Sir: Charles Moore (Notes, 8 October) makes some apposite comments about this year’s Conservative conference. This was my 19th annual conference and I feel disinclined to continue to attend
despite being a past branch, constituency and area chairman. It is no wonder the attendance by party members was down: Manchester is not one of the most attractive cities in England, to say the
least, and accommodation near the centre is expensive. The venue is inadequate with few rooms being of a suitable size for meetings, and many fringe meetings were held too far from the centre. The
echo in the main hall was disturbing. Unless the party hierarchy wants to keep activists away — which may be the case, as they are hardly in agreement with certain policies and unhappy with
the coalition — the decision to abandon Bournemouth and Blackpool should be reconsidered.
Somerset County Councillor
Sir: If, as Charles Moore suggests, Conservative activists are not welcome at conference because their financial contribution is inadequate, perhaps an alternative gathering is needed to emphasise
their value. Might I suggest a tea party?
A policeman writes
Sir: Leo McKinstry is right but for the wrong reasons (‘In praise of the police’, 8 October). When I joined the police service in 1984, less than 10 per cent of my time was spent on
paperwork and ‘non-core’ policing duties. Now it amounts to about 80 per cent: tenants’ committees, child protection committees, security committees, neighbourhood meetings, youth
work, as well as the endless reams of time-consuming nonsensical forms we have to fill in daily. Tasks which years ago took just a few minutes now take hours. But I can tell you most of this
bureaucratic left-liberal claptrap has been generated directly by the Home Office, not the police. Most of these time-wasting practices will have to change as the reductions in funding take
We need to return to our jobs as coppers and concentrate on what we do best. Otherwise the service Mr McKinstry experienced will wither into mediocrity, or worse. As for the ‘disastrous
initial response’ to the August riots, if you thought that by pushing a rioter you could potentially face a manslaughter charge, what would you do?
Sir: Your leading article (8 October) sought to blame the Liberal Democrats for putting ‘green ideology before British jobs’ and for putting up energy prices. In fact, the overall mix
of low-carbon electricity and energy saving will reduce household energy bills compared with a policy of doing nothing, because the addition to unit costs is more than offset by energy saving. In
addition, energy users are insured against price rises in fossil fuels produced in volatile parts of the globe. We will produce detailed estimates of this, policy by policy, at the time of the
annual energy statement. The coalition government is united on this issue, as can be seen from the genesis of the measure at which critics principally take aim: the carbon price floor. This was a
Conservative manifesto promise, not a Liberal Democrat one. It was incorporated in the coalition agreement at the behest of the Conservative side, led on economic matters by George Osborne.
Moreover, the carbon price floor is being implemented by a (Conservative-led) Treasury, not the (Liberal Democrat-led) Department for Energy and Climate Change. As the Prime Minister so memorably
put it when he visited my department within a week of the general election: ‘We will be the greenest government ever.’
Energy and Climate Change Secretary
Whitehall Place, London SW1
Sir: Douglas Murray claims that ‘Gay marriage will never jeopardise straight marriage’ (‘Gay rites’, 1 October), and asks: ‘Has any man abandoned his wife because of
gay marriage?’ According to an article in the Gazette, the journal of the Law Society, just over a year after the first civil partnerships were formed there had been ‘a marked rise in
enquiries from gay people in heterosexual marriages who have decided to divorce’. It is clear, therefore, that civil partnerships have created a disincentive to make marriages endure. One
point Murray fails to consider is what might be the result of the public consultation the government plans to hold. According to a recent poll, more than half the public is now opposed to same-sex
marriage: a reverse result from that of a poll held two years ago.
Sir: Your readers may have been wondering what I’ve done to excite Douglas Murray. His reference to Muslims supplies the answer. When in parliament, I was responsible for severing official
relations between him and the Conservative front bench. He had said that ‘conditions for Muslims in Europe should be made harder across the board’, that all immigration from Muslim
countries ‘should be stopped’ (including, presumably, that of non-Muslims) and — on a reasonable reading of the speech concerned — that British Muslims voicing opposition to
neoconservative wars should be deported. Murray thus bears a grudge that dare not speak its name. As evidence, I cite his earlier piece (‘Blackballed by Cameron’, 9 October 2010), in
which our fearless crusader didn’t have the courage to identify me. This pattern of evasion and vendetta may help to explain why his Centre for Social Cohesion is no longer active and his
influence with government is zero. When it comes to sharing TV studios with Islamists, Murray is ever-present. But when it comes to hard grind — such as keeping them out of parliament —
his pen is mostly absent. The explanation of all this is simple. I see the fight against extremism as serious work. Murray views it as a branch of the light entertainment industry.
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated October 15, 2011