I THANK Steve Metcalfe for referring to me as a 'superpatriot of the UK Independence Party' in his letter last week - modesty would forbid me ever using such words.

I am proud to be a patriot, proud to have been born in a country that has offered refuge to people as diverse as Huguenots fleeing oppression in France, Jews fleeing the USSR or Nazi Germany and, latterly, bloodthirsty Palestinians.

I am proud to have been born in a country giving refuge to Asians fleeing African despots such as Idi Amin in Uganda or, to a lesser extent, Mugabe in Zimbabwe. And I am proud to live in a country welcoming the oppressed of the world rather than a country seeing its citizens fleeing because of state oppression.

Mr Metcalfe denounced various Latin American states in his letter, all of which I have spent time in, and all of which had their faults because they were throwing off the shackles of totalitarianism of the left or right wing variety.

The one Latin American country he failed to mention was Nicaragua, possibly the worst socialist basket case the world has ever seen - apart, that is, from the USSR,

And before Mr Metcalfe, in his paranoia, claims that my letters are aimed at getting a response that will 'record the names and addresses of people who oppose the capitalist system' I point out that my working class credentials are impeccable, I just won't bore you with them.

Neither I, nor my Party, have ever advocated anything but freedom and justice for all in this country if here legitimately.

Sadly the increasingly illiberal extremism of Blair's New Labour could soon see a flood of refugees leaving this country to seek refuge in places such as 'liberated' Iraq. After all, the Iraqis are being given a referendum on their constitution which we have been denied on the European Community.

Our soldiers are fighting for the freedom of Iraqis to decide how they want to be ruled. When will Blair or the EU give us the same choice?

Gregg Beaman, Carnforth.