IoS letters, emails & online postings (02 May 2010)

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Gordon Brown's slur against an ordinary pensioner asking intelligent questions about pensions and immigration is a window into the contemptible mind of the real bigots in this affair, the sneering elitists of New Labour. This cabal of the politically correct takes the view that when working people question Labour's policy of uncontrolled immigration from Eastern Europe on the grounds of economic opportunity and housing availability, they are racists or fascists. In reality, it is Brown & Co who are playing the race card when the reasonable voter is asking a question about limited space and job opportunities on our island.

This incident just shows how far Labour has come in the last few years. Once the Labour Party might have understood that unlimited competition from cheap Eastern European workers undermines communities and destabilises once harmonious areas. Today, Labour is a party of the free market more that it is of the workers and as such cannot see the consequences of its "open door" policy. This must be true or they would have learned from the inflows from Eastern Europe and would oppose the accession of Turkey into the European Union.

Chris Lenton

Liverpool Liberal Party

You reported that the phrase "God helps those who help themselves" is generally attributed to the former US president, Benjamin Franklin ("Brown invokes God to slam Tory tax cut for the well-off", 25 April). Well, as a good gentleman of the Enlightenment he may well have said it, but he was never president of the United States. He also said: "Those who give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety", a remark to which Mr Brown should pay some heed the next time he urges Parliament on to another breach of civil liberty.

Jeffry Kaplow

London SE3

The Labour Party has improved animal welfare. It banned fox hunting, hare coursing and stag hunting, fur farming, driftnet fishing, the testing of cosmetics, toiletries, alcohol and tobacco on animals and the seal fur trade across the EU. It decided against a badger cull in England and is currently banning battery cages for pheasants. David Cameron, a former hunter, wants to bring back hunting and wants an immediate badger cull.

Mark Richards

Newcastle, Staffordshire

The Labour, Tory and Lib Dem parties have come to occupy a crowded middle ground with very little between them ("Green surge as parties try to attract eco-vote", 25 April). This leaves the way open for a genuinely progressive politics that promotes a credible alternative to free-market ideologies. It's time for a new economic model based on nature, nurture and replenishment and development within environmental limits. That the Green Party is a single-issue party is a myth. Just look at its manifesto. Policies on taxation, the economy, families, housing, pensions and foreign affairs are all firmly placed at the heart of a plan that offers a bright green future, for a new way of living, that is sustainable and forward-looking. It surely won't be long before we see the first Green MP in Westminster.

Nick Reeves

London WC1

Martin Hickman offers a welcome health warning about cowboys fitting solar panels to homes ("Major solar panel firms 'are misleading consumers'", 25 April).

The investigation he described involved, "installing solar thermal systems which use sunlight to heat tap water". Many government incentives are currently directed to domestic micro-generation using photovoltaic cell technology. Since the substance of his piece was concerned with heating water by solar panels it was unfortunate, to say the least, that the accompanying photo showed a workman installing photovoltaic cells. Clearly, no water heating would result from that installation!

Frank Campbell


If we tried a little harder we could pronounce the name of that Icelandic volcano ("All this ash is bunging up my moral compass", 25 April). Firstly, separate the long word into its three component parts thus: Eyja-fjalla-jökull. Eyja means island and is pronounced as we might hail someone: "Ay-ah!" Fjalla is the genitive (possessive) plural of fjall (mountain), so means "of the mountains". Fj is pronounced "fy" (as one might carelessly say "f'you") and ll is as in Welsh, eg Llanberis, or is the"tl" of "Atlantic": "fja-tla". Jökull, which means glacier and is cognate with our English word for a smaller ice construction, icicle, sounds like "YER cool", with that ll at the end. Eyjafjallajökull – "glacier of the island mountains". That isn't so difficult. We'll know next time ....

Chris Dann

Romney Marsh, Kent

David Essex a former sex god (Interview, 25 April)? I don't fink so!


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