REGIONAL GOVERNMENT: LENIN used the term "useful idiots" to describe the gullible and those most likely to succumb to propaganda and assist the state to remove their freedoms.

The issue of regionalisation is being sold to us on a false prospectus. It is not intended to bring democracy closer to the people.

There is no democratic dividend in fragmenting a cohesive nation state which has a transparent and fully accountable system of national and local government and replacing it with a system remote and untouchable - this is the antithesis of democracy.

Yet despite numerous correspondents citing proof (EU Directive 501/PC0083) that the project is EU led, only the superficial and totally trivial aspects of the debate are allowed to see daylight.

The editorial and articles (Echo, July 14 and 15) about the location of an assembly dwell on the merits of Durham, but as the power base for any assembly will be in Brussels, its domestic location is of no relevance. - Dave Pascoe, Press Secretary, UKIP, Hartlepool Branch.

THE campaign for a regional assembly has always tried to make the campaign, as far as possible, independent of party politics. The Conservatives as, the only organised opposition, have done all within their power to politicise it.

Predictably, they have presented themselves as judge and jury instead of culprit.

Indeed, for 18 consecutive years their hard right-wing policies exacerbated the plight of this region inestimably and one wonders how they believed this region would improve, when no one in their government was prepared to broach its growing problems?

So what is their alternative, other than the now normal maze of abject criticism?

If as I suspect, they have no alternatives, they are actually asking the people of this region to accept second best indefinitely.

We have choices: of vital decisions continuing made for us by civil servants in London. Or the choice to take control of £1bn of spending, to name but two. - Fred Brady, Sunderland.

IT was refreshing to see Ray Mallon put respect for his electorate before opportunism in considering it inappropriate to stand for the Labour Party in the forthcoming Hartlepool by-election.

In standing by the people of Middlesbrough, he has endorsed his own concerns about an elected regional assembly, which was that: "People elected to the assembly will feel duty bound to fight for their own particular backyard rather than the region as a whole. Instead of thinking strategically for the North-East, they will think politically to win favour with their own local party or voters".

It will be interesting to see where Mr Mallon stands now that we know exactly what the limitations of an assembly will be and if he thinks that a new breed of politicians will come to the fore as assembly members to fight for the region and not for their own backyard? - Martin P Rouse, Burnopfield.

IN the debate on an elected regional assembly, wouldn't it be better if we stopped being distracted by peripheral issues and started to debate the real issues including employment, public transport and housing?

What do those opposed to regional government have to say on these issues?

Martin Callanan claims we're being taken for granted and expected to rubberstamp these proposals. The Government didn't have to give us a referendum; it could have just set up an assembly regardless.

We are being offered a choice, a unique one at that. We must not let this opportunity disappear. - S White, Bishop Auckland.


WITH recent events, one wonders how farcical can football become.

Those who sanctioned the outrageous salary of the England manager no doubt would like to see the back of him. With the results so far he would have been well paid at a quarter of it, yet when it had been rumoured that he had been talking to the Chelsea chief they threw another million at him.

In the old days, a top class manager of a successful first division club would have combined the two and the same could apply today.

With the saturation scrutinising by the media it's not difficult picking out the best players. Availability is often the main problem.

No doubt, management motivation is a priceless asset, one which seemingly money cannot buy. - Douglas Punchard, Kirkbymoorside.

SVEN-Goran Eriksson has a rare gift of motivation. He also has a brilliant knowledge of football and is a first class tactician.

He has proved by changes made to the structure of a side he can win games by changes in the run of play, of any particular game.

Since Euro 2004, eight national European football sides have replaced managers; the particular officials of the countries involved using appropriate contracts in order to do this.

English FA officials, in their wisdom, saw fit to give Sven a long agreement instead of a year-to-year contract. This makes it virtually impossible to sack him. A short contract would have made more sense especially when Sven's private life is a little volatile. He also insists that his private life is his own business.

There is talk of players possibly withdrawing their services if the coach was sacked; this goes to prove how high in esteem they hold their boss.

I hope the British football fans get firmly behind Sven and his decisions to win games. - Bernard McCormick, Newton Aycliffe.

I DO not think that Sven Goran Eriksson should be sacked for romping with an FA employee. His private life is his own business.

However, I do feel that he should be sacked for the pathetic performance of England in the European Championship in Portugal.

He let the country down by selecting a dodgy goalkeeper as his number one, and by sticking with the overrated captain of the team.

I hope that he is dismissed for this, and not for his sexual antics.

We are England, and we need an English manager. - Christopher Wardell, Darlington.


DAVID Hockney claims with regard to smoking in public places "Smoking is my affair, not the Blairs."

If I am using the same public place as David Hockney or any other smoker, then it is my affair.

Why should I be expected to inhale his second hand carcinogenic smoke, just because he finds smoking "pleasurable"? Could I cover him in asbestos dust, just because I find it "pleasurable"? - Eric Gendle, Nunthorpe.