The Spectator

Letters | 21 March 2019

Text settings

What’s the point?

Sir: Katy Balls asks ‘Will there be an election?’ (16 March). That prompts the question: ‘To what purpose?’ Jeremy Corbyn may be ‘keen for an early election to break the deadlock’, but as the EU has repeatedly emphasised that its withdrawal deal is the only one on the table, how would Labour win a substantively better one than what’s already on offer? Besides, in the 2017 general election, more than 80 per cent of the electorate voted for parties promising to remove Britain not just from the EU, but also from its customs union and single market. Duly returned to the Commons, a majority of these MPs are now openly labouring to renege on their manifesto commitments and to thwart Brexit. What’s the point of an election if parliament has abandoned democracy?

Dr Sean McGlynn

Monkton Farleigh, Bradford on Avon

Changing my mind

Sir: It is rare for an article to change significantly one of my long-held opinions, but Douglas Murray’s uncomfortably forthright piece about the prosecution for murder of a soldier of the Parachute Regiment has done that (‘Bloody liar’, 16 March). For me, as a former reserve soldier and lifelong supporter of our armed services, the Bloody Sunday events have always been an uncomfortable issue. While I still do not accept the IRA’s account of the shootings, nor that they were a planned outrage, Murray’s point that we should hold our soldiers to a higher standard is correct. It is also the case that if Soldier F has engaged in serial lying and perjury, further inquiries are justified.

Jim Corbett

Cork, Ireland

Who woke us?

Sir: Toby Young’s article ‘The rise of the woke corporation’ (9 March) makes interesting points about diversity and inclusion. However, the notion that political correctness is derived from the left is not entirely convincing. Much of it seems to have come from America and settled in the UK at a time when the political focus has shifted to the right.

Hugh Ricketts

Epsom, Surrey

The perils of certainty

Sir: Isabel Hardman writes: ‘What a baffling group of people anti-vaxxers are’ (‘A dose of understanding’, 16 March). I find the certainty of the pro-vaccine people equally baffling. I am neither, but wonder a lot where the truth lies. I was persuaded by my GP to have both a shingles vaccination and a flu vaccination four years ago, when I was 72. I was ill for the next six months and in constant pain. Do we really know what this might do to a tiny baby?

When I was a child we had fewer vaccines and the usual childhood diseases. Our generation is living an embarrassingly long time!

Susan Duke

Thornhill, Stirling

Saved from politicians

Sir: Your leading article identifies our current prosperity, seeming to say this is in spite of Brexit (‘The leadership deficit’, 16 March). May I suggest it is because of Brexit: not the impending separation (if that ever happens), but the way it has occupied what pass for minds among politicians, preventing their destructive meddling. Keep it going for another year or two, and the economy will soar.

Christopher Heneghan


Let’s hear it for hens

Sir: I completely agree with most of Laura Freeman’s article about hen parties (‘Clucking Hell’, 23 February), but she is wrong about one thing. Branding women as hens is not ‘awful’. Hens are wonderful creatures. They are often exceptionally feisty and are ferocious protectors of their young. They are excellent scavengers and are hardy down to very cold temperatures, yet also able to relax happily into an afternoon of restful sunbathing in a dust bath, with no need for a jacuzzi or a pint of vodka first.

Caroline Lawrence

Builth Wells, Powys

Grounds for optimism

Sir: Martin Vander Weyer’s column (Any other business, 16 March) on the UK Optimistic Fund portfolio bears comparison with Robin Oakley’s ‘12 to Follow’. I have often been struck by the comparison between the stock market and betting on horse races.

Unfortunately the regulations governing my SIPP mean that I cannot invest my monies with bookmakers. I will, however, be investing £10,000 in each of MVW’s (or, more accurately, my fellow Spectator readers’) ‘Ten to follow’. I would much rather be influenced by Spectator readers than by the financial press. Watch this space.

David Turner

Exeter, Devon

A clarification

An article, ‘The March of Trans Rights’, on 6 October 2018, described a situation in which a transgender girl played with her penis in a school changing room, making a non-transgender girl feel uncomfortable. The Allsorts Trans Inclusion Toolkit was then quoted to the effect that such concerns, if raised by schoolgirls, should be ‘challenged through training and awareness raising’ especially the notion that ‘a trans girl is not a “real girl”’. In fact, the Toolkit’s guidelines for school staff are general, and did not mention the scenario in question; the advice offered by the Toolkit responded to a different question from a parent, namely: ‘My daughter doesn’t want a boy changing next to her — what if he looks at her body?’ and made no mention of a girl playing with her penis. Our article did not make clear that the author had conjectured from this advice as to how the Toolkit would advise schools to respond to such a scenario. This wording is being published following an upheld ruling by the Independent Press Standards Organisation.