Canadian lessons

Nicholas Woolley's article (Observations, 10 July) on the striking parallels between Canada's Liberal Party and our own Labour omits some facts that Gordon Brown should take note of if he's going to avoid the fate that befell Paul Martin after finally succeeding Jean Chrétien as prime minister.

Canada's voters were certainly grateful to Chrétien for keeping them out of Iraq and, as Martin was known to back the war, he was not as popular as might be supposed. After taking over, he also alienated many Liberals by parachuting in acolytes to replace popular local candidates. In addition, Martin was a multimillionaire shipping magnate whose firm avoided taxes and decent wages by registering its ships under "flags of convenience".

Brown would do well to distance himself from those of Tony Blair's policies that have done Labour harm, notably his policy on Iraq. He should also make sure he is untainted by sleaze, something Martin was unable to do despite being exonerated in the "public contracts" scandal.

Jim Mallory
London SE12

This article first appeared in the 24 July 2006 issue of the New Statesman, War - Who can stop it now?