Sir: I agree with Neil Brown that Kevin Rudd’s narcissism, activity without achievement etc. make him the perfect fit for Secretary-General of the UN. Furthermore, I propose that the position be promoted to Secretary-Field Marshall because, with his self-determined superiority in all things, I suspect that our Kevin has always thought he carried a marshall’s baton in his corporal’s knapsack.
Cremorne Point, NSW
Sir: David Flint is sloganeering himself into a parallel universe with all his twaddle about the governor general being our head of state (Spectator 2015-16) when most primary school children would know that he’s the Queen’s representative and that it clearly says ‘ELIZABETH 2 AUSTRALIA’ on every coin they look at.
I’m also somewhat puzzled as to how being a republican puts me in the same paddock as racists, Stalinists and Islamic terrorists (‘republican caliphate’, 6/2). Maybe I am a micro-racist, because as a native I don’t like being lectured by fly-ins like David Flint, Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard. Thankfully, Elizabeth 2 is not so imposing and knows her place.
Sir: I’m absolutely appalled with the recently appointed Australian of the Year however even he would remind Chris Ashton (Latte sipper of the Year) that his Year 5 class prize included a hamper of stationery, rather than stationary, items, lollies etc.
What’s best for Europe?
Sir: It seems that the British negotiations in Europe have produced little, and even at this late stage they would surely be more effective if the tone were based more on what is best for Europe as a whole (‘Fighting over the crumbs’, 6 February). If we leave, we will desert our friends among the nations of Europe and make them more beholden to the largest members. Surely the difficulties of immigration, the euro and muscle-bound regulation will sooner or later force Europe to make changes of the kind we wish to see, and we should be there to help make them happen. History teaches us that Europe is too large, and too near, for us to consider abandoning any influence over what they do there.
A déjà vu deal
Sir: David Cameron arrives back from Europe with a ‘deal’. It brings to mind the former prime minister Neville Chamberlain returning in 1938 after talks in Europe with a declaration of ‘Peace for our time’. We know his fate, but only time will tell how history will judge the latest ‘deal’. Perhaps the moral is to beware of prime ministers bearing gifts from Europe.
Don’t foster panic
Sir: On the basis of one woman’s case, Lara Prendergast claims that mothers with post-natal depression are in danger of losing their children if they seek help from professionals (‘Fear of the baby-snatchers’, 6 February). This is highly misleading. Social workers have no financial incentive to remove a child; it is true that fostering is expensive, but it is local authorities that pay. Hundreds of family-court judgments can be read online and it’s clear that judges do not order the removal of happy, healthy babies solely on the basis of post-natal depression. A child must be at risk of significant harm with all reasonable options to keep them at home tried before a care order is made. The case related in the article, where no child was removed and no court application made, is no basis for the speculation that follows. Rising numbers of children in care, the place of profit in child protection, adoption policy and transparency — all of these issues require serious press investigation, not scaremongering that adds to parental anxieties.
Dr Julie Doughty
The joke and the ash
Sir: It was helpful of The Spectator’s ‘What’s That Thing?’ award (Arts, 6 February) to identify the ash tree by the new mathematics faculty as Simon Periton’s ‘Alchemical Tree’, the university’s latest contribution to public art. I’d thought it was a student prank the authorities hadn’t got round to clearing up.
Sir: I was amused to read Rod Liddle’s favourite graffiti (30 January). Mine is one reported by a friend working in the MoD main building. While sitting on the loo, he read the inscription on the door: ‘Right now you are the only person in this building who knows exactly what they are doing.’
Hurstbourne Tarrant, Hampshire
Go with the fluidity
Sir: Whether one is a pro or an anti in the current gender debate is immaterial (‘In defence of gender’, 30 January). The direction of travel is clearly toward greater freedom of choice in one’s identity. If we accepted this and removed legal and cultural barriers to gender fluidity, it would save years of hurt on both sides.