What do the Tories offer?
Sir: I have been hoping that someone more eloquent than me would respond to your contributors’ rants about Jeremy Corbyn, but as they have not, I thought I’d chip in (‘Corbyn’s big chance’, 30 September). As someone who is reasonably financially secure, the Tories would probably consider me a shoo-in voter. But what do they offer? Tax cuts, while paying for them by cutting services and benefits to those less fortunate, and in effect, pulling up the ladder behind me. ‘Capitalism’ to many in this country is really only a description of how Thatcher sold, or destroyed, the country’s wealth-creation industries, and a few years later the government of the day gave the proceeds to the banks as a bailout. As a result, services are being cut in every area of our daily lives. Is it any wonder that a huge proportion of people feel royally screwed by capitalism? It doesn’t, and cannot, work if the inevitable outcome is that the rich get much richer and the poor get much poorer. So now it is time to take back those industries and services which are simply needed by the country, as stated very clearly at the Labour conference. I shall soon be joining the Labour party; it is the only party with the country’s needs at heart.
The next PM
Sir: James Forsyth (‘A clear run for Corbyn’, 30 September) is correct in pointing out that Jeremy Corbyn is the bookies’ favourite to be the next prime minister. It should, however, be noted that his current price of 4/1 against implies a probability of only 20 per cent of this happening. The bookmakers, in common with most commentators, are forecasting that Mrs May will be followed into Downing Street by her successor as leader of the Conservative party. It is not obvious who this will be, so all the contenders are individually bigger prices than the Labour leader, but are collectively long odds-on to be the next occupant of No. 10.
If the betting markets were forecasting the prime minister after the next general election, however, I suspect Corbyn, my local MP, would not only be favourite to win, but also a much shorter-priced one.
A blizzard of screens
Sir: Christian Wolmar (‘Going places’, 30 September) admires King’s Cross as his favourite London station. However, he omits to mention an invasion of screens which now make it impossible to enjoy its architecture in undisturbed contemplation. The departure board is book-ended by the constant random misery of a news-ticker and flashing advertisements shrieking their wares; electronic hoardings perform their permanent Orwellian duty at the heads of platforms, while another group of them is slap in the middle of the concourse at eye level, demanding attention like a group of disaffected youth hanging around a mall. In a sorry act of cultural vandalism, every line of sight in this great public space has been hijacked for private gain. Who are these marketing people who treat the rail-travelling public with such contempt?
Old Knebworth, Herts
Three groans for the Tsar
Sir: I was fascinated to read about the Victorian culture of giving groans instead of booing (Mind your language, 30 September). In 1815, the youthful Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia spent a night at the King’s Arms hotel, now renamed the Annandale Arms, in Moffat, Dumfriesshire. Nearly 40 years later, on the outbreak of the Crimean war in October 1853, a house party of young people at Moffat House (built to a design by John Adam in 1761 for the Earl of Linlithgow) gave three groans for Nicholas, who by then was Tsar. For good measure, the house party also burned Nicholas in effigy on a bonfire.
Sir: Susan Hill (Diary, 30 September), speculates as to why party conferences are no longer held in her home town, Scarborough. This puts me in mind (I quote from memory) of one of your competition winners more than half a century ago — when the Labour leadership was becoming impatient with the rank and file of the party.
Said Harold the Wizard to Barbara,
‘The movement’s beginning to harbour a
Suspicion that we
Would far rather be
Without Blackpool or Brighton, or Scarborough!’
Iain Innes Burgess
Hampton Wick, Middlesex
Sir: Taki says that keeping a record is not his strong point and he is right (High Life, 30 September). Nicholas Tomalin was not, as Taki says, the biographer Claire Tomalin’s ‘ex-hubbie Nick’ when he was killed by a heat-seeking missile on the Golan Heights in 1973. They were still married, and she saw to it that his body was repatriated, against the wishes of Sunday Times executives who had wanted him buried under a tree outside Jerusalem.
Rory Knight Bruce
Answers to Mark Mason’s quiz (see Mark Mason’s feature)
The avocado derives its name from a South American word for ‘testicle’.
Cristiano Ronaldo is named after Ronald Reagan (his father’s favourite actor).
The Advocatus Diaboli gave rise to the phrase ‘devil’s advocate’.
Henry Blofeld tried his first ever Jägerbomb (and then tried several more.)
At the Oscars, La La Land was announced first. Moonlight was the real winner.
The company was Haribo. (Hans Riegel in Bonn.)
The last widow of a Civil War veteran died in 2008.
Jason Statham has thrown more kicks than punches. (394 plays 264.)