Ged Peck

Smoke Screens the Real Argument

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As a smoker of seven years, and then a non-smoker of 36 years, I am astonished at the way some of your readers miss the point about the proposed smoking ban (Letters, January SR).

It is quite right to blame the tobacco companies, who knew (unlike, it appears, your correspondents) that smoking was dangerous and addictive. (We even used to be told that if you had a cold smoking a menthol cigarette would help). And it is also right to blame the government, who continue to make money through taxation, and to point out their hypocrisy when they want to ban smoking in public or cave in to the likes of Bernie Ecclestone.

Debating the Basis of Unity

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There were so many positive features in Mark Holt's contribution (Letters, November SR) that it is worth stressing a few.

For example, it is certainly true that some of what passes for 'the left' has gone into apoplexy about others working with Muslims in the anti-war movement. For my own part, prior to the massive February demonstration I, along with others, was invited to a meeting with people from the local mosque to discuss how we could jointly build for the demonstration. Later, although a known socialist, I was allowed to speak from the steps of the town hall following a local Muslim-organised demonstration.

Getting the Balance Right

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The article about how prospective trade union leaders need to distance themselves from New Labour was informative, although not altogether surprising in today's political climate (The Walrus, June SR).

Yet it would be wrong for readers to get the impression that this might be a fleeting aberration within trade unionism, allowing the cosy relationship with Labour to return. As someone who has been directly involved in trade union education for many years, I can testify that there is a sea change of attitudes going on.

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