IoS letters, emails & online postings (9 March 2014)

Lord Owen describes Ed Miliband's reforms of the Labour party which include union members having to "opt in" to make party contributions as "brave and bold" ("Miliband reform gains backing from Lord Owen", 2 March). This will put Labour at a huge disadvantage to the Tories in terms of party funding.

It is now the turn of the Tories to be "brave and bold". It is surely unacceptable that company shareholders (many from modest backgrounds) should find themselves contributors to the Tory party against their wishes. The Tories should only accept donations where shareholders have opted in to make a donation. This should also apply to banks and insurance companies: a customer who doesn't want to opt-in to a political contribution should be offered more favourable terms in lieu of this lesser expense to the company.

But what about consumers? Every time Labour or Liberal Democrat voters buy a product from a company that donates to the Tories they are unwittingly contributing to the enemy. The solution is obvious: there should be information on the label stating to which party (if any) the company contributes – in a similar fashion to warnings on cigarettes!

Phil Nicholson


Harriet Walker's article (New Review, 2 March) on her diversion from Heathrow to Newcastle makes for depressing reading. Comments such as "I've no idea where it is" and "It's basically Scotland" fill me with despair. It is amazing how many Britons are happy to cross half the world to go on holiday but will not explore a different part of their own country. Why are supposedly intelligent and educated people so ignorant?

And is Southern culture really so sophisticated or are we confusing region with social class? I can't see any difference between Geordie Shore and Towie apart from accent. The extent of regional prejudice in this country borders on racism. Northern people are as fed up with regional ignorance as black people are with racial stereotypes.

Pippa Lewer

Morpeth, Northumberland

There was a time when the United States would support the undemocratic removal of democratically elected heads of state in its own backyard; now it does so in Russia's backyard – and has the "incredible" audacity to be outraged when Russia responds ("Ukraine crisis", 2 March).

Peter McKenna


Gavin Plumley is right that Richard Strauss is due a reappraisal in his 150th anniversary year ("The sensitive side of Strauss", 2 March). It would also be an appropriate time for the classical music channels to make sure his first name is pronounced correctly.

On Radio 3 and Classic FM there is an aversion to pronouncing certain German forenames the German way. Schumann's Robert and Wagner's Richard are pronounced as though they were British. Richard Strauss suffers the same fate. The same broadcasters would never pronounce Ravel's Maurice the English way.

David Head

Navenby, Lincolnshire

Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron's claim that only two kinds of votes will count in the forthcoming European elections – those for his party and those for Ukip – seems like a rather polarised position to take ("It's us or Ukip, says Lib Dem contender", 2 March.

One assumes that the Lib Dems are a party of the political centre. If Mr Farron really does think society is fundamentally split, with little middle ground, and he may be right, there are surely other political parties he could be involved with.

Keith Flett

London N17

Alan Gregory (Letters, 2 March) offers Logan's Run as a warning against euthanasia. Isn't it about time that we had a grown-up debate on this subject without recourse to political, religious (and literary) hysteria?

I doubt whether legalised voluntary euthanasia for the terminally failing elderly would leave me in anything like the danger of unwanted death as the apparently readily accepted dangers of venturing upon almost any road, by any means, these motor-crazed days?

Alison Sutherland

Kirkwall, Orkney

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