The Bard’s wis­dom ap­plies to Brexit

The Guardian - Journal - - Letters -

It is un­likely that de­tails of Shake­speare’s ma­te­ri­als had

“long since been for­got­ten” by his au­di­ences (Shake­speare was right: the play’s the thing, 10 Jan­uary). A great many of his plots sprang from a com­mon well of folk and fire­side tales with which his au­di­ences would have been gen­er­ally fa­mil­iar. As for the more “fac­tual” sub­jects, the ma­te­rial for his Eng­lish his­tory plays came largely from the pages of Holin­shed’s Chron­i­cles. That the ma­te­rial was still sharp in the mem­ory of his more mind­ful con­tem­po­raries is ev­i­denced by the size of the fees paid for con­tro­ver­sial per­for­mances of Richard II on the eve of the ill-fated Es­sex Re­bel­lion in 1601.

Austen Lynch

Garstang, Lan­cashire

In her re­view of Man­hunt (7 Jan­uary), Lucy Man­gan says that this pro­duc­tion has avoided hyp­ing “Martin Clunes’s first foray into straight drama”. In fact, Martin Clunes is a fine Shake­spearean ac­tor. The Eng­lish Shake­speare Com­pany led by Michaels Bog­danov and Pen­ning­ton came to Hull New The­atre in 1987 with won­der­ful pro­duc­tions of Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 and Henry V, and again in 1988 with The Wars of the Roses. Clunes played five roles, in­clud­ing the Duke of Clarence and Lord Mow­bray in “the Hen­rys”. On the Satur­day, the pub­lic were of­fered the re­mark­able the­atre­go­ing event of all three pro­duc­tions in one day. I also re­mem­ber John Wood­vine as Fal­staff and the Cho­rus, and June Wat­son as Mis­tress Quickly.

Peter Ayling

Kirk Ella, East York­shire

With ref­er­ence to Ham­let in con­nec­tion with the Brexit de­bate, may I sug­gest John of Gaunt’s speech in Richard II, start­ing “This Royal throne of Kings” and end­ing “(Eng­land) hath made a shame­ful con­quest of it­self.” What a prophecy.

Chris­tine Ozanne

Lon­don Two of the Stansted 15 hu­man rights ac­tivists who peace­fully in­ter­vened to stop a de­por­ta­tion flight are my con­stituents. Peo­ple who stand up for asy­lum seek­ers aren’t ter­ror­ists and they shouldn’t be treated as such (Stansted 15 pro­test­ers launch ap­peal against their ter­ror­ism con­vic­tions, 8 Jan­uary).

The Avi­a­tion and Mar­itime Se­cu­rity Act was brought in after the Locker­bie bomb­ing to up­date and en­hance pro­tec­tions for air­ports and ports. Yet it is be­ing used in this con­text to pros­e­cute peace­ful pro­test­ers. In­deed, this will be the first time it has been used against non-vi­o­lent ac­tivists.

The Stansted 15’s cause was grounded in a strong moral case to en­sure that those pas­sen­gers faced with de­por­ta­tion had their right of ac­cess to jus­tice pro­tected – the chance to com­plete the process for ap­ply­ing for asy­lum, which cru­cially must in­clude the op­por­tu­nity for ap­peal. A num­ber of pas­sen­gers had their im­mi­gra­tion cases over­turned at ap­peal as a re­sult of this flight be­ing grounded.

Ac­cess to jus­tice shouldn’t de­pend on ac­tions taken by hu­man rights de­fend­ers, but this Tory gov­ern­ment’s “hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment” and “de­port first, ap­peal later” pol­icy has cre­ated a ter­ri­ble in­jus­tice for peo­ple flee­ing harm and per­se­cu­tion. Ac­tivists who peace­fully seek to de­fend them should not be fac­ing the prospect of life im­pris­on­ment un­der leg­is­la­tion de­signed to tackle ter­ror­ism.

Cather­ine West MP

Labour, Hornsey and Wood Green

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