Ulster is not all right
Leo McKinstry’s knowledge of his native province as it is today seems somewhat superficial (‘Ulster is all right’, 4 December). It is not clear how the rebranding of the Royal Ulster Constabulary as the Police Service of Northern Ireland — a move resented with good reason by many in Ulster — can be regarded as bringing policing here ‘into line with the approach taken in the rest of the United Kingdom’. And it is more than a little shameful that in paying tribute to the army’s role in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, McKinstry neglects to mention the RUC; he may have forgotten the more than 300 police officers murdered since 1969, but few here have done so.
In his concluding paragraphs, he says that Northern Ireland has more cultural amenities, better schools and higher standards of healthcare than the rest of the United Kingdom. The real Northern Ireland rather than McKinstry’s fantasy version has its education and library boards in financial crisis (one third of Belfast’s libraries may be closed next year), longer hospital waiting lists than the rest of the UK, fewer specialists in critical areas such as neurology than elsewhere in the country, and fewer diagnostic tools such as MRI scanners than the mainland.
McKinstry writes, in sarcastic tones, that Northern Ireland ‘does not have to cope with the delights of multicultural Britain’. Northern Ireland may have the smallest ethnic minority population in Great Britain, but it is not without its own race-relations problems. Attacks on ethnic minorities — often orchestrated by ‘loyalists’ — have increased considerably over the past few years.
Before he writes about Northern Ireland again, Mr McKinstry would do well to familiarise himself with the province today; the odd visit to a smart south Belfast restaurant will not do.
The right to repent
Bruce Anderson (Politics, 11 December) suggests that the quarter of a million males who are responsible for half of all crimes should have their details recorded on computer. But he fails to explain exactly how this would allow us to cope with the ‘criminal underclass’.
Records are already kept of the convicted and their offences, as well as of those suspected of offences but never convicted or brought to trial. This by itself does not prevent repeat offences. Furthermore, Mr Anderson suggests that this ‘quarter of a million’ have ‘their activities monitored’, which means that they would be considered irredeemable.
The government’s new laws may very well not make us safer, but Mr Anderson should consider that we also need protection from the lawmakers and their officers. Surely the best strategy is not to remove from the convicted the right to repent and make a fresh start in life.
Sucked dry by the EU
To be specific, the highest taxes in the world could easily have allowed this country to retain the highest welfare level in the world had it not been for an overdose of internationalism. By that I mean sending billions of crowns to countries in the Third World so that they can buy weapons and plane tickets and, worst of all, join the EU. If you want to know what happened to Swedish welfare, a large slice of it has been transferred to Brussels.
The most amazing part of all this is that membership of the EU has resulted in everything that Swedes do not want. Examples are more alcohol, more crime and excessive immigration, which in turn have taken resources from healthcare at the same time that demand for this service increases (because of more alcohol, more crime and excessive immigration). You can add more exposure to a major curse of globalism, by which I mean the departure of employment opportunities to ‘low-wage countries’. These things translate — for those of us who remember how to add and subtract — into an inability to reduce the tax burden.
I remember laughing at, and later apologising to, the Nobel laureate Sir John Hicks because of his belief in the rationality of the electorate. Had I known what I know now, he would never have received an apology from this teacher of economics and finance.
More letters please
Elsewhere, Mr Sutcliffe finds the subtitle of The Collected Writings misleading — it is not, it merely refers to writing which is deemed collectable (the choice, as his review makes clear, was largely Lindsay’s own); it made no claim to being complete. He is also frustrated that the book’s index has no ‘keyword references’ such as ‘alienation (Brechtian)’ — God help us — or a ‘definitive list of all Lindsay’s writings ever’. Like Lindsay Anderson’s earlier book, About John Ford, Never Apologise was always intended for the intelligent general (rather than academic) reader; Lindsay did not want a book that was ‘clogged’ (his word) with footnotes and references, and I am pleased that I kept faith with him on that. I am sorry if Mr Sutciffe thinks this poses difficulties for those wanting to ‘use it seriously’ — the only real way to use a book seriously is to read the damn thing.
But this is nit-picking and, while picking a few nits of his own, Mr Sutcliffe makes a great many valuable points in his article. Not the least of these is his complaint about the volume of Lindsay’s diaries managing to ‘muddy the waters of a primarily confessional text’ by deploying letters to and from Lindsay himself. Lindsay Anderson was a prodigious and brilliant letter-writer, but the tone of voice in them, while often intimate, is strikingly different from that of the private diarist. Let us hope that a smart publisher will commission a volume (or more) of these letters, edited by someone who had a real knowledge of Lindsay and his work, and who has the assiduousness to guide us through the broad social and cultural sweep encompassed by them. Might I suggest Tom Sutcliffe?
As the editor of Lindsay Anderson’s diaries, I very much enjoyed Tom Sutcliffe’s review. It gave me a good laugh. There are few sights and sounds more British than a green journalist yapping at the ankles of a wr iter who dared to think up and carry off a project that the journalist hadn’t the conviction, the talent or the learning to do for himself. My favourite bit was Sutcliffe’s reference to the ‘friendly’ letter from Anderson to the ‘presumptuous’ Sutton (whom we are told was too young to know Anderson). I have the book in front of me but can’t find the letter. What page is it on, Tom?
Glory of Livia’s garden
If the old fool ran out of fuel in the desert there must have been a good reason for this state of affairs. Such as Admiral Cunningham and the Royal Navy which controlled the Mediterranean sinking Germany’s tankers. At the same time the RN maintained supplies to the 8th Army at El Alamein. Some achievement.
I am no military strategist but it appears to me that Taki’s continual creeping to Hitler’s High Command is misplaced.