26 JULY 2003, Page 32

Public spirit

From M.R. Farrant Sir: I am one of the 'delightful people, public-spirited' middle-class supporters of the Labour party to whom Andrew Gimson refers (Politics, 19 July). I can only assume that he must have spent most of his life among those Tories who believe in separating themselves in gated housing estates (or their fox-hunting rural equivalents), using their financial superiority to grab what they believe are superior health and educational services. Whatever happened to 'one nation' Toryism, or is 'selfism the only true form of altruism' in Mr Gimson's world view ?

We are not 'ferocious small-c conservatives' who believe in 'doing things in the same old state-socialist way'. We want the best public services possible for all our citizens. We are quite rightly deeply suspicious of private intervention in the public sector based on our experience of disastrous involvement in rail maintenance, computer installation, housing-benefit administration and many other areas. This does not mean that we oppose all such intervention. Where it can be demonstrated that the public sector has failed, for example in providing education in Islington, then of course alternatives must be found. However, many of us are prepared to be part of the action in securing such improvements rather than retreating to our laagers and sneering.

M.R. Farrant

London NW5