The Spectator

Letters | 19 December 2009

Spectator readers respond to recent articles

Selective quoting

Sir: In her diary (5 December) Melanie Phillips accused me of bigotry, quoting from a newspaper article about the Iraq inquiry in which I had pointed out that two of the five members of the panel, Sir Martin Gilbert and Sir Lawrence Freedman, are Jewish and that Gilbert at least has a record of active support for Zionism.

She did not mention that I went on to comment that these two men had outstanding reputations and records, but it was a pity that, if and when the inquiry was accused of a whitewash (and indeed it already has been) such handy ammunition would be available. Membership, I wrote, should not only be balanced; it should be seen to be balanced.

Ms Phillips accuses me of the Prejudice That Can No Longer Be Named, but in a blog posted last week she named it as anti-Jewish racial prejudice, adding that ‘it is a baleful comment on the state of the British public discourse that this man felt able to say this so openly’. I believe on the contrary that it is important to speak the truth, and not to be deterred by taboos and the prospect of abuse. Knowing that my comments would be criticised, I chose my words carefully. It is sad that some of those who disagree with me should so readily proclaim that I am motivated by anti-Semitism. I am not.

Oliver Miles
(Former British ambassador to Libya)
Oxford

Warming to his theme

Sir: Three cheers for The Spectator and its common sense regarding man-made global warming (5 December). In addition to the excellent points made in your supplement there were two others which I wish had been present:

1) If man-made-warming hysteria is based on figures taken largely from computer modelling, isn’t it important to establish whether computer modelling is a dependable and accurate method for predicting future events? Everything I have learned about the subject suggests otherwise and that the use of computers in trying to estimate future climate change (which has been going on since time immemorial) is just as seriously affected by the GIGO rule — Garbage In, Garbage Out — as any other area of activity.

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