Sir: Peter Oborne is surely right that lying and cheating are now commonplace in the heart of government (‘The new dodgy dossiers’, 28 May). If David Cameron truly believed that exit from the EU would mean economic meltdown, a third world war and always winter but never Christmas, his decision to hold a referendum would be the most irresponsible act of statesmanship since Chamberlain signed the Munich agreement. But he doesn’t believe it. Something else entirely is bringing out his inner Pinocchio.
Having promised a referendum at a time when a Tory majority in the Commons seemed unlikely, the personal political risk to Cameron must have seemed remote. If he did have to deliver on the promise, a vote to Remain seemed a comfortable outcome following an assumed substantial renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the EU. Unfortunately, a substantial renegotiation was never on the table and Cameron found himself outmanoeuvred by the German Chancellor.
Left with nothing of value to offer the British people, and aware of what this could mean for both the outcome of the referendum and his own political future, a strategy was necessary. So, in true Flashman style, our Prime Minister has turned to lies, bluster and deceit in order to extricate himself from a predicament of his own making. Truth and honour be damned; all that matters is personal survival.
It is to be hoped that the British people will see through all this subterfuge, and in a real act of statesmanship vote to Leave on 23 June.
Sir: Driving at speed in France, I suffered a stroke. With great good fortune I found myself, rather like Alexander Chancellor (Long life, 28 May), in a local hospital with the full treatment of scans, physiotherapy, nursing care in a delightful room — all of course at no charge whatsoever, thanks to the European Union.
Many years ago, before the EU was created, I broke my neck in a swimming accident in Italy. The ambulance team refused to take me to hospital until my friends had paid a substantial fee in advance.
I’m well aware of the advantages of staying in the EU.
Bourne End, Bucks
Sir: Your lead article ‘Losing Faith’ (28 May) strikes a despondent note. But statistics only ever tell half the story. Across the country, churches of all denominations are deeply engaged, providing support to local people. Worship frequently inspires action. The Living Wage and food banks originated in church-based organisations. The Church of England had a significant effect on the remarkable climate change activism in Paris last November. Here at St John’s Church in Waterloo we are one of many churches along London’s South Bank engaged in employment training, support for homeless people and festivals, to name just a few initiatives. Every Sunday I see full churches bringing together everyone from refugees to recently married gay couples. Are all these people oddballs?
The face of Christianity is changing, and in these secular times, many may prefer to keep our faith under wraps. But the Christian message of love and tolerance underpins the fabric of our society. It is sure to do so for many generations to come.
Canon Giles Goddard
Vicar, St John’s Church, London SE1
Long live James Bond
Sir: When a man is tired of Bond, he is tired of life (‘Junk Bond’, 28 May). Geoffrey Wheatcroft’s invitation to 007 to hang up his pistol holster after 60 years is not so different from what was said in 2002, on the 40th anniversary of the film series. The subsequent box-office success of and critical acclaim for the Daniel Craig thrillers proved how wrong the naysayers were.
Ironically, part of the series’ current success has come from returning to the themes and style of Fleming’s books, which Wheatcroft considers ‘1950s period pieces’.If all Bond offered was escapism for post-Suez British readers, the character would have fizzled out long ago. What Fleming created is a mythological figure for our era. Bond embodies and fights for western values of freedom, style and sexual licence against joyless and puritanical totalitarians from Smersh in the 1950s through to international terrorists today. The global appeal of Bond seems undeniable, so this Spectator reader will be raising a dry martini to Daniel Craig’s successor to keep up the good work.
Sir: It was kind of your reviewer Andreas Campomar (Books, 28 May) to give me an honourable mention as a football writer, but to couple me with the late Ian Hamilton was bizarre. Whatever his literary merits, his grasp of the game was negligible, though he was forever denigrating football journalists; not least myself. His pretentious book on Paul Gascoigne, Gazza Agonistes, relied heavily, as Simon Barnes pointed out, on reports by the journalists he affected to despise. The word was that Gascoigne stuck a photograph of Hamilton on his dartboard and threw darts at it. Please uncouple me!
Mulling it over
Sir: Mark Mason’s impassioned plea for binning the generally liked (‘Guilty displeasures’, 14 May), reminded me of Christopher Hitchens’s observation that the three most overrated things in the world were champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics. I’d add mulled wine.
Professor G. Neil Martin