27 NOVEMBER 2004, Page 32

Wheatcroft on hunting

From Billy Bra.g Sir: I think it's a bit much that Geoffrey Wheatcroft should, rather hysterically, grind his fascist wellyboot into my face, comparing me to a paedophile merely because I oppose fox-hunting while enjoying fishing (Death to Iraqis, not to foxes', 20 November). My opposition to hunting with dogs is based on the conviction that it is cruel and barbarous to encourage animals to fight to the death. My enjoyment of fishing is based on the prospect of eating my catch. Mackerel bought at the fishmonger's just doesn't taste as good as those caught fresh from the beach.

If he is so sure that he speaks for England, perhaps Wheatcroft ought to spend some time trying to convince Michael Howard to fight the election on the issue of fox-hunting. Failing that, he might consider joining me in campaigning for a written constitution that would genuinely protect the rights of all minorities.

Billy Bragg

Burton Bradstock, Dorset

From Jane Manley Sir: I am writing to congratulate you and Geoffrey Whcatcroft on one of the best articles I have ever read. I am in a bit of an emotional state anyway after hunting was banned, having fought long and hard against that for the last seven years. I was moved to tears by his words and am still thinking about them several days later.

The passion and eloquence of his writing were very stirring, and every word rang true.

Jane Manley


From James Fergusson Sir: Geoffrey Wheatcroft suggests that 'the utterly risible' Eric Joyce is the only present Labour MP to have done military service. He forgets the Father of the House, the MP for Linlithgow. Tam Da!yell, an able chronicler of National Service in the Independent obituaries columns, himself served in Germany for two years with the regiment his ancestor raised, the Royal Scots Greys.

James Fergusson Obituaries editor, The Independent London E14

From Reuben Bouverie

Sir: Geoffrey Wheatcroft may be interested to know that Abraham Lincoln did serve in uniform. He was a captain of a volunteer company in Black Hawk's war (1832). By all accounts he was an extremely had officer. His company were a hard set of men who shouted 'Go to hell!' to his first order. They got thoroughly out of hand, and Lincoln

was ordered by a court martial to carry a wooden sword for two days because he had been unable to prevent them robbing the regimental whisky cache and getting drunk. Later, when he was in Congress, he made a speech ridiculing his military experience and his pretensions to command. According to at least one historian, the experience may have been one of the most important of his life. Because of it, he understood the million and a half young men he called into service for the Union during the Civil War.

Reuben Bouverie

Slindon, West Sussex