IoS letters, emails & online postings (8 June 2014)

The Liberal Democrats' problem is that it is no longer clear what they stand for ("Clegg survives a coup..." 1 June). A core of historic Liberals and Social Democrats will appreciate the idea of a moderating influence in coalition, a third voice. But is that enough to remain a significant force? I doubt it.

Those of us who believe in that third voice, its critical role in what otherwise risks becoming a two-party state, might say there is a responsibility on the Lib Dems not just to resort to the "we've been here before and recovered" cop-out.

The responsibility is to do all we can to ensure that third voice survives, strong and articulate. The media personalise this as an issue about Nick Clegg – but that's wrong. The issue is much more fundamental – what do the Lib Dems uniquely stand for? What is their special contribution? Why do they deserve our votes and deserve to survive? There's intellectual space for this, and an exciting opportunity to stake it out – but time is short.

Chris Naylor

Lib Dem councillor, London Borough of Camden, 2006-14, via email

Margareta Pagano rightly calls attention to the pitifully low turnout at the European elections ("How to win the voters back", 1 June), but her arguments for changing our "paper-based voting system... to an electronic one" are deeply flawed. We are daily regaled by articles showing the fallibility of computer programs, and of state surveillance of our systems, and it is clear that a reliance on such systems would lack the necessary security.

French elections regularly have a higher turnout than ours, even though all postal voting was banned in 1974 – in favour of proxy voting – because of the evidence of abuse. The presidential election of 2007 had a turnout of 84 per cent for both rounds, and the 2012 contest had a turnout of 80 per cent. It is up to politicians to attract voters rather than searching for some magic bullet.

Michael Meadowcroft

Leeds, West Yorkshire

In contrast to her usually warm and insightful thoughts, Ellen E Jones tars all "incels" (involuntary celibates) with the same brush in the wake of Elliot Rodger's massacre. I believe passionately in gender equality, and that parity is the solution to this and countless other problems. Rodger was a murderous misogynist, but the wider media have failed to diagnose the fact that its worship of sex and money as the highest possible social achievement contributed as much as anything to what Rodger became. The Independent on Sunday's Happy List was a welcome counterweight to this.

Michael Johnson

Billingham, Teesside

When will your reporters get this right ("Paxman's starter for 10...", 1 June). Not all supporters of independence are nationalists. The debate here is not about identity but about the control we have over all our affairs, free from Westminster.

Bob Orr


The Scots do not hate the English, Mr Paxman; they just hate being patronised. Nor do they like the message of the No camp: "We love you, we need you, we're better together – but if you do leave, we'll make you suffer for it!" I think that's called an abusive relationship.

Carolyn Lincoln


Regarding Nick Clark's "There will be blood" (1 June), over the top theatrical productions with excessive fake blood – it used to be called Kensington Gore – are nothing new.

Well over 30 years ago I took my eldest daughter to the Old Vic to the first night of Macbeth, starring Peter O'Toole. Even by the first interval the actors were rolling in blood and the audience was rolling with laughter – hardly what the Bard intended!

It came to a climax when Banquo's ghost, whom no one but Macbeth is supposed to be able to see, appeared at the banquet, in the substantial form of Brian Blessed, covered from head to toe in blood and winking at everyone!

Michael Hart

Osmington, Dorset