Letter: Yes, Mr Portillo, we're cynical - but only about politicians

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The Independent Online
MICHAEL PORTILLO made several dubious comparisons between Britain and the United States. I am an American living in London, and Mr Portillo's campaign against the so-called 'British elite' for undermining the nation by destructive 'pessimism' and 'cynicism' called to mind a speech by the disgraced American Vice-President Spiro Agnew. He attacked the 'nattering nabobs of negativism' - which meant anyone critical, or reporting criticism, of Richard Nixon's administration.

Like Agnew, Mr Portillo seeks to distract attention from the moral bankruptcy of government figures and institutions by blaming the critics and the messengers - one of the oldest ruses in politics - while refusing to shoulder any responsibility. This is especially irritating given the Tory's 14 years in power. Spiro Agnew was forced to resign following his famous speech after revelations about his shady business dealings. Soon after, Richard Nixon himself resigned. In this instance, politicians shown to have no scruples were seen to have no place in the leadership of nations.

Meredith Wheeler

London NW5

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