IoS letters, emails & online postings (23 March 2014)


Tony Benn's passing leaves us ever closer to being saddled with faceless career politicians, who may be "effective" to our Joan [Smith], but don't have a principle or a moral code in their collective, expensively educated bodies ("Benn was entirely ineffectual and usually wrong", 16 March).

I may have disagreed with Tony Benn in many ways, and found his naivety both touching and infuriating in equal measure. Maybe his ideas were just too utopian? We will most probably never know. It is still a shame though, that supposedly left-leaning commentators choose to prefer living in the world of unfettered and destructive capitalism promoted by every government since Thatcher, and only tinkered with around the edges by the latest incarnation of the Labour Party.

I am also blonde and political – but I chose to mark his passing with the sadness and respect it deserved.

Emma Flowers

Witney, Oxfordshire

In all areas of human achievement history is the final arbiter of an individual's success or failure. Many visionaries have died with the stigma of having been drowned by the waters of history, only for the currents to change and show they were in fact swimming powerfully in the right direction.

Thus to those antagonistic to change or those lacking in judgement, Tony Benn has failed because the world has become a plutocratic heaven and an ethical hell. However, the very excesses of this system and it's catastrophic effects on our planet must ensure that Benn's visionary, sharing socialism will become relevant and fashionable again. Else... all of us are done for.

Joan Smith's obtuse and spiteful little dance on the grave of a great man already looks silly but to future historians it may well provide a classic example of the partisan fallibility of contemporary judgements.

Steve Edwards

Haywards Heath, West Sussex

I applaud Katy Guest's decision not to review gender-specific children's books ("A good read is just that. Ask any child", 16 March) but why limit this policy to children's literature? The relegation of women's writing to the world of candy-coloured frivolity is demeaning to both writers and readers. Additionally, it corroborates the belief – commonly held among men – that women's writing is not for them. This warps the literary space and denies many fine writers the reach they deserve.

Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Feminism is about gender equality, but it should also be about pride. Katniss from The Hunger Games is a strong female protagonist, but we should avoid suggesting that this is because she is associated with what might be considered typically male traits. Can a woman wearing a pink dress not be a strong feminist? Women can be "handy with a bow and arrow", but they can also be a glittery pink princess, and the world we want is one in which all of these possibilities are the unchallenged norm for men and women alike.

Charlotte Davey & Joe Murgatroyd

London SE27

Prince Charles only gets away with perverting the course of democracy because of this class-divided country and the support of the establishment (Archie Bland, 16 March). In a small country like this one they have six palaces, thousands of servants, and this Government gives them an open cheque book while many are in abject poverty.

Jenny Bushell

Wimbledon SW19

Why does Jane Merrick insist that the Prime Minister should have visited Israel sooner (16 March)? Surely, it is bad enough that a British Prime Minister should heap such fulsome praise on, and "stand every step of the way" with, a country which illegally occupies Palestinian territory, has annexed Jerusalem against international law, discriminates against Israeli residents of Palestinian descent and ignores UN resolutions without going further out of his way to favour this particular country over others?

Jeff Smith

Beeston, Bedfordshire

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