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The Independent Online
l NEAL Ascherson in his quest for the theoretical antecedents of Will Hutton's The State We're In has missed the key point ("The state we've been in for 50 years...", 4 February). This is simply that Mr Hutton represents, excellently, the view of life from Muswell Hill, north London, where he lives.

Charles Murray, London N17

l KEITH Elliot's article on the medicinal uses of shark livers ends with a joke on the efficacy of haddock fins in treating haemorrhoids ("Fishing Lines", 4 February). If he reads the writing on a tube of "Preparation H" he will find out that in fact one of the ingredients is - shark oil. Evidently Japanese shark fishermen know a thing or two.

Richard Soles

Limerick, Ireland

l WHY must Britain "continue the expansion of higher education"? ("Degrees of Cowardice", 4 February). Not only are there not enough jobs for new graduates but they are often considered over-qualified by employers for those positions that do exist. It'd be better for both the nation and the individuals concerned if the Government made its priority the creation of jobs. Or is the aim to have the highest educated dole queue in Western Europe?

Tim Mickleburgh

Grimsby, Lincolnshire

l WHY does Decca Aitkenhead omit to mention that Kate Atkinson, author of the Whitbread Book of the Year, is a university graduate as well as a former cleaner ("A new chapter begins in the maid's story", 28 January)? And since when has the experience of failed marriages made a novelist's success less probable?

A M Gelman, Aberdeen

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