Sir: Appreciated very much Michael Davis’s article ‘Gay Marriage Notes’.
It should be mandatory reading for many of our present crop of politicians who support same-sex marriage and indiscriminate immigration policies without considering the consequences.
Sir: In the many months since Turnbull inserted his ‘knife in Abbott’s back’, I have grown rather weary of David Flint’s constant harping on this his favorite theme and perhaps the Spectator Australia’s willingness to give him the column inches to do so. However, his article this week and the continued weak performance of the Coalition and its leader has finally hit home. My only reservation is Mr Abbott has, from the luxury of the back benches, clearly articulated sensible policy ideas that he failed to take forward when leading from the front bench.
Potts Point, NSW
Aid is not the answer
Bill Gates says he is a huge fan of capitalism and trade (Save Aid!, 22 April) but then spoils it by repeating the received wisdom about aid: ‘If you care at all about conditions in Africa – the population explosion, measles, polio — then don’t suggest there is a private-sector solution to these problems. It’s outrageous.’
No. It is not outrageous. A vigorous private sector is the only answer to African development. I have spent my life in Africa, working in 18 of its countries, usually deep in the bush. I have watched numerous aid programmes fail once the external funding is removed, and have spent much time thinking about and discussing why this should be so.
After 50 years and something like a trillion dollars, Africa’s growth rate is barely keeping up with its population. Mr Gates has put aside $40 billion to help, and yes, the clean water, sanitation and vaccinations it funds will save many thousands. But it will not drag Africa out of poverty. This requires cultural changes.
The problem here is the nomadic roots of African culture. Nomadism eschews private property, and communal land ownership is still the norm in Africa. If Africa is to develop, then aid money should be directed at changing this. Until this cultural change occurs, the money spent by Mr Gates will not develop Africa. It will simply keep it running on the spot.
Sir: When future historians attempt to explain the recent rise of populism with policy-related examples, they can be assisted by Bill Gates’s recent intervention in the political debate around the UK’s contribution to overseas aid. Although he is the richest man in the world, Gates has no electoral mandate. However, it seems that his advocated aid budget of 0.7 per cent of GDP has the support of all the main UK political parties. In contrast, among the UK electorate, opinion is mixed. Some opinion polls showing a majority against the current levels of aid. Disparities such as this, between the elected and the electors, help feed the populist narrative that we are controlled by a wealthy global elite.
Bored by the ballot
Sir: We British are not political animals. To be asked, two years ago, to vote in a general election, and then last year in a referendum is more than enough to be getting on with.
It may amuse and employ the media. It may seem a good ploy in the game of Westminster politics. But we the people elect our MPs to get on with the serious business of government — legislation, managing the economy, diplomacy, implementing policies and so on — hopefully unfazed by opinion polls, social media, and the feverish daily contradictions from the pundits.
We do not want to be bothered every five minutes — you were elected, get on with it. One supposes one will have to go and vote in June, but I am not sure I can be bothered to contribute in any way to the election. What a bore.
Sir: Rod Liddle is right to mock the credibility of the pollsters (‘What I expect from this pointless election’, 22 April). Their record since the 2015 general election has been nothing short of an embarrassment. I’m not one for conspiracy theories but I do not recall a single occasion in over 40 years when I have been asked by a pollster about my voting preferences (or anything else, for that matter). Evidence from family and friends suggests that these pollsters are rather discreet. I’m curious to know if any of your readers can prove otherwise.
Haywards Heath, West Sussex
Sir: Rod Liddle, whose writing I always enjoy, describes Tim Farron as possessing the ‘sparkling allure of a Methodist Church Hall in Bishop Auckland in late November’. He may be quite right about Mr Farron, but this is surely very unfair to Bishop Auckland, a lovely town with a splendid episcopal palace.
Sir: Henry Jeffreys is right about avoiding social media and politics (‘Anti-social media’, 22 April). I’m an expat German and I’ve lost count of the friendships I’ve soured by getting into furious online discussions on subjects we would not have discussed face to face. We have an election coming up in Germany and, like Mr Jeffreys, I will be logging off until it’s all over.