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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK

Men deserve care and compassion too

Rough sleeper in London
Men are six times more likely to sleep rough than women. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

I understand why Martha Gill considers the idea of a minister for men “insulting”, when society remains dominated by male power and women bear the brunt of gender inequality (“A Tory MP wants a minister for men. How about one for white people, heterosexuals and the upper classes?”, Comment). However, her preferred analogies are surely no less insulting. Perhaps a minister for the upper classes would indeed make sense if the upper classes were more likely to die prematurely from all comparable causes at every age; if the upper classes were 19 times more likely to be in prison; six times more likely to sleep (or die) rough on the streets; three times more likely to die a death of despair through suicide; or if we had learned just last month that the largest ever recorded quarterly rise in young people unemployed and not in education or training was comprised entirely of upper-class children.

While it is true that women have unique health concerns and are the majority of victims of sexual and abusive violence, there is a women’s health strategy for England and a strategy to tackle violence against women and girls, and ministers to oversee both. There are no equivalents for men.

A solution that might be less insulting for all would be the creation of a minister for men’s health and wellbeing, within the Department of Health, with a brief that does not mirror or parody that of the women’s minister, but targets urgent and severe issues for some of society’s most vulnerable individuals, with an eye not to equality, but to compassion and care.
Ally Fogg
Chair, Men and Boys Coalition,
Longsight, Manchester

Tax property by its worth

Until council tax is totally reformed, the situation for council services will never be improved (“Real levelling up means more cash for poor councils”, Editorial). How is it fair that my in-laws live in the north-east in a house worth £120,000 and pay £1,500 a year in council tax, yet the same band C home attracts only £768 tax in Westminster and properties are worth much more?

Until property is taxed at a percentage of its relative value, this situation will never improve.
Carl Rooney
Salford, Greater Manchester

Labour, look to Ohio

Chris McGreal’s report from Dayton, Ohio, contains two key lessons for Labour for an election victory that remains far from certain (“More jobs and a growing economy –so why won’t Ohio back the Democrats?”, World). First, in trying to win back working-class former Labour voters, push policies that will directly benefit them economically. Pandering to Tory culture war propaganda on issues such as immigration, while having only minimal differences with the Tories on the economy and workers’ rights, will not move people to vote for Labour.

Second, do not neglect the economic interests and the socially progressive convictions of the “new” core Labour voters in urban Britain, especially young people. Labour’s current ultra-cautious policy offer will leave both these key groups unmoved and likely to stay at home come the next election.
Chris Sinha

People power works

The ethical and moral points that Catherine Bennett makes in her piece about Unilever trading in Russia would seem to be unassailable (“If Unilever truly wants ‘a world with more joy’, why is filling Putin’s war chest?”, Comment). However, experience shows that people are at best uncertain as to whether boycotting products makes any difference to the producers/perpetrators, as the tone of her last couple of paragraphs would seem to acknowledge.

Whenever such doubts arise, I cast my mind back 30 years or so to an interview with the outgoing South African prime minister, FW de Klerk. A reporter managed to shove a mic under his nose and ask, with a sceptical “establishment” tone, whether the boycotting of South African produce by a few students and liberal-minded others had made any difference, to which de Klerk replied, ruefully: “Well, it didn’t help!” Those of us who had avoided banking with Barclays and had never eaten an Outspan orange felt a slight frisson at having helped to change history.

So remember: if Unilever won’t, we must.
Colin Padgett
Gestingthorpe, Essex

G20 summit achieved plenty

Your article suggesting that the G20 summit achieved little beyond boosting Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s image is an oversimplification (“Modi has boosted his image, but the G20 summit looks set to achieve little else”, Editorial). The summit, held under India’s presidency, resulted in several significant achievements:

• the adoption of the Delhi declaration, which reaffirms the commitment to strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth. It discourages protectionism and market-distorting practices, fostering a favourable trade and investment environment;

• progress towards the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. The summit also addressed gender equality and empowerment of women and girls;

• technological transformation and digital public infrastructure were key themes. The summit also addressed financial sector issues and international taxation.

It’s crucial to recognise these achievements for their potential to shape global policies and contribute to a more equitable world.
Jayanta Kumar Padmapati
Guwahati, Assam, India

Biblical manifesto for today

I agree with Kenan Malik and Philip Larkin that we should not seek the causes of our moral predicament in empty pews (“Our retreat from Christianity doesn’t mean we’ve lost our sense of morality”, Comment). The challenge comes in finding an absolute set of values in a world of shifting morality. Christian churches have failed to address this and have focused more on proving the divine nature of Christ through the resurrection. I identify myself as a committed Christian but attend no church and do not believe in the resurrection. Forget the mystery and read the sermon on the mount. It is the best political manifesto ever written. And its values are universal. If we were all to follow it irrespective of faith and beliefs, the world would be a kinder and more peaceful place.
Frank Edwards
Croydon, London

Swear more, hurt less

In Ian Martin’s enjoyable column about swearing, he might also have mentioned the recent studies on the pain-reducing qualities or “hypoalgesic effect” of swearing (“Let’s follow Gillian Keegan’s lead and celebrate Britain’s rich swearing heritage, FFS”, Comment). From what I understand, this reaction is most effective among people who swear infrequently. One other interesting observation seems to be that traditional swearwords, such as the time-honoured Anglo-Saxon ones referenced in your article, are more effective than modern expletives.
Nancy Roché
Winchester, Virginia, USA

Despite Ian Martin’s litany of the profanities, we are amateurs compared with the Ukrainian football chant of “Putin – khuylo!”. Apparently, it’s more offensive than the meek English translation, “Putin [is a] dickhead!”.
Austen Lynch
Garstang, Lancashire

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