Them and us

Your review of Julian Baggini's Welcome to Everytown (Books, 5 March) talks about how the liberal minority does not understand the casual racism and unkindness of the average English life, and concludes by asking us to think of the values of those the liberals are learning from. A few pages later, in your archive piece by one Gordon Brown, the majority foreign ownership of major companies is described as "grim".

It is easy to summon the image of dastardly foreigners riding roughshod over poor, defenceless Brits, but surely "they" are just as keen as "we" are to operate within the law, and just as unlikely to waste their money by running down the valuable businesses they have bought.

I'm sure the Chancellor has changed his views since 1990, but every time a "British" business is bought by "foreigners", the echoes of his former view resound. If Mr Average complained about a "foreigner" taking over his local corner shop, we liberals would call him a racist. So why do we tolerate columnists and politicians doing the same when the foreigner is a corporation and the takeover target larger than a corner shop?

Paul McCunn
London N8

This article first appeared in the 19 March 2007 issue of the New Statesman, Trident: Why Brown went to war with Labour