Sir: The editorial marking the 10th anniversary of the Australian edition (September 8) salutes the leading contributors. Less than 10% are women. So, too, is the ratio in this edition. The ABC, which you are fond of deriding, has roughly a 50/50 ratio. Perhaps this explains why the national broadcaster’s output is far more stimulating.
Avalon Beach, NSW
No debt without credit
Sir: Liam Halligan and William Galston set out, convincingly, all the causes and effects of the 2008 crash, painting a doom-laden picture of the future of the world (‘The world the crash made’, 8 September). Not once do they mention China, which has to be the beneficiary of the consequential increase in global debt. Neither mentions that for every debtor there is a creditor.
When I first worked in the financial world many years ago, the US was the world’s biggest creditor, Glass Steagall reigned supreme and, with growth slow but steady, everything seemed under control. But the Big Bang and Clinton’s repeal of GS opened the floodgates, allowing personal greed to determine the operation of the financial system. As a result of all this, certainly the rich in the West have grown even richer and the poor even poorer — but much more significantly, China has been allowed to acquire global hegemony without even firing a shot.
Donald R. Clarke,
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Sir: Isabel Hardman blames ‘damaging parliamentary life’ for the high incidence of marital breakdown and alcoholism that she claims are manifest among MPs (‘Bleak House’, 8 September).
The main reason for these ills is not so much the pressures and stresses of parliamentary life but that the personality types who seek politics as a career are often emotionally needy, desire constant reassurance of admiration and affection, and have addictive personalities, who are therefore drawn like moths to a light to serial adultery and drinking.
Tom Benyon, MP Abingdon 1979-83 (Con)
Sir: Toby Young is concerned about ‘post-modern neo-Marxist professors’ corrupting the minds of their student flock (No sacred cows, 8 September). It is true that criticism of Corbyn in the common room is met by an uneasy silence, and it is impossible to have a rational discussion of Trump or Brexit on a university campus. One otherwise sensible academic colleague of mine even posited recently that elections in the UK should be abolished — presumably because the bovine proletariat cannot be trusted to deliver the right result. Toby cites data confirming the preponderance of leftists in the social sciences and humanities departments. But it was ever thus, and methinks Toby doth protest too much. In my experience in the economically relevant subject of chemistry, students don’t take kindly to political propaganda in their lectures and tutorials, whatever their politics. Whenever the political views of academics are exposed they are often irrelevant, such as a younger colleague denouncing Thatcher, despite having been a toddler when she was in power. In any case students grow up and having succumbed to the fruits of capitalism may eventually renounce their useful idiotic professors.
Professor Bernard T. Golding
Newcastle upon Tyne
Dundee’s new look
Sir: As someone who spent four years at university in Dundee in the late 1970s, I read with interest Claudia Massie’s piece on the ‘re-invention of Dundee’ and the imminent opening of the V&A museum (‘Tale of two cities’, 1 September). I was a little surprised no mention was made of the massive cost overrun on the project. The original budget for the museum was £45 million. This was revised upwards to an eye-watering £80 million. The project is also now more than three years late. This would be bad enough, were it not for the fact the majority of the funding of the project comes from the taxpayer. The Scottish and UK governments, Dundee City Council and a series of other tax-payer-funded bodies have met more than 70 per cent of the cost of the project. Of the balance (approximately £23 million), the Heritage Lottery Fund will contribute more than half. Only £10 million of the cost will have come from private sources.
No doubt there is lots in the wider regeneration of Dundee’s waterfront for locals to get excited about. However, projects like the Dundee V&A do not exist in a vacuum. As it is, it stands as yet another example of how easy it is to spend money unwisely, and with little or no accountability.
Cold comfort for Catholics
Sir: Damian Thompson’s ruthless account of the cover-ups over the American Catholic Church hierarchy was timely (‘The Pope’s cardinal errors’, 8 September). But Catholics can take what comfort they can from Belloc’s assertion that ‘the Catholic Church is divine, and the proof of it I take to be this: that no purely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted more than five minutes’. And from Monsignor Ronald Knox’s gentler advice: ‘If you ever feel queasy in the Bark of St Peter, it is better to stay away from the engine room.’
Sir: In his review of James Barr’s book Lords of the Desert, Jason Burke wrote of Rab Butler’s description of the deployment of US Marines to Lebanon in 1958 as ‘a blow to our prestige’ (Books, 8 September). This is strange. I was in 3 Para at that time and we trained to drop on Beirut airfield. In due course we went into Jordan to protect the Hashemite kingdom, after a joint agreement that the better option in Lebanon was an American sea assault rather than our planned air assault. Burke wrote that ‘the Hashemite regime in Jordan had already been lost’. When we left Jordan, the King gave us lunch at the palace and thanked us for saving his kingdom. I didn’t detect any rivalry between us and the US Marines over the two operations, just friendly cooperation.