Letters: Labour needs to take a left turn

These letters appear in the 13 October issue of The Independent

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Labour MPs are queuing up to lambast Ed Miliband’s strategy of appealing to his “core vote” (report, 11 October), but I see little evidence that he is doing this. I consider myself a core voter – someone who was brought up in a working-class home, and has almost always voted for Labour, save after the Iraq War, and the last election, when, with two children about to start university, I voted Lib Dem, (what a mistake that was!). Where is there any pledge to re-nationalise water, at least, if not gas, electricity and the Post Office? Where is there a commitment to build council houses? What about stopping the free schools policy? These are things I’d vote for.

Robert Carlin

London W10


How terribly sad, Labour just manages to win a by-election in a supposedly safe Labour seat. The next headline outlining future Labour policy is not about the economy, deficit or lifting the poor out of poverty. It is from the shadow education secretary, Tristram Hunt, who, after visiting Singapore on a “fact-finding trip”, imagines that the way to improve teaching is to make teachers take an oath to emphasise the “moral calling and noble profession of teaching”.

How utterly disconnected from the real world that teachers live in, and how insulting to think that thousands of teachers need to take an oath to remind themselves why they are teachers.

I greatly fear that Ukip will do well next year because politicians have allowed the impression to be formed that they have absolutely no idea about the lives of the people they hope to represent. This idea from Tristram Hunt totally encapsulates why this opinion has been formed.

Some advice to Tristram; go into classrooms, teach Year 11 mathematics on Friday afternoon. Don’t just listen or find out about education – go and do it.

Brian Dalton



Your front-page article on 11 October “Miliband pays the price for Ukip surge” referred to disparaging comments made by senior Labour politicians, including Jack Straw, about the Labour leader. It stated that Straw “referred to Mr Miliband as having “panda eyes and strange lips”.

The article continued on page 6 where Straw’s words were quoted in context, giving the lie to the front page: “Mr Straw said Mr Miliband had leadership qualities and had united his party... I know people say he’s got panda eyes and strange lips. Well, I could make the same remark in different ways about Mr Clegg or Mr Cameron.”

Come on, Independent, this sort of misleading reporting is unworthy of you.

Deirdre Myers



Voters, unable to discern any real difference between Labour and Tory policies, are turning to something new. The shadow cabinet could not possibly countenance a total embargo on NHS privatisation (after all, they are ones who started it), soaking the rich (rather than feeling “relaxed” about them), a substantial hike in a statutory living wage, abandonment of Trident, diverting the money to investment in a green economy and welfare benefit payments, re-nationalisation of the railways and electoral reform. The message to Miliband from Heywood and Middleton should be interpreted as “Go left, young man.”

Colin Yardley

Chislehurst, Greater London


It should be obvious that Labour’s strategy of adopting Conservative policies but arguing they would do it better is ineffective. Those of us who want a fairer society have nowhere to go.

What we want is for the large US corporations and those on higher incomes to pay their fair share. So, increase the minimum wage to £10 per hour, abolish tax credits, reduce VAT to 15 per cent and introduce a 5 per cent sales tax.

The most important thing, though, is that Labour policies be different to Tory policies; otherwise Ukip is the only viable option.

Malcolm Howard

Banstead, Surrey


Palestinian statehood must be recognised

My maternal grandfather, Herbert Bentwich, was one of the earliest English Jews to support Zionism and was one of Theodor Herzl’s colleagues in campaigning for the Balfour Declaration. Six of his 11 children settled in Palestine and so most of my cousins are Israelis. My uncle Norman, his oldest son, was attorney-general in Mandatory Palestine and one of the founders of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where he was professor of international relations. But Norman (who died in 1971) was critical of the way Israel developed, not least its discriminatory policies towards the Palestinians and would have fully supported the long-overdue moves to recognise the state of Palestine.

What I find unconscionable is the hypocrisy of President Obama who recently told the UN General Assembly that he supported the two-state principle, yet still buckles under the “powerful Israeli lobby” of which our diplomats speak in their letter (10 October) and obdurately denies American recognition of Palestine.

This, despite the fact that the US constitution gives the president exclusive authority to recognise foreign governments – President Truman exercised it when recognising Israel in 1948.

Benedict Birnberg

London SE3


Though it’s been the wait of a lifetime, it will still be a source of pride, both as a citizen and as a Jew, if Parliament recognizes Palestine. But why on earth has Ed Miliband (11 October) made this anything other than a free vote?

Isn’t it obvious that this is one of those issues of conscience with opposing views within each party? The sense of turning a corner will be less if the vote is coerced, and the message to the Middle East weaker because it is less authentic.

Andrew Shacknove



Conservative MP Guto Bebb opposes British recognition of Palestinian statehood, asking “How can you recognise a state when the borders of that state have not been agreed?” Given that Israel’s borders remain undefined, I take it that in the interests of consistency he will also be pushing to withdraw British recognition of Israel?

Dan Glazebrook



The NHS has kept me on my feet

Congratulations on the excellent coverage of the NHS crisis during the past week. I think you need to be old like me (born in 1936) to really appreciate the value of our NHS. Nye Bevan’s introduction of this service in 1946 was inspirational and although nothing is ever perfect in this life, we have such a lot to thank him for and continue to thank all those now serving in the NHS.

Had I been born today, my shallow pelvis and malformed left foot would have been picked up at birth and treated at much less cost to the NHS than has since been spent on me. I can only thank all those concerned over the years for keeping me walking and I can honestly say that I am walking better now than ever before – all due to the skill of the surgeons at my local Great Western Hospital in Swindon.

Of course there are mistakes, every large institution has them, but I know where I would rather be when I need health care.

Jan Huntingdon

Cricklade, Wiltshire


The NHS is the most important institution in this country and it is important to every single one of us. So, if it requires more funding the answer to the question “where will the money come from?” is obvious – we must all pay more tax.

The fairest way of raising this tax is from income tax. A penny on the basic rate of 20p in the pound would not hurt anyone who is currently paying tax. After all, I remember when the basic rate was 24p in the pound and if I go back further, even 25p.

Such an increase would raise around £7.5bn which, in addition to the normal annual increase in funding, would make a significant difference to the NHS coffers.

The big question is will any of the parties have the courage to put this in their manifesto? The first party to do so gets my vote.

Iain Smith

Rugby, Warwickshire


I don’t know which hospitals June Green visits, (letter, 11 October) but all the ones with which I am familiar already have boxes to put money in, and usually more than the £2 she suggests. They are on metal posts in the car parks.

Mike Perry

Ickenham, Middlesex


Malala – a worthy winner of Nobel prize

I can’t think of a more deserving recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize than Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai (report, 11 October). The beauty of Malala is her youthful idealism and untainted sincerity.

As a Muslim she offers an enlightened alternative to the fanaticism that so dominates our perception of her co-religionists. As a schoolgirl she reminds us that education is precious and should not be taken for granted. In her Panorama interview she said: “Education is neither eastern nor western, education is education and it’s the right of every human being.”  The wisdom of this courageous child gives us all hope.

Stan Labovitch