The Spectator

Letters | 12 January 2017

Also in Spectator Letters: Lewisham Council, Henry VIII, Katie Hopkins, sporting quotas and bishops with unfortunate names

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Freudian slap

Sir: In his Notes (7 January), Charles Moore explores the uncharacteristic reaction of Matthew Parris to the referendum result. What is most puzzling about Parris and so many others like him is that their present outrage has so little in common with their rather tepid support for the EU in the run-up to the vote. Such a mismatch of cause and effect suggests a Freudian explanation may be appropriate. When an impulse is felt to be so dire that it cannot be expressed, a new object is substituted and the feelings are thus ventilated. Yet what original threat could be so catastrophic as to provoke such end-of-our-world hysteria in the first place?

Ian Harrow


Rotten borough

Sir: I share Rod Liddle’s admiration for Ms Anne Maple, who is being persecuted by Lewisham Council officials for daring to put up posters in support of her beliefs (‘My poster girl for free speech’, 7 January). With only a single non-Labour councillor, Lewisham Council is typical of Labour’s rotten boroughs in which dogmatic political correctness is normal, routine incompetence goes unnoticed and questions about dubious business deals are shrugged off. They get away with it because there’s no effective opposition to their rule. As John Maples (no relation), Conservative MP in the west of the borough during the 1980s, said, ‘Lewisham is three square miles of concrete with no identity, where many constituents don’t even know which borough they live in.’ There are now, at least, signs of a grass-roots fightback, and the council’s plans to compulsorily purchase land around Millwall Football Club are not going through as quietly as they hoped.

Tony Heal

London SE2

Taking back control

Sir: Craig Goldsack (Letters, 7 January) was quite incorrect to say that there was no Church of England until the Reformation in 1534. Henry VIII’s reforms were clearly not seeking to create a new entity called the Church of England — a church which has counted among her members Alban, Augustine of Canterbury and Thomas à Becket. Rather, they were taking power back so that the realm was ‘free from subjection to any man’s laws, but only to such as have been devised, made, and ordained within this realm, for the wealth of the same’ (Act forbidding Papal Dispensations, 1534). I ought not to make any comparison with the mind of the British people as expressed last year.

Fr Simon Morris

St Mary, Tottenham, London N17

Someone likes you, Katie

Sir: Unlike Tanya Gold (‘Dumb and dumber’, 7 January), I like Katie Hopkins: she is outspoken and brave and the world would be a much duller place without her.

Barbara Ray

London SE12

Illogically positive

Sir: As a self-declared alumnus, Charles Moore does Cambridge University no service as an advertisement for its success in imparting the skills of reasoned argument (Notes, 7 January). His response to remarks made by my colleague Peter de Bolla, drawing attention, in his capacity as chair of the English faculty, to certain facts of the university’s funding from EU sources, gallops recklessly off-track to a spectacular non sequitur of a conclusion: ‘Cambridge University was 800 years old in 2009. Except for the last 40 years, it has managed without grants from Brussels. It can find a creative way through this, if it wants to.’ Perhaps Mr Moore would say the same in respect of the university’s recent reliance, historically speaking, on running water and electricity.

Christopher Prendergast

King’s College, Cambridge

Quota quandaries

Sir: Simon Barnes says, ‘The counter-argument to the quota [of non-white players in South African cricket] is that sport is supposed to be the one unadulterated 100 per cent meritocracy in the world, and to sully it with selection criteria based on race is a crime against sport, natural justice and humanity. The counter-counter-argument is that during 50 years of apartheid, South Africa operated a quota of 11 whites, zero non-whites and zero black Africans, and it’s time to redress the balance.’ (‘Not cricket’, 7 January). Could the counter-counter-counter-argument be that two wrongs don’t make a right?

Alexander Pelling

Ampthill, Bedfordshire

Sir: Simon Barnes (‘Not cricket’, 7 January) says that sport is a serious business, and indeed it is. Serious enough to acknowledge that South Africa did not claim a ‘dangerously narrow win’ over Italy last year. They in fact lost 20–18, enabling the Azzuri to claim a famous first win over the Springboks. An otherwise top article from a top writer.

David Evans


From Savage to Zulu

Sir: The Cockshutt correspondence on names (Letters, 3 December) reminded me of my father, who attended a Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, where the format at a plenary session was to stand and introduce yourself by giving your surname followed by that of your diocese. This he did saying ‘Savage of Zululand’, bringing the whole show to a halt with laughter. He was succeeded by Alpheus Zulu, who introduced himself at the next Lambeth Conference as ‘Zulu from Zululand’, whereupon one old English bishop turned to another to remark: ‘At least we’re making progress somewhere.’

Michael Savage

Rondebosch, Cape Town