The Spectator

Letters | 21 February 2009

Spectator readers respond to recent articles

Hidden behind Smith

Sir: Matthew Parris (Another Voice, 14 February) correctly emphasised the cyclical pattern of economic markets in an optimistic tone that heralded a future recovery. As is almost always the case, writers from Adam Smith onwards are given the credit for the exposition of market theory.

However, it was Josiah Tucker (1713-1799), an Oxford-educated cleric, who first articulated such principles in his A brief essay on the advantages and disadvantages, which respectively attend France and Great Britain, published in 1749. Although Tucker firmly advocated free trade, he recommended prudent intervention by government in terms of legislation designed to ensure effective commerce for the benefit of society. It is known that Adam Smith owned a copy of A Brief Essay.

Professor Bleddyn Jones

Unfair comparison

Sir: David Cameron is not the first politician to be compared to Flashman (‘Two years of recession’, 14 February). I remember George MacDonald Fraser strongly disagreeing when someone compared Tony Blair to him.

As a Flashman fanatic, I too take exception to his memory being defamed by association with politicians. Flashman had style and believed politicians to be beneath contempt. He once considered entering politics, in Flash for Freedom, and mused that while he had the necessary qualities for a political career, he’d ‘never been given to interfering in other folks’ affairs, so I suppose that would have disqualified me’.

Mark Taha
London SE26

Role of the bankruptcy law

Sir: I was interested to see Ross Clark’s use of my BERR-funded research in his article on bankruptcy (‘A formula for fecklessness’, 14 February). The research was originally published in January 2006. At the time of publication and in my subsequent oral evidence to the Scottish Parliament on the effects of the Enterprise Act 2002 and the reduction in the automatic discharge period for bankrupts from three years to one year, I disagreed with Mr Clark’s central contention, namely, that English and Welsh bankruptcy law is unduly lenient.

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