The Bard’s wisdom applies to Brexit
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.
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.
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.
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