Letters: Labour falls for the new Zinoviev letter

These letters appear in the 7th April issue of The Independent

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It was with dismay and incredulity that I watched Labour sleepwalk into the latest Tory trap. A leaked memo, which is almost certainly untrue, suggesting that the Scottish National Party would prefer a Conservative government, finds its way from the Scottish Office to the front page of the Telegraph and Labour jumps on the bandwagon, criticising the SNP, without checking the facts and ignoring the possibility of a dirty tricks campaign.

As it becomes clear that the story is based on a lie, the SNP will gain sympathy in Scotland and Labour will find it even more difficult to counter the popular anti-austerity message of the SNP. Meanwhile in England the Tories will keep Scotland in the headlines to try to scare voters, divert attention from their weaknesses and continue to control the framework of the election debate.

Did Labour really believe that the Telegraph ran this story to reduce SNP support and help elect a majority Labour government? Labour will not find a silver bullet to their problems in Scotland by joining in Tory-inspired smear stories. Instead they should stand above the dirty tricks and support the SNP demands for an inquiry. Such an approach would gain them more support in Scotland  and focus attention on what the Tories are really up to.

Ed Miliband would be better to heed his father’s words about the impact of the forged Zinoviev letter in the 1924 election, which purported to show Bolshevik support for Labour, when he said: “The real advantage to the Tories was that it frightened people into their camp and made the discussion of serious issues more difficult.”

Keith Elliott



Heads should roll in the Scottish Office when it is established who was responsible for the damaging, fictional memo about Nicola Sturgeon expressing a preference for David Cameron remaining in Downing Street. So should the heads of those politicians and journalists who perpetuated the myth.

Whether or not she said she did not consider Ed Miliband to be Prime Minister material is in every respect irrelevant to what was fabricated by civil servants. The vast majority of SNP supporters, and most likely most Labour supporters, would concur with that sentiment, in any event. Nevertheless, that is not remotely to say that they would prefer the continuation of Tory rule with the ineffective Cameron at the helm.

The comments of honourable people should not be fabricated for political point-scoring in support of the boring, archaic, old-boys-network, establishment parties.

William Burns



George Osborne claims that the SNP would run Westminster if they were in any deal with a minority Labour government.

If he truly believes this then logic (not a concept familiar to many politicians, alas, despite their expensive educations) would dictate that for the past five years it has been the Lib Dems, not the Conservatives, who have ruled as the minority party in a coalition and that it has been David Cameron who has been in Nick Clegg’s pocket.

And if this is what George Osborne is arguing, then any credit for the few things this Government might have got right has to go to the party that was in charge, which seems to have been the Lib Dems. So will the new Conservative election slogan be “vote Lib Dem to ensure continuity of policy”?

Or will Mr Osborne be honest and admit that in any coalition or agreement, the minority party or parties might try to extract a few policies dear to its heart, but the main direction of the country is still set by the majority party in that agreement, whatever its hue and philosophy.

Chris Talbot



Hunt supporters  keep trying

It comes as no surprise that the minority in this country who support hunting are, once again, trying to overturn the hunting ban by getting MPs elected who they think will vote for repeal of the Act.

The majority of such MPs are Conservative, and this also comes as no surprise. We cannot expect those who demonstrably have little or no compassion for the poor, vulnerable and defenceless people in this country to have any for animals, which are viewed simply as objects for their entertainment. It is truly sickening.

I live in a marginal constituency, the sitting MP being one of those being assisted by hunt supporters. This development will only serve to make me vote against his re-election.

Stanley Tyrer

Bury, Lancashire


Lord Mancroft is encouraging us to vote Tory to get the ban on bloodsports overturned.

Never mind the starving peasants, the food banks, the housing shortage, cuts to public services, global warming, the environment, refugees. Vote Tory and get him and his friends back their ancient hunting rights. I’ll probably be put in the stocks for writing this!

Peter Booker

Sandhoe, Northumberland


Can you see to read this?

I have just come to this country from New Zealand to try to secure care for my 92-year-old father, who lives here. He is deaf and suffering from advanced macular degeneration, and his much younger wife died in a tragic accident in their home. Many organisations have been very helpful, but some are ridiculously unhelpful.

As an example of the latter, Suffolk Coastal District Council has an on-line form of 44 pages by which you can claim housing benefit. This form is, of course unreadable for my father, who cannot operate a computer in any case. This form contains such gems as, “Are you severely mentally impaired?” and “Are you blind?”.

One might ask if the people who prepared the form are themselves suffering from the malaise that they ask questions about? I should add, by way of balance, that the staff that I spoke to over the telephone (again, this instrument cannot be used by my father) were, when I got through to them after the obligatory 20 minutes of soothing music, universally helpful and understanding.

And then there was a bank whom I phoned to try to ascertain my father’s financial position, since he knew nothing about it. Could my father answer some “security” questions? These were derived from his bank statements, which he has not seen for years. He could not clearly hear the questions and could not answer them. Without correct answers, no information could be provided. Wonderfully unhelpful!

This has given me a tiny insight into the difficulties facing elderly and physically challenged people and the obduracy and lack of vision of those who purport to help them. Please do not let me get started on the design of mobility scooters, the designers of which should have their vision partly obscured and be tested 100 times on how to fit the recharging plug!

David Gregory

Woodbridge, Suffolk


Richard was never the rightful king

There’s no evidence that Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville were not legally married (letter, 2 April).

Because they wed in secret it might be easy to claim that the marriage never took place at all, but the main argument has always been that the king was previously formally betrothed to someone else, thus making Elizabeth and her children’s royal status invalid. But there’s no evidence for this either.

It was when the Princes in the Tower were under lock and key that “Protector” Richard found a priest to testify that Edward IV was once pre-contracted to a former mistress. This would make the boys bastards. However no sufficient proof was ever provided and no witnesses came forth.

Elizabeth had been acknowledged as queen for years.

Only when supporters of 12-year-old Edward V were in prison, in exile, or dead did Parliament judge his parents’ marriage illegitimate; and Parliament never had the right make such a judgment. The church alone had that authority. With the alleged pre-contract never submitted for an examination of its validity, in either civil or ecclesiastic courts, there is no evidence that Richard III was ever lawful king. 

Emilie Lamplough

Trowbridge, Wiltshire


Liberals as party of the workers

Danny Alexander has reflected on a discussion with Tory allies where they expressed a traditional desire to look after the bosses and suggested that it was the Lib Dems’ role to do the same for the workers. That idea had  surely run its course by the time the Labour Representation Committee was formed in 1900.

Keith Flett

London N17

Cameron, the  good shepherd

David Cameron, seeking re-election, is photographed nursing a lamb (6 April). Now where have I seen that image before?

What next? Rising from the dead? Walking on water?

Peter Forster

London N4