Letters - How frank is Frank?

Nick Cohen is right, the rebranded Revolutionary Communist Party matters ("The rebels who changed their tune to be pundits", 12 August).

Noting their success, he believes they are opportunist and contrarian. A graver charge is that they seem to disguise the degree to which they are a group, with leaders and foot soldiers, and a shared analysis and aims.

My guess is that these factors help them to do their excellent work as they bring vitality and coherence to their take on the "green" and "risk society" debates. On playgrounds, third-world development, chemicals, GMOs and much more, Furedi & Co expose folly, and argue for excitement and progress. They do so, Cohen is right to point out, in a way which appeals to some of us associated with the Institute of Economic Affairs.

The Furedi reasoning may go like this: Most campaigners protect the status quo. They would like picturesque poverty abroad and Luddite anti-materialism at home. NGOs are run by people who are already beneficiaries of progress and are pulling up the ladder behind them. They are, in short, a new backward bourgeoisie.

There are bits of that analysis I share. But that is not the point. Audiences have a right to frankness from those who seek to influence affairs.

Richard D North
London SW1

This article first appeared in the 19 August 2002 issue of the New Statesman, Prison can be the right place for kids