Vote for a man who commanded respect
Dear Editor, Good luck to The Birmingham Post in launching its anniversary awards.

Now I don't want to be a killjoy - I'm sure they're going to be a great success - but when you look through the calibre of the local politicians who've been nominated, it doesn't exactly make you proud.

Despite his fighting talk, West Midlands Minister Liam Byrne has achieved nothing, while Digby has virtually disappeared since his elevation to Government. Sir Michael Lyons is well-meaning chap, I'm sure, but hardly sets the world alight; and just what is the point of Lynne Jones?

Clare Short is a has-been, about to retire, while John Hemming and Richard Burden are never-has-beens.

As for Mike Whitby and Paul Tilsley - is it possible to find two more self-serving, self-congratulatory people?

So, I'm urging everyone to vote for the late Ken Hardeman. Now there's a man who commanded respect and hugely contributed to the city.  City council member for regeneration, he gave 40 years of his life to Birmingham. He had a boundless energy, and was totally committed; unusually for a politician - and especially one so passionate in his beliefs - I can't recall anyone having a bad word to say for him.

He was proud to be from Aston, and helped to turn Birmingham into a place people wanted to visit and to relocate.  He was also one of the few people who were willing to speak their mind to the present council leadership.

Truly "one of the good guys", he will be missed for years to come.

So come on Birmingham, make sure this year's Politician of the Year award goes to someone who really deserves the honour.

Vote wisely. Vote Ken. 
 ADAM DANIELS, Birmingham

Let me tackle the name game
Dear Editor, I had to laugh when I read how the opponents of regional government have stolen the name of the Birmingham city region, by registering it as a company themselves.

Hats off to Stuart Parr and the West Midlands No! campaign in their increasingly imaginative drive against quangos.

However, does that now mean the suits are now going to resort to a name even worse than the last one they chose - Birmingham, Coventry and the Black Country Region.

If so, perhaps I can help by putting forward the name Birmingham, Outlying Strategic Towns and Inclusive Neighbourhoods - otherwise known as Bostin.
 DAVE SOLE, Birmingham

Handsomely remunerated
Dear Editor, Regarding the police pay settlement, Jacqui Smith (pictured) certainly should not quit. The actual difference amounts to about £170 per police officer.

They are on £30,000 a year on average as a police constable, plus handsome sick pay benefits and comfortable early retirements.

Many of the policemen I have known are quite comfortably well off with the pension and the jobs they take on afterwards. Plus they get a big retirement bounty as well.

Policing isn't the only hazardous job going and many other people have to continue working until they are 65.
 PAUL EVANS, Northfield

Campaign against the Christian faith
Dear Editor, My favourite niece, a practising Christian, wife, mother, grandmother and professional accountant, asked for some stamps at a Birmingham Post Office, only to be told that instructions had been given to the Post Master, not to sell stamps showing an image of Mary and the Child Jesus.

Apparently, the politically correct management of Post Office Counters Ltd, feel that other faiths might be offended.

We are experiencing an orchestrated campaign against the Christian faith.  The Archbishop of York protests against the regime of Mugabe in Zimbabwe, by refusing to wear his dog collar. However, church leaders in the main remain silent against the current 'Christianaphobia', or engage in 'social religion' - the soft option.

My niece has bought sheets of Christian stamps, proposing to use them throughout the Christmas period and also throughout 2008.
 TOM WAREING, Redditch

Part of the city's heritage
Dear Editor, I was somewhat depressed to read Councillor Ray Hassall's comments with respect to Moseley Road baths.

He described it as barmy to throw money at the building, when this could be better spent on more leisure type centres. But he surely misses a crucial point, this is no ordinary swimming baths, it is an important part of Birmingham's heritage. In fact I feel the building is almost of national importance to be listed grade 1.

These baths are now quite rare. The other baths of a similar style, in Manchester, was voted nationally to be restored in the BBC programme Restoration; such is the feeling for these historic facilities.

We could of course have more grey corrugated nondescript leisure centres (many are in fact struggling), but we would be a lot poorer in environmental terms if we sacrifice unique places like Moseley Rd baths.
 COLIN TROTH, Moseley

Things going bump in the night
Dear Editor, Marsya Lennox's story about the haunted house was fascinating (Post Property).

I've never believed in ghosts, but reading this article made me seriously question my reasoning; I think 23 years of things 'going bump in the night' would be enough to convince anybody.

There's something comforting about the idea of friendly spirits looking after you in your home - at the same time if the local priest had ever warned me "don't go into the cellar alone", I'd have been out of that house faster than anything.
 BARRY LEIGHTON, Solihull

Stonehouse and Smith clash again
Dear Editor, I am sure the late Wednesbury and Walsall MP, John Stonehouse, could not wait for former Southern Rhodesian PM Ian Smith to enter the great debating chamber in the sky, as I am sure he has much to take him to task about.

During the run up to the 1959 General Election, John went to East Africa with the indomitable Barbara Castle to discuss the possibility of independence with the indigenous population of about four countries in that region. This included the PM of Southern Rhodesia, Sir Garfield Todd, who was sympathetic to the views of the African National Congress, which vigorously campaigned for a free nation within the Commonwealth of Nations.

During discussions in Southern Rhodesia, the colonial security services deported Barbara and John from the region with the aid of the South African security services. Sir Garfield Todd was forced to resign soon after and hopes of a Labour victory in the 1959 UK elections were dashed for another five years. Tragically this led to eight more years of bloodshed and colonial rule in Africa.

The present brutal tactics used by the security services within present day Zimbabwe learned much from the colonial security services of Southern Rhodesia. One legacy of Ian Smith's regime, I am sure Mugabe is quite thankful for.

Ian Smith was a product of the colonial administration which had ran Rhodesian affairs since the birth of the nation by Cecil Rhodes and that included the overt use of racial intolerance within society.

Narrow-minded vision by Smith eventually led to the instigation of a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in 1965 when he was the PM of Southern Rhodesia. This decision took Southern Rhodesia back to the Stone Age and caused much anxiety and angst within the British government and Harold Wilson's dedicated team in the Colonial Office, including John Stonehouse.

John was Colonial Minister at the time and a rising star in Harold Wilson's Government and was managing to bring independence to quite a few former British colonies. At the time of Smith's UDI decision, John had just brought independence, smoothly and efficiently to Botswana, formerly Bechuanaland. This must have been music to John's ears and a glorious way to middle finger Ian Smith's disastrous decision in the most diplomatic way possible, especially as John had suffered at the hands of the security service in Southern Rhodesia, eight years earlier.

In John's 1975 autobiography, Death of an Idealist, he states: "Looking back just 15 years or so, it is quite incredible how most establishment opinion failed to understand the African revolution which is now taken for granted. In the late 1950s nearly all Conservative MPs and most Labour MPs thought that British rule in East and Central Africa could continue for a long period, and at least during their own parliamentary careers ... This fantasy world was bound to collapse."

Words which are coming back to haunt British African policy I feel, as well as Zimbabwean society.
 IAN PAYNE, Walsall