The Spectator

Letters | 20 September 2018

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Stand by your plan

Sir: Matthew Parris (‘Must the will of the people always be respected?’, 15 September) asks when it is permissible to seek to overturn a referendum result. He missed a crucial point, which is that the answer depends on the locus of the individual considering the question. To my mind an ordinary citizen is always free to campaign to overturn the result. An MP, possibly, but not when elected on a manifesto to implement said result or who when campaigning in the referendum said they would abide by the result. Any member of a government who has promised to implement the result must clearly do just that.

Johnny Cameron

Pewsey, Wilts

Corporate theft

Sir: Reading Liam Halligan’s ‘The world the crash made’ (8 September) I was disappointed to note the omission of the word ‘corporatism’. To describe what has happened since 2008 as capitalism is to miss the point. In a capitalist system, companies that cease to be solvent fold. Bailouts, QE and ultra-low interest rates have enabled many such companies to continue trading — either with public largesse or under the new CVA legislation — at the expense of the taxpayer and pensioners. None of this is capitalist. And QE is theft by another name.

Tragically, the craven Conservative party doesn’t appear to see this. Capitalism works, corporatism is dreadful. They may look similar, but are not. It is high time that Conservative politicians identify the cause of the malady and then work towards a truly capitalist solution.

If not, then the currently oligarchy will look like a teddy bears’ picnic next to Corbyn’s big state monopoly paradise.

Andrew Stibbard

Ramsbury, Wiltshire

Wishful thinking

Sir: Lionel Shriver has bravely stuck her head above the parapet to decry the latest political and social fad, transgenderism (‘One discouraging word and you’re a transphobe’, 15 September). Expression of any opinion at odds with the current fashion is, in the name of ‘diversity’, verboten.

At the heart of this malaise is the absurd notion of self-identification. I can ‘self-identify’ as being 6ft tall but I’m barely 5ft 7in. I can ‘self-identify’ as a genius, but my mental powers are much more limited. I could ‘self-identify’ as a woman but I would still be a man with the, albeit imperfect, body to prove it. The distinction between male and female is more profound than any other aspect of human existence. So how on earth can someone with male genitalia claim to be a woman or vice versa? If someone has gender reassignment surgery, that’s different, but otherwise just declaring something doesn’t make it so. It’s time to stop this damaging nonsense, especially where children are concerned.

Jeremy Stocker

Willoughby, Warwickshire

White mischief

Much as we enjoy reading Taki, historians are unlikely to agree that ‘Britain turned against kith and kin in order to appease a murderer like Mugabe’ (High life, 15 September). Ian Smith’s white government unilaterally declared independence in 1965, to which the UK responded by imposing sanctions. It can be argued that it was Smith’s rejection of the planned gradual handover to majority rule that created the conditions for Mugabe’s murderous regime.

Dennis and Rose Benton

London NW1

I don’t hate Boris

Sir: You assert in your editorial ‘Divided they fail’ (15 September) three supposed truths: that when appointed as a minister in the Foreign Office I loathed Boris Johnson; that this was a fact known by everyone at Westminster; and that the Prime Minister appointed me as a deliberate act of sabotage against him as foreign secretary.

Given that each of these statements has never had any basis in evidence and amounts to mere surmise and concoction dreamt up two year later, I’m afraid that it profoundly discredits the journalist on whom your anonymous opinion relied.

Rt Hon Sir Alan Duncan, MP

(Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office)

London SW1

Stan’s laurel

Sir: Cocky Tom Tugendhat repeats a common error in attributing the famous Tory phrase ‘one nation’ to Disraeli (‘Move aside, Boris’, 15 September). Stanley Baldwin was the first to use it. At the Albert Hall on 4 December 1924 in the aftermath of the Conservative party’s greatest election victory, he said: ‘We stand for the union of those two nations of which Disraeli spoke two generations ago: union among our own people to make one nation of our own people which, if secured, nothing else matters in the world.’

I shall quote these words in Bewdley on 27 September at the unveiling of a fine statue of Baldwin by Martin Jennings.

Alistair Lexden

House of Lords

Memories of an Alien

Sir: Reading Sinclair McKay’s article on the freedom of movement from Europe to Britain in the 19th century (25 August) reminded me of my experience in the 1970s when I was a house surgeon in London. I was at that time a South African citizen and required to register as an Alien. Every six months I had to present myself to a police station to renew my Alien registration and to declare that I was not misbehaving.

I anticipated these visits with a degree of trepidation, half-expecting to be escorted to Heathrow and placed on a plane. However, I was always greeted with merriment by officers who thought it a hoot. Invariably there would be respectful banter about me not looking much like an Alien, as most who came in to register were of very short stature, of a greenish hue and from Mars.

Dr Alex Teare

Dunedin, New Zealand