The Spectator

Letters | 15 June 2017

Also in letters: lefty deplorables, post-truth Pilate, UK trade commissions, hounds, teachers and militaria

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Divining Rod

Sir: Please congratulate Rod Liddle on being the only commentator who accurately forecast the uncertain general election result (‘This is the worst Tory campaign ever’, 27 May). His prediction of the ‘stickiness’ of the Labour vote and the likelihood that Ukippers would return to the Conservatives in the south, where they mostly were not needed, were especially prescient. Mr Liddle goes to show that instinct, common sense and a sceptical nous are worth more than all the pseudoscience of polling. Well done him. Poor old us!

Dr Barry Moyse

North Petherton, Somerset

Our lefty deplorables

Sir: An astonishing 41 per cent of the British electorate voted for Jeremy Corbyn to become prime minister. Last year in the US, Hillary Clinton unwisely spoke in public about the ‘deplorables’. But she was on to something, and the general election result has shown that we have plenty of our own ‘deplorables’ — they’re just concentrated on the left rather than the right. Corbyn is truly our Trump, even if he didn’t secure power. British politics looks set to become as bitterly polarised as American politics, and our head of government as weakened as the US President. What a shambles.

Jeremy Stocker

Willoughby, Warwickshire

Post-truth Pilate

Sir: Roger Scruton (‘Post-truth, pure nonsense’, 10 June) states that the theories of Marx and Foucault are partly responsible for the erosion of the distinction between facts and fabrications. But the seed of the post-truth mindset was sown much earlier. Jesus tells Pontius Pilate that He has come into the world to ‘bear witness to the truth’ (John 18:37). (Note that He says ‘the truth’, not any old subjective truth.) Jesus adds, ‘Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’ Pilate responds with the famous rhetorical words, ‘What is truth?’ That, with its deliberate indefinite, is where it all went wrong.

John O’Byrne


How to boost trade

Sir: Martin Vander Weyer (Any other business, 10 June) is right that ‘sending token civil-servants-turned-salesmen’ to nine trade commissions scattered round the world will not rejuvenate Britain’s sluggish exports. We have had UK trade and investment spending of £400 million or so for each of the last 25 years to little effect. Civil servants do not understand business, let alone exporting, but still presume to tell small companies how to do it.

In essence, we have too many grandees and too few practical advisers making the commercial links exporters need. The British Chambers of Commerce could take care of the UK side of the equation; and overseas, our embassies would benefit from a mass exodus of all those Brits bored with trade. The people best placed to make local connections are local people.

For big companies, missions are indeed important and that needs ministers and senior civil servants both in the UK and in our embassies — but that would still leave Britain’s international trade HQ far smaller than it is now. In short, we need a major revamp, not nine new commissioners.

Tim Ambler

Senior Fellow, Adam Smith Institute, London SW1

News hounds

Sir: Luminous was a worthy champion at the Surrey Union Hound Show, as Charles Moore points out (Notes, 10 June). Our hound, Dragon, was reserve champion, but no hard feelings. At the South of England Hound Show on election day, our hounds won Best Couple Entered Dog Hounds. In the light of events, events, events, their names too had poignancy: ‘Mascot’, but more especially, ‘Mandate’.

Robin Muir MFH

Chiddingfold, Leconfield & Cowdray Hunt, Petworth, West Sussex

Blame the teachers

Sir: Ross Clark’s otherwise excellent article (‘Generation wars’, 10 June) does not credit the role of our schools in creating a generation which is prepared to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. As a case in point, my wife’s daughter attended until recently an ordinary sixth-form college in Southampton. As part of her education, the sociology department offered a school trip to Cuba. The English teacher railed against studying the work of dead white men, and instead prescribed racist poetry written by a black woman. The history teacher told his students that Ukip are like the Nazis, despite clearly being aware of the Nazis’ race-baiting, street-fighting and militaristic rise to power, which is in stark contrast to Ukip’s policies.

If we do not address the prevailing leftist dogma in our schools, we risk having to relearn first-hand the lesson of the 20th century that extreme socialist policies are not a source of hope, but a cause of impoverishment and misery.

Richard North

Hayling Island, Hampshire

Solace at Horse Guards

Sir: I read with sorrow about Andrew Roberts’s understandable disappointment when he revisited the National Army Museum after its recent makeover (The Heckler, 3 June). Sic transit gloria mundi.

May I suggest he seeks solace by popping over to the unique, if smaller, Household Cavalry Museum at Horse Guards — a gem among military museums, and unique because it’s actually in Horse Guards itself, a living museum with a large window looking into the stables behind, where you can see the horses of the Queen’s Life Guard at rest in a scene that hasn’t changed for 357 years. He could also delight in seeing such objects as the Earl of Uxbridge’s cork leg after Waterloo, and other fascinating militaria. No maudlin introspection — his only ‘challenge’ will be how to tear himself away.

Jeremy Harbord

Devizes, Wiltshire