Europe is already divided
Sir: The Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster writes eloquently about the historical purpose of a ‘union’ in Europe as being primarily to eliminate the wars that for centuries had characterised Europe (‘Let’s renew the EU’, 7 May). He, and Pope Emeritus Benedict, both point to the shared Christian beliefs that defined all nations of Europe.
But the EU, as it has evolved, is now no expression of such an underlying faith — in fact, the opposite. As he points out, it has removed any official reference to Europe’s common heritage, and is increasingly set on a shallow, utilitarian course. Europe is now more divided than ever, and it will become more so under its present policies. This will not be reversed by the admission of a large Muslim nation, Turkey, as well as Albania and others. It will never rediscover such a common unifying sentiment. In fact, as Cameron unwittingly demonstrated, it is now incapable of reform, which is why Britain should do the opposite of what the archbishop suggests. We should leave, not only in our own national interests, but also to take the lead in creating a structure that will recognise this precious religious heritage as essential to underpinning a truly united Europe. Other countries in Europe, and possibly beyond, may subsequently elect to join us.
Brussels beats London
Sir: My referendum choice is easily sorted. From North Wales we have a choice of being run from Cardiff, London or Brussels. All fairly remote but, given a favourable run through airport security, I can get to Brussels as quickly as Cardiff. London is quicker, but the tickets are more expensive. The government people I’ve met in Brussels also seem to be smarter and more clued-up than the domestic alternatives. Their English is often better, and they don’t issue daft promises to voters. Wanting to make the EU work is both a brainer and a no-brainer.
Such are the complexities of modern commerce and communication that to offer the vision of autonomous nationhood must be one of the great lies of the 21st century. The second great lie is: ‘We’re all in it together.’ I have many contenders for the third: prominent at the moment is ‘You will get superfast broadband’, though in the end ‘There are weapons of mass destruction’ will probably triumph.
Prof Chris Adams
Who needs governments
Sir: The short answer to James Bartholomew’s question ‘Who needs governments?’ (30 April) might well be ‘Belgium’. When the Brussels parliament (no, not that one) spent almost two years in limbo back in 2010, it was lauded at the time as evidence of the superfluousness of government. Turns out that with no one in charge, extremists were more than able to fill the vacuum undetected. That’s going to take a lot of fixing. I’ll join James in making the case for smaller government but I’ll draw the line at none at all.
Sir: Charles Moore (Notes, 7 May) argues that knighthoods should not be revoked because the fear of the loss of the title would keep recipients in hock to government for the rest of their lives. A knighthood is a singular honour whose history lies in chivalry and which should only be awarded to those who have given exceptional service to the nation and whose behaviour is beyond reproach. I personally would add the prerequisite that the recipient is a full taxpayer in the UK.
However, I believe that the possibility of the removal of knighthoods should hang over recipients, not to make them toe a government line, but rather to ensure that they appreciate the honour which has been done to them and behave with probity.
Stoke Trister, Wincanton
Seats in Scotland
Sir: James Forsyth makes a very interesting point when he states that: ‘Remarkably, even the Scottish National Party seems to have sent its best talent to London’ (Politics, 7 May). While one may not agree with them, heavyweight Labour politicians like John Reid, Alistair Darling, Robin Cook, George Robertson, Gordon Brown and many more thought the Scottish parliament was beneath them. Had a few of them sat there, Labour would not be in the mess in Scotland that it now finds itself in.
Fionallt, Loch Awe
Sir: I enjoyed revisiting Clumber spaniels I have known through my father’s Notes On (7 May). He is right to say that they are magnificent dogs of formidable character. What he is too modest to reveal is how he averted disaster when, as mentioned, Laurie seized the festive tablecloth. Nothing could persuade the dog to relinquish it so, while I gripped his collar at the tableside, my father fetched scissors from the kitchen and snipped the cloth around the well-clamped muzzle. The dog carried away his corner of linen, believing himself to be the victor, and our Christmas dinner was saved. The damaged napery was a small price to pay.
The old man also neglected to mention the many infant feet gripped gently but resolutely by Clumber jaws as they dangled beneath high chairs. A biscuit was considered a satisfactory exchange in these instances.
Funded by philanthropy
Sir: James Delingpole (‘The slow death of environmentalism’, 7 May) describes the think-tank I run, the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, as ‘EU-funded’. We are not. All of our funding comes from philanthropic foundations.