IoS letters, emails & online postings (31 May 2009)

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Malcolm Morrison calls for a statutory slot for "None of the above" on all ballot papers (Letters, 24 May). He might like to know that this has been the rule for all internal elections in the Green Party for many years. The slot is called "Re-open nominations", and is lovingly known as Ron among party members.

Even if there is only one candidate, a ballot has to be held between that person and Ron. If the Labour Party had such a rule, Gordon Brown would have had to face an election for leader. Maybe Ron would have won, and a second poll would have been arranged.

Ron turns out to be a flexible friend for the voter. Suppose five people are nominated for a post but you cannot abide two of them. You can vote for the other three and Ron, in any order you choose, and ignore the two you oppose. Or you can just vote for Ron.

No doubt the Greens can be prevailed upon to introduce Ron nationally if ever they are part of a British government.

Tom Lines

Brighton, East Sussex

Malcolm Morrison's suggestion does not go far enough. There ought to be another box for "Write in" candidates. A similar system is used in some elections in the United States and it enables voters to nominate a candidate of their choice, thus by-passing the party machines. At the next general election I intend to insert my own box, with the heading "Real Labour", and put my X there.

John Naylor

Ashford, Middlesex

From your supplement last week, 187 MPs, of 646, were seen to be claiming expenses between £23,000 and £23,083, the maximum. Now, either they have spent much more in their endeavours on our behalf and need to recoup as much as allowed, or, perhaps, as you put it, are just "at it". Compare that number, 187, to those who have been rebuked, made "mistakes" etc. What seems sure is that they will continue in their ways unless rooted out and shamed. Self-assessment is not an option!

Barry Clarke

Shepton Mallet, Somerset

I'm neither Lib Dem, nor from Argyll and Bute, but please don't knock poor old Alan Reid MP (Argyll & Bute). He doesn't deserve criticism for spending £1,500-plus on overnight stays in his constituency. Have you looked at a map of Argyll & Bute? It's huge, and includes a number of islands and remote-looking peninsulas. Of course he has to have overnight stays away from home.

Christine McKeone

via email

Given the phenomenal popularity of reality TV, may I suggest "Westminster Idol" as a solution to the waning interest in voting, and as a cure for public outrage at greedy MPs? Simon Cowell and a telephone vote should solve both problems.

Suzanne Elliott

Eastbourne, East Sussex

As a Chinese woman whose innocent brother is rotting in a Chinese police cell and whose entire family is under threat, my heart bleeds for Professor Ding Zilin and all the other mothers like her in China ("The 20-year anger of a Tiananmen mother", 24 May). I am one of the lucky ones who married a European man and could get out.

The world condemns Burma and imposes trade sanctions against it, but little is said about the human rights abuses that go on in China every second of every day, and nothing is done. The only message that would be understood by this pariah regime is if the world stopped trading with them. Only then would change happen. But politicians in the West are too spineless to even suggest this. They put trade above human beings. Professor Ding Zilin is right, from Mao Zedong to Deng Xiaoping their domination of the good people of China is the continuation of a 1,000-year feudal dynasty. There is, and has never been, anything about China that is socialist.

Name withheld via email

I take the point, as made by Janet Street-Porter on 24 May, that imprisoning Baby P's mother and Karen Matthews may not be the most appropriate way of dealing with them. Her proposed alternative was that, after schooling, they should work in old people's homes. I sincerely hope that neither I nor Janet Street-Porter should be condemned to be cared for in our old age by people described as "highly devious", "callous", "self-centred", "delusional" and "unable to take responsibility".

This is another example of the way in which vulnerable older people are viewed, in that it can even be considered that their care, wellbeing and welfare should be placed in the hands of the people as described above.

Wendy Parkin

Bradford, West Yorkshire

In "The pressures on modern family life", 24 May, I was incredulous to read that 36 per cent of all families consist of "a mum, a dad and 2.4 children". I would be very surprised to find even one family with this somewhat disturbing family make-up.

Tom Wood

via email

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