FOOTBALL HOOLIGANISM: THOSE of us who opposed the abolition of National Service in 1960, did so in the belief that, for young men approaching maturity, two years in the armed forces gave them a sense of discipline, loyalty and self-respect which many of them would never see otherwise.

Our fear was that the passing years would see the development of a whole subculture of disaffected youth, owing allegiance to no one and dedicated only to drunken violence, rebellion against authority, and discomfort or worse for their fellow citizens.

Your leader (Echo, Mar 31) gave quite a good description of them, in referring to so-called football supporters in Zurich and Vaduz. - Bob Jarratt, Caldwell, Richmond.


BANG on cue, the masters of gimmick stoop to another low. Charles Kennedy, leader of the Lib Dems, only a year or so ago admitted he wished to increase taxation above and beyond Labour.

Due to a change in weather and wind direction, he now wishes to fight taxation with his "we'll knock a £100 off council tax bills... if you vote for us."

The Lib Dems propose a local income tax as the solution. Try watching the news: a factory shuts just about every day in the region. How much in lost corporation tax in the last few years, then the loss of income tax that follows? Don't mention our low wages.

Real unemployment in Wear Valley is at 18.8 per cent and Sedgefield 19.1 per cent, so how do we raise the level of income? Who pays if both husband and wife work? People will pay a fair level. They want improved services.

The Conservative leader of Kent Council, speaking in the region, was totally correct: stop the senseless building of 250,000 more homes, along with more investment, in the South-East, and invest and build in areas like the North-East.

Let us stand on our own two feet. - Jim Tague, Chairman, Bishop Auckland Branch, Conservative Party.


THIS war with Iraq is not about weapons of mass destruction. If Saddam Hussein had such weapons, being the evil man he is, he would not hesitate to use them on his own people. - A St Julien, Durham.

AFTER watching the TV reporting on the food situation and water supplies in Iraq, regarding in particular dried milk, why not condensed milk as an alternative?

It was a great success during the Second World War. It could also be used in Africa. - Mrs Mabel M Johnson, Newton Aycliffe.

THE Rev Harold Heslop says (HAS, Mar 28) he cannot understand why I call Tony Blair a terrorist.

It is really quite simple: a terrorist is one who instils fear and terror in others.

Mr Blair is terrorising, with President Bush, the people of Iraq.

Mr Blair is therefore a terrorist. - Hugh Pender, Darlington.

THERE appears to be a serious setback to the expectations of easy victory in Iraq. This was based on the assumptions of mass uprisings against Saddam.

To the Americans it is inconceivable that a people should not prefer an American-led administration to a Ba'athist one.

In the 1950s America supported the overthrow of the popular Mossadeq in Iran and his replacement by the brutal Shah's regime. The nasty rulers in Saudi Arabia also have their unswerving support and, in Lebanon, the Reagan administration supported its invasion by Israel.

So it is hardly surprising if many democratic Iraqis are unwilling to risk their lives to overthrown Saddam. The Americans have the power to order Sharon to cease military activities in the occupied territories or face an arms embargo.

The Iraqis see no sign of this. Add to this the American list of future countries to be 'liberated' - North Korea, China, Burma, Zimbabwe, Iran, Syria and Cuba. Hardly the stuff to win their hearts and souls. - James Fitzpatrick, Gateshead.

SINCE the start of the war against Iraq there has been much speculation as to the possibility of reprisal terrorist attacks against Britain. However as I saw television reports concerning the methods used by British troops I began to question this assumption.

This is because British troops, by acting more respectfully towards Iraqi civilians, by not receiving any of the contracts from the reconstruction and by insisting that the reconstruction should be done by an Iraqi administration, helped and advised by the UN, mean Britain is not only acting as a liberator but will also be seen by the Arab world as a liberator.

The result of which would, in theory, be a reduced threat to Britain from terrorists. Whilst America, by employing the opposite approach and by having an opposite vision of how a liberated Iraq will be run, would logically suffer the opposite reaction and consequence. - CT Riley, Spennymoor.

I DID not support the Kosovo war, for reasons I stated clearly at the time. It was supported by the French and Robin Cook who oppose the present war on Iraq because it lacks a United Nations mandate. So I can claim to be more consistent than them. I write to remind readers that the two situations are not comparing like with like.

In the case of Kosovo, there were gatherings at Rambouillet where the majority of the participants were agreed that the Serbian leader was at fault because he had not ordered the withdrawal of his forces in Kosovo and disengagement from the Kosovo Liberation Army. This led to more ethnic cleansing of Albanian populations, who were the majority in the province, and a mass refugee problem in Albania.

Criticism can be made of the French that they have, in the past, had dealings with Saddam Hussein. Robin Cook wrote a column in the Sunday Mirror and then had to clarify it within hours. But with world opinion being so much against the war against Iraq and motives for it so mixed, I find more to support in France and Robin Cook than the people who would criticise them. - Geoffrey Bulmer, Billingham.