A democratic socialist way forward for Labour's third term
A democratic socialist way forward for Labour's third term
Sir: We welcome the opportunity afforded by the Prime Minister's announcement of a national consultation on the Government's policy development. We are a group of Labour MPs eager to engage constructively in the debate about how Labour should renew itself after six years in office. We now have a realistic chance of an historic third term but we must develop a fresh approach to both policy and organisation if we are to move Britain decisively in a Democratic Socialist direction. We must also guard against the increasing signs of disillusionment and apathy amongst our supporters and produce a radical and exciting programme which can inspire both confidence and hope.
We believe that the way forward lies in a New Wave of innovative thinking based on Labour principles which will take us beyond the Third Way and help us to achieve the social transformation promised by Labour's landslide election victories.
Today we are launching New Wave Labour as a vehicle to promote policy discussion both within the Labour Party and with the general public. We have set out our principles on our website www.newwavelabour.co.uk .
In the coming months we will be publishing pamphlets and discussion documents and hosting seminars to develop, discuss and promote these ideas in novel ways. New Wave Labour is about policy development and building a stronger Labour Party and an even better Britain. We invite all Labour members and supporters interested in practical ideas based on Democratic Socialist principles to join us in the debate about where Labour should be going in the third term.
ANGELA EAGLE MP (Wallasey); VERA BAIRD QC MP (Redcar); KEVIN BRENNAN MP (Cardiff West); KAREN BUCK MP (Regents Park and Kensington N); COLIN CHALLEN MP (Morley and Rothwell); JON CRUDDAS MP (Dagenham); JOHN GROGAN MP (Selby); KEVAN JONES MP (Durham North); IAN LUCAS MP (Wrexham); IAIN LUKE MP (Dundee E); ANN McKECHIN MP (Glasgow Maryhill); ROB MARRIS MP (Wolverhampton SW); ALBERT OWEN MP (Ynys Mon); MARTIN SALTER MP (Reading W); JONATHAN SHAW MP (Chatham and Aylesford); House of Commons
Why terrorists are winning this 'war'
Sirs: I am Turkish and I was on the march on Thursday. As I was walking with the lively and diverse range of protesters I did not know of the devastating bombings in Istanbul. I only found out when after reaching Trafalgar Square I went to get a snack before listening to the speeches, and as I looked at the newspaper headline my heart sank. I picked up the paper and read and opened the pages without even looking at the kiosk owner.
I have many relatives who live in Istanbul and I have walked around the area where the HSBC building was, many times. If ever there was a moment which brought me closer to those New Yorkers who witnessed 9/11, it was this. This was the closest the terrorists had affected me.
Fortunately for me, none of my relatives lived or worked in the bombing areas and none was hurt. However, I didn't know this when, after finishing reading the paper, I went back to Trafalgar Square and cheered even louder when Bush was toppled, when truths were told, when people united against terrorism, in all its forms. Ultimate responsibility for the four Istanbul bombings lies with Mr Bush, Mr Blair and Mr Sharon.
Now, if a British-born moderate Muslim like myself feels this way, imagine how a young, poor, uneducated, brutalised Muslim feels in another part of the world. Until Bush, Blair and co start asking why instead of how, the terrorist groups will continue to win this "war on terror" which is fast turning into a world of terror.
Sir: The Labour and Conservative MPs who voted in favour of war against Iraq are responsible for the deaths and injuries suffered in Istanbul. British institutions would never have been targeted if the Government and its supporters had not allied the UK with American foreign policy. We are paying a fearful price for Tony Blair's leadership.
Sir: The bombing in Istanbul has sickened us all, but to hear Bush and Blair state of the perpetrators, "We see their utter contempt for innocent life" sickens me in its breathtaking hypocrisy.
American and British bombs have killed thousands of innocent men, women and children in Iraq, as well as God knows how many half-starved teenage conscripts in the Iraqi army. Terror is terror for the innocents all over the world, whoever may be holding the gun.
Until this sinks into the minds of those who claim to hold the higher moral ground, we will be forever locked into an endless round of slaughter.
MAUREEN K CHAPLIN
Sir: After 11 September 2001 there were two questions for America: "How can anyone hate us so much?" and "What do we do about it?" The answer to the first was obvious to anyone who knew any history: America has taken over the colonialist role of Britain and France in the Middle East. The answer to the second should have been common sense: improve intelligence in order to find the culprits, capitalise on international solidarity to isolate them, and rebalance foreign policy with sufficient deliberation not to seem to give way to terrorism.
President Bush, seconded by our Prime Minister, missed the answers to both questions. By invading Afghanistan they scattered al-Qa'ida's leaders to unknown refuges. By invading Iraq, they removed a regime that, however vile, was deeply hostile to extreme Islamic politics, and they obligingly supplied al-Qa'ida with new martyrs and recruits. Meanwhile most of the international sympathy has been dissipated, and fresh vetoes at the UN have prevented any serious moves to protect the Palestinians.
Bush is one of the least intelligent and worst informed presidents America has ever had, but thanks to Blair we shall be towed in his wake for at least another year. Their speeches in London showed that they have learned nothing from two years of disasters. Regime change in Washington and London seems to be our only hope of sanity.
P J STEWART
Sir: Demonstrations against those who fight terrorism encourage terrorists, as the suicide bombings in Istanbul prove.
The left justifies its anti-anti-terrorism stand on the grounds that the West deserves to be destroyed - our alleged role in Israel, Chechnya, Iraq. Terrorists agree these are their reasons, too. But what do terrorists tell themselves? That jihad against unbelievers (the secular democratic West which demands separation of church and state) is their holy duty. The Koran, they say, tells them so. Why is the left not hearing what the terrorists tell themselves?
Never again will America be there to save Europe from itself.
Sir: If it is the case that "the root cause of Middle Eastern terrorism stems from Israel's long-term treatment of the Palestinians" (letter, 21 November) then it certainly took al-Qa'ida an extraordinarily long time to discover the Palestinian cause.
Yasser Arafat was quoted last year as saying: "Why is Bin Laden talking about Palestine now? Bin Laden never, not ever, stressed this issue. He never helped us. He was working in a completely different area and against our interests."
Until Bin Laden realised the political capital to be gained from cashing in on popular Muslim support for the Palestinians, he didn't give a damn about them.
Sir: Adrian Hamilton argues against the Chief Rabbi's suggestion that two attacks on Turkish synagogues were motivated by anti-semitism (Opinion, 20 November) Is he aware of the virulant anti-semitic literature produced by numerous Islamic extremist groups and publicly available on a number of websites? If a church frequented by the black community had been fire-bombed, I would have called that racist; if a mosque had been torched, likewise. Why is it different when the target is Jewish?
Sir: For years, it's been suggested that Australian celebrations on winning sporting world cups are symptoms of the gauche insecurity of a crass young country seeking to define its place in a sophisticated world. So are England's celebrations at the Rugby World Cup those of a faded imperial power seeking vainly to return to its glory days as head of a once-dominant global empire?
Carlingford, New South Wales, Australia
Sir: At best sport brings mutual respect. We may savour this moment but no one watching Australia's never-say-die commitment should doubt that, when the going really gets tough in war or elsewhere, it will be a huge comfort to have an Aussie on one's side.
Solihull, West Midlands
Father of the NHS
Sir: John Reid's understanding of history is completely flawed ("Reid urges House to give hospitals financial freedom", 20 November). His claim that the Liberals were part of the group opposed to the founding of the NHS shows a partial reading list. William Beveridge was a Liberal and one of the architects and founding fathers of the NHS.
Lord TIM CLEMENT-JONES
Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson
House of Lords
Sir: James Sykes is quite right about wartime Londoners praying the V-1 engine would not cut out when overhead (letter, 22 November). Indeed, later versions of the "doodlebug" were programmed to dive with the engine still running, precisely so as not to give their victims those valuable few seconds in which to take cover.
Sir: The mean age of loss of virginity is 16, Angela Lambert tells us ("Sex remains the great taboo between generations", 20 November). But this does not mean, as she elaborates, that half the younger generation lose it before and half after 16. That would be the median age. The actual median is likely to be lower, since the mean age is distorted upwards by saddoes like myself, whose awkwardness, and "indifferent epidermal smoothness", means they couldn't get a date until their twenties, let alone in the sack.
And finally ...
Sir: I do think that, having started the recent correspondence about beginning sentences with "and", I ought to be allowed the last word. OK, I was wrong. I blame my schoolmasters, but a lot of them were Jesuits and, you didn't argue with them fellas, not as a schoolboy you didn't, believe me. And by the way, "And so to bed" is not a sentence, as it doesn't have a verb.