Joan Smith finds Shirley Williams, campaigning for the Liberal Democrats, "more Labour than Labour itself" (13 April). How ironic. When Baroness Williams left the Labour Party for the SDP she said that the Labour Party was no longer the party she had joined. Many of us in the party who never identified with "Old Labour", now find ourselves in exactly the same position. Lady Williams and her centre-left colleagues who stayed, like Denis Healey and Roy Hattersley, find themselves firmly to the left of the Blairite party. Three of the policies that attracted us - commitments to public spending and public services and a progressive taxation system - have been jettisoned.

Is one of the contradictions of British politics that we, who think socialism a practical as well as an ethical creed and not an excuse for vague statements of good intent, have to vote Liberal Democrat to achieve at least some of our aims?

Terry Philpot

Oxted, Surrey