Letter of the week

Geoffrey Lean's argument against Ralph Nader ("Blame ego politics, not eco-politics", 16 July) is as ridiculous as it is infuriating. If the two million who voted for Nader had instead voted for Al Gore, the United States would certainly have a president less keen on drilling for oil in Alaska and tearing up multilateral agreements. Equally, if those who voted Democrat had instead voted Green, the most powerful man in the world would now be committed to opposing the death penalty, ending the devastatingly unsuccessful "war on drugs", combatting the corporate stranglehold on politics and effecting real action by the US on climate change.

Candidates standing for office do so because they believe they can obtain public vindication of their policies: no candidate has an automatic right to any votes. Nader tried to show that a small but significant number of Americans oppose the mainstream consensus on a whole range of important issues, and I think he succeeded. That Gore failed so spectacularly to become president - beaten by an extreme right-winger who can barely string a sentence together - is, above all, his own fault.

Simon Betts

This article first appeared in the 23 July 2001 issue of the New Statesman, In the line of fire