Letter:Elitism behind voting change

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The Independent Online
Sir: We must be grateful to Polly Toynbee for letting the cat out of the bag over the real reason for introducing proportional representation ("Defectors have only a walk-on part", 16 September).

Forget all the talk of fairness - it's about getting her pals with "qualifications for running the country" into Parliament. Of course they are too self- important to go "clocking up leafleting hours" - that's for the ordinary folk.

And where are these rarefied souls to be found? Obviously not at local level - certainly they won't have bothered to serve their community on a local council or been active in the local party or as a trade union representative. Her ideal candidate will no doubt be found at chic London dinner parties among the chattering classes.

It is this nauseating elitism that was the rotten core of the SDP, and one of the main reasons why it failed. In reality Alan Howarth, like the vast majority of his new colleagues in the PLP, is a decent and able MP. His cause will not have been served by the rancid support of Polly Toynbee.

JOHN F SPELLAR MP

(Warley West, Labour)

House of Commons,

London SW1

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