Sir: Paul Keating’s political legacy was pretty good, but I have to scoff at his ‘world’s greatest treasurer’ accolade.
At that time I was purchasing a factory, my bank loan [after 50 per cent deposit,] had been signed off at 7 per cent.
Towards the end of the world’s greatest treasurer’s reign, my interest rate on that loan had risen to 21 per cent.
I’ve maintained the rage.
Paradise Waters, Qld
Sir: Could it be that a small spelling error may have crept into the US Presidential message? Surely it should read, ‘President Trump will make America grate again’.
Bondi Beach, NSW
Sir: I read with great interest Ross Fitzgerald’s provocative but nevertheless insightful article entitled ‘Turnbull is Toast’. Frankly, increasing numbers of Liberal supporters are hoping that he will indeed be toast. He leads, if that is the correct verb, at best a Labor-lite Government that appears directionless and weak. Yes it has maintained the Howard-Abbott border protection measures but otherwise is stuck in some sort of denial about the true nature of the Islamic religion and the long-term threat it poses to Australian liberties. Trump must have seen through him pretty quickly. The Government is not seriously tackling the economic disaster coming our way from the ever expanding public sector debt – where are the meaningful spending cuts? Where are the policies that encourage hard work and savings and that reward those who do the hard yards? It has been a government too ready to eat its own as evidenced by its betrayal over superannuation.
The Liberal Party needs to get real about what it believes in and what sort of society we want. It is clear that Turnbull is at heart a lefty who has disappointed just about every segment of the Liberal support base. Change for the better will not occur with him in the top job.
South Melbourne, Vic
Sir: Why does Matthew Parris think I am ‘secretly terrified’ of having voted to leave the EU (‘Brexiteers need ladders to climb down’, 4 February)? Anyone over the age of 50 knew that choosing to vote Leave or Remain was not an easy decision. My own beliefs nudged me just far enough to vote Leave; my partner’s beliefs nudged him just far enough to vote Remain. Mr Parris admits that he can imagine Brexit being a surprising success, and I may have to face the fact that it could be a failure. We are both reasonable people.
I was satisfied with the result, but since June I have shut up and kept my head down (I do live in Brighton!). It is largely Remain voters who have been in crisis: at having to share their country with 17 million thick racists — people like me. I do not see enemies everywhere but I have seen a lot of wan Guardian readers having hysterics.
Sir: We have lost a gem with the death of Alexander Chancellor and I am sure that many other readers will, like me, sorely miss his ‘Long Life’ column, one of my weekly pleasures. As Charles Moore mentioned in his excellent piece on 4 February, he always appeared modest yet firm in his views, and I thank him for introducing us to the wonderful Jeffrey Bernard and for taking on Taki, whose outlandish escapades still delight. I send my condolences to his family. He was special and will be missed.
Plettenberg Bay, South Africa
Hall things considered
Sir: Charles Moore’s assertion (Notes, 28 January) that members voluntarily transfer £5 million a year to running the Royal Albert Hall is misleading. Members contribute a net £1.2 million. So, what’s the balance of £3.8 million? This represents the notional value of seats surrendered by members under interim arrangements where they agree to be excluded from more events than is specified under the 1966 Royal Albert Hall Act. Most of the money from these seats goes to the promoter of shows at the hall, not to the hall itself.
A 2014 review by the eminent former judge Sir Robert Owen concluded that these ‘interim arrangements are necessary, proportionate, to the benefit of the charity, and to the incidental benefit of the members’. In other words, it’s a win-win situation for all stakeholders in the hall — including the members. These interim arrangements are, however, also one reason why the hall needs a replacement for the 1966 Act.
Jon Moynihan, the current president, is correct to emphasise the strength of its member-controlled governance system when compared to publicly funded arts bodies (Letters, 4 February). But he should also recognise the Charity Commission’s legitimate concerns over issues such as commercial ticket sales by trustees.
Greater transparency at council level about trustee ticket sales would probably satisfy the commission and not affect the alignment of interest between private and public benefit which is such a feature of the hall’s enduring success.
Member of Council of the Royal Albert Hall 2004–2015, family seat-holder since 1871,
Barcombe, East Sussex
Sir: Marcus Berkmann (Notes on corduroy, 28 January) need only come to Aldeburgh, where corduroy trousers are de rigueur for the gent (retd) and always available, in every hue and tint, from the men’s outfitter.