Race relations

Have your say

How much credence should we give Ukip leader Nigel Farage’s call for a reform of the race relations laws and a limit to the growth of Sharia law (your report, 13 March)?

It is difficult to understand the point he was trying to make about employers giving preference to workers from Poland.

On the one hand they may be taking them on because they feel they can get them to work at lower rate of pay than a British worker.

On the other, they may feel that experience has shown that employees from Poland are more ambitious, more conscientious, more diligent than some of their British counterparts.

It is too simplistic to suggest that our comprehensive race relations laws need to be amended to sort out these dilemmas.

On the question of Sharia law he may be on stronger ground. The idea that there should be a single legal code that applies to all is a fundamental one in our democracy.

But only last year the Law Society of England and Wales wrote a guide on Sharia succession rules to be used in courts – mainly applying to the administration of wills.

This had prompted equalities campaigner Baroness Cox and others to highlight firstly the development of a parallel quasi-legal system operating in some Muslim communities – 85 Sharia courts were operating in four English cities.

She also drew attention to how much Sharia law discriminates against children born out of wedlock, for example.

None of this may justify Mr Farage’s misjudged comments on extremism and attempts by some Muslims to change culture.

But there is an obligation, I feel, on all religious groups to stress that everyone is equal before the law, and should have the same access to it; that rights and responsibilities should be adjudicated fairly, and that punishment, where appropriate, is civilised and humane.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court


According to Joyce McMillan (Perspective, 13 March), the combined wisdom of the “Scottish parties’ decision to lead from the liberal centre-left on race and migration” has enabled the ever so slightly superior people of Scotland to avoid tangling valid immigration debate with xenophobia.

But this is exactly what she is guilty of. Ukip lays out an 
immigration policy based on valid practical concerns, making every effort to avoid any xenophobic misinterpretation.

But Ms McMillan insists on ignoring the substantial issues involved and instead suggests all sorts of sinister motivations. This means of suppressing open debate on immigration is no longer working, and has led to Ukip rising to fill the void left by the censorious “liberal centre-left”.

I just don’t see the logic in paying a UK citizen unemployment benefit while the jobs he or she could and should be doing are taken by people from outside the UK.

I can quite understand why employers often prefer smart, hard-working Eastern Europeans to others who might not have developed a strong work ethic or be as well educated, for whatever reason. But, for the long-term good of our country and all of its citizens, unemployment must be minimised.

There are also valid questions about the nature of our national community of mutual support. We pay in to help those in need, recognising that we may also need such help at some stage.

This sense of mutuality is undermined if people can take from this system without fully entering in to it.

These arguments are as valid in Scotland as anywhere else. Scottish nationalists should remember that any line drawn randomly across the UK in any direction, or even just through Scotland, would delineate two populations with slightly different political views.

Only nationalists use this 
trivial fact to foster division.

Richard Lucas