REGIONAL GOVERNMENT: SO which is it to be for Martin Callanan (HAS, Mar 10)? Is he for or against democracy?

Two years ago he stated that the Labour Government will try to sneak in the regional assemblies without a referendum and now that he has an opportunity to vote for and in one, he rejects it, saying that there has been an affront to democracy!

It is to be hoped that he will not try the same failed tactic when it becomes equally obvious that there will not be an 'imposition of another tier of government'. - Coun Sally Anderson, Northallerton.


THERE are some media pundits who argue that now that British troops are deployed in the Gulf we can hardly bring them back like the Grand Old Duke of York.

It is true that if the Government stopped the march to war, then Tony Blair would be humiliated and finished politically. My view on this is that it is better to get rid of Mr Blair than have a war.

Moreover, Labour MPs should note that the Grand Old Duke of York may be remembered as a figure of fun but it is much better to remembered affectionately as a bumbling fool than as war criminals who ripped thousands of innocent children's bodies to pieces using cluster bombs and daisy cutters. - John Gilmore, Bishop Auckland.

IT is probably unfair to say that George Bush does not prefer peace to war; but he wants other things more. St Augustine reminded us that those who destroy the peace don't do it because they hate it, but because they want to show their power in destroying it. They do not want to do away with peace; but they want it on their own terms.

Can you sum up the American president's desire to show his country's power, or his refusal to see any alternative possibilities, better? We are being dragged into a war which our Prime Minister says is in defence of the honour of the UN; but one notices that in its assumed role of universal policeman; America is already prepared to ignore the will of that body and the criminals on its most wanted list are not those who have longest defied the authority of the UN, but those who are seen as the greatest threat to America.

I will believe the sincerity of America's protestations that the overthrow of the present Iraqi government is the first step towards peace and stability in the Middle East when Mr Bush makes it clear that the second step will be to exert pressure on the present Israeli government to act justly towards the Palestinians whose rights to land and security have been denied for nearly 40 years, when the trouble in the Middle East is largely the result of that denial. - Rev TJ Towers, Langley Park, Durham.


THE most effective opposition to the Government comes from inside the Labour Party. The Loony Lefties would love to depose Tony Blair as leader, but they don't seem to realise how lucky they are.

Would they like Iain Duncan Smith as leader? Two names mentioned as possible future leaders of the Tories are Michael Portillo and Ken Clarke.

Is this the same Ken who, when in Redcar, thought he was in County Durham? One of his many other gaffes was when he praised the output of Consett Steelworks which had been closed years previously by his government.

At least if Tony Blair was ejected Labour has some admirable candidates in such as Dr John Reid, Gordon Brown, David Blunkett and Charles Clarke.

My forecast is that Mr Blair will lead Labour to victory at the next election. - Jason Roberts, Peterlee.


THE big supermarkets have been responsible for the loss of many small businesses over the years and we are poorer as a community because of it.

But the threat which they now present to small pharmacies is one that must be seen off at all costs.

I have patronised one such pharmacy exclusively for 19 years, getting my medication nowhere else and I cannot speak too highly of the quality of service I have experienced there.

The possibility of losing this service just does not bear thinking about. - Tony Kelly, Crook.


DURING the course of a recent interview, Health Secretary Alan Milburn made some very revealing comments and observations.

In defending the Government's plans to create 'foundation hospitals' he stated that 'a one-size-fits-all policy was wrong and insane'. Of course he was responding to critics who claim he is creating a two-tier NHS.

However, being a minister in a government that is hell-bent on railroading Britain into the European single currency, his choice of words show more than a trace of hypocrisy. In fact, the very policy he refers to as insane regarding NHS policy is the known, infinitely more dangerous outcome of the other policy he enthusiastically supports.

If we as a nation were stupid enough to swallow the pro-euro hype and say yes to acceptance, from that day forth we would cease to be in control over our economic affairs, control passing to the European Central Bank in Frankfurt.

What then is the policy and practice of the ECB? All EU member states are subject to the imposition of a common interest rate, which member states are powerless to amend to meet changes in national circumstances. In other words: one-size-fits-all.

Yes, Mr Milburn, it is an insane policy wherever it is applied, so why do you support it on a selective basis? - Dave Pascoe, Press Secretary, UK Independence Party, Hartlepool Branch.