Rip up Blairism by the roots

Sir: Michael Gove (Politics, 23 February) gives a eulogy to Tony Blair, ‘I admired Tony Blair. I knew Tony Blair’.

I had hoped that David Cameron’s claim to be ‘the heir to Blair’ was just a silly mistake springing from inexperience. It is more worrying to find that Blair worship is now the doctrine of modern compassionate Conservatism. No wonder 40 per cent of electors are unwilling to vote; nor that, when asked which party could best meet any challenge facing Britain, those saying ‘neither’ regularly exceed those naming either party.

Blair’s admirers in the shadow Cabinet might reflect on his record: the bungled war on Iraq, the dispatch of men and women to fight without the equipment they need, the sensational increases in tax without measurable improvement in services, the debauchment of the civil service, the identity card fiasco, the criminal justice fiasco, his surrender of British sovereignty to Brussels, his remorseless attacks on the conventional family, despoliation of education, use of the benefit system to deepen the poverty trap, lesser incentives to work or save, his fuelling of the culture of drugs, alcohol, yobbery and violent crime which has left the Home Secretary fearful of walking the streets of London at night.

It was Blair who introduced uncontrolled, unmeasured immigration of people determined not to integrate, but to establish, first ghettoes, and now demands for separate legal jurisdiction. In biblical terms, Blairism is the poisonous tree which can give forth only poisonous fruit and must be rooted out. In 2005 Blair had the votes of only 21.6 per cent of the electorate. With the poisonous tree of Blairism planted in the shadow Cabinet, where can the other 78.4 per cent turn?

Lord Tebbit

House of Lords, London SW1

Our own enemy
Sir: Douglas Murray’s description (‘A scholar who dares to look terror in the face’, 23 February) of the terrorist mentality is spot-on: ‘narcissism, widely misconceived altruism, youth, envy, mental and sexual dysfunctionalism, will to destruction and utopian absurdity’.

Unfortunately, this list also applies to much of Western society and its infantile preoccupations: the celebrity culture, foreign aid, the youth cult, the consumer society’s pig philosophy, bingeing and psychotic visions of ‘saving the planet.’

We get the enemies we deserve.

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Revd Dr Peter Mullen

London EC1

Cui bono?

Sir: Hugo Rifkind’s conspiracy theory (Shared opinion, 23 February) about Diana’s death has the merit of reasonableness, compared with the Al Fayed craziness. But it is a bit too complicated. I have a much simpler one: it was organised by Interflora.

Maurice Hardaker

St Paul de Vence, France

Score one for Toscanini

Sir: Paul Johnson (And another thing, 16 February) might be amused at this delightful vignette about Toscanini’s genius. An out-of-town visitor to Milan was enticed by a poster announcing that Toscanini would conduct that night’s opera entirely from memory. Being a sceptic, he purchased a ticket for a gallery seat so as to see for himself this amazing performance. Halfway through the opera, he noticed that the conductor was leafing through a score. Approaching La Scala’s manager after the show, he demanded a refund on the grounds of false advertising. The manager smiled and said: ‘Ah, sir — Maestro Toscanini did indeed conduct this evening’s opera from memory. What you saw him looking at was the score for tomorrow night’s opera.’

Asher Tarmon

Kfar Vitkin, Israel

Substance abuse
Sir: I looked up Venetia Thompson on Google and was not surprised to see, given the lack of any evidence or other proof offered in support of her comments about white men and Obama (‘Obama is a modern-day Othello’, 23 February), that she does not appear to be a psychologist, anthropologist, sociologist or, indeed, any sort of statistician who might have some knowledge about that of which she speaks. There is also no indication that she has spent enough time in America to have established credible anecdotally based opinions. I did, however, see that she has studied creative writing.

Ms Thompson seems to think that Mr Obama is found, especially by white American males, to be ‘lacking in substance’ because they feel their manhood threatened and, it goes without saying, they are innately racist. But Obama is found lacking in substance because he is lacking in substance. As a 60-year-old naturalised American, who lived at least ten years on four different continents before settling on this one, I offer a couple of observations which I consider to be at least as scientifically rigorous as those of Ms Thompson. Firstly, there are more white male Americans who will vote for Obama because his father happened to have been a Luo from Kenya than there are those who will vote against him for that reason. Secondly — and perhaps understandably — black Americans in 2008 are far more racist than white Americans.

I will not vote for Obama, because of his naive and potentially destructive political views. It is deeply offensive to me that Ms Thompson would suggest this reasoning is ‘racist’.

Geoff Hawkins

Cary, North Carolina

Celtic cringe
Sir: Molly Watson (Style & travel, 23 February) begins by saying ‘Dylan Thomas used to say that a day away from Wales was a day wasted.’ Was this the same Dylan Thomas who said ‘Wales is the Land of my Fathers. And my fathers can have it’? Perhaps he meant that a day away from Wales is a day wasted, when one could instead have a week, a month, a year or a lifetime away? In this he seems merely to have been following in the great tradition of Celtic poets and writers such as James Joyce, who preferred voluntary exile to living in their rain-sodden native lands.

Ian Rippey

Northern Ireland

This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated