How to beat the BNP

Nick Griffin MEP, leader of the far-right British National Party, will appear on BBC's Question Time on 22 October (Politics, 14 September) along with the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw. Until recently, Labour refused to share a platform with the BNP in order not to give it publicity or any perceived legitimacy. I was a long-time supporter of this position, yet since the BNP's success in the Euro elections it has become clear that not only has the no-platform policy failed, but it is no longer tenable.

To be a democrat is to accept that other people will not always agree with you, and you may consider some people's views
abhorrent. If you wish to combat them, however, both should be fought through the ballot box.

We have to decide whether the BNP is a legitimate force in our democratic system or not. If it is not, legislation should be passed to make the party illegal. If, on the other hand, that is not thought to be appropriate or right, we have to accept the BNP, and treat and fight it in the same way as one would deal with any other political party. Sadly, being on Question Time is a necessary part of this.
James Alexander
Prospective Labour candidate for York Outer
Holgate, York

New look

Congratulations on hiring Will Self (Madness of Crowds, 28 September). His old columns in the London Evening Standard and the Independent were powerful reasons for buying them. But may I welcome him with a pedantic quibble? According to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, it wasn't Adolf Loos who coined the maxim "Form follows function", but the great Louis Sullivan, father of the skyscraper.
Michael Leapman
London SW8

I loved What If . . . on Neil Kinnock (The Intelligence, 28 September). However, your theorist could have gone a step further. What if, on 22 November 1990, the Labour Party had got rid of Neil to coincide with the Tories getting rid of Maggie? I surmise that Labour's new leader would have got half of the enormous bounce gifted to John Major. Instead, Kinnock staggered on: always convinced - always bewitched - by the "one last push" argument that now deludes Gordon Brown.
Godfrey H Holmes
Chesterfield, Derbyshire

As a faithful reader for 47 years, despite many temptations to abandon the journal, I desperately want to applaud the new format (28 September), but my judgement has been clouded by the single line: "This England is discontinued."

This is editorial vandalism. Why kill off a mere inch or so of pleasurable space? Can one not get it listed as a historical journalistic monument? And where else can I look for my £5 book tokens?
Michael Meadowcroft

Next year I shall be celebrating my 40th year of New Statesman readership. There have been many new looks since the 1960s (when the magazine was renowned for its tombstone-like appearance), but this redesign is the most imaginative and reader-friendly that I have seen. It's great to see Will Self back, plus many new columnists.

But, please, provide more page space for the Competition. It has been part of the magazine since the 1930s, and it would be a shame if it were slowly to fade away.
John O'Byrne

I heartily approve of the new-look New Statesman, although there is quite enough about football elsewhere. To have had the magazine as a refuge from the Niagara of drivel about it would have been great.
Richard Dargan
Old Coulsdon, Surrey

Deffo, FO

The NS is to be congratulated on the quality and balance of its briefing on Paul Kagame (Cover story, 28 September). In Africa, the Foreign Office seems to have lacked any coherent strategy since the days of Robin Cook. The NS should not only cover such stories, but also focus on policy direction.
Howard Horsley
Much Wenlock, Shropshire

Editor's note
We will be happy to bring back This England but we would like to encourage readers to help us do so. Please keep the submissions coming in!
Send letters for publication to 020 7936 6651 or to the address on page 3. We reserve the right to edit letters, and to publish a further selection on our website

This article first appeared in the 05 October 2009 issue of the New Statesman, The tories/the people