The point of Cory?
Sir: I am a paid up member of the Australian Conservatives. Sadly, I suspect the good professor (James Allan, Spec Aus 24 Feb) may have a point. I do not see this as revenge politics at work.
Without question, Malcolm Tumbull has done more damage to the conservative political cause in Australia than any former conservative prime minister in living memory and he has done it quickly. If you doubt my word, re-read the 2017 Budget and reflect upon energy policy. If one opts for long term survival after short term pain, an interruption in the process with a Shorten government may not be as damaging as one imagines and particularly with most pundits saying Bill Shorten will make a prompt mess of it.
Having fallen over the line in the last election and squandering a very comfortable majority, imagine how zealously leftist our prime minister and his wile, Lucy, will be with another victory based upon a fear of a dangerous Shorten factor.
What also gives ProfessorAllan’s views an entitlement to be seriously considered is the composition of the Cabinet. Now infested with political poodles, there is not the level of conservative backbone to keep the PM in check. Why this is with a one seat majority and a major disenchantnent with the PM’s performance, is difficult to fathom. Does there not need to be a major clean out of senior progressive liberals at the next election and for genuine conseryatives to then reassume contol of the Liberal Party and start again?
Sir: In his article ‘Putin’s gamble’ (3 March), Paul Wood quite rightly mentions that one of the key reasons why Russia played hardball in Syria was Assad’s willingness to block the efforts of Qatar to build a natural gas pipeline through the country to supply Europe. This would have undermined Russia’s market power in Europe, and weakened Russian leverage over Europe when defending its actions in Ukraine. Some of the strategic issues at play in Syria exist in Libya, but to a lesser degree. Libya supplies Europe with gas from large offshore deposits through the GreenStream pipeline to Italy. Qatar tried for years to get Muammar Gaddafi to agree to its investment in Libya’s gas industry so it could undercut the Russian position in the European energy market. It failed and that explains why it poured money and weapons into some of the forces, notably different Islamic militias, which succeeded in overthrowing Gaddafi in 2011. This gas angle is one which few analysts of Russian strategy on Nato’s eastern and southern flanks seem aware of. When Russia intervened in Syria, it had good reasons for doing so.
Non-alcoholic? Yes please
Sir: I disagreed in the main with Freddy Gray’s observations about non-alcoholic drinks (Spectator Life, 24 February). Without wishing to virtue-signal, upon giving up alcohol for Lent, I found an excellent and economical non-alcoholic beer called Bavaria Premium, which delivers the requisite salty-sweet ‘hit’. Additionally, I feel sympathy for the oft-maligned millennial. They quite understandably want a more grown-up drink than Coke or orange squash but their generation can’t afford to get drunk. Any unwise comments or actions can these days lead to social exclusion or even worse.
Defence of Sunderland
Sir: I am a ‘disgusting, drooling, knuckle-dragging Neanderthal’ from Sunderland and, for once, agree with James Delingpole (‘Will Remainers ever learn to forgive?’, 24 February). I am fed up with the repeated criticism heaped on my home town simply because it was the first place to declare after the EU referendum. People in the north-east are generally kind, straightforward, friendly and funny; they are not xenophobic philistines. The reasons why the majority voted to leave are complicated, not least being that the economic boom which has benefited the south has done little to reinvigorate the north. London is seen as a remote city-state, within which successive Westminster governments have neglected their responsibilities to the regions. The vote was not anti-European but more anti the EU administration, which is regarded as a self-serving, unaccountable, bloated bureaucracy.
I now live in London, a constituent of Jeremy Corbyn, with neighbouring constituencies being those of Keir Starmer, Tulip Siddiq, Diane Abbott and Emily Thornberry. In this rarefied milieu, the subject of Brexit is discussed frequently, and in terms similar to those described by Mr Delingpole; yet hardly anyone is able to pinpoint Sunderland on the map.
Sir: Andrew Marr (Diary, 3 March) expresses ‘sympathy for the striking college lecturers’ because ‘they didn’t have big pensions to look forward to in the first place’. University teachers who complete 40 years of service currently retire on half their final salary. Not only is this indexed annually to inflation, but if their spouse or partner outlives them, they will receive a half-pension for the rest of their lives. I spent 21 years as a university academic. As a result, I now receive a university pension worth some £20,000 — £40,000 if I’d served out my full time. Such a sum might sound like chicken feed to Marr, but it comfortably outstrips the £28,000 national average salary for people who are still working.
Hastings, East Sussex