THE national Press describes Tony Blair as many things, including 'Air miles Tony', 'President Blair', and even 'Tony the First', (anticipating the Royal Family being abandoned, which many believe is on his agenda).

These descriptions of the Prime Minister arise because he does not consult Parliament or the British people about anything, including involving Europe in the problems of Asia.

At present, would-be 'Tony the First', intends abandoning the writ of habeas corpus. This will mean that a British citizen can be extradited to a European Court for matters that may not even be an offence in an English court. This writ has existed since Henry III.

Now he wants children to be educated without books. No doubt because he took a short computer course in Newton Aycliffe last year. And yet in Northern People 2002 (Echo, Dec 18) he claims his recreational interest is 'reading', so why does he want to deny children this pleasure?

Despite what the papers say, Mr Blair makes it clear that he is nothing more than a dictator and not our elected MP. - H Ballantyne, Newton Aycliffe.


ROBIN Cook heads up a team of recently-appointed Labour MPs who don't fancy the long hours required being a public servant and want the introduction of a nine to five working day. They aspire to the Houses of Parliament and, when they get there, want to fight for the injustices of the various constituencies they represent. Hardly likely! Me, me, me!

If you happen to work in the real world and don't fancy working shifts, or long shifts for that matter, then you lose your right to the extra allowance, end of story.

The lefties have cried on for equality across the board, so we can expect a reduction in the pay award which they cheekily introduced in the first week of re-election. - J Tague, Bishop Auckland.


THE ex-President of the United States, Bill Clinton, is in my own view the best political orator around at present, as well as an ace politician (morals aside).

My wife and myself saw Mr Clinton giving the Dimbleby Lecture on TV recently. What polish, itself the measure of a trained TV performer, Mr Clinton displayed.

Mind you, all the very best of TV performers make it look dead easy; that is as though there is nothing much to performing in front of the cameras. - Alfred H Lister, Guisborough.


THE tale of the parrot which destroyed its owner's car tax disc (Echo, Dec 7) reminded me of an incident from my schooldays.

The Catholic boys' grammar school I went to operated a barbaric system of punishment. The teacher would hand the offending child a note on which was written, for example: "Winstanley, 4, for insolence".

At the end of the school day, the hapless child was required to take this to the "strap master" (known as "Flogger" Flemming) who would administer the prescribed number of blows to the hand with a quarter-inch thick leather strap.

On one occasion, the excuse I gave for failing to attend for punishment was that my pet mouse, which I had concealed in my desk that day, had chewed up the note. I even produced the mouse as evidence.

"Ingenious excuse," said the teacher, and promptly issued a replacement note.

Looking back, I guess I should be grateful I didn't get an increased sentence for bringing my small, but loyal, friend to school! - P Winstanley, Chester-le-Street.


IT becomes increasingly difficult to find anything coherent in pro-euro contributions to a reasoned debate about joining the euro.

Tony Blair says we will have a referendum soon, when he knows it is not feasible to lock into the euro at current unfavourable exchange rates.

I can only assume this smokescreen is to curry favour with his overlords from France and Germany who are dangling the carrot of European leadership as a reward for selling us into the euro.

Gordon Brown contradicts this because he knows his five economic tests cannot be met until the euro converges with sterling and other currencies. - J Heslop, Gainford.


ALTHOUGH Guide Dogs wants the New Year to begin with a big bang, we are appealing for sensible use of fireworks to avoid frightening dogs.

The festive season is a time of great joy for many, but for guide dogs and their owners it can be very traumatic. Whereas partygoers may revel in the loud bangs and explosions, fireworks can be a nightmare for animals.

Many guide dogs are so terrified of the loud noise that they have to be sedated during the festive period. Some are unable to work for days. Worse, some are forced into early retirement and never recover from the trauma of misused fireworks.

Currently, nearly 5,000 people enjoy the freedom and independence guide dogs provide, but, for many, the use of fireworks throughout the year has become a real problem.

While we would not wish to be party killjoys, we are appealing to everyone who is letting off fireworks to act responsibly and be sensitive to the effect that sudden noises can have on animals. - G Peacock, The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.