Sir: Tony Abbott seems to have fooled The Spectator. Your editorial (23 August) gives plaudits to the Australian Government because it has made 4000 resettlement places available to persecuted Iraqi Christians. The implication in your statement and in the Australian Government media release is that these are extra visas attesting the generosity and humanitarian nature of Mr Abbott and co. The fact is that the Government has a ‘program’ of allowing an annual refugee intake – always presented as if it were decreed by Moses – of 13,750. These 4,000 visas are not extra. It only means that some otherwise worthy 4000 miss out on receiving a visa. What’s so praiseworthy in that?
Freedom of subjugation
Sir: Your editorial (23 August) makes the point that the West cannot stand by and allow this “evil” to flourish. The unbelievable arrogance that the West’s brand of freedom is the only brand of freedom is simply absurd. Our societies are based on a utilitarian ideology. Islamic states are built on a deontological ideology. What we call oppression, they call freedom. For them, “the finger of God” dictating what happens is complete freedom. Leave them alone! Let them murder and oppress each other. They must be allowed to live in any way that they see fit, provided it does not impact on our freedom or way of life. This is why immigrants from these states will never assimilate and all immigration, from there, should be banned.
We do remember them
Sir: I applaud Tazi Husain’s defence of the role played by Baroness Warsi at Westminster Abbey during the first world war and his own role in driving forward the Tempsford Memorial Trust (Letters, 23 August). But he is mistaken in believing that soldiers of the Indian army (and other Imperial forces) are not commemorated. The whole point of war memorials in the UK is to remember and honour the fallen of the town, village or institution that they came from, in that place. Few if any UK residents who fell in 1914–18 would have originated from the subcontinent. The proper place for such memorials would be their home towns in India (I use the word in its imperial, not current, context). However, he may be reassured that all fallen Indian and other Imperial troops are commemorated by name either in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery where they lie (or their ashes lie, in the case of Hindus) or on memorials to the missing such as the Menin Gate and the Neuve Chapelle Memorial. The latter is specifically dedicated to Indian soldiers who have no known grave and is architecturally based on Indian features. They have not been forgotten or ignored.
N.J. Ridout, Lt Col (Ret’d)
Sir: Apropos Dot Wordsworth’s observations on the University of Bedfordshire’s recent advertisement for its law degree (Mind your language, 23 August), it is not only the use of an image of a gavel that suggests a certain lack of knowledge on the part of the advertising people. Keen-eyed observers will also note that the wig worn by the young lady in the advert resembles neither the bar wig nor the bench wig in use in English courts, but rather the one worn by the Prince Regent in Blackadder the Third. Perhaps the advert was originally intended to promote the university’s drama course?
Aidan Murray Crook
Sir: Simon Brocklebank-Fowler (Letters, 23 August), as a PR man himself, puts up a surprisingly limp defence of public relations as a career choice for graduates. Of course earning a good salary is important, but to make your central argument that ‘some practitioners have made personal fortunes’, and that the senior directors at top companies earn as much over a lifetime as partners in the Big Four accounting firms, is hardly the stuff to inspire. In my experience, graduates want to be rewarded fairly for their efforts — but equally, they are concerned how their career will contribute to business and society as a whole.
Paul de Zulueta
Sir: Dexter’s researches into the origins of Nineteen Eighty-Four as Orwell’s choice of title (Title stories, 23 August) might have included the last sentence of Chapter 1 of Chesterton’s The Napoleon of Notting Hill. They are: ‘When the curtain goes up on this story, eighty years after the present date, London is almost exactly like what it is now.’ The book was published in 1904 — and the title has a topical touch to it, too.
Sir: Matthew Parris complains about the inadequacies of letter boxes and street numbering as he goes leaflet-delivering in Derbyshire (9 August). He wants consistency and standards. I suggest he slips over to France to see how bureaucratic excess can destroy all signs of individuality. In our small village in Provence, every house has been standardised. Small metal blue and white plaques have been screwed on to each letterbox announcing the new nomenclature. No longer ‘Croix du Coq’, as marked on the plan cadastral a century ago; we are now 684 Route de Mazan.
This system may make things easier for the postman, but it is bewildering for residents. Why is our house number 684 and our neighbour’s house 560? Our French neighbours point out with Gallic pride the logic of the numbering — it denotes the number of metres from each house to the Mairie; a similar system to the one used in North Carolina (Letters, 23 August). Logical it may be, but not delightfully individual.