The Spectator

Feedback | 10 September 2005

Readers respond to recent articles published in <i>The Spectator</i>

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Comments on Triumph of the poms by Michael Atherton

Like Mike Atherton, I would like to see England win the Ashes. However, I would urge caution. The balance in the current Test series has shifted to England, but it is not all over yet and I cannot be totally confident that England will wrap up the series at the Oval next week.

Despite having lost the first test at Lords (cause for Australian complacency perhaps?), England should have wrapped up the Headingley Test and not allowed the Old Trafford test to end as a draw with four overs remaining. At Trent Bridge, a mature team would have easily knocked off the required 129 runs without losing seven wickets, but England has not yet acquired that traditional Australian confidence and has not yet got the killer instinct.

In addition, Simon Jones may not be fit enough to play next week, and just look at how Australia has missed Glenn McGrath during this series. It will be good for cricket generally if England win back the Ashes, but I’m not putting my money on it. Any bets on a tie at the Oval?

A small point: as Michael Vaughan was not born in Yorkshire, he is technically not a Yorkshireman, although he was brought up there. Finally, the term “Pom” must be the last acceptable politically incorrect term to define a member of a race or country, and Michael Atherton should not be using it. Imagine that Pakistan were to beat Australia, no newspaper article would appear bearing the title “Triumph of the Pakis” - and quite rightly so.

Eric Brown

Comments on Diary by Boris Johnson

Loved the article about Uzbekistan. I am also amazed every time I return home to find it hasn’t been burgled (been unlucky 3 times though), and agree with cracking down on Islam, but please, Boris, please do not make the mistake of voting for David Cameron for party leader. Can we not learn from history (in this case 1997) and not repeat the mistake of making a youngster with promise, but no actual achievement, leader before his time?

OK, he has dodgy views on Europe, but Ken Clarke is the only man Labour fear, and the only one, apart from yourself of course, who appeals to people outside the Tory party - precisely the votes we need to get back into government. Aren’t you tired of impotent Opposition? We need to swallow the pride and do what’s necessary to win - and part of that is installing Ken Clarke while there’s still time.

Mark Solomon

Comments on An old German philosopher and the impotence of Europe by Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson ought to try thinking about the Lockean affinities of Habermas, and the way that the concept of communicative adequacy extends Locke’s politics of common understanding. Whatever Habermas’s shortcomings, he is a continental philosopher doing English things: not some Heideggerean obscurantist. It’s important to be able to tell your friends from your enemies. Habermas is not the enemy.

A. C. Goodson

Comments on Are Tony Blair and George Bush dabbling in Satanism? by Matthew Parris

According to the Koran, surely the most authoritative source for comment on Matthew Parris’s article, at the beginning of his prophet hood, Muhammad was afraid that he was possessed by a jinn - until his wife and Allah assured him otherwise (Sura 68:2(YA)) and certainly his fellow Meccans thought so too (see Suras 81:25; 37:35.36). Later, the Koran tells us that some jinns were so impressed to hear that Allah had no son that they decided to help Muhammad spread the message of Islam (Sura 72:1-15; 46:29,30). Hence, we can have a pretty good guess that the young Islamic terrorists were, indeed, possessed!

June Court

Comments on Who runs the Tory party? by Peter Oborne

As an ex constituency chairman who is rapidly winding down his participation in the conservative party, I thought Peter Oborne’s article on the Tory party hit the nail on the head.

Thank you for writing/publishing it.

Roger Freeman

The only question that the Conservative party has to face is this: does it wish to elect a leader who can command a large popular vote among the electorate, not just party members, or does it wish to remain out of power for the next eight years or so? Only Ken Clarke has the experience and gravitas to attract the voters. The other candidates mostly lack Cabinet experience and are largely unknown to the wider public outside the party. Doubtless, several have the potential to succeed Ken Clarke, once they have shown their mettle - they are young enough.

Pat Cook

Sadly, as a Lib Dem supporter, I agree with the point about Kennedy’s invisibility. As far as the Tories go, perhaps Kamikaze Conservatives should be their new name. The problem with supporters around the country voting for the leader is that they choose someone unelectable. Echoes of Old Labour.

Jacqueline Castles

Comments on Why I remain an optimist by Mark Steyn

Not re this week’s grey drizzle, but in anticipation of next week’s stormer (if you’ll let the pun go).

I’m on the edge of my seat for Mark Steyn’s piece next week on ‘Katrina’ (or will it be the irrepressible Peter Hitchens who gets the go-ahead?) Shall we call it ‘Mission Set the Record Straight’? How about ‘Mission Don’t Play Partisan Politics with a Disaster’?

They must be chomping at the keyboard to put the world (especially the BBC and Islam) to rights on whose fault it was that America’s dirty little shameful secrets were bared in surreal glory for all the world to see (shocking urban poverty and deeply structured racism cheek-by-jowl with positively useless and decadent displays of wealth).

Whose fault is it then: welfare bums who ignore ‘incentives’ to work? A ‘Democrat’ controlled city? The liberal 60s? Canada? The Clintons? Jacques Chirac? Swedish welfarism? One thing’s for sure - it ain’t nothing to do with ‘free’ markets and Christianity.

I can sense a classic bubbling up in Steyn’s gut. He’ll show ‘em. And Hitchens must be raring to go - ‘How dare they suggest the people left to rot in New Orleans have anyone but themselves to blame!’

Olga M-Smith

‘It’s the cost, stupid’

As to Mr. Steyn’s optimism on Iraq: there has never been any doubt the ‘coalition of the willing’ could oust Saddam and create some form of democracy.

But at what cost?

The American people are now telling their government that those two objectives may not be worth the cost.

So, Mr. Steyn, remain optimistic, but the gains in Iraq will be measured only by the tolerance of their costs.

Such is the case with every war.

Buck Busfield

Why does someone not ask Mark Steyn or any of the other pro-Iraq war journalists to answer why not a single one of them appears to have the integrity to go and live in Iraq?

They are just like all the old left wing fellow travelers, hardly any of whom went to live in their Marxist utopias.

Funny how so many of the pro-Iraq war journalists were Marxists in the cold war.

It is so easy to keep up phony beliefs if you never have to live in the reality.

Mark Munro