IoS letters, emails & online postings (20 December 2009)

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As Tony Blair's biographer, Anthony Seldon is the wrong person to defend Mr Blair ("He saw Iraqis suffering, and believed it was his duty to help them", 13 December). When he was prime minister, Mr Blair had a bully pulpit for his views on Iraq and Saddam Hussein, and his use of unprincipled means to achieve soi-disant principled ends has blown back.

Mr Seldon compares his moral conviction to that of Gladstone, but Gladstone ended up out of step with his own party on this sort of issue, and resigned. The Victorians were pragmatists, not ideologists, and would simply have removed somebody like Saddam and not bothered what people thought.

As to the ex-PM feeling he had a "duty not to pass by on the other side", he had a much greater duty to his own electors, those from whose hands he received his power, not to commit them to a war which it now seems he could have influenced much more had he actually wanted to.

Adam Walker


Could Anthony Seldon remind me how many troops the Good Samaritan used? Tony Blair had 45,000 in the initial invasion phase of the Iraq war. Also, how many civilians did the Samaritan kill? Tony's total was 7,299 in the first six weeks of the war.

Richard Bosworth

Rottingdean, East Sussex

It's a funny old thing, democracy, when a party can be voted in, and its leader, on the pretext of moral convictions, can cook up a secret deal to go to war on a country that, although internally leaving a lot to be desired, had never attacked the UK. The stated aim of stability seems a bit forlorn now. This reckless adventure has affected everybody in the UK by way of terrorist threats, bombings and interminable security checks, perhaps for the next 30 years.

Barry Clarke

Shepton Mallet, Somerset

As someone with two jobs in order to make a living, I see nothing in Labour's recent pre-Budget report that takes away from small enterprises adding genuine value to the economy (John Rentoul, "Labour is unelectable again", 13 December). The proposed one-off tax on bonuses is a specific tax on the financial service sector which nearly brought our economy to its knees, and would quite likely do so again if this country does not diversify its economic base. We must cut our dependence on institutions that, by their nature, are all about greed and quick profits for shareholders.

Paul Redfern


Janet Street-Porter rails against bonuses for public sector workers ("Forget class. It's your perks that define your status", 13 December). These bonuses – more aptly termed performance-related pay – generally replaced automatic increments based on length of service. Is she suggesting that the public sector does not recognise good performance, or that it docks pay across the board, making public service even less attractive at a time when good performance is vital to assisting economic recovery?

John Dorken

London N10

The issues of poverty and social mobility in the UK need to be high on the agenda of political parties at the forthcoming general election. Sometimes this poverty seems to be a cycle that passes down the generations. Other times, it can be the result of unfortunate circumstances, bad luck or discrimination. Often, it appears to be the result of the wealthy and powerful defending their own interests, which is certainly what the Tories did when they were in government. We need to offer people hope and opportunities to create a more just society.

Robert Heale


Janet Street-Porter is right to tackle Today for fielding four male but only two female guest editors after Christmas ("BBC's strange idea of equality", 13 December). The programme is tediously overloaded with rent-a-quote men. But if P D James and Shirley Williams are not entirely representative of British womanhood, as she says, who is? The answer is, nobody. Every woman is her own person and cannot represent her sex as a whole. We should not think of women as a breed, with a checklist of characteristics. That would be mixing them up with pedigree cats.

Anna Distin

London E1

Bernard Cribbins – what a man! This key figure in my childhood was brought back to mind by Susie Mesure's fine interview ("I was in the Tardis before David was born", 13 December). And I thought I knew my Cribbins, but I never realised he was a paratrooper during his National Service or that he once starred in Coronation Street.

Susan Nott

Weybridge, Surrey

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