Rachel Reeves sounds like a bright and lively addition to the Shadow Cabinet ("Can this woman save the Labour Party?", 9 October). And it will be refreshing to have someone economically literate on Ed Miliband's team. It's also important to have leading Labour figures with exposure to the wider world. But I hope her early career secondment to Washington DC and admiration of Barack Obama do not presage a re-run of the last Labour leader with close affinities to the United States and admiration of its president. That was a man called Tony Blair, once hailed in similarly enthusiastic terms as a man to save the Labour Party.
Labour does not need messiahs whether in skirts or trousers: it needs many people of goodwill united in an urgent and intelligent commitment to digging this country out of a mess unprecedented in peace time.
Sally Warwick, Leicester
The children's charity Plan UK, in stating in its report "Because I am a Girl" that "Our families and schools are handing gender inequality, and violence against girls, down through the generations", must accept that some women do little to fight gender inequality and violence against girls ("Girls, boys and the real differences between them", 9 October).
If we want gender equality and violence against girls to stop, then the obstacles that stop women fighting for their rights, such as domineering male partners and cultural values that see girls as the weaker sex, need to be challenged, and consigned to history.
Kartar Uppal, West Bromwich, West Midlands
We need a new Sex Discrimination Act which outlaws misogyny and the threats of violence that some women endure on the streets and at home. A pervasive culture of verbal harassment, the tacit threat to women, and the proliferation of pornography allow men to believe and boys to learn that women are second-class citizens.
spirogiro, posted online
It is hard to believe that the FBI is really concerned that Clint Eastwood's J Edgar Hoover biopic is outing the man as a homosexual (9 October). This was alluded to in the 1977 film The Private Files of J Edgar Hoover starring Broderick Crawford and, more explicitly, with Bob Hoskins as Hoover in Oliver Stone's Nixon (1995). The current bureau directorship should be far more embarrassed about having its founding father so active in trying to kill off the civil rights movement.
Hoover attempted to smear the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as a communist front organisation and his FBI bugged Dr Martin Luther King, feeding details of his sex life to the right-wing press. But I suppose the FBI, like a lot of American institutions, would like a sanitised, revisionist version of its dubious past to be accepted as reality.
Gavin Lewis, Manchester
Abergavenny could continue to be "to food what Cannes is to film", if members of the Welsh Assembly oppose decisions of the Monmouthshire County Council to replace the historic, 150-year-old Abergavenny livestock market, in the centre of the town, with a supermarket ("We are all Welsh now", 9 October). The assembly can veto the plan by refusing to repeal the acts which oblige the council to maintain a market in the town. Will any assembly members have the courage to stand up and defend a historic market town?
Philip Bowyer, Abergavenny
News that jockeys will strike in protest at new whip rules is welcome. The fewer of these cowardly animal beaters around, the better. And it's not just whipping that's cruel: every year 375 horses are raced to death. Indeed, a horse's heartbeat increases tenfold during a race, causing heart attacks, and most suffer stress-related lung haemorrhages. Almost all horses suffer ulcerated stomachs.
Two-thirds of the 15,000 foals bred for racing each year aren't good enough and are often killed. Many are turned into horse steaks abroad. A real sport involves consenting human participants, not abused animals whipped to win a race and line someone's pocket.
Mark Richards, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
After reading his article "Come on England, I don't think" (9 October) can I ask where John Crace was in 1996? From what I remember, we reached the semi-finals of a little tournament called Euro 96. We even hosted it. The country went football mad. I await Crace's football book with slight trepidation.
K Philpott, London N5
Like Tim Lott, I am a dyed-in-the-wool pessimist ("Cheer up! It may never happen", 9 October). But I comfort myself with the assurance that pessimism is a cast-iron safeguard against disappointment.
Alan Bunting, Harpenden, Hertfordshire
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