The NHS and politicians
Sir: The NHS is indeed in need of fundamental reform, but Max Pemberton’s excellent article (‘The wrong cuts’, 14 November) exemplifies why politicians are least well qualified to conduct it. The public loves the NHS and has every reason to distrust political meddling. NHS England should become a public corporation with a five-year charter similar to that applying to the BBC. Of course politicians must decide the total budget and agree the strategic goals, but that is a far cry from deciding the pay and hours of every category of staff. Politicians have no managerial skills and should leave that to the professionals.
Cley next the Sea, Norfolk
What the young resent
Sir: I am a pensioner, but in my experience any resentment from the young (‘The war on pensioners’, 14 November) is directed less at our financial situation than at the increasingly difficult position they are put in by the housing market and the actions of successive governments. Those starting their working lives encounter a crippling financial burden, largely caused by three factors: 1) Starter house prices approach six times starter incomes, rather than around three times income 30 to 40 years ago. 2) At the time I entered the housing market, mortgage interest was tax-deductible at one’s marginal rate. 3) University tuition fees used to be paid by central or local government, and means-tested maintenance grants were available.
It is no wonder that it takes families the majority of their working lives to pay off these debts. There are many ways an enlightened government could alleviate this situation, but sadly we do not seem to be living in an age of enlightenment.
No friends of Dorothy
Sir: The Spectator evidently needs some gay men on its staff. The glorious Technicolor photograph (Arts, 14 November) shows Judy Garland not in 1944’s Meet Me in St Louis, but in the lesser-known The Pirate (1948), which had a score by Cole Porter.