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Am I part of the mob now, Matthew Parris?

Also in Spectator Letters: how America helped win the Falklands War; the fallibility of experts; in praise of affectionate greetings

19 November 2016

9:00 AM

19 November 2016

9:00 AM

Wisdom of crowds

Sir: According to Matthew Parris (‘Can we trust the people?’ 12 November), I have become part of the mob. Nevertheless, I have never really thought of myself in that way. Although it may be reasonable to criticise the antics of Farage or Trump, surely it is wrong to characterise all those who voted for their causes as a mob? My motives in voting for Brexit were simple and reasonable. Many of my generation — who lived as children through the 1940s when our parents went to war to preserve our sovereignty, our justice system and control of our borders — voted to leave the EU because they saw these three vital powers slipping away into the hands of an unelected bunch of bureaucrats.

The mob which Parris describes in America are people whose livelihoods have been devastated by the globalisation of trade, which has enriched big business. Their votes were against the status quo (Hillary Clinton) and in favour of change.

Sadly it appears that Parris is joining the ranks of an elite who not only are unable to accept the will of the people, but whose detachment from their rationale leads him to think them a mob that might endanger democracy. He should think again.
Brian Thornton
Malvern, Worcestershire

Please don’t fix it

Sir: Matthew Parris’s view that the ‘procedures’ need to be reformed to avoid killing our faith in democracy is both arrogant and wrong. Brexit and the election of Donald Trump clearly strike much of the electorate as clear signs that, for once, their views did count. Whether I or anyone else agree with their views, changing the rules so the masses cannot change how nations are governed will lead them to conclude that democracy no longer works for them. Other routes to achieving their desired outcomes involve violence and lawlessness. The people have spoken. We ignore them at our peril.
Jonathan Little
Penshurst, Kent

Friends over the Falklands


Sir: I normally agree with most of what Rod Liddle says, but I must challenge his implication that the special relationship did nothing for Britain during the Falklands war (‘Trump will be much, much better for Britain’, 12 November). In siding so openly with Britain as he did, President Reagan was prepared to put his entire Latin American policy in jeopardy for the sake of the special relationship. US assistance, in terms of military hardware, aircraft fuel and, above all, satellite intelligence helped ensure our victory in a conflict whose outcome was never a foregone conclusion.

The wholehearted commitment to our cause by Caspar Weinberger, who even offered us an aircraft carrier, earned the US defence secretary an honorary knighthood and Margaret Thatcher’s claim that ‘Britain never had a truer friend’.
E. MacIntosh
Darlington, Co. Durham

Glorious ignorance

Sir: Like Claire Fox (‘In defence of post-truth politics’, 12 November), I am constantly struck by the way ‘experts’ get it wrong, and how enterprising folk, along with the ‘masses’, hit the nail on the head.

What fascinates me is the glorious unpredictability of mankind. We can predict the lunar orbit to within a hairsbreadth and understand the internal chemistry of stars. Yet try to calculate beforehand the results of the EU referendum or the US election, then you might as well go and whistle. What we have here is not so much ‘post-truth’ as a ‘higher truth’ — one reflected in the patriotism and simple common sense of the ‘deplorables’. Renaissance monarchs had astrologers armed with brass astrolabes to help fathom the future. Their modern equivalents have ‘experts’ with super-computers. The results are often about the same.
Dr Allan Chapman
Wadham College, Oxford

Double issue

Sir: Your publication of an edition devoted to Donald Trump’s victory within 24 hours of the result is impressive. Did you perhaps follow the example of your former editor (now our Foreign Secretary) and prepare editions for either outcome?
David Hadden
Ardingly, West Sussex

Cheer up, me duck

Sir: May I suggest to Mrs Slade Crombie, who is upset by odd forms of address (Letters, 12 November), that it is better to accept these endearments in the spirit in which they are intended? In the north of England it is an everyday occurrence to be addressed as ‘love’, but it is always by people who only mean to be friendly. My son, who lives in Derby, has found himself occasionally addressed as ‘duck’, and although tempted to quack in response has so far managed to refrain.
Clare Johnson
Glossop, Derbyshire

Cosy fan tutte

Sir: There seems a lot of fuss about this Danish notion of homely cosiness (Mind your language, 12 November). People the world over have words that mean the same as ‘hygge’. I bet the Eskimos have 50.
June McManus
Leeds

First-name terms

Sir: I recall meeting a lady who shared Mrs Prior’s Christian name (Letters, 12 November). Holding out my hand, I gave my own name by way of introduction. A wry smile crossed her lips as she said: ‘Well this was bound to happen one day’ before giving her name as ‘Fanny’. Since then I’ve introduced myself as Richard.
Dickie Ellis
London EC4


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