IoS Letters, emails & online postings (15th March 2009)

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Harriet Harman's wardrobe has nothing to do with young women's political ambitions ("A whole generation is lost to politics", 8 March). Here in Canada, the female role model who inspired today's women parliamentarians was a single female cabinet minister with appalling dress sense. Plain and overweight, she was treated abominably when she entered the House of Commons in 1960. But many more women followed the gutsy Liberal Judy LaMarsh into a Commons career.

There are obstacles to women running for office here and in the UK: getting selected for a winnable seat, and money. The backroom boys in my party carry on king-making as if there were no outstanding women, and the Commons is a zoo of loud-voiced men shouting one another down. No wonder girls are put off politics.

Anne Thackray

Toronto, Canada


Our civil law is clear about the use of force and violence: it is criminal. But governments of all parties believe that lethal force and violence can be used in "the national interest" ("Did Mr Straw really see no evil?", 8 March). There are millions who operate on the brute level that "paying back" wrong for wrong is justifiable and who see nothing wrong with steamrolling moral objections. Our governments seek to appear just and high-minded, enforcers and not abusers of international law. Only when we consistently stick to the principles we profess to practise will we stop having to turn a blind eye.


posted online


We remember the lies dished out regarding the threat Saddam Hussein posed to the UK and the USA ("Pakistan the greatest threat", 8 March). More than a million Iraqis have been killed since the American attack on Iraq; the country has been shattered by US and coalition forces, and Iraqis have been forced to flee abroad. Are we now about to witness another saga of killings, murders and destruction initiated by the USA and supported by our government – this time in Pakistan?

Shaikh Mohommad

Croydon, Surrey


The "greenest" form of renewable energy is biomass ("Darling vetoes plans for green revolution ...", 8 March). Replacing 60 million tons of coal in the UK with some 90 million tons of wood products would be challenging, but a determined effort to harvest waste wood and to plant rapid-growing, coppice-amenable willow and miscanthus grass would go a long way. Developing countries and those with sustainable forest schemes could also contribute. Irrigation might be required, but the collateral benefits of reliable, increased water would be enormous.

Dr Barrie Smith

Erdington, Birmingham


Arthur Scargill argued against a national miners' ballot because there were regions not under threat which might have voted against defending the jobs of those whose pits were threatened ("Reunited at last", March 8). It is a perverse definition of democracy only to favour an election when one is likely to win. It also runs directly against the very basis of trade union solidarity, which rightly requires the loyalty of the strong in defence of their weaker brethren.

The lack of a national vote haunted the miners throughout the whole sad episode and was a key factor in the emergence of Jimmy Reid, the left-wing leader of the Clydeside shipyard workers. He memorably described Scargill's tactics as "infantilism".

Michael Meadowcroft



Having been through a near-identical situation as Julie Myerson with my son, I could not imagine committing it to prose for any purpose, and certainly not to sell a book ("Myerson family feud over book deepens", 8 March). It has left her poor son exposed to public judgement about this most private of matters, and will hang over his attempts to restart his life.

Helene Davidson

posted online


It takes strong parents to say to their child: "Here are my limits, and I will go no further." As a child I could never see it, but as a parent I now see this as passing on values to the next generation. My wife's parents and my own have done this and shaped our views. They now support and strengthen this message within our own family. If a child refuses to accept the "family" rules it is a very sad situation. To try to work through such a situation is hard, particularly for a mother. Sometimes, the child refuses to accept the rules of the family and the situation becomes unsustainable. In such cases, everyone loses.

John Helliwell

posted online


Many pensioners – like Janet Street- Porter – are loaded ("We need older workers – they know everything", 8 March). They are the spoilt, greedy, baby-boomer generation that had everything easy. They should shut up, or we may create a special baby-boomer's tax just for them.


posted online

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