The Spectator

Letters | 27 June 2019

Letters | 27 June 2019
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Sir: Your editorial (‘Plan B’, 22 June) refers to the need for Boris Johnson, as prospective PM, to have ‘warm words for our European allies — even if we end up without a deal’. The use of the word ‘allies’ troubles me. The dictionary defines the word in context: ‘Any time there’s a disagreement or conflict, it helps to have allies: if you don’t, you’re all alone.’ Being ‘alone’ is not the same as being wrong. Britain has been very much ‘alone’ in the past. And while it has sometimes been wrong, it has often been alone and right in its cause. One of the most extraordinary aspects of the whole Brexit debate has been the vituperative conduct of the EU.

The Spectator was on the right side of this argument in 1972, when you were just about the only national publication to oppose Heath’s attempts to shoehorn us into the EEC. By encouraging further appeasement of Donald Tusk, you are inviting Boris Johnson to fail before he’s begun. The EU will only face reality if Britain and its PM show unshakeable resolve to ensure that we depart the EU on 31 October.

Robert Gregory

Saffron Walden, Essex

Conservative cause

Sir: Ross Clark speaks of the new Tory environmentalism as a dangerous innovation, but I disagree (‘Greener than thou’, 15 June). The Conservatives used to be the party of the landed and the shires, protecting the green and pleasant land from the encroachment of the dark satanic mills. Look at an electoral map of Britain, and it still largely is. Environmentalism should be natural to the Conservatives, but we have allowed it to be captured by hippies and socialists. To reuse plastics and cut down on fuel are the good old-fashioned sensible historic principles of make-do-and-mend and thrift: it’s about time we took back control.

Robert Frazer


God’s gaslighting

Sir: I agree with Melanie McDonagh that Pope Francis is wrong in changing the wording of the Lord’s Prayer (‘Lead astray’, 22 June). His contention that God does not induce or lead anyone into temptation does not stand up to much scrutiny. Why else would the God of the Old Testament place a forbidden fruit tree in Eden if not to deliberately tempt Adam and Eve? Later in Genesis, this same God talks Abraham into sacrificing his son to prove his faith, stopping him only at the last minute to say it was just a test.

In the 21st century, we have a word for the manipulative enticement described in such stories: it’s called gaslighting.

Christopher Goulding

Newcastle upon Tyne

Wind subsidies

Sir: To claim, as Sanjoy Sen does, that ‘the latest round of windfarms are almost subsidy free’ (Letters, 22 June) is incorrect. The world’s largest offshore wind farm, the Hornsea One wind farm in the North Sea, 75 miles off the east coast of Yorkshire, began operations this month. When completed in 2020, the wind farm, operated by Orsted, will have 174 turbines with a total capacity of 1.2 gigawatts (GW), enough to power a million homes, and will have more than twice the capacity of the current largest offshore operation, also in the UK. This year it will receive a guaranteed payment of £158.75/MWh for every unit of electricity it can produce, compared to the current market price of £45/MWh. Hornsea’s total capacity of 1.2GW, due on stream in the next two years, can expect to receive annual subsidies of £430 million for the next 15 years, all index-linked, and all on top of the revenue for the electricity they actually sell.

Christopher Sibley

Petersfield, Hants

South Sea warning

Sir: Having read Dea Birkett’s article ‘Fool’s paradise’ (22 June), I can reassure her that there is at least one literary work, in fact a song, which paints South Sea island life in a negative (though humorous) way. It is called ‘Uncle Harry’, and was written by Noël Coward for his 1946 musical Pacific 1860. In the song, Uncle Harry, with Aunt Mary, visit a South Sea island to convert the natives, only to get into difficulty, and after the chiefs throw their wives at Uncle Harry he admits defeat. Hence the final line: ‘Uncle Harry’s not a missionary now.’

William Sitwell

Kew, Surrey

A name for it

Sir: Lionel Shriver (‘Be careful what you christen’, 22 June) makes the assertion that naming something can give it apparent validity. But she overplays her hand. If food-based anxiety and its attendant risk of pathological behaviour were a new thing, then anorexia would not have been with us for centuries. Anorexics are indeed not ‘robust enough to enter the average restaurant’, but that is the least of the problems generated by an illness which kills about 20 per cent of teenagers who develop it. Naming some of these issues can open up the prospect of support, treatment, and a more resilient future.

Kathryn Percival

Limpsfield, Surrey

Credit where it’s due

Sir: Philip Hensher’s excellent review of Paul Baker’s book about the gay language Polari references Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams as bringing Polari into the mainstream (Books, 22 June). But a mention please for the people who put the words into their mouths: the scriptwriters of Round the Horne, Marty Feldman and Barry Took, creators of surely the most enduring surreptitious and bona comedy of the 1960s.

Alastair Coe

Stockton-on-Tees, Co. Durham