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Swap votes to regain trust and fix Britain

Readers should keep an eye open for vote-swapping websites in the run-up to the general election

Vote swapping could prove an effective way to remove Tories from their seats. Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty

Will Hutton is to be congratulated on “How To Fix Britain” in TNE #383. I agree absolutely with his strong encouragement for all progressive voters to vote for the candidate in their constituency most likely to unseat any incumbent Conservative – or keep any Tory challenger out.

To this end, can I flag up the usefulness of vote swapping? I am a paid-up Liberal Democrat living in Shipley, where the right wing Conservative, (Sir) Philip Davies is my MP. Come the general election I shall be busting my gut to get him out.

To this end, I have already arranged a vote swap with a Labour voter in a Tory-held southern constituency where the Lib Dems are in second position. He will vote Lib Dem on my behalf and I will vote Labour on his. 

Note that the total votes for each progressive party remain constant, but are cast where they are more likely to be effective.

In 2019 vote-swapping websites existed (eg “Swap My Vote”) and will almost certainly reappear once the general election is declared. TNE readers wishing to vote effectively should keep an eye open for them.

To swap votes involves trust. Fourteen years of Tory government have undermined trust, so vote swapping is an opportunity for good people to re-establish this value.
John Cole
Shipley, West Yorkshire

Gutter press
Liz Gerard’s “Mail morality: A brief guide” (TNE #383) was a brilliant skewering of the paper’s hypocrisy. 

The Mail plays to the very worst aspects of our nature: suspicious of anyone who does not look like a “typical Brit”, cynical about anyone who dares to do good or speak out about what they believe in, patronising of people who dare to step out of their lane in terms of race or class.

Their coverage of Raynergate looks as obsessive and misjudged as their stories about Currygate, and embarrassingly for the Mail, it is failing to move the polls. Will they learn from this? Of course not.
Emma Stephen

Liz Gerard on Rayner and the Mail was Orwell Prize-winning stuff.
Mike Harding

Lessons from history
Re: “Enough is enough” by Paul Mason (TNE #383). In a scenario where we are at the same time supplying Israel with arms and trying to look the international hero by supplying aid to Gaza, perhaps Rishi Sunak should refer back to a former PM.  

The divisive Margaret Thatcher was right on a few things, one being her advice to Israel: in 1981, she told the Israelis: “If we are not going to live by a system of international law, we are going to live by international anarchy, and then no people anywhere in the world are safe.”

In 1988, she urged them to “live in peace within secure borders, giving the Palestinian people their legitimate aspirations, because you cannot demand for yourself what you deny to other people.”

We should immediately suspend all arms exports to Israel, and redirect the available supply to Ukraine.
Peter Tyzack
Severn Beach, Gloucestershire

The (thankfully thwarted) drone attack by Iran surely shows why we cannot suspend arms sales to Israel, no matter what we think of the appalling Netanyanhu.
Victoria Alderton

Speech is still free
In “Hate speech laws don’t work” (TNE #383), Matthew D’Ancona has been sucked into the maelstrom of Scottish politics without first looking left and right. 

That the Hate Speech Act has flaws is almost certainly the case, but the weaknesses have been known about since the bill was given royal assent in 2022. Its implementation was delayed to allow Police Scotland time to train officers and install the necessary IT. 

Throughout that time, concerns about the legislation have not gone away, but the Scottish media was broadly absent. If it really wanted to see the law amended or scrapped it would surely have use the past two years to vigorously argue thus?

The reality is that the introduction of the act has been politicised for the purposes of aiding the SNP’s political opponents. Without the incessant media pile-on that Scotland has witnessed over the past month the law’s introduction would have elicited a fraction of the complaints the police have had.

Police Scotland itself must bear part of the blame. Having been given two years to prepare, it has failed to do so, and has blamed lack of funding from Holyrood for its tardiness.
Martin Roche
Glasgow, Scotland

Matthew d’Ancona seeks to perpetuate the myth that Scotland’s new law is about stifling free speech. It isn’t. The law is to prevent stirring up hatred for identified groups, not merely having offensive views about these groups. 

I disagree with his assertion that the Scottish first minister was made to look a fool by JK Rowling’s posts on X. Humza Yousaf handled the issue well and stated that Rowling’s posts were offensive and upsetting. 

He rightly didn’t state that she had committed an offence under the new law; neither did Police Scotland. Because she hadn’t.
Morag Gunion
Glasgow, Scotland

Singapore’s integrity
I enjoyed reading Alastair Campbell’s Diary (TNE #383) on the subject of Singapore-on-Thames. My wife and I lived in Singapore from 1964 to 1967. Our home was an RAF quarter, 345 Netheravon Road, which was opposite the prime minister’s bungalow and beside the first tee on the golf course. The then-PM Lee Kuan Yew was very keen on golf and I met him frequently. 

Lee Kuan Yew detested corruption. His legacy is modern Singapore, and it is absolutely certain that he would have regarded Brexit as being a deliberate act of national self-harm. Indeed, before his death in March 2015 he had watched the Brexit campaign with some dismay.

During our recent visits to Singapore we have been impressed by the way rules and laws are enforced. The sort of corruption practised by the Conservative Party would have led to imprisonment and heavy fines. Indeed as Alastair says, Singapore-on-Thames might not be a bad idea after all!
David Hogg

A load of bull
After reading “The slow death of bullfighting” (TNE #383) I walked to the Antequera bullring yesterday, in Málaga, out of curiosity. Returning home to research this year’s “festivals” and their frequency, I was appalled to see no reduction in the number of events; if anything, a rise in 2024. 

I have yet to come across any persuasive justification for bullfighting. Advocates, please enlighten me.
Ralph Wright

Immortal combat?
Nigel Warburton’s Everyday Philosophy on digital clones (TNE #383) was a thought-provoking article. Potential scams aside, it makes me wonder if some would seek comfort from “locking in” a memory of who that person was at a given time before they died. 

Or maybe the AI deadbot will eventually move to a “being-for-itself” Sartrebot algorithm. That’s both fascinating and scary.
Simon Thomes

I hope nobody clones me. The world has enough trouble with just the one of me.
Pam Thomas

A bitter pill to swallow
Ironic that Tanit Koch accuses the Greens of “scientific cherry-picking” over homeopathy when most of its critics, like her, do the same (GermansplainingTNE #383). 

Our GP in France always offered a choice between vaccine and homeopathy for the flu season – using the latter, she successfully treated her dog who, one might suggest, was immune to placebos. Our osteopath treated her horses successfully using homoeopathy – but then she WAS an osteopath! 

I don’t know why the little sugar pills sometimes work – and I certainly wouldn’t use them to treat cancer – but I do know that alternatives should not be too easily dispensed with if they work for some – even animals.
Dr Ron Iphofen FAcSS

Losers standing small
Paul Barrett’s delightful “Our fate was to be with you” (TNE # 382), together with the current ABBA nostalgia-fest, remind us how much pop music has contributed to the goodwill between Britain and Europe over the last 50+ years. 

It felt as if ABBA’s success in the 1970s, followed by A-ha from Norway a decade later, was a sincere compliment to the art form of the English-language pop single.

Perhaps some of ABBA’s lyrics have a significance for Brexit Britain. How about the closing lines of the plaintive One of Us: “Sorry for herself, feeling stupid, feeling small, wishing she had never left at all…” Ah-hah, indeed!
Nigel Britton

What was not remarked upon in “Our fate was to be with you” was the fact that the UK jury gave ABBA nil points back in 1974! 

No doubt we then blamed “political voting” for the Swedes beating Olivia Newton-John, singing for the UK despite spending most of her life in Australia, into fourth…
Michael Gregory

Language barriers
“Bohemian Rhapsodies” by Peter Trudgill (TNE #382) was an interesting dissertation on the languages spoken by the composer Friedrich (Bedřich) Smetana. These included Czech (poor), German and English (rather well because of his sojourns in the USA).

Americans do NOT speak English, so all that Smetana could have picked up is the bastardised dialects which I call “American”. I’ve spent many holidays in Lithuania and it infuriates me to see the so-called “English language” schools that clearly are corrupting my native language by teaching American.

Britain needs an organisation like the French one that protects the French language from abuse.
Tony Olsson
Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire

Railing against inaccuracy
In Letters, TNE #382, Dr Eric Owen Smith states that Basel’s “airport is also linked to north-east France and south-east Germany.” May I suggest he consults a map of Europe? The nearest parts of these two countries to Basel are SOUTH-east France and south-WEST Germany!

Long-distance trains CAN take you to north-east France and north-west Germany, but of course trains link to just about any other part of Europe, sooner or later.
Brian Rumary

No Avon lady
I have noticed that your Letters page locates Bristolian letter-writers in “Bristol, Avon”. The county of Avon was a short-lived experiment, existing only from 1974 to 1996.

Bristol is, in fact, a county in its own right, and has been since the 14th century. “Bristol, Bristol” is technically correct but a pair of Bristols is, for obvious reasons, undesirable.

Various organisations still use Avon in their names (Avon Fire and Rescue), which adds to the confusion but, please, the following will do:
Emily Matthews

Brexit wounds
We have just returned from a visit to northern France. I have never been so embarrassed to be British in my life! The economy there is thriving: Booming high streets, full restaurants.  

Many years ago I spent some time in California and went from San Diego to Tijuana for the day. Crossing the border showed a glaring difference between the US and Mexican economies.

This time, arriving back in the UK gave me the same feeling. Unless Labour gets us back into the EU or at least the customs union, the UK is doomed. 

I already fear the damage done by Brexit can’t be reversed in my lifetime.
William Westgate

Comments, conversation and correspondence from our online subscribers 

Martin Fletcher’s “Welcome to Suellaland” (TNE #383) features, yet again, the right claiming ‘the majority of the British people’ think like them – missing the facts that all recent polls strongly suggest they absolutely do not. But that’s politics today – say what you want to be true, not what is actually true.
Guy Masters

I and many Scots despair of brain-dead comments like that in “Welcome to Suellaland” from the Hampshire councillor who claims that he speaks for “the majority of British people”. But then again he probably doesn’t consider me British! People then wonder why half of Scots would like independence.
David Morris

RE: Patience Wheatcroft’s plea for a tourist tax to help fund our creative sector (TNE #383). As things stand, the ‘free’ days are likely to get fewer and fewer, and more and more crowded. And what would happen to educational visits? If we had ID cards, UK residents could keep free admission rights every day.
C Kitchen

So, Penny Mordaunt had to take painkillers to ensure that she could carry the sword of state throughout the coronation (MandrakeTNE #383). She should be reminded that the rest of us are on painkillers so we can endure the dying days of this abysmal government…
Mark Grahame

Jonty Bloom’s “Ready for a deli drought” (TNE #383) was horrifying. So many small food businesses will go out of business as they will have to charge such high prices. As a food writer I know this is what we have all been dreading much as I like British produced cheeses, charcuterie etc.
Sudi Pigott

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