Niall Clugston writes: Re. Yesterday’s Editorial. It’s hard to know what to object to most in yesterday’s newsletter. The editorial envisioning the French and Russian Revolutions being enhanced by Twitter, or Charles Richardson’s magisterial assertion that “The mid-20th century was a lean period” for revolutions (except in China, Cuba, Vietnam etc)?

Both comments rely on the notion of “people power”. Apparently for Richardson, a “revolution” is a “people power” event that results in liberal democracy (or, in the Philippines, a good imitation). But then he could have mentioned Indian independence.

If you study history more closely, however, “people power” is rather hollow. The collapse of the Eastern Bloc was caused by the abdication of Communist authorities rather than a few spontaneous demonstrations. The Solidarity movement in Poland in the early 1980s was far larger and better organised, but was crushed with ease. Popular protests can help hasten the end of tinpot dictators like Ferdinand Marcos, but nothing more.

The crucial issue in Egypt is the attitude of the military. It would make more sense to study the statement from the army — and who precisely made it — rather than the excited tweets of people on the street. The cold fact is that Egypt is more likely to end up run by a general than a street committee.


John Band writes: Re. “How do the new food labelling recommendations measure up?” (yesterday, item 16). It’s a bit disheartening to see Dr Rosemary Stanton, who’s presumably some kind of scientist by training, write that “Australia has the disadvantage of using kilojoules rather than calories”.

This is a crazy point of view — Australia uses the correct SI unit for energy rather than an outmoded and meaningless measure, and we should be proud of doing so.

What’s next, “Australia has the disadvantage of using kilometres rather than furlongs…”?

Young Parliamentarians:

E J Szabo writes: In response to L M McIntire (yesterday, comments), Lawrence Springborg was a very young candidate elected to a State (Qld) Parliament: 21 years of age in 1989. He was elected the same year the Nats were turfed out after their 32 year reign in Queensland. I know he does not beat Wyatt Roy as far as youngest ever is concerned, but can anyone beat 21 years of age up until 1989?