The Spectator

Letters | 28 September 2017

Also in Letters: explaining Jeremy Corbyn’s appeal; what makes us fat; King Cnut’s realm

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Fight and fight again

Sir: In her Florence speech, Theresa May yet again declared that: ‘No deal is better than a bad deal.’ Yet in his piece ‘Brexit Wars’ (23 September), James Forsyth claims that minimal planning is being made for a ‘no deal’ under WTO rules. If true, this is insulting to the electorate as it means that the Prime Minister is being neither serious nor truthful. It is inexcusable for our civil service not to prepare for an event that is a clear possibility when it would be catastrophic if we had no plan. Couldn’t the 80 MPs in the Tory Research Group start preparing for a WTO deal? They could liaise with Eurosceptic groups plus friendly economists and other experts, to produce a viable exit plan. I am sure Leavers would donate money to employ the necessary specialists to produce reports.

Now that May has delayed Brexit in all but name, I see the EU making ever more outrageous demands as the Remain camp gleefully applaud. The Leave campaign must be reinstated to fight again.

Gill Chant

Handsworth, Birmingham

Class war

Sir: Toby Young’s article (‘The mystery of socialism’s enduring appeal’, 23 September) raises some interesting explanations for the phenomenon of socialism’s enduring appeal. But strangely, he has missed one of the most glaring: that the underlying reason lies within our education system.

From the mid-1960s onwards, the majority of our children have been educated by an increasingly left-wing cohort of teachers who are more interested in the espousal of ‘equality’ than delivering well-rounded individuals into the world.

Toby is right to suggest that the left are better educated than the right, but educated in what? The young are easy targets for educational propaganda, which has made an immense contribution to the malaise we are suffering. And the more or ‘better’ you have been educated, the more you will have felt the influence of this heavily left-wing education bias.

Unless this problem is confronted and some balance re-introduced, the future of the capitalist state looks bleak.

Bob Holder

Folkestone, Kent

Capital fellow

Sir: Toby Young’s article gives rise to reflection. I am no apologist for Jeremy Corbyn — at best, I can accept that his intentions are good. But my socialist friends indeed do see capitalism as a way of ‘stealing’ from the poor and have difficulty in accepting the wealth creation aspect of it.

They have a point. The so-called financial industry creates no primary wealth and often seeks to cream off as much as possible for a greedy minority. Thatcher’s rush to privatise the nationalised industries did not create anything better than, for example, the Central Electricity Generating Board. Today we must go cap in hand to the French or Chinese to get a decent nuclear power station — at an astronomical cost.

I did an engineering apprenticeship with AEI, later taken over by GEC, run by Arnold Weinstock. He was a modest man and ran his company as a model of capitalism: solid management, good labour relations and true wealth creation. We cannot bring Weinstock back but, if we want capitalism to succeed, I wish we could.

Nick O’Hear

Schoonhoven, The Netherlands

Kitchen think

Sir: It simply won’t wash that the reason people choose to eat sugar and fat-laden foods is a lack of proper education, as Prue Leith and others have suggested (‘Fat Britannia’, 9 September). In the 1950s, when we were all apparently at peak leanness, the Famous Five were gorging on ginger beer and chocolate biscuits. Now we are hectored daily about how bad sugar is for us.

The thing which has changed since the 1950s is that women, who then were expected to turn out a home-cooked meal at 7 p.m. every day, are now free to pursue other more interesting careers.

I returned to work a couple of years ago after a break to have children. There is very little I would like to do less when I get home from a busy day than to pick up the potato peeler. Home-cooked food is a luxury that few have time for these days. I love my job, and would be offended if anybody should suggest that I give it up and get back in the kitchen. But if I’m not there, there’s nobody there.

You can’t have it both ways. If we want strong, independent, educated women in the workplace, then somebody else is going to have to do the cooking. Hands up, gentlemen? I thought not. Time to dial for a pizza.

Harriet Snow

London N5

True Norse

Sir: The age of King Cnut was certainly a high-water mark for Norse influence in these islands (‘Demonised by history’, 23 September), but Thomas W. Hodgkinson is quite wrong to call Cnut a ruler of Britain. His realm on this side of the North Sea comprised England alone.

David Sanders

London N16


Sir: Rory Sutherland’s irritation with customs procedures (‘Make life easier and all else will follow’, 23 September) chimes with my own. I recently ordered a pair of wire strippers from the USA at a cost of £14.07. Two weeks later I received a demand for £3.90 duty and VAT, plus a Royal Mail ‘handling fee’ of £8. The latter struck me as an awful lot of handling for a small tool. Thank you, Royal Mail, but no. You may now enjoy handling the item all the way back to America, at your own cost.

Mark Ribbands

Tibenham, Norfolk