Sir: I hope Rod Liddle seeks therapy vis-a-vis that terrifying penis that haunts him (‘Haunted by an honourable member’, 24 September). I also hope our French submarines will be nuclear-powered, because the diesels are too slow to keep up with surface ships, especially when they’re sitting motionless in the repair yard for months on end. In the history of mankind has anyone ever stood on a boat and said “gee, I wish this thing would go a bit slower”? It should also be noted by all delcons that the ludicrous $50 billion price tag was first touted by Tony Abbott and Kevin Andrews while big-noting themselves in Adelaide.
Sir: I was dismayed to read in The Spectator Australia that “[a] decision that carries as much importance as [legalisation of same-sex marriage] must be taken by the nation as a whole.”
Really? Where does it say that? Is a decision about same-sex marriage more important than a decision to commit our nation to war? Or to authorise the medical profession to hasten the end of human life? Or to spend $56 billion building the NBN? Or is it possible that a plebiscite on same-sex marriage is so attractive to our parliamentarians because it allows them to abdicate responsibility for a complicated and emotionally charged decision?
We elect our parliamentarians to represent us. If they lack the ability and judgement to make these decisions, then perhaps it’s time to look for a new lot, because it seems that the current crop lacks the character and courage to do justice to the honour of representing us.
Sir: James Forsyth looks for hope for moderates within the Labour party and finds none (‘The party’s over’, 24 September). That is because the most promising source of hope for them is not a change of position by Labour, but one by the Conservatives.
The history of British politics since 1990 has been a prolonged fight for the centre ground. This isn’t because that’s where either party naturally wants to be, but because that’s where the votes are.
With Corbyn’s renewed mandate, Labour have unilaterally ceded that ground. The Conservatives could, as Forsyth suggests, use the opportunity to dig themselves in there so firmly that Labour will never recover it. But are the Conservatives not as vulnerable to their activist membership dragging them to the right as Labour was vulnerable to the left? With the pressure to contest the centre ground removed, we are just as likely to see a Tory party ruled more by its right-wing members than by its centrist MPs.
Sir: Martin Vander Weyer is right: ‘the north’ would let out a cheer if HS3 were approved and quietly ignore the disappearance of HS2 (Any other business, 17 September). I spent many years in Japan’s second city, Osaka, where one of my activities was to support their mayor’s work to improve the international attractiveness of the city to foreign business. The problem was that every major Osaka-based company’s head-office functions had been drained away to Tokyo. The ‘bullet train’ linking the cities in about two-and-a-half hours encouraged this, because it made it convenient to keep in touch but leave the ‘old base’ behind. It had a snowballing effect as one major head office after another moved out. By about 2005 none was left.
In my view, the north should be north and the south should be south, and the twain should be happy to stay apart. If it is easier to reach, the south can outsell the north and supply services northwards. If they are more separated, the north can develop its own services and be more self-contained and confident. It is a pity that the Northern Powerhouse Partnership which George Osborne is leading does not see this uncomfortable fact. Ironically, the reason is that it is too London-centric.
When it comes to making the north a land fit again for future entrepreneurial titans, what’s needed is a better vicinity for clustering and collaboration. It will help make them more efficient and innovative and then, HS2 or none, both the south and the world will come and do business.
Deplored… or adored?
Sir: In his Spectator’s Notes (24 September) Charles Moore wonders if Trump supporters would take Hillary Clinton’s insult that they are a ‘basket of deplorables’ as a badge of pride. An American friend in New Mexico this week told me he is proud to be one of a growing number of ‘adorable deplorables’. He did not say whether they are (yet) planning to march on Washington.
Missing the boat
Sir: Martin Vander Weyer is right to add his voice to calls for a new royal yacht (Any Other Business, 24 September). It would provide the UK with a mobile embassy and palace, all in one, with all that could do for our political and economic relations around the world. To have the right official status it would, of course, have to be manned by the Royal Navy, as was Britannia.
But there are two obstacles to his proposal for HMY Enterprise. Firstly, the Navy has such a manning crisis that it can’t man the relatively few ships it has, so the Navy itself isn’t keen. Secondly, it already has a ship called HMS Enterprise. HMY Commonwealth might find favour with HM The Queen.