Letter: Labour has benefited from adopting Lib Dem policies

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The Independent Online
Sir: I have been disappointed by your Euro-election coverage. Conservative pronouncements have been dealt with in the context of John Major's continuing leadership, Labour's from the standpoint of the leadership election and the Liberal Democrats' hardly at all. The parties' European records and manifestos have been virtually ignored. Also, it appears that you are drifting back to favouring a two-party political scene. This culminates in your leading article ('Lib Dems need a change of clothes', 10 June), where you argue that the party's future success depends on it creating a distinctive message.

This is rich when you look at how Labour has improved its image. This has been largely achieved by adopting Liberal Democrat policies, for example: one member, one vote; pro-Europe; the mixed economy; possible electoral reform; and the devolution of power.

All these (and many other policies such as open government, local income tax, and a combined tax/benefit system) have been part of the distinctive message from the Lib Dems since the party's inception and pinched by Labour in a bid to emulate Lib Dem successes. Labour is, however, still as financially dependent on the unions as the Conservatives are on donations from vested interests; and both of these parties are split on the really big issues (Europe, taxation and state ownership for Labour; Europe, taxation and public services for the Conservatives).

Critical analysis of the parties' European credentials and policies would have shown the reader that the charge that there is no difference between Labour and Lib Dem policies is a myth.

Yours faithfully,

GEOFFREY S. HARRIS

Warwick

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