Sir: Lord Lamont’s article ‘The EU’s scandalous new army of overpaid diplomats’ (Politics, 20 July) revisits his oft-repeated views on the European Union. It also shows scant regard for the facts and for the reality of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy.
The European External Action Service (EEAS) was created by unanimous agreement of all EU governments to project and implement EU policies in the areas covered in the EU Treaties, including trade, aid and the environment, which member states have decided are better done collectively. It has made EU external policy-making more streamlined and cohesive. It in no way duplicates the work of national diplomacies.
Cheap shots at our presence in ‘warm islands with agreeable beaches’ should not obscure the fact that the choice of location is determined by our delegations being the regional hubs for development aid programmes.
Lord Lamont is wrong to claim that EU diplomats abroad earn more and pay less tax than national diplomats. He is also wrong in his assertions on our budget, which is less than a quarter of that of the Foreign Office. The decision establishing the EEAS states that it should be ‘guided by the principle of cost-efficiency aiming towards budget neutrality. To this end transitional arrangements and a gradual build-up of capacity will have to be used.’ We have stuck absolutely to the letter of this.
The widely acknowledged role of the EEAS in a number of foreign policy issues — such as the Arab Spring, Mali, the Iran nuclear talks and the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue — illustrates the effectiveness of the EEAS and its ‘comprehensive approach’ to foreign relations.
Spokesperson of High Representative/
Vice President Catherine Ashton,
Commonwealth tough guys
Sir: In his paean to influential ‘tough guys’ from the Commonwealth taking over powerful positions in the British establishment (‘Ruled by the colonies’, 20 July), James Forsyth states that we must go back to 1940s Britain to find a previous era when there was such an influential group of the Monarch’s overseas subjects.
However, on the subject of the Battle of Britain, he gives credit to the wrong colonial; Beaverbrook’s personal impact on wartime production has been much debated, partly as aircraft production had been steadily rising before he took over; partly because he liked to burnish his own reputation through the newspapers he owned.
All credit for the winning of the Battle of Britain should go instead to another colonial, the New Zealander Sir Keith Park, and the bravery of his men. By his inspired day-to-day leadership throughout the battle, the RAF denied the Luftwaffe air superiority, forcing Hitler to call off ‘Operation Sealion’ — his planned invasion of Britain. This extraordinary man (a veteran of Gallipoli, the Somme, and an RFC ace with 20 confirmed kills) is further credited with saving Malta barely a year later, turning the tide of battle once again with a combination of tactical brilliance and aggression.
And let us not forget, the official bravest British or Colonial serviceman of the war was another Kiwi, Captain Charles Upham VC and Bar.
Long may ‘English-speaking tough guys from the dominions’ come to our shores. It seems they get the job done.
Hugo de Groot
A tax on nipples
Sir: Hugo Rifkind is far too pessimistic when he accepts as inevitable the rising tide of sweaty male nudity in public places (20 July). The obvious answer — a hefty fine on each nipple exposed — may not be politically acceptable, but it would work wonders at reducing the national debt.
Berwick St James, Salisbury
Oxford or Liverpool?
Sir: It is a while since I have read one of Charles Moore’s pieces, but could he explain why Liverpool Care Pathway would be better were it Oxford Care Pathway (Notes, 20 July)? Those of your readers who live north of Birmingham are keen for him to share his insight.
David Mowat MP
House of Commons, London SW1
Normandy as a whole
Sir: James Delingpole is absolutely correct to state that cider and calvados are incidental to the true treasures of Normandy — the landing grounds, the battlefields and the cemeteries (Notes on… Normandy, 20 July). However, he suggests that the sites associated with William the Conqueror could be enjoyed as alternatives when a traveller has ‘had enough of war’. He need not separate the two. Visitors to the Bayeux war cemetery can see the most eloquent tribute to Allied soldiers who fell in Normandy inscribed on the walls of memorial: Nos A Gulielmo Victi Victoris Patriam Liberavimus (We, once conquered by William, have now set free the Conqueror’s native land). As the free French soldiers who wept and kissed the ground as they waded on to Sword Beach on D-Day appreciated, the history of Normandy is best understood in its entirety.
Sir: I read with interest the article by Rupert Darwall on the Met Office (‘Forecast failure’, 13 July). I take the view that short-term forecasts should be compiled by a triumvirate consisting of an ocean racing navigator, a shepherd and high-altitude glider pilot. These people need to get it right, for obvious reasons. And they usually do. Keep all your computers and listen to the people who need to know.