<i>IoS</i> letters, emails & onine postings (26 April 2009)

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The Independent Online

Sarah Sands defends nepotism among our ruling elites at a time when identification with mainstream politicians and journalists is at an all-time low and a mere 21.6 per cent of the electorate have voted for Britain's ruling party ("Don't knock nepotism. It's relatively harmless" 19 April).

To see this contradiction made visible tune into Question Time on BBC1. Viewers may well have to put up with a chairman who is the son of the late BBC royal correspondent Richard Dimbleby. The representative pre-primed with soundbites for New Labour may well be one of sociologist Ralph Miliband's lads, or failing that, Tony Benn's son, Hilary. Representing journalism is often Polly – daughter of the writer Philip and granddaughter of the academic Arnold – Toynbee. And this is all before we get to whatever Bullingdon Club toff the Tories put up. Hardly surprising, then, that the audience for this show never gets above 2.5 million.

Have any of these people competed with working-class or ethnic-minority candidates for their position in society? The G20 protests revealed the tip of an iceberg of politically aware and informed citizens. Witticisms supporting nepotism only serve to demonstrate the huge gulf between our politically engaged citizens and undemocratic elites.

Gavin Lewis


Whatever Ms Gould's merits, her selection campaign reeks of the manipulation by which the New Labour hegemony has commandeered the party and held it beyond the reach of grass-roots members and supporters, smug in the assumption that the spectre of a Tory administration will once again bring in the votes when the day of reckoning arrives.

What Blair and Brown and the New Labour coterie have achieved is nothing less than a bloodless coup. Rather than starting their own quasi-Tory party, they have taken a going concern and transformed it into one, flushing out the core of what it stood for and thereby removing the democratic choice of the electorate to vote for a serious contender for government that is something other than an alternative old-boy network.

By manipulating the selection of candidates in safe seats (safe for now, at any rate), the stranglehold is tightened and a substantial proportion of the electorate is further alienated and, in effect, disenfranchised. I, for one, have had it up to my back teeth with them.

Mike Lim

Bolton, Greater Manchester

The Government's lack of success in introducing effective measures to combat climate change may be due to the fact that a substantial proportion of the electorate remain unconvinced about man's role in climate change ("The Great Green Con", 19 April). Without this weight of scepticism there would surely be more pressure on any government to deliver more effective green measures. There is a class divide on the issue, related to education level. Sceptics on the internet and in letters to tabloid and local papers reveal a lack of knowledge of basic science, let alone a knowledge of climate science. And is it more difficult nowadays to get people to accept social responsibility, particularly when it is perceived as requiring a reduction in their standard of living? Or am I just an intellectual and a social snob?

Francis Kirkham

Crediton, Devon

I grew up in Australia, and Aboriginals were widely considered to be less worthy than whites ("Australia's dirty little colonial wars", 19 April). Sold copious amounts of cheap booze, they were left to drown their sorrows for their lost world, and for the one in which they did not quite fit. We can only hope that the future is better for the Aboriginal people than was their past.


posted online

Real talent doesn't always come in marketable packages ("Opportunity Knocks", 19 April). Mama Cass. Joe Cocker. Nina Simone. None of them was a pin-up, but, once they got their break, like Susan Boyle, talent shone through.


posted online

Your powerful Centrepiece images (19 April) of young instrumentalists stepping out purposefully amid the debris of their Venezuelan home, demonstrated the transforming effect of music, particularly on the disadvantaged.

In Britain too, shapeless young lives could be given new meaning by the alchemy of music-making with others. In Venezuela teachers were unpaid for the first five years of El Sistema. Since teachers in this country retire at the unnaturally early age of 60, and many are able amateurs if not full-time musicians, might they volunteer to help staff a British "Sistema"?

Anna Distin

London E1

The Government is to back a £2,000 hand-out to those who trade in a car that is at least 10 years old for a new, less polluting model. As I have given up my car, can I have £2,000 to buy new shoes?

Molly Barnes


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