Golden age problems
Sir: Johan Norberg’s ‘Our golden age’ (20 August) is absolutely right — we do live in a golden age; antibiotics still work, we have less starvation, the world is open for trade, with all its benefits. But there is a fly in the ointment: human overpopulation. Global warming (if you believe in it), degradation of the environment, extinction of species, all are consequences of it. It is a result, in fact, of our success. The only country to have grasped the nettle — China — is now having second thoughts. Perhaps wind and solar power can provide for our needs when we are 70 million in these islands; but what when we are 80 million, 90, 100? And for the rest of the world?
Dollops of perspective
Sir: Johan Norberg’s triumphant article on the state of the world is a sublime dollop of perspective. The liberal international order established after the second world war has, for seven decades, brought unprecedented peace and prosperity to countless millions. The insurgents besieging that order from left and right should pause, undo another button and pour themselves another drink.
Ready when you are
Sir: Your call in last week’s edition for pro-Brexit groups to ensure that the ‘detailed, liberal’ arguments made for leaving the EU are heard once again was well-timed (‘Defending Brexit’, 20 August).
Two months before the referendum, eight of us economists who believed that a Leave vote would be economically beneficial to the UK grouped together to form ‘Economists for Brexit’. Over the ensuing weeks we made appearances in the op-ed pages of the national newspapers, on national television, and at live events. Once the arguments were made, and Cameron’s ludicrous claim that ‘no serious economist believes in Brexit’ repudiated, the results were startling. When we started our campaign, Remain enjoyed a poll lead on ‘The Economy’ and ‘Jobs’ of 21 per cent. By polling day, this had been reduced to a mere 6 per cent and 1 per cent respectively.
Since June, our original group of eight has been reinforced by the additions of Professors David Blake and Kevin Dowd and by the great EU law expert Martin Howe QC. Between us all, we hope to make the intellectual case for what has become known as ‘hard Brexit’. In return for answering your call to arms, can we look forward to The Spectator publishing some of our material and views?
Professor Patrick Minford, Dr Gerard Lyons, and eight other members of Economists for Brexit
Sir: How splendid of Charles Moore to remind us of Peter Simple’s Screaming Point, ‘a topical quotation so ludicrous that it needed no gloss by him’, and not only to offer us an example from the Mail on Sunday, but also one in his own column: ‘There is an urgent need for a peacetime revival of the Vote Leave campaign —renamed The 17.4 Million Committee — to collect the best advice and information from people who actually do want Britain to leave the EU and feed it to whoever needs it, including government ministers.’
Sir: I count Rod Liddle as a friend whom I hugely admire. But he is completely wrong to criticise Shami Chakrabarti’s report into anti-Semitism in the Labour party as a whitewash (13 August). I do not know how anyone who has read the report could describe it thus: it is packed with criticism of anti-Semitism in the Labour party. Anything further from a whitewash would be hard to imagine. She thoroughly deserves her peerage.
Sir: Martin Gayford is quite right to question Capability Brown’s reputation (Arts, 20 August). Roy Strong’s book The Renaissance Garden in England is dedicated to ‘the memory of all those gardens destroyed by Capability Brown and his successors’ and is full of wonderful illustrations of Tudor gardens with their ornate geometrical layouts and their appeal to the senses, and their sheer intelligent and restful beauty. The Brown landscapes which replaced them are bland and insipid, the fitting complement to mid-Georgian neo-Palladian houses, the least interesting in all the history of Britain’s architecture.
Sir: I write with regards to Matthew Parris’s depressingly accurate article (‘Something must be done for Wales’, 20 August). As a proud Welshman and Conservative, it frustrates me deeply to see the British government consistently overlook Wales. We are in desperate need of proper investment and support, and I hope that the government utilises Brexit to prove that it does care about Wales and its future.
What angers me the most, however, is the insouciance of Welsh Labour, and how they have steadily reduced Wales to a state of ‘managed decline’. I see so much potential in my country, but under Welsh Labour, Wales will continue to stagnate into a nation reminiscent of 1970s Britain.
Cardiff, South Glamorgan
Sir: There was an obvious omission in Hugo Rifkind’s list of names for followers of our new Prime Minister (20 August). The day she arrived was Mayday (derived very appropriately from m’aidez), so they are surely ‘the Maydays’?