Hubris and nemesis
Sir: Douglas Murray’s assessment of Angela Merkel’s decision to stand down as German Chancellor (‘Europe’s empty throne’, 3 November) suggests a certain symmetry with the fate of our own former Prime Minister. David Cameron also declared that he would leave office at a time of his own choosing, but circumstances conspired against him. Mutti shows a great deal of presumption in announcing she will stay until the next election. If German politics bears any resemblance to our own, the very act of announcing a long goodbye will ensure that she leaves before her chosen moment. Cameron brought about his own demise by hubris, thinking he could renegotiate the terms of EU membership. Merkel’s hubris lay in inviting a million migrants into her country without a mandate from her people. In trying to stage her own exit, is she, like Cameron, tempting fate?
Not such free trade
Sir: Richard Hoare’s faith in ex-Australian prime minister Tony Abbott is wholly misplaced (Letters, 3 November). Mr Abbott’s disingenuous article recommending World Trade Organisation rules for post-Brexit UK trade failed to mention the rather important detail that no WTO member trades solely on that basis. The WTO itself says all its members have some sort of bilateral or regional trade agreements in place. Australia itself has agreements with China, Japan, the USA, South Korea, New Zealand and many others. That is just one reason why the EU single market makes sense for the UK.
Chess with muscle
Sir: I am delighted Roger Alton enjoyed watching the first rugby league Test from Hull between England and New Zealand (Sport, 3 November). He pointed out how league differs from the union code he is more familiar with. If I could make one objection, it would be to his contention that league is ‘rather sterile and formulaic’. What that really means is that he doesn’t understand the game enough to appreciate its subtleties. He might equally say that chess consists of pieces being moved randomly on a board, but chess players would be quick to correct him. Indeed, the late Brian Redhead once described rugby league as ‘chess with muscle’.
I’m sure the ‘whippet brigade’ would be happy to welcome Roger to a Test match, even if he does wear his Barbour.
Editor, Rugby League Express
Brighouse, West Yorkshire
Sir: I read with interest Dot Wordsworth’s take on the origins of the word ‘Police’ (‘Mind your language’, 27 October). Unfortunately, she states that ‘In Britain, the first force called police to keep law and order was the Marine Police force on the Thames in 1798’. The City of Glasgow Police, however, was first formed in 1779 before running out of money in 1781. It was reformed in 1789 but again ran out of financial support. It was finally established by the Glasgow Police Act of 30 June 1800, the UK’s first police force under an Act of Parliament, when Robert Peel was 12.
The use of the word ‘police’ by the Glasgow Police therefore pre-dates the Thames River Police —which, interestingly, was not a community police force, but rather a private security force established by Patrick Colquhoun (former Lord Provost of Glasgow) to protect the West India Docks, its cargoes and shipping.
Curator, the Glasgow Police Museum
Dickens in America
Sir: John R. MacArthur’s article (‘All the rage’, 27 October) and Jon Wainwright’s subsequent letter (3 November) illustrate the long history of rudeness in American politics. But American society has always had a spirit of rudeness. One needs only to read Dickens’s account of Martin Chuzzlewit’s misadventures in frontier America (based on the author’s first visit) to see a proud and confident society that at the same time was boorish and ruthless. Although written in 1843, much of what Dickens depicted is still present today. I believe the condition is terminal.
Simply not true
Sir: In his review of my book If I Chance to Talk a Little Wild (27 October) Stuart Jeffries notes my chapter on ‘Proust’s Anacoluthon’ and says nothing about it as such, but a lot about himself. Specifically, he makes a claim whose publication has damaged my professional reputation as a psychotherapist, suggesting that I host dinner parties for former clients:
Later, Miss Suicide became, along with several other former patients, a guest at Haynes’s dinner parties, some of them Proust-themed. I yearn for an invitation, and picture myself entering twirling my moustache with top hat, cane and reputation for licentiousness as the Baron de Charlus.
To entertain ‘former patients’ in this way would not be ethical, and would be in breach of the practice of psychotherapy. At no time has this statement been corroborated or endorsed. It is simply not true. I validate Jeffries’s assertion that I am the shrink who confesses her failures and it is possible that in certain circumstances I may go in my writing ‘where her peers fear to tread’. Which of us seeking to find our way through life does not sometimes need to challenge the rigid Ten Commandments?
My professional work is conducted within a responsible and ethical framework, which your reporting contradicts. I would be grateful for a published confirmation of the online removal of the offending passage. When it comes to protecting my professional reputation Jeffries scores full points, — I am indeed ‘no shrinking violet’.
The Spectator has withdrawn the sentences complained of from the review as published online. We apologise to Jane Haynes for the error.