Letter of the Week
No more turgid Blairing
David Miliband leading the Blairites out of the woodwork and on to the pages of the New Statesman (NS Essay, 6 February)? No wonder the Daily Telegraph pounced on the piece with such glee. Have we forgotten already that Blairism was content to be Thatcherism-lite, "intensely relaxed" about those who were filthy rich?
What the opposition needs is not a turgid lecture from Miliband Sr, but informed people who have read John Lanchester, David Harvey, Thomas Franks, or any of the many other authors who have set out the facts behind the current malaise of capitalism and public gullibility, to puncture the coalition's myth - before George Osborne's economically illiterate policies take us into another recession.
Miliband Jr is not doing a bad job in the face of a hostile press. He is beating the coalition on bonuses (among other issues) and the more he talks about the obscene disparities in remuneration between bankers and binmen, the more the public will cheer him on.
David and Goliath
The timing of David Miliband's intervention could not have been worse for his brother (NS Essay, 6 February). His article is a thinly veiled criticism of Ed's leadership - which is under attack not because of his policies, but because his presentation is woeful. This is a shame, because what he is saying is correct. David's prescription for recovery is more of the same Blairite remedies - attack the publicly funded services and yet more kowtowing to the (already) mega-rich. We need a break with the Blair/Brown battles. We need someone completely new. That person is not David Miliband.
Horsham, West Sussex
The most irritating thing about David Miliband's article is the lack of any prescribed action or policy. Elsewhere in the same issue, Alistair Darling is quoted as saying that it would be a mistake for the Labour leadership to put its cards on the table too soon. Probably. But except for a few populist points and a vague idea that some parts of the capitalist system aren't very useful, Labour hasn't set out any way in which it would change the structures, and David Miliband's article doesn't either.
Millions are campaigning against government cuts and yet David Miliband advocates shaving away any structural economic imperatives that might differentiate his party from the Con-Lib coalition. So what's the point of voting Labour then?
I disagree profoundly with your Leader (6 February). Labour reduced inequality so comprehensively that this coalition is reaping the benefit. The draconian cuts have yet to bite in many cases. When Labour left office, 13 years in power had revolutionised life chances for a generation to such an extent that the economic tsunami did not sweep the country away to sea.
Editor's Note Despite significant reductions in child and pensioner poverty, inequality rose under Labour. The Gini coefficient - the recognised measure of inequality - was put at 0.36 for 2007/2008, higher than at any time since the relevant records began in 1961. Ed Miliband has said: "I deeply regret that inequality wasn't reduced under the Labour government."
As a GP in Witney, I was pleased to read your report (Observations, 6 February). I totally agree with most of the points made, as do many of my colleagues in Witney and all over Oxfordshire.
The provisions of the Health and Social Care Bill are a threat to the coherence and effectiveness of the National Health Service. GPs have neither the time nor the inclination to give up our surgery sessions to become untrained project workers.
Such "clinical engagement" turned out to be a poisoned chalice for me a few years ago, although my patients didn't lose out, because I work part-time and did the work, unpaid, on my days off. The experience has left me disillusioned and cynical about GP commissioning. The NHS is not broke; it is envied around the world. Those who want to “fix" it are out to make indecent amounts of private money from public funds.
Thank you to Edward Platt for his detailed and informative article on Essex, a county of which I have heard much but experienced little ("Low rise
and shallow fall", 6 February). However, I must take issue with one error. On one of my rare visits, when I viewed Flatford Mill, the scene of Constable's Hay Wain, my journey had been through Suffolk, not Sussex.
In the first paragraph of Leo Robson's review of The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker (The Critics, 6 February) there is a reference to J M Coetzee's Disgrace. It led me to wonder whether The Detour was written in English or translated from Afrikaans. Further on I read, "as translated from the Dutch by David Colmer". As a translator, I find it discouraging that a colleague should receive so little acknowledgement. Literature originating in other languages should have a higher profile in this country. Making it clear to readers that a book has been translated is a first step.
Make the sin odd
I was disappointed by Giles Fraser's article on George Carey, the former archbishop of Canterbury, which amounted to little more than a personal attack ("Yesterday's man", 6 February). Why didn't Fraser use this opportunity to provide some argument against Carey's views? That might have helped those of us on the left to persuade the 55 per cent of English people that Fraser says agrees with Carey in the view that a benefit cap is necessary and fair to think again.
If you had observed Chris Wright and his friends as they took to the disco floor (Letters, 6 February), enticed by the opening riff of a Rolling Stones record, you would have noticed the spring go out of their step after about 30 seconds. The Rolling Stones have never been able to groove. Their cultivated image of loucheness and rebellion, which their fans love, has obscured the feebleness of their music.
Otley, West Yorkshire
Sophie Elmhirst's Word Games on "Mitt" (6 February) reminds me of Kinky Friedman and his motley Greenwich Village Irregulars in his often hilarious crime books. When there is a problem, the call of "MIT" goes out and the detective work begins.“MIT" is code for "man in trouble". OK, the final "T" is missing, but how about "man in terminal trouble"? That could be an appropriate description of the Republican candidate - I hope.