The EU gravy train
Sir: Despite his splendid forename, your deputy editor Freddy Gray has a very tenuous grasp of human nature. Having accurately detected a simmering voter mutiny across much of Europe and the UK, he decrees that those heartily sick and tired of being constantly lied to and thus treated with contempt by the EU gravy-train-riding establishments must be either extreme right-wing or mad (‘A right mess’, 30 April). Actually, we are neither.
Does he really believe it to be coincidental that 95 per cent of the UK establishment (there are still a few good ’uns in the mix) are screaming, desperate that their gravy train not be derailed by mere electors? The EU is the biggest taxpayer-funded free ride in the world, and there is nothing right-wing or insane in deciding enough is enough.
Finally, is it not odd that the same faces and the same voices warned us that we would face disaster unless we abolished the pound sterling and adopted the euro? The Remain campaign of today is the same tripe we were fed back then.
Cameron’s Scottish absence
Sir: The Prime Minister’s decision not to make an appearance on behalf of the Scottish Conservatives during this Scottish parliamentary election is extremely disappointing. I wonder if this was his idea? Either way, it doesn’t look good. Of course, it takes a good deal of moral courage, not to say a thick skin, to take on the SNP bully boys. But can you imagine Boris Johnson being afraid to take on the challenge?
David Cameron has been a godsend of a Prime Minister in these difficult economic times. But electing to stay away from the Scottish election plays beautifully to the SNP’s separatist agenda. We voted by a good margin to stay part of the United Kingdom in September 2014. By staying away from Scotland during these Scottish elections, the Prime Minister has made a huge political error.
Gifford, East Lothian
Deaths from Chernobyl
Sir: Your Barometer (30 April) significantly understates the deaths resulting from the Chernobyl disaster, particularly among the many ‘volunteers’ for the clear-up operations, who were attracted by the promise of a year off army service, and who worked totally without appropriate protection. I doubt we will ever get reliable statistics. Six years ago, when I visited the site with a group of journalists, the then head of operations at Chernobyl told us that of 40 people in the vicinity of the reactor, 39 had died instantly or within weeks; only one survived, dying in 2003.
Sir: In their letter to The Spectator (Letters, 30 April), John Gummer, Michael Heseltine, Chris Patten et al seem to have inadvertently exposed the fatal failure of the Remain campaign to grasp the fundamentals of basic democracy. They stated that leaving the EU would ‘undercut existing UK environmental protections, since there is no guarantee that the high standards we have negotiated within Europe will remain in place in Britain’.
What an odd thing to say. An independent UK could decide whatever levels of environmental protection it thought appropriate for the UK. These former government ministers, however, seem to suggest that it is better to have standards imposed upon us from outside because our elected government is incapable of managing our own affairs.
Cluff’s Borneo adventures
Sir: Harry Mount’s wonderful interview with Algy Cluff (‘The unlikely oilman’, 30 April) could ring a bell in many paratroopers and guardsmen’s minds. As the article reminds us, he served in the Grenadier Guards in Africa, Cyprus and Malaysia and, which was not mentioned, also in the No. 1 (Gds) Independent Paras in the Borneo jungle. I know this because I have Peter Harclerode’s outstanding history of our airborne forces, Para!, and among the photographs is one of Algy Cluff preparing to deploy into the jungle.
If Larkin were here…
Sir: I have been reading The Spectator for more than half a century, but never before have I been moved to tears by an article. Douglas Murray’s poetry competition moistened my eyes, however, because of its fierce (and fearless) defence of free speech (‘A poem for Erdogan’, 23 April). It calls for the scatological vocabulary and the poetic gifts of my erstwhile acquaintance Philip Larkin. I am sure he would have submitted something juicy to annoy President Erdogan. To think: we might soon decide to remain in an EU of which Mrs Merkel will have Turkey as a member.
Sir: Your bon viveur Bruce Anderson considers that ‘bullfighting is only suitable for Spaniards’ (Drink, 23 April). What about the great Mexican toreros Manolo Martinez, Eloy Cavazos et al?
Sir: A brief note of appreciation for the Clive James poem ‘Hiatus’ (30 April). Inevitably, it is tinged with sadness in the knowledge that we shall not have his wit and silken thoughts for much longer, but it made such a refreshing change. While you still have strength in your fingers to attack a keyboard, Clive, let’s have more.
Llysworney, Vale of Glamorgan