Unlike the experts quoted in Megan Gibson’s article (“How one woman’s death set Iran on fire”, 30 September), I think regime change is a real possibility in Iran. Though many previous protests have been defeated, they have been increasing in scope and frequency over the last few years (the Green Movement of 2009 was the first major protest for ten years, whereas the current one is at least the third of comparable size since December 2017). Also, in 2009 the protesters had not given up hope that the system could be reformed. The current ones want it abolished.
What should Western governments do? Nobody is asking them for military intervention. All they need to do is to stop hampering the protesters’ efforts by continuing to appease the regime they are so eager to condemn in words, and to apply severe sanctions to the violators of human rights.
Carolyn Beckingham, Lewes, East Sussex
The hollow party
As a New Statesman-subscribing Tory councillor, I agreed with Andrew Marr’s analysis (Inside Westminster, 7 October) on how Brexit has led us to the current government-instigated chaos. The party has been hollowed out by Boris Johnson and smashed by Liz Truss and her clique. For One-Nation centrists such as myself it is a deeply uncomfortable place to be. Staying in the party that has placed our economy in a sealed Petri dish seems increasingly pointless.
Councillor Richard Kennett, Emsworth Ward, Havant Borough Council
While Andrew Marr may be right that the Conservative Party’s method of choosing its leader is “fundamentally flawed”, it’s not strictly true that it imposes “by vote of its ordinary members a leader its MPs haven’t elected”. The party membership chose from what the parliamentary party dished up after five rounds of voting, and the MPs chose two Thatcherite candidates.
David Murray, Wallington, Surrey
The final paragraph of Duncan Weldon’s insightful economic essay (“How Liz Truss crashed to earth”, 7 October) concludes that denying the reality of Brexit damage is now no longer possible. Labour is choosing not to focus on this, presumably because it has a comfortable lead in the polls, but Liberal Democrats should have no such inhibitions: they should play to their own strengths and certainties, and lay out proposals for a closer and wider working relationship with the EU.
Philip Bushill-Matthews, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
Large chunks of the UK energy-supply market are in the hands of nationalised industries controlled by governments such as the French and Swedish (Chart of the Week, 7 October). When Keir Starmer creates his new Great British Energy Company, will it be the first policy that genuinely “takes back control”?
Chris Barnes, Chesterfield, Derbyshire
Your correspondent David Clarke (Correspondence, 30 September) noted that under Liz Truss benefit claimants will face “a tougher regime of sanctions faced by those who do not attend sessions to help them find ‘better jobs’”. Trying to shove out-of-work people into jobs at all costs was also in vogue in the UK when I was in my twenties. I had emigrated to the US, attended a major university, gained an honours degree and decided I should return to do my best for the “old country”. Needing work, I went to the Employment Centre and was shortly offered a job under pain of being refused unemployment financial support. It was at a laundry, and involved hauling large sacks of soiled bedsheets and towels off trucks.
I went back to California.
Tim Symonds, Burwash, East Sussex
Farmers fighting AMR
As an organic farmer I was interested to read Alona Ferber’s interview with Sally Davies (Encounter, 7 October) regarding antimicrobial resistance (AMR), where overuse of antibiotics in “industrial farming and fisheries” was mentioned as one of the causes of the problem. Organic farming seeks to ban the routine preventative use of antibiotics in healthy groups of farm animals. If it was more widespread, the problem would be eased. However, in 2014 David Cameron missed the chance to boost organic farming, and government support is waning for agriculture in general and organic farming in particular. The outcome will be an increasing AMR threat and declining agricultural output at lower standards and higher prices.
Alec Hitchman, Pillerton Hersey, Warwickshire
Rowan Williams’ warm review of Eric Saylor’s Ralph Vaughan Williams biography (The Critics, 30 September) rightly praises The English Hymnal, but adds RVW believed that “even rather dim and unadventurous Anglican congregations deserved the liveliest possible musical diet”. That “unadventurous” congregation was at St Mary the Virgin, Primrose Hill. It is a church of outstanding Christian social activity that, since I have been a member, has housed a street youth-work organisation, and runs a winter night shelter and a wide-ranging programme of summer talks. An excellent history of the church is available. Please could Rowan Williams buy a copy.
Judy Greengrass, London NW3
Jonathan Liew’s critique of the World Cup in Qatar is welcome (Left Field, 7 October). But if Jonathan is yet to “put his money” on a Brazil vs Spain final then I advise him not to. If they progress, Spain and Brazil are fated to meet in the quarter final.
Keith Hassell, London SW2
Straight outta Berkshire
On Caroline Holmes “escaping” from Reading to London N17 (Correspondence, 30 September), many would consider Reading preferable to Tottenham. If you want to berate Swindon, however, then I’m in the vanguard.
Barry Knight, Reading, Berkshire
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This article appears in the 12 Oct 2022 issue of the New Statesman, Will Putin go Nuclear?