Sir: Kate Andrews is quite right to identify ‘short-termism’ as the cause of so many of our national failings (‘Raac and ruin’, 9 September). It is a systemic problem rather than a human one, requiring constitutional reform to put right. Rishi Sunak, Keir Starmer and their colleagues are, like the rest of us, far from perfect but they operate within a system which makes long-term thinking and compromise (other than with the extreme wings of their parties) almost impossible. Following the next general election, the victors will celebrate on the steps of No. 10, but it will inevitably end in tears. The British people deserve better.
Lodsworth, West Sussex
Signs of the times
Sir: Kate Andrews’s otherwise excellent piece on our crumbling infrastructure could have included a nod to the appalling and shabby state of our roads infrastructure. I am an 82-year-old motorist, not totally comfortable with Google maps, and I have always looked to road signs for confirmation of my route when driving on motorways and major roads around London. That has now become a problem.
Road signage is in a terrible state of decay. Many signs are obscured by overhanging foliage, which it seems is no longer cut back by local authorities. They are also extremely dirty and, if not covered in graffiti, have a coating of green mould indicating their neglect. Along with potholes and faded white lines, they are a sad reflection of Britain today.
Sir: Rod Liddle is right to question what’s going on at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (‘Right-on Kew’, 9 September). In 2021, Kew announced its wide-ranging and highly political manifesto on the ‘decolonisation’ of plants, rowing back only when there was an outcry. Kew’s role, limited by statute, is science, not politics, and upon that its stellar global reputation depends. Recently, it has announced the intention to move the seven million pressed-plant specimens to a science park on a floodplain outside Reading, at a cost of between £50 million and £100 million, largely to be borne by the taxpayer.