The Spectator

Letters | 9 July 2015

Plus: Knife crime in London; Churchill on naval preparations; hedgehogs and badgers

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The case for Daesh

Sir: For once the admirable Rod Liddle has got it completely wrong (‘You can’t take the Islam out of Islamic State’, 4 July). We absolutely shouldn’t call the homoerotic, narcissistic death cult ‘Islamic State’ — not because it offends ordinary Muslims, nor because it has nothing to do with Islam (it has everything to do with Islam) but because it legitimises and validates the preposterous project. The media has a responsibility not to run terrorist propaganda unchallenged. Politicians, including the Prime Minister, are starting to wise up to this and should be applauded for doing so. We are in an information war with our enemies. Let us take our lead from the Arabs, who understand the Middle East rather better than we do, and call them Daesh — precisely because the terrorists don’t want to be called by this pejorative word. We don’t need to be doing the terrorists’ work for them.

Justin Marozzi

London NW3

Spotting a shibboleth

Sir: In his lament on the cultural effects of the recent heatwave, Charles Moore decries the ‘grim word vibrant’ (Notes, 4 July). I’ve noticed that left-wing friends use the same word entirely positively.

In view of the recent failings of opinion polling, could reactions to this word be used as an alternative way of measuring political opinion and voting intention?

Dr James Hinksman

Canterbury, Kent

Greece’s union problem

Sir: Interestingly, amid all the comment leading up to the Greek ‘No’ we heard a lot about large public-sector pensions, tax avoidance and so on in the condition of Greece, but nothing about the effect of the Greek trade unions on the Greek economy with their regular ferry, bus and rail strikes; and their protest strikes against selling off loss-making state-owned enterprises.

William Miller


Navy cut

Sir: Winston Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty, was responsible for the preparation of the Royal Navy before the first world war and for its mobilisation and deployment 101 years ago on the eve of the war itself. In The World Crisis, he wrote: ‘More than a hundred years had passed since the British Navy had been called upon to face an emergency of the first magnitude. If a hundred years hence, in similar circumstances, it is found equally ready, we shall have no more reason to complain of our descendants than they will find, in the history of this convulsion, reason to complain of us.’ I fear that his descendants would disappoint him. David Cameron is treading in the steps of Baldwin and Chamberlain rather than in those of Churchill.

Donald Begg

Lymington, Hampshire

Knives out

Sir: There has not been a ‘25 per cent rise in youth knife crime in London’ (Barometer, 27 June). In fact, knife crime in London — which includes carrying knives as well as injuries caused — is at its lowest level in seven years and deaths have fallen by a third since 2008. Every single knife death is a tragedy, and there has been a recent rise in injuries caused by knife crime, which we are taking extremely seriously. The Met’s Trident Gang Command has supported a 30 per cent reduction in knife crime across the capital since it launched in 2012. In every borough, hotspots are targeted and hundreds of potentially dangerous weapons have been recovered. We also target those most at risk of becoming involved with gangs, and have successfully lobbied for tougher sentences for those found carrying knives.

This remains a top priority for both the Mayor’s Office and the Met. We are spending more than £6.8 million this year on prevention, focused deterrence and enforcement action to tackle the scourge of knife crime on the streets of London.

Stephen Greenhalgh Deputy Mayor for Policing And Crime

London SE1

Hedgehogs vs badgers

Sir: The other evening I had just let my Border terrier out when I heard a furious barking. When I went to discover what was going on, I saw a hedgehog rolled into a ball. This is the first hedgehog I have seen in our garden for many years, and I was delighted. One of the chief reasons for the decimation of hedgehogs has been the dramatic growth in badger numbers. I well remember a great friend of mine, the late Ted Hughes, telling me that one night he had heard a frightful screaming outside his window. There he found a badger disembowelling a hedgehog.

I like badgers but they have been overly protected by the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, which was brought in to stop badger-baiting. There are now far too many of them and they devour leverets, nesting birds and anything that comes their way. Irrespective of TB, farmers should have the right to dispatch them humanely. The BBC’s Springwatch programme regularly ignores the fact that badgers kill hedgehogs, although to its credit, it did show a badger scoffing the chicks of one of our rarest birds, the avocet. The BBC should get their act together and not merely play to the urban vote.

Sir Simon Day

Ivybridge, Devon

Better than a Nobel

Sir: Dr Furlong is quite right to point out that the Irish are four-time winners of the Nobel Prize for literature (Letters, 27 June). Of far greater importance however, is our having won Eurovision an astonishing seven times. Being Irish can often be a unique form of misery, but I always take solace from the fact that I am from the same country as Johnny Logan, the only person ever to have won Eurovision twice.

Tristan O’Dwyer

Barking, London