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Dear Progress

Further to the recent comments over Tony Blair’s apparent ‘neglect’ of his domestic duties in favour of ‘touring the world’, I have to confess I am astounded at the small mindedness of some of the British establishment. Those who preach that Blair is glory hunting around the world fail to acknowledge Britain’s obvious responsibility to its former colonies. Notwithstanding those areas of the world where we have a ‘post-imperial’ role to fill, no leader of the fourth largest economy could ever deny they have a responsibility to the poorer and more troubled parts of the globe.

Tom Gray, Nottingham East CLP

Dear Progress

Political figures and many in the press seem obsessed with moaning about political ‘spin’, as if it were something new. This is quite plainly nonsense. The Tories wax lyrical about ‘New Labour spin’ when their party spent absurd amounts of money in the 1980s hiring Saatchi & Saatchi for the very same purpose. Some of our MPs would be well advised to remember that. The press seem obsessed with this topic, not surprisingly taking a totally hypocritical, moral stance on the whole matter. If they don’t approve of the ‘soundbite culture’, why do they insist on printing nothing else?

Anthony Hunt, Cardiff Central CLP

Dear Progress

The smooth introduction of the euro on New Year’s Day marked the dawning of a new era for Europe. While many shops in Britain are accepting the euro, Britain is still half in, half out of the single currency. Britain is bearing all the costs of currency transactions, but missing out on the benefits of membership such as currency stability, easier trade, greater investment, lower interest rates and more secure jobs. As the rest of Europe pulls ahead, the safe option of ‘wait and see’ no longer exists without leaving Britain isolated and exposed to the chill winds of globalisation.

Tris Brown, Liverpool Riverside CLP

Dear Progress

With monetary union a compulsory condition of EU entry for new applicants from Eastern Europe, it is not inconceivable that in just a few years time Britain could be the only one of 25 EU states that is outside the single currency. Europe is the destination for over 50 percent of Britain’s exports and the long-term effects of our lack of competitiveness outside of the euro on our long-suffering manufacturing sector are potentially devastating. It is also important not to overlook the opportunities for fairer trade rules and the promotion of social progress that further European integration has to offer. The government has been sitting on the fence for far too long on this issue and it is vital that the benefits of euro membership are now fully explained to the British people.

Dominic O’Brien, Exeter CLP

Dear Progress

I welcome the recently avowed intention of the leadership to confront the electorate with the fact that if we want better public services we are going to have to pay for them. However, winning this debate may not be as hard as we might think. Repeated surveys since the mid 1980s have shown people don’t mind paying higher taxes to get better public services. This evidence was seemingly discredited after 1992 when the consensus was that it was our taxation policy which cost us the election. The 1997 strict tax and spending pledges were made largely as a result of this. But this does not explain why a significant majority of voters in 1997 still felt Labour would raise taxes, yet voted for us in such large numbers anyway. Labour lost the 1992 election not because voters particularly objected to paying higher taxes, but because they didn’t trust us to spend those taxes wisely. However, now Labour has established itself as the party of economic competence, voters need no longer have such doubts.

Sue Macmillan, Bristol West CLP

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