Our leaders set a very bad example
Your front page on 1 December highlights the increase in exclusion from schools for racist bullying. Why should anyone be surprised? When we have politicians – supposedly leaders of the country – endorsing a “hostile environment” for immigrants, expelling the Windrush generation because they cannot apparently believe that black faces might belong here and talking of Muslim women looking like letter boxes, others are encouraged to copy. It is inevitable that children will pick this up. Those contributing to and endorsing this tone of public discourse should be ashamed of themselves. I am certainly ashamed of what they have made our country. At one time, leading politicians were regarded as, and behaved, like statesmen (or, of course, women). When shall we see the like again?
I read the article Detainees’ families question UK tactics (1 December) with growing familiarity and unease. No doubt Boris Johnson had been musing over press cuttings of my time as founder of Fair
Trials: his mantra “Britain does not interfere in the legal systems of other countries … any more than we would accept interference in our judicial system” is exactly what Mark Lennox-Boyd used to write in letters to the Times during his early 1990s stint at the Foreign Office.
The Reprieve experience again mirrored mine. We always appreciated that open diplomacy was not necessarily the best way to obtain the release of victims of injustice and if the FCO told us they were taking action we left them to it for a reasonable time. Publicity was, again, a two-edged sword, and our advice, not necessarily taken, was tailored to our experience of the country concerned. Twentyfive years on, little seems to have changed. How depressing.