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Letters

The Spectator Letters page

13 August 2005

12:00 AM

13 August 2005

12:00 AM

Our ‘decadent’ society

As Conservative MPs elected at this year’s general election we represent a new generation unencumbered by the political baggage of the past. In this spirit we enthusiastically endorse the rejection articulated by John Hayes (‘Muslims are right about Britain’, 6 August) of the liberal establishment’s assumptions about our society. For too long politicians of the centre and centre-Left — including some who curiously wear the badge of Conservatism — have ignored the common-sense opinions of the hard-working, patriotic majority of Britons who retain their belief in traditional values. In a recent Centre for Social Justice pamphlet, Iain Duncan Smith suggests that ‘it is noteworthy — even remarkable — that [what he calls] Britain’s conservative majority has persisted in the face of a largely hostile broadcast media and hesitant Church leaders’.

Some liberals remain in denial, unwilling to face the decadent consequences of years of their ideas being put into practice. But whether it is lawlessness, family breakdown, the menace of drugs, binge-drinking, teenage pregnancies or merely the coarse brutishness which, as Mr Hayes suggests, has infested popular culture, the results of years of woolly-minded liberal thinking (with the licentiousness it has created) are plain to see. Conservatives can choose either to help prop up the failed ideas of the liberal elite, or answer the people’s plea for certainty, order and decency. Choosing the latter is the key to success.
Brian Binley MP, Peter Bone MP, David Burrowes MP, Philip Davies MP, Robert Goodwill MP, Mark Harper MP

John Hayes’s article on Britain’s ‘decadent culture’ is a prime example of the half-baked authoritarianism that characterises the statist Right. He talks of the need for a ‘moral and cultural renaissance’, yet does not have the courage to spell out how it would be implemented. Would he ban homosexuality, screenings of Big Brother, and all the other things he — subjectively — finds so abhorrent? Where’s the beef, John? At least we know where the illiberal Blairite Left stands in relation to censorship, banning smoking and hunting, and bringing in identity cards, etc.

The dilemma facing British conservative authoritarians is that, unlike their leftist counterparts, they are tied to a party that supports the ideal of a free-market economy whose dynamism inevitably undermines and replaces the established patterns of belief and behaviour that the likes of John Hayes wish to see preserved.
Marc Glendening
London NW8

I agree almost entirely with John Hayes’s analysis of Britain as a decadent society on the slide. However, I am also gay and so take exception to Hayes’s judgment that granting homosexuals rights has somehow contributed to the moral decline of this country. The sooner Hayes and his party get over their prejudices (which in my experience are now so outmoded as to make them almost comical) and realise that race, colour and sexuality are no obstruction to being a decent individual — or indeed a supporter of the Tory party — the sooner they are likely to attract the support of the broader spectrum of people needed to return them to power.
Marcus Field
London NW5


We greens are the realists

If we could burn all the straw men Michael Hanlon constructs, Britain would never be short of fuel (‘Why do greens hate machines?’, 6 August). He proposes technological cures to all ills, ignores the drawbacks, then attacks environmentalists for criticising them, without explaining what the criticisms are.

Take nuclear power. It’s not just the radioactive leaks, or the fact that we’ve still found nowhere to dump the waste from the first generation of reactors. The real issue is that they can’t be built without government money and government insurance. As the Rocky Mountain Institute has shown, you get seven times as many carbon savings by investing in energy efficiency. Isn’t The Spectator in favour of saving public money?

Or take biofuels. If, as Hanlon suggests, we start running our vehicles on plant oils, we set up a direct competition between feeding cars and feeding people. To run the UK’s fleet on rapeseed oil would require 25.9 million hectares of arable land. There are 5.7 million in the UK. Roll this out worldwide, and you have a formula for global starvation.

Or take hydrogen fuel cells. Hanlon gives the impression that they are a source of energy. They are in fact a sink. The energy has to come from somewhere: either fossil fuels or alternative power. If you produced it from wind, you’d need 600 times as many windfarms as we have today to keep our cars on the road.

For years, greens have been accused of utopianism. I am beginning to realise that we’re the only hard-headed realists left. The fantasists have gone over to the other side.
George Monbiot
Oxford

The bomb saved lives

A.N. Wilson’s attack on my Hiroshima article (Letters, 6 August) indicates not only complete ignorance about radiation, not only an approach to history based on guesses and dogma, but also that he had not actually read what I wrote. He accuses me of being ‘factually inaccurate’ without giving a single such instance.

On the radiation, I suggest Mr Wilson consults the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (www.rerf.or.jp) which has been studying the effects of the bombs for 30 years. On the likelihood of Japan’s surrender without the bombs, I suggest he considers the hundreds of thousands of Japanese deaths defending Burma, Okinawa and other islands when they knew the war could not be won. Roosevelt would not have dropped the bomb? Roosevelt sanctioned the terror bombing of Dresden, which killed more people than were killed at Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

Of course, the Soviet Union was a consideration in the decision, and for sound moral reasons. It was a proven tyranny that had caused human slaughter on a scale gigantically greater than under the atomic bombs. Compare the subsequent fate of Hungary and North Korea under communist rule with that of Japan under Western democracy. Wilson quotes with approval ‘the dear old secretary of war, Stimson’. Here is what Stimson wrote in 1947: ‘My chief purpose was to end the war in victory with the least possible cost in the lives of the men in the armies which I had helped to raise. In the light of the alternatives which, on a fair estimate, were open to us I believe that no man, in our position and subject to our responsibilities, holding in his hands a weapon of such possibilities for accomplishing this purpose and saving those lives, could have failed to use it and afterwards looked his countrymen in the face.’ The number of Japanese lives saved was far greater.
Andrew Kenny
Cape Town, South Africa

While sharing A.N. Wilson’s horror at the atomic bombing of Japan, I recall reading in President Truman’s memoirs that, following Hiroshima, the Russians were given a note of surrender to pass on to the Allies. According to Truman, Stalin held up the note, declared war on Japan and rushed towards them, prompting the bombing of Nagasaki to end the conflict before the communists could grab any more. If true, then Nagasaki must count as another of Stalin’s crimes.
Rolf Norfolk
Birmingham


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