The Spectator

Letters | 30 June 2012

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Hunting for real Tories

Sir: It is interesting to note that more than 10 per cent (four) of the 39 Tory MPs who comprise the Free Enterprise Group, which your correspondent James Forsyth assures us is full of young radicals determined to lead a fightback from the Tory right (‘Next right’, 23 June), are committed to keeping the ban on fox-hunting. How can you be a right-wing Tory and be anti-hunting? If this is the best that the Tory right has to offer, then Ukip must be looking good.

Peter Holt
Wellington, Telford

Debt is the problem

Sir: Your leading article is misconceived (‘Summit of arrogance’, 23 June). The financial mess which is lazily and misleadingly labelled ‘eurozone crisis’ is actually a debt crisis which also affects the UK, the US, Japan and other advanced economies which are not part of the eurozone. These countries have in common with the peripheral nations of the eurozone either a history of profligate spending by irresponsible sovereign governments (as in Greece) or reckless lending by their banks (as happened in Ireland and Spain), or both.

Adoption of the euro per se is clearly not the cause of the problem and those countries within the eurozone would not be in trouble if they had observed the rules of its stability and growth pact, or not fiddled their books in order to adopt the euro. You admit the cause of the crisis yourself, perhaps inadvertently, by saying that ‘the Greek government spent years living beyond its means while not bothering to collect the taxes due to it’. Precisely — and that predated and had nothing to do with the euro itself.

David Woodhead
Leatherhead, Surrey

Rail mail

Sir: Perhaps Justine Greening (Letters, 23 June) would care to ride on the Cambridge express out of King’s Cross, preferably in the front, first class compartment (I’m sure we could run to that for her on this occasion) and see whether she can drink a cup of coffee without spilling it, type an email without constantly hitting the wrong key, or fill in the crossword. If, in addition, she has that sickening feeling that the train might not stay on the track, she could be drawn to the conclusion that a better investment would be to improve our existing network, over which the business of the country is currently conducted, rather than spend money we don’t have on High Speed 2.

John Willan
By email

Sir: The Spectator is to be congratulated on realising that HS2 is a grand canard — or, in this case, a dead duck. It is a waste of money and the wrong priority. HS2’s green credentials and its business case credentials have been firmly undermined at every challenge point and it has lost its reason to exist. There is no justification whatsoever for ploughing on. This reasonable conclusion has been reached by every independent body reviewing HS2.

Will others now join The Spectator and be kind enough to tell HS2 Ltd? HS2 Ltd employs 500 consultants at a cost to the public purse of millions of pounds a month. In these straitened times, we all cut our cloth accordingly and we, as taxpayers, expect the government to do the same. End this nonsense and cancel the project.

Simon Morris 
Chairman, Chiltern Ridges HS2 Action Group, Buckinghamshire

Double Dutch

Sir: Rory Sutherland makes an excellent point about the futility of the English learning other languages, especially Dutch (The Wiki Man, 23 June). Most of us speak multiple languages and we use this skill to welcome all kinds of visitors to this country. We can speak the English used by Polish plumbers, Indian call centres and visitors from every country on the planet, as we shall demonstrate next month when we greet the world descending on London for the Olympics. So our effort has gone into interpreting our own language rather than learning others. From my own experience of living and working in The Hague, occasionally seeking directions to Scheveningen, the Dutch have a huge disadvantage. Their language is extremely sensitive to correct pronunciation, to the point where I still can’t hear the subtle differences. And they can’t understand me.

Nick Putnam

Revolt into luxury

Sir: Toby Young’s description of the spartan conditions at Cheltenham Ladies College in the 1980s (Status Anxiety, 16 June) rings true for my wife and her school friends, one of whom was diagnosed with first-degree malnutrition on returning home at the end of one term. However, in my wife’s case, the reaction is not the admirable stoicism of Mrs Young, but to demand luxury whenever possible and an electric blanket at ‘Gobi desert’ setting in the winter.

Paul Rivers
By email

Cricket test

Sir: I loved Michael Henderson’s piece on West Indies cricket fans (‘Whispering Death’, 23 June). Please print Lord Tebbit’s reply as soon as possible.

John Goodman

Short answer

Sir: I am mystified by Michael Willis’s mystification (Letters, 23 June) regarding sensitivity over the term ‘Jap’. The fact that it’s an abbreviation does nothing to make it magically inoffensive. Would Mr Willis blithely refer to an acquaintance as a ‘Paki’ or a ‘Yid’?

Joseph Myall
Kurume, Japan