Letters: Labour’s road back to power, and fairness

These letters appear in the 19 June edition of The Independent

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It’s healthy for internal debate that Jeremy Corbyn has won a place on the Labour leadership shortlist, but despite calls for Labour to turn left and completely reject austerity, I believe the party, while remaining true to its values in defending the less fortunate and the public sector, should return to the centre ground.

Sadly, Britain is clearly not a left-wing country; people swung from Labour to the Tories and from Labour to Ukip not because Labour wasn’t left-wing enough, but because it didn’t appear centrist enough, having ditched the Third Way.

Personally, although a left-winger, I’d much prefer a fairly centrist Labour prime minister to the extreme right-wing government we are faced with now. Labour ought to elect Liz Kendall for leader;  it’s the only way out of today’s total unfairness.

Sebastian Monblat
Sutton, Surrey


Now that the Parliamentary Labour Party has decided who is to stand in the leadership election, can they all explain what they are going to do for the “aspirational” citizen?

The low-paid workers who “aspire” to a living wage.

The disabled who “aspire” to a dignified life.

The young people who “aspire” to a roof over their head that they can call home.

The rest of us who “aspire” to live in a country that is fair, unselfish and community-minded.

Finally, many of us want a leader who is not just looking to form a government, however they can, but to lead a party ready to bring fairness back to the people of our country.

John Allan
Milton Keynes


Steve Richards (16 June) is absolutely right that Labour must turn George Osborne’s arguments on their head.

They can start by pointing out that it was Tory under-investment in infrastructure and public services that reduced the country to a run-down state in the 1990s. It took a decade of prudent management by Labour to get things back on the right track. Osborne’s deceptions about cause and effect threaten to take us back there.

David Carr
Bexleyheath, Kent


Back in the heady days of that annus mirabilis, 1968, I was involved in many leadership elections in my university student union. Anarchic and chaotic though the times were, I cannot recall us nominating candidates for whom we had no intention of voting on the flimsy basis that they represented a minority view which deserved the oxygen of publicity.

That was probably because we took such things seriously. I cannot help but consider that if the Parliamentary Labour Party is incapable of giving leadership elections a similar degree of seriousness, then the MPs cannot be surprised if the rest of us do not.

Stephen Westacott
Great Witley, Worcestershire


The keys to  social mobility

While the report that top employers favour “posh” candidates over “poor” ones (15 June) is prima facie a concern in these meritocratic times, the issue needs to be examined more closely. What the top recruiters desire is candidates who are well presented, well educated, and well spoken. Many from privileged backgrounds may fulfil these criteria, but no one is beyond self-improvement.

To take my own example, I was not born into privilege. Neither of my parents attended university. I worked hard at my comprehensive school and gained the opportunity to study at a Russell Group university. I was able to qualify as a barrister solely on the basis of obtaining scholarships on merit. The fact that throughout my childhood I sought out cultural opportunities and have always striven to speak clear Received Pronunciation has, I believe, helped me.

I would suggest that less privileged applicants should not expect the world to change for them. The key to social mobility lies within each person making the most of their opportunities.

The reporting of this story strongly suggests that penalising the privileged is the right course. However, I believe Benjamin Disraeli encapsulated the ideal of equality of opportunity when he wrote that “there are two kinds of equality; there is the equality that levels and destroys, and the equality that elevates and creates”. It is the latter we must strive to encourage.

Jeremy Goldsmith
East Goscote, Leicestershire


So today’s shock headline (15 June) tells us  that employers prefer highly qualified, well-rounded, articulate and socially adept candidates. These qualities, highly desirable in the workplace, are created not only by genes and parenting but also by a proper education system. It is not clear why it should be for employers to compensate for the failures of our schools and universities.

It is also the case that good-looking people are more likely to be successful than ugly ones. Who is to be blamed for that?

Richard Harvey
Frating Abbey, Essex


Yes, but what about population?

While the Pope’s encyclical on global warming is profoundly welcome, there remains the conundrum posed by the previous encyclical Humanae Vitae and the Church’s entrenched opposition to birth control.

As correspondents have pointed out, the single most important factor driving the ecological degradation and exhaustion of our planet is uncontrolled growth of population. Pope Francis rightly lambasts the prevalent economic and social order for its role in this environmental meltdown, but there are just too many people on this planet.

It is also true that those countries and cities experiencing this insane increase of population are the ones least able to support it, and most lacking in effective planning or birth-control. Many of them are not predominantly Christian, but many are, and  almost all are subject to a conservative religious and social mind-set.

If the Catholic Church is to use its enormous influence most effectively, it is surely time to address this question and listen to the voices of reform .

Christopher Dawes
London W11


Homeopathy should be banned

The letter about a balanced debate on homeopathy (Jane Hurley, 15 June) misses the key scientific points.

All clinical trials have a placebo effect due to subjective factors, although attempts are made to control these factors in properly conducted trials. For efficacy of a therapeutic agent to be validated one must see objective evidence. The key fact that precludes such evidence for homeopathy is that the so-called active agents’ are diluted beyond Avagadro’s Number, hence there can be no molecules of that agent remaining in the administered dose. It is worrying that key politicians dealing with the NHS do not understand this fact.

We are moving into an era of scientific, precision medicine guided by knowledge of our genome and the molecular mechanisms of our biology. It is time that the NHS ceased to offer homeopathy, and I would go farther and ban its use. 

Dr A R Williamson
Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire


Tories stand up for women

I was pleased to read Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s article (15 June) welcoming a recent successful criminal prosecution for forced marriage and also government steps to safeguard girls at risk of female genital mutilation. However, I thought it unfair that she gave all the credit to David Cameron.

It is very much to be welcomed that he is now giving these issues the prominence and priority they so urgently deserve. However, the credit for heavy lifting on this and related issues surely lies with Theresa May, who has shown exemplary commitment to countering violence against women and girls.

I hope for similarly forthright statements from the Prime Minister on ways to combat the appallingly high incidence of sexual and sexist assault in this country.

Jean Calder


Sorry, we don’t really mean it

While I have some sympathy for Emily Brothers (letter, 15 June), I find it curious that she thinks a newspaper should be obliged by its regulator to print an untruth. For that is what an insincere apology is. 

How, in her regime, would the reader know whether a printed apology was sincere or not?

Alex Lewis
Lemsford, Hertfordshire


What happened  to Magna Carta?

It is the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, which guaranteed no imprisonment without a fair trial. However  the UK still has tens of thousands of immigration detainees, locked up each year, indefinitely, without due legal process. I am wondering when we can expect the Magna Carta to be implemented.

Lee Dalton
Weymouth Dorset