The Spectator

Letters | 22 June 2017

Also in letters: social care; the global warming pause; a cricketing blunder; tuition fees

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May’s convictions

Sir: Nick Timothy seeks sympathy by revealing that his ‘loved ones’ are upset by the personal attacks to which he is now subject (Diary, 17 June). They could have been spared distress if he had not invited retaliation by swearing at senior ministers and civil servants who crossed him. How could a prim vicar’s daughter have allowed endless profanities from this ill-mannered man and his ill-tempered associate Fiona Hill? Perhaps Timothy’s most extraordinary claim is that ‘a return to traditional campaigning methods’ was planned but Lynton Crosby vetoed it. Traditionally the Tories did not contract out their campaign to consultants charging vast fees. The leader and party chairman took charge. The manifesto was carefully costed. Commitments in it were explained in detailed briefings for candidates from the Conservative Research Department.

Timothy fails to tell us what we most want to know. Did the statist manifesto reflect Mrs May’s convictions, or were he and ‘the brilliant Ben Gummer’ able to cook up the whole thing between them because she has no convictions of her own?

Alistair Lexden

House of Lords, London SW1

A brisk electoral response

Sir: Nick Timothy declares a new principle of social justice in claiming that younger people should not pay for the care of older people. The post-war generation were brought up to believe that if they paid their National Insurance contributions, the welfare state would ensure a basic level of care in their old age. And those contributions paid for the sick and elderly at the time. If a government announces a policy which appears to renege on that deal, they can expect a brisk electoral response. Change may be necessary, but to be achieved it needs public understanding and support, not a quick fix in a manifesto.

Andrew Collier

Preston, Lancs

Reflecting on the pause

Sir: Phillip Williamson’s article on the ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus’ in global warming is unpersuasive (‘Oceans apart’, 17 June). It misrepresents my position materially: I say that global warming is real and partly man-made but is happening slower than models predicted and is being exaggerated as a threat because of wrong assumptions about climate sensitivity. Mr Williamson’s article contradicts itself, saying that the pause was a myth and that the pause ended; it ignores the satellite data, which shows that the pause continues; claims that temperatures have not fallen since the El Niño of last year, which is false; omits all reference to the continuing debate in the scientific literature about whether the pause was real or not; and omits to mention that the UN IPCC itself confirmed that the ‘hiatus’ happened. For somebody who took The Spectator to the press regulator last year and was humiliatingly rebuffed, it is the height of cheek for Mr Williamson to write such a poorly argued piece himself.

Matt Ridley

House of Lords, London SW1

Musical memories

Sir: As any seriously deaf person will tell you, the void left by the absence of music in our lives is probably the most difficult thing to bear. So Richard Bratby’s ‘White-knuckle ride’ (Arts, 10 June) caught me by surprise. It was such a joy to read that I lived every comment and note with him in my imagination. Thank you for bringing music back into my life.

Nadia Harris

Cape Town


Sir: I draw attention to a cricketing howler in Dot Wordsworth’s column of 17 June. She is right in saying that there is no ‘the’ before MCC, but wrong in thinking that MCC stands for Middlesex Cricket Club. The relevant terminology is Middlesex County Cricket Club (MCCC) and Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). By coincidence, the same issue showed on page 41 a notice from the University of Buckingham referring to Mike Brearley, ‘former President of the MCC’.

Stewart Francis

West Mersea, Essex

Indoctrinating the young

Sir: Richard North (Letters, 17 June) remarks on the ‘prevailing leftist dogma’ propagated in schools. Many years ago our Hunt Secretary revealed that her daughter had been given as a school project an essay titled ‘Why I am opposed to fox hunting’.

Peter Gregory

Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucs

The illiberal party?

Sir: Tim Farron’s resignation speech was sincere but foolishly inaccurate in criticising the country for not being liberal enough. He should rather have said that his political party is illiberal, despite its name, for forcing his resignation because of his faith. He criticises politicians who bring their faith to work (in his words, ‘impose’ it on others), but he fails to see that genuine confident faith is an asset, not a problem. This is the truly liberal viewpoint.

Lyndsey Simpson

Leyland, Lancashire

A snip in comparison

Sir: I was touched by Rory Sutherland’s worry that an American university education may not be worth $150,000 (The Wiki Man, 17 June). May I say, as an American with four children’s university educations to look forward to, that this number seems very quaint to me. My alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, currently quotes each year at $72,584, or a total of $290,336. We Americans living in the UK look longingly at squabbles about £9,000 tuition fees.

Vincent DeLorenzo

London W1