I spent a sizeable part of my childhood living in one of the most rural parts of England. It's a forgotten area of the country where it appears that not much has changed in the last five decades. I would say that if the weather was fine it would be one of the finest places in the world. I make this point because I am deeply concerned at reports that Britain's rural heartland is in crisis and as we saw over the weekend almost half a million people marched through London. Their message and protest was rather dismissed by the London based media and basically the editorial line was the “turnip heads” are coming to town with their outdated and cruel form of hunting and their rural class system. What has happened in the countryside is little more than industrial meltdown. Starting with foot and mouth and the European Union quota system the British farming industry is in danger of going the same way as the shipbuilding industry. But the government appears not too concerned possibly because a vast majority of rural seats in England are in the hands of the Conservatives and the last time Tony Blair visited a farm he was wearing a rubber suit which basically was the final nail in the coffin of the rural tourist industry at the height of foot and mouth. The government must start taking the countryside seriously and provide the necessary funding to overcome the problems which now exist. I do not particularly agree with fox hunting but I would have thought that the government has better things to worry about at the moment. Sunday's demonstration was a cry for help by a minority marginalised by the government as “Toffs”. Sadly, this is not the case and the government should recognise that all is not well on Britain's pastures.

Jason Moore

Let the public visit the Puig Major, the base with a view

Sir, 2002 has been declared the Year of the Mountain.
What better time to start a campaign to reclaim the best view of this wonderful island that has been denied to its population for many years.
I refer of course to the vista from the peak of the Puig Mayor.
I am not suggesting the base be removed, simply that the public be able to reach the peak and enjoy a panorama unsurpassed in the western Mediterranean. I don't believe in the age of satellites that national security is an issue here. A campaign needs to be launched , led by prominent Majorcans, to persuade the military high command in Madrid to allow access to one of the most emblematic pieces of Majorcan real estate.

John Little. Felanitx

Palma Nova blues

Dear Sir,
Just back from a fab holiday in Palma Nova – 2 – 16 Sept 02. All in all it was a brilliant holiday. However all was not rosy in the garden. While all efforts are made in the clean up of the beach and thoroughfares in Palma Nova – something needs to be done about the water – it was terrible with nappies, etc appearing on the beach from the water in the late evening. But my big crib is the number of smokers – yes smokers – who discard their ends in the water in view of all and when tackled about same are quite rude....... et al. Perhaps more signage advising people not to do here what they would not do at home. As I said to one gent – I hate to see your home if this is what you do on holidays in another persons country/home. Anyway looking forward to my return there – same place– same hotel.

Mick Watson. Kildare

German election

Dear Sir,
In the aftermath of the German elections last weekend, and the narrow victory for the SPD/Green coalition over their conservative/liberal coalition opposition, there was one most interesting issue that without doubt affected the result. Apart from “clangers” dropped by, on the one part a minister in the SPD likening George Bush's attitude to Iraq to Hitler, ie diverting Americans' attention from troubles at home, with a diversionary action abroad, and the Liberals' deputy chairman stating Sharon and Israeli actions was a self-inflicted reason for anti semitism, these seemed to cancel each other out. The 10 point lead enjoyed in the run-up to the election by the Conservatives was eroded by Schroeder of the SPD in part by his decisive action during the summer heavy floods, but mainly due to his clear statement that German forces would not be sent to Iraq. Apart from Blair and Aznar, there is little support in Europe for the Bush policy/attitude, at best one or two countries paying lip service, and hopefully, the sense and maturity of European leaders will curb Bush in his headlong rush into reckless scenarios which can have devastating results, as in the Middle East.

Bush and his advisors are in desperate need of lessons in diplomacy, and hopefully Europe will be able to give him the benefit of its experience and wisdom before irrevocable and irresponsible actions on his part create a monumental problem.

Graham Phillips. Palma