Letter: Now for Hillary

Sir: With this year's American elections over, the starting gun has been fired for the those due in 2000 and already a probable pairing of presidential candidates can be seen. For the Republicans, George W Bush, governor of Texas - but only after a bruising and divisive contest with the religious forces that dominate the right wing of the party. He might find it necessary to placate them with his choice of vice-presidential candidate, to achieve a "balanced ticket".

For the Democrats, most probably Vice-President Al Gore. A stiff, non- charismatic figure, to win Mr Gore will have to make an inspired choice for running-mate, someone who will counter his stiffness with vibrant informality, and ideally, someone who is already nationally known. The ideal Democratic vice-presidential candidate can be seen already, not just in the wings but on stage - Hillary Clinton.

It will be 16 years since a woman ran for the vice-presidency - Geraldine Ferraro, who ran unsuccessfully in 1984 with Walter Mondale. American women's political role has steadily developed since then. The strength of right-wing forces in the US is such as to require the Democrats to distinguish themselves by emphasising the social issues, health insurance again perhaps pre-eminent among them - the very issue on which Hillary Clinton cut her political teeth.

Of course those who detest Bill Clinton feel much the same about Hillary - but if those feelings did not translate into votes this year, with impeachment in the air, why should they in 2000?

Neville Maxwell