The Spectator

Letters | 3 November 2016

Also in Spectator Letters: the gay cake; congested roads; first name terms; Goldman Sachs; Scottish independence; Oxford; condoms

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An MP’s first duty

Sir: Toby Young writes (Status anxiety, 29 October) that Zac Goldsmith’s decision to campaign for Leave in the referendum was an example of his integrity, because ‘anything else would have been a betrayal of his long-standing Eurosceptism as well as his father’s memory’. Goldsmith’s loyalty should have been to his constituents, not his deceased father.

Ian Payn

London SW6

Standing or sitting

Sir: Can I suggest that a sitting MP who resigns their seat in the middle of a Parliament is prohibited from standing in the subsequent by-election? As a taxpayer, I resent having to pay the bill for multimillionaire Zac Goldsmith’s self-indulgent posturing.

Dr Louis Savage

Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

Cake stand

Sir: I agree with Hugo Rifkind (‘Free speech and the right not to bake a cake’, 29 October) that it is ridiculous to go to court over the baking or not baking of a cake. In the Ashers case, any reasonable person would simply have gone to another baker who was willing to do the required decoration promoting gay marriage. But I would suggest that Gareth Lee, the gay rights activist, knew perfectly well that Ashers bakery would have a problem with his request and his plan all along was to score a political point on a contentious matter in order to discredit the McArthur family’s Christian faith and put them out of business, all to gain publicity for his cause.

Marigold Pym

Bolney, West Sussex

Road to nowhere

Sir: Your editorial ‘Flights of fancy’ (29 October) is most timely and identifies precisely what is wrong with the governance of this country. We have just returned from a break in Burgundy, coming back on a Sunday evening to the Channel Tunnel terminus at Calais. Our drive from Burgundy was totally uneventful with no traffic problems whatsoever. It was completely stress-free until we came off the train at Folkestone. The M20 was busy and then came the nightmare of the M25. There was at least a three-mile queue at the Dartford Crossing and after that the motorway was packed with traffic with frequent speed restrictions. Driving standards were appalling, with drivers switching lanes at high speed and, of course, no police to be seen. The A1 was also very congested in places.

There are many other major roads which really need upgrading. It is of little comfort to know that the privileged few will have the benefit of HS2 in the coming years, while the rest of the country grinds to a halt.

John R. McErlean

Elstow, Bedfordshire

First name terms

Sir: I totally agree with Charles Moore, (Notes, 29 October). I am well over 70 and find it irritating to be addressed by a 20-year-old who I have never met by my first name. I have found that the answer, if I am ringing up and am asked for my name, is to give only my surname. On the few occasions that I have been asked ‘Do you have a Christian name?’ I reply ‘Yes, but it is not relevant to this conversation.’ Pompous, I agree, but it does have the desired effect.

Jimmy Cox

Lower Hardres, Kent

Ruled by Goldman Sachs

Sir: The unelected Mark Carney of the Bank of England, who tells our elected representatives what to do and will remain in his role for another three years, is ex-Goldman Sachs. Matteo Renzi, the unelected Prime Minister of Italy who was foisted on the Italians, is ex-Goldman Sachs. The Greek government’s figures for joining the euro were done by Goldman Sachs. How come we have ended up being ruled by this outfit?

Stephen Spearman

London N1

Northern exposure

Sir: I see that Hugo Rifkind (‘Brexit ruins my case for the Union’, 29 October) is warming to the idea of Scottish independence. In the unlikely event of it happening, I trust he will come to live here, and suffer like the rest of us?

William Ballantine

Bo’ness, West Lothian

Why we conform

Sir: I sympathise greatly with James Delingpole’s experience at the Oxford and Cambridge Unions (‘The most persecuted minority at universities’, 22 October) but share only half his bemusement at the left-wing conformity he encountered. The half I don’t share is that of the male students’ willingness to conform: if we don’t subscribe — publicly — to the latest nonsense view on everything from the violence meted out by statues of Cecil Rhodes to yes-means-anything-you-later-want-it-to-mean consent, we wipe out our chances with 95 per cent of the female population.

I hope he may sympathise with this.

Andrew James


Illusions of youth

Sir: Peter Barker writes (Letters, 29 October) that every young man should keep a condom in his pocket. Frankly, why bother? Perhaps life for ‘every young man’ has improved markedly since I was one in the 1980s and carried one along with my youthful optimism. The optimism perished along with the rubber.

Michael Upton