James Coop says that by electing Labour we chose Tony Blair to make important decisions (Letters, 31 January). True, but it was not a blank cheque to disregard the UN Charter and international treaties. The destruction of a state and the killing of more than a million Iraqis is a direct result of a policy pursued by Blair and George Bush. Absence of the Security Council's consent to the attack on Iraq is a further proof that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was not a threat to the whole world. We should remember that Saddam Hussein once was a darling of the West. What changed was his refusal to continue the American agenda in the Middle East, and not the non-existent WMD.
James Coop misunderstands our system of government – perhaps Tony Blair does too. We did not elect Tony Blair as President but Prime Minister – first among equals – responsible for heading the Cabinet and ensuring that they made collective decisions. It is clear how importantly Churchill treated the wartime Cabinet meetings. I was appalled by Tony Blair's individual decisions. This is not the way our system of government works, unless we introduce some of the checks and balances in the American system.
Am I the only person to distinctly recall a Ten O'Clock News broadcast in 2003 where Tony Blair stood in front of the cameras and said that we couldn't allow a right-wing dictator to continue operating without taking action? What happened to the raison d'être of weapons of mass destruction? What a tragedy that Robin Cook did not live to give evidence at the Chilcot enquiry.
John Rentoul says that the Socialist Workers Party "wanted Saddam Hussein to prevail" ("Another act in the Leader's Tragedy", 31 January). A number of very intelligent, well-informed and highly principled people, SWP members, opposed Saddam's crimes when Britain was complicit in them, but also opposed ending his regime by a war of aggression. Now many in authority see both Britain's earlier support for Saddam and its later support for the invasion of Iraq as disastrous. But while they troop past Chilcot with their titles and honours, the ordinary people – SWP, CND, Amnesty, Christians, Muslims, trade unionists – who did their democratic best to avert them, are left out in the cold without an MBE between them.
The UK is squandering unaffordable billions waging war in countries in which we have no business, yet seems unwilling to use the armed forces to further the legitimate interests of its own citizens. If it is possible for the kidnapped British yacht couple, Paul and Rachel Chandler, to be visited by a doctor and a press photographer, it is surely not beyond the powers of our special forces to rescue them from their Somali captors. Foreign Secretary David Miliband cannot be seen as a credible successor to Gordon Brown until they are at liberty.
John Eoin Douglas
Had Sir Ian Kennedy been a colleague of mine, a rash of travel expenses claims would have required solid appointments followed by juicy orders as justification ("Taxi!", 31 January). He could have taken as many cabs as he wanted, as long as he could bear the gales of derisive laughter from colleagues and paid all the fares out of his own pocket.
Through creeping privatisation, New Labour is breaking up our public services and betraying the founding principles of the NHS ("How Government squanders billions", 24 January). I congratulate Jonathan Owen and Brian Brady on exposing the close ties between certain politicians and PFI contractors. Such intimacy is an affront to democracy and leaves the door open to corruption. PFI puts the public sector in debt to the private sector for decades. The Green Party is calling for an end to PFIs and for a return to traditional funding of public services that provides better value for money.
Green Candidate for Norwich South
There is a ray of hope for wonderful entertainment palaces ("Cinema's golden age reaches the final reel", 31 January). In 1996, there was a threat that Clevedon's privately owned cinema could be demolished or sold. From a massive campaign arose a registered charity and community cinema. Now, 14 years on, The Curzon shows new releases, the best world and independent cinema, classic films with organ accompaniment, and has screenings for young parents, with their babies. I hope this lesson can be learnt by others and more local cinemas be saved for future generations.
Clevedon, North Somerset
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