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Only Talks Can Solve The Crisis In Ukraine | Letters

Eighty-four years after the start of the Second World War, Simon Tisdall’s suggestions for supporting the war in Ukraine – ie welcome Ukraine into Nato and the EU – risk starting a third world war (“Putin is waging a forever war. The west can’t pull the plug on Kyiv now”, World Affairs Commentary). With many thousands dying and the country being destroyed, it is time to consider compromise.

Tisdall says: “Stop talking about talks.” Not a good idea. Since outright victory for Ukraine looks impossible, realpolitik should replace wishful thinking, and talks start immediately. The loss of life, mostly young men, on both sides, is a tragedy. The egos of the leaders on both sides need to be understood and managed. Talking is the only humane way forward.

Mary Davies

Lymington, Hampshire

There are two political entities for which the Ukraine war is an existential struggle. One is Ukraine. If Putin wins, Ukraine’s independence ends. The other is Nato. The alliance today faces the reason for which it was formed – an armed invasion of a sovereign European nation by Russia.

There can be little doubt that Putin would have won his war by now if Nato hadn’t supplied arms to Ukraine. But Nato couldn’t refuse then, and it can’t refuse now. If it does, it loses every shred of credibility. Why should anyone believe in the alliance if it will fight wars in Libya and Afghanistan but will not support a country doing what the alliance was intended to do?

If Putin wins his war, Nato will die and the EU will be damaged, if not broken. European democracies will once again face a confident and bellicose dictatorship with expansionist plans. Therefore, any international conference to discuss trading Ukrainian territory for Putin’s peace should be held in Munich. Just to remind everyone of what happened the last time western politicians traded a third country’s land for peace in our time.

Knut Djupedal

Selje, Norway

A blueprint for better schoolsLabour’s educational aims are laudable but, as with other parties, they don’t answer the question of how to move on from crumbling infrastructure, teacher shortages and disaffection among parents and pupils (“‘Our crumbling schools are like a metaphor for Tory government’: Labour’s Bridget Phillipson sets out her vision”, News). Buildings and professional services must be properly financed, and workload issues tackled to build a solid foundation for the future. This means working with the profession, sorting out the core duties of heads and classroom professionals to focus people’s minds. Inevitably, there will be gaps that should be filled by social services and the work that Sure Start used to do.

A vision beyond the crude dividing lines between north and south would be welcome. Better work could be done to support coastal regions. A focus on families, where parents juggle two or even three jobs, is desperately needed. Breakfast clubs are welcome but not enough to tackle the issues in primary schools. Free school meals as a way of distributing extra finance is no longer sufficient to make a real difference to levelling up. What we need is a government that understands that to build first-rate education you must tackle the wider problems first.

Yvonne Williams

Ryde, Isle of Wight

Give the King a breakYou have judged his majesty too harshly (“How many marks out of 10 does Charles deserve after his first year on the throne?”, Comment). Your negative analysis is largely influenced by two incidents, neither of which would be of his making, as checking and receiving donations would be the remit of his staff and his charities’ bankers. You fail to give due weight to the extraordinary manner in which the King led the country after the demise of the Queen and ascended the throne, both of which were carried out with immense dignity, showing the world that the United Kingdom was very much at the centre of leading the free world, despite the impact of Covid-19, Brexit and the Ukraine conflict.

Your article references “access capitalism”, a phrase I coined and a practice that is waning thanks to the ensuing publicity. The King never practised this but instead his focus is on inclusive or humanistic capitalism where he has put purpose and planet, not profits, at the heart of his enduring vision for combating climate change and promoting diversity, inclusion, food security and empowerment.

The King has carried himself with great distinction.

Mohamed Amersi

London W1

Election success, naturallySenior Labour voices are apparently suggesting support for Michael Gove’s proposals to sacrifice England’s collapsing river ecosystems (“Voters ‘won’t trust Labour if it backs Tory pollution ruling’”, News). If it suits Labour to cave in to Conservative willingness to sack nature, it might find election support will be very short-lived. It needs to learn from the Brexit debacle and make the case for restoring nature; effectively, forcefully and consistently.

Dr Andrew Blewett


A scandal? No, a betrayalThanks to Andrew Rawnsley for his coruscating demolition of Theresa May’s The Abuse of Power: Confronting Injustice in Public Life; it has saved many of us spending £25 on her self-justifications (Books, New Review). But could I plead with you to stop referring to the Windrush scandal; scandal in politics has all too often involved financial impropriety, incompetence or a rush of blood to the head – or all three together. What some of our fellow countrymen and women endured at the hands of May and her hostile Home Office was betrayal, as Guardian writer Amelia Gentleman made plain in her devastating book The Windrush Betrayal.

Michael Browne

Beeston, Nottinghamshire

Driven crazy by the carThe Ulez complaints are carbon copies of the same worn-out tropes about the war on the motorist (“A day on the clean air frontline”, Focus). The BBC recently reprised a TV vox pop from 1966, where 500 motorists gathered to hear the wise words of a Mr Graham Arnold, who complained about the petty restrictions and taxes levied on motorists. The complainants were dismissive of “stupid” speed limits because they were good drivers.

The car out-competes every other form of transport because of its ubiquity, flexibility and comfort, but it leaves rural areas more isolating than the village described by Laurie Lee in Cider with Rosie. Urban areas are increasingly choked and congested because of the number of vehicles seeking a finite amount of space to move and park, yet planning authorities like Bexley, Bromley and Hillingdon encourage increased car use by allowing car-dominated planning applications.

Ulez will fall away as an issue and in 50 years the “blade runners” who have been disabling Ulez cameras will seem as outdated as Mr Arnold and his sports car.

Richard Styles

Walmer, Kent

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