Sir: What happened to the Letters page in this week’s issue? What was the reason for its non-appearance? Was it that there were too many in support of the leadership change in Australia for the Australian section to continue its campaign of vilification of Malcolm Turnbull? Once again there was not one article in support of the new leadership that has seen such a remarkable change in the atmosphere in Australian politics. There is a calmer and more civilised attitude in general with a notable alteration in even the Opposition’s style, adopting as it has a more conciliatory and cooperative attitude. There has even been support for certain government measures from the Greens, something that would have been unheard of in Tony Abbott’s time.
It is high time that Rowan Dean accepted the opinion of a large section of the Australian voting public and do as his deposed hero has urged everyone to do, to accept and support the new leadership, even “through gritted teeth” and thus restore The Spectator’s erstwhile reputation for considered and balanced opinion.
(Mrs.) Noreen J. Pryor
ABC of BDS
Sir: Cathy Peters (“Why I support BDS”, The Spectator Australia, 29.9.2015) has conspicuously failed to address my arguments about her ludicrously biased ABC radio programs on Jerusalem, her failure to give listeners prior disclosure of her support for BDS, or her misuse of the platform the ABC gave her to promote her personal views at taxpayers’ expense. She provides no response to the charge that her programs breached the ABC’s Code of Practice requirements of balance and impartiality in news reporting and the ABC’s statutory obligation of independence – which also means independence from the personal opinions, agendas and private activism of program producers and journalists contracted or employed by the ABC itself. Instead, she descends into a false, personal attack against me (I did in fact disclose my position in the Jewish community) and irrelevantly provides details of her Jewish family background and attempts to justify her support for BDS. Her right to express her views is not in question, only her practice of doing so at taxpayers’ expense
Sir: In your leading article last week you wrote: ‘Yes, Catalonia and Scotland were independent in the 16th century.’ True about Scotland, but not Catalonia. Since 1162, the Kingdom of Aragón and the county of Barcelona have been a single entity and, since 1475, the Catholic kings and their descendants have ruled both Castile and Aragón. The Spanish 16th century was essentially ruled by the King Emperor Charles I of Spain and his son Philip II, although Spanish kings would appoint viceroys in all the territories of the Kingdom of Aragón. To legitimise their claims, Catalan nationalists often compare their situation with that of Quebec or Scotland. But such a strategy will only succeed with the unwary.
Sir: I agree with you on the limited strategic and social skills of the Spanish prime minister in the management of domestic policy in general, and particularly with regards to Catalonia (Leading article, 3 October). But Catalonia is not Scotland — it was never a sovereign state with its own monarchy and parliament. It is also important to mention that in the most recent regional elections, the separatists obtained 62 seats against the 71 seats that they managed in 2012, meaning they have lost almost 15 per cent of their seats. And their proposed referendum challenges a fundamental principle. To comply with and enforce the law is one of the core functions of any government. Those laws can be modified through democratically established procedures, and respecting the right to vote of all Spaniards is essential.
Sir: I agree with Simon Barnes (3 October) that we should encourage the hedgehog population, but it is not as simple as making some holes in the fence and leaving a few rotten logs around. When I rang a hedgehog hospital to see if I could give a couple of its patients a home, the first thing they asked was whether we had badgers in our area. Badgers flip hedgehogs on to their backs and munch through their soft bellies. We have a large garden with superb hedgehog cover and wild sections but as hedgehogs roam over a couple of miles they would almost certainly get eaten, and the hospital said ‘no’. Since badgers are nocturnal, most people don’t realise how large their population has grown. These days, you’re much more likely to find a squashed badger on the side of the road than a squashed hedgehog.
Hunts Green, Newbury
At home in the 1950s
Sir: I want to reassure Melissa Kite that her ideal village exists (Real life, 26 September). In fact, she needs to talk to her colleague Martin Vander Weyer, because North Yorkshire has lots of villages of the kind she is looking for. Yes, it’s a long way from London, but we have good broadband and plenty of people work from home. After years as an expatriate living in the Far East, I moved here 11 years ago and I love it. Although we are losing village shops, if you live close to a market town, you don’t have to go far for your shopping and you always bump into people you know. There is a surprising mixture of backgrounds, jobs and interesting discussions — and we all know where meat comes from. It is always 1956 here.
Old Malton, North Yorkshire