CHERIE BLAIR tries to con us with her tears. She wants us to think she is just a poor working mum struggling to cope with all the pressures and worrying about her eldest child going off to university. Don't make me laugh. She should try living in the real world. As a working woman with three children, the eldest of whom has just gone to university, I know about the kind of stresses and pressures, personal and financial, that brings.
You work long hours for inadequate pay, and are often exhausted. Then you have to do your best for your children, struggling to help them when there isn't enough time or money. You worry when your child goes away to college about how they will survive, and how you will, or will not, be able to help them out financially. Cherie Blair having to worry about such things? That's a joke!
She gets almost a quarter of a million pounds a year and lives a life of luxury. She has her 'lifestyle guru', and nannies to look after her children.
I don't suppose Cherie Blair will be worrying about whether she has the time or money to do Christmas shopping for her family this month either. Her children won't be worrying about the rent when they go to college. The only problem they'll have will be deciding which of mum's luxury flats to live in.
I suppose the women who judges like Cherie send down for not paying bills also just let one of the balls they are juggling drop. Cherie Blair is on a different planet - like the rest of her New Labour friends.
Sue Gibson, East London
Double dealing on deportation
HOW HEARTWARMING to hear of Cherie Blair's intervention on behalf of immigrant Peter Foster. Can we now expect her help in stopping the deportations of Zimbabweans, sent back by home secretary David Blunkett's thugs to certain torture? Or Romas, sent back to racist persecution and even murder?
And can we expect her support in stopping the Home Office refusing asylum claims from Iraqi Kurds, despite the government's own exposé of the horrific persecution they have suffered in their own country?
And will she intervene on behalf of the Congolese man whose whole body is covered in scars and bruising inflicted on him by his torturers? Immigration officials recently turned down his appeal against deportation, offering no justification.
But then Cherie is following a fine tradition of other leading New Labour figures helping out immigrants. Remember Peter Mandelson's intervention on behalf of the Hinduja brothers. And who could forget her own husband's sterling efforts on behalf of Lakshmi Mittal?
Alan Gibson, Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers
Keep to issues that do matter
NOT A big deal really, but just a quick e-mail to register a degree of disappointment at this week's cover ('The Conman In Downing Street'). The uncompromisingly political covers of the past few weeks, focusing on the war and the firefighters and the link between the two, have gone down very well on my workplace sale in York. But the reaction of most regular buyers to 'Cheriegate' has been dismissive:
Everyone already knows the Blairs are rich, and that rich people buy and sell property.
The Daily Mail and the Tories are only making such a big deal of this as a way of distracting attention from the real opposition to the government over war and the fire dispute.
There's a suspicion of some misogyny underlying vicious personal attacks on Cherie Booth.
As I say, not a big deal, but I thought I should register that Socialist Worker buyers here would have preferred to see us dismiss 'Cheriegate' as a distraction. I must emphasise that this criticism comes only in the context of the high impact and highly political covers of recent months, which have gone down very well.
Ben Drake, York
Striking has changed how we see world
OUR firefighters' strikes have transformed people. One guy I work with is a former soldier. When we had a discussion a few weeks ago about the war on Iraq, he supported it. Then Gordon Brown announced £1 billion for the war and in the same breath said the country could not afford our pay rise.
That incensed people. The former soldier is now strongly against the war. Other people are making similar connections, especially when they see directly how the media lies.
There is a strong feeling now that we are in this along with other workers. I think we should go all out, appeal for support from the trade union movement and take the fight to the government.
Charlie Brown, Islington fire station, North London
I'VE BEEN registered blind for over twenty years. Disabled people are at the end of the queue for jobs and Blair and his cronies in the WTO intend to slash the benefits and privatise the services that many of us depend on.
Thanks to Socialist Worker's e-mail service I have regular access to the information and ideas I need to be part of the struggle against this rotten system. Anyone with a visual impairment who has access to a computer should get SW e-mailed, or sent on disc, every week.
Rob Murthwaite, North London
WHAT DOES Socialist Worker say about the trawler blockades? I think they are wrong. We have to stop destroying fish stocks. Demanding the right to continue destroying the environment is like nuclear power workers demanding the right to keep on producing nuclear waste. Sometimes bigger things than narrow economic interests matter.
Mary Hill, Birmingham
I WAS amazed to see Brazil's president-elect Lula embracing George W Bush last week. When Lula won we were told he was a socialist who represented change and hope. But are Lula and his Workers Party really so radical or are they now just a Latin American version of New Labour?
Ged Chamberlain, Manchester
DEVON County Council is transferring its public library buildings into the ownership of self elected private trustees. Can anyone tell me whether this is legal and whether any other county councils are doing the same?
Brian Boughton, by e-mail
Mad monks and gurus
'I WILL find out what our Friend thinks. The opinion of the Friend decides.' No, not Cherie Blair about her lifestyle 'guru', but the Tsarina of Russia writing in the years before the 1917 Russian Revolution.
The 'Friend sent by God' was a mad, illiterate monk called Grigori Rasputin. One of the leaders of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Leon Trotsky, described the Tsar and Tsarina in ways that may sound strangely familiar to your readers.
He wrote, 'Throughout the whole reign of Nicholas and Alexandra soothsayers and hysterics were imported for the court from all over Russia and other countries. 'In the Tsar's train there was a whole chapel full of large and small images, and all sorts of fetishes.
'The monarchy completely failed to become modernised. On the contrary it withdrew into itself. Its spirit of medievalism thickened under the pressure of hostility and fear, until it acquired the character of a disgusting nightmare overhanging the country.'
Robert Campbell, South London
Black students give MP anti-war lesson
I WENT to a black students' conference at the end of November. Last year we won the right to have a black officer, and the conference was a follow-up to hear from our new officer. There was a session on black representation introduced by an Asian Labour MP. He argued that if a few black people get into high profile positions every black person benefits.
I said that as the chair of the Salford University Black and Asian Society my priority was campaigning against the BNP in my college. I started having a go at him about the war and asked how it benefited black people to see our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan bombed. I got a huge round of applause.
Then everyone else joined in and had a go at him as well. Suddenly the MP had to leave. The next day we found the army had been invited to the conference. But the only two people who visited the army stall went to ask how come two black women had joined the army anyway.
A lot of black students see opposing the war as a way of getting political representation. We now have a policy to oppose the war.
Makola Mayambiko, Salford