’ of some of the players who need moving on! (Mr Grayson please note).

It’s time to take the club forward before we slip into another period of despair.

Come on Mr Hemmings, let’s go forward. It’s your club and ours.

Mr B Stoner

A PNE Fan

animal welfare

A medieval punishment

So Prime Minister Theresa May wants to bring back fox hunting.

Apparently foxes are a ‘pest’ say the pro-hunt brigade.

Now, some people may say burglars are also ‘pests’. Like foxes, they intrude into someone’s property and take something from the householder (although foxes do this to feed themselves or their young).

So according to pro-hunters’ logic, should we then also have a pack of red-coated individuals on horseback with foxhounds chasing after convicted burglars and then, once the exhausted burglar has ran for miles, kill him (or her) in a vicious way.

What? You say that is a medieval punishment?

That we wouldn’t have such a barbaric, nasty punishment in the 21st century?

But we do have such a medieval ‘punishment’ for a fellow sentient being.

I say fox hunting has no place in modern society.

Jane

Lancashire

politics

Monarchy good for our country

We have had extensive coverage of the French elections. My reaction is how fortunate we are over here with our long-established monarchy which is above the party battle and has given this country the stability few other countries can boast.

Yes, our system is expensive and the pyramid which supports the monarchy does attract its share of criticism, particularly such institutions as the House of

Lords.

The price is well worth paying, though, because we have largely avoided the divisions and extremism which have disfigured other countries.

Don Burslam

Address supplied

Politics

Returning to days of strikes

Why does Jeremy Corbyn think a Marxist manifesto will attract voters to the Labour Party?

I would be inclined to agree that some utilities could be better in the hands of government, such as the Royal Mail and the railways, but to do so would put the country at the mercy of the likes of union leader Len McCluskey. To return to the days of strikes and massive wage hikes would be a disaster and there is little doubt that this would happen if Mr Corbyn became PM.

Peter Hyde

via email