Look closer to home
Sir: In your interview with Boris Johnson (‘Austerity was not the way forward’, 30 November) he attributes the EU referendum result to ‘regional inequality… parts of the UK were simply being ignored… leaving people behind’. Yet he says his remedy for this is ‘infrastructure and education and technology’.
In other words, people voted Leave for reasons that had nothing to do with the EU: they were ‘left behind’ because of the austerity policies of the British government. The remedy he identifies is also entirely within the power of our own government.
Brexit without sovereignty
Sir: Your leading article ‘Out and into the world’ (30 November) made an omission when discussing Britain’s potential foreign policy post-Brexit. The Tories’ proposed treaty surrenders Britain’s future ability in taking ‘any action likely to conflict with or impede EU foreign policy’ (Article 129.6). It also commits to ‘refrain from any action… which is likely to be prejudicial’ to EU interests within international organisations such as the UN Security Council or the WTO (Art. 129, 1 and 3).
This means that UK foreign policy will effectively be subjugated to another sovereign government with its own national interests. This will have a huge impact on UK foreign policy. That a future UK government is willing to subjugate our country’s interests in this manner is an abject failure of the will to govern.
In the name of ‘equality’
Sir: Unusually I take a different point of view from Charles Moore (The Spectator’s Notes, 30 November). He thinks women retiring at the same time as men is a good thing for equality between the sexes. This, to my mind, is in the same category as giving men paid paternity leave, and ignores reality. Like many other women, after retirement I was soon helping with grandchildren so that my daughter and daughter-in-law could return to work part-time. Women retiring at 60, when they are still relatively young, made sense and helped family life.
Jeremy Corbyn now says he is going to scrap the Married Persons’ Allowance; again this proposal is for the sake of equality. Yet figures show that when biological parents are still together when their child turns 15, 90 per cent of them are married. Marriage keeps parents together and children growing up with their biological parents turn out better. Governments should be promoting marriage, not discouraging it for the sake of equality.
A glimpse of the sun
Sir: Andrew Marr asked in last week’s Diary why the weather is ‘almost always at its best shortly after dawn’. As a lifelong sailor, I would say it’s because the sun always shines, even on a cloudy day, briefly, as it rises from the horizon, because the cloud base is invariably above the horizon. The early bird experiences colour and light before the sun is hidden behind clouds. Ditto at dusk for the same reason.
Sir: Johan Norberg is quite right that the socialist kibbutz model failed; I would argue that it in fact provided the definitive proof that socialism can never work over a prolonged period (‘Lessons from the kibbutz’, 30 November). I lived on a kibbutz for several months in 1979 and, while unaware that women were unhappy about sharing their clothing, I was very conscious of the objections to sharing cars, eating facilities and of course children. Barbecues were becoming popular as a way of escaping communal eating, and there was a great trend for music centres, for despite their high cost in Israel in those days, they provided individual rather than communal entertainment. There was a move to add extensions to the rather rudimentary huts so that children could be brought ‘home’ for weekends. There was also a rather fierce and unsocialist division of labour, in that men worked in the fields and women in the kitchens or laundry. Although enjoyable, it was also a disillusioning experience which converted me away from socialism.
Sir: As Ross Clark’s piece on the Warm Homes for All scheme notes, its objective is to improve energy efficiency and thereby reduce Britain’s carbon footprint (‘Home truths’, 30 November).
Has it occurred to anyone that houses don’t need to be warm all the time? My husband and I recently undertook a major renovation project which involved roof and wall insulation. Then came the summer. Opening all the windows was not practicable for security reasons, and also we needed to keep out insects. By June, the house was uninhabitable, the temperature even at night being over 30 degrees. An over-insulated house needs air-conditioning — which, in its consumption of electricity, would surely defeat the object of the scheme.
Sir: While Peter Benson may be correct about Bournemouth residents, he is certainly wrong about Geordies (Letters, 30 November). No one from the north side of the Tyne would dream of referring to the village at the mouth of the river as anything other than ‘Tynemooth’ or, affectionately, ‘The Mooth’.