The Spectator

Letters: Stop talking, Rishi – and take action

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Sick note

Sir: Kate Andrews illuminates how, for us British, the successful diagnosis of a major medical condition is frequently a matter of chance and, even then, usually occurs later than it should (‘Why are the British so anti-doctor?’, 2 September). The near asymptomatic nature of many serious conditions combined with the cultural pressures of stoicism and reluctance to be the bearer of bad news allows many cancers, for example, to run free for years before discovery. In addition, while treatments from the NHS can be brilliant, they vary enormously across the country in terms of accessibility and availability.

James Wilson 

South Beddington, Sutton

Spare the Rod

Sir: I was of course thrilled and delighted to be the focus of Charles Moore’s typically elegant – and kindly – wrath last week (Notes, 2 September). However, please let me, for the sake of accuracy, address the principal charge Charles levels at me – that I am, in effect, a ghastly metropolitan who wouldn’t know a hawk from a handsaw. This suggestion was implicit throughout the piece – for example, that I can never have seen a red grouse, or heard a curlew. This is as far from the truth as it is possible to get. Unlike Charles, I do not visit a grouse moor for a single weekend out of the year. I live on one. Further, I have spent the majority of my life in the countryside, beginning as a child when I would tramp the North York Moors with my mum and dad. I can hear a curlew right now, outside my back door (it has been late leaving this year) and not a day goes by without my witnessing the mundane spectacle of panicked grouse. The problem for Charles is that once this canard is blasted from the sky, there does not seem to be very much of an argument left. 

Rod Liddle

Stanhope, Co. Durham

Resistance was futile

Sir: Our Prime Minister has apparently ‘resisted calls… to articulate a grand plan’ (‘Risk management’, 2 September). The resistance did not last long. Later in the same article Katy Balls reports that he said in a letter to MPs: ‘In the autumn, we will… be setting out more of our plan for Britain.’ Please Mr Sunak, no more plans, no more pledges, no more telling us how you might go about solving the UK’s many problems. Just get on and do something.

Ivor Williams

Tavistock, Devon

Stop the pensioners

Sir: I read your editorial, ‘Taxing times’ (2 September), with a sense of déjà vu – but is it still déjà vu when it happens more than a dozen times? I believe nothing will change until those running the country have to manage their own future and not rely on the state to protect them. Let us stop all state-financed final salary pension schemes for all politicians (local and central) and any civil servant earning more than £100,000 a year. Surely then these people would think more carefully about how their taxes were spent.

Tom Phillips 

Eltham, London 

Local zeroes?

Sir: James Heale quotes a Westminster insider as saying that the Conservatives’ recent preference for selecting local candidates for parliamentary seats represents ‘mediocrity and nepotism at the expense of talent’, and that it will deprive the party of ‘future leaders of the country’ (‘Charge of the right brigade’, 26 August). The problem is that the skills required to be an elected representative are quite different from those needed for holding executive power. The solution is a separation of powers, enabling electors to have members of parliament who are locally based ‘super-councillors’, if that is what they wish, while placing no restrictions on the prime minister when choosing members of his or her government.

Adam Brownbridge


Marvellous Maigret

Sir: Deborah Ross lists previous actors to portray Inspector Maigret in her review of the new film (Arts, 2 September), but fails to mention the one who, in my opinion, brought the most humanity to the character: Rowan Atkinson, in a television series that began in 2016. In the past, Atkinson has usually either played brilliantly funny or embarrassingly cringeworthy comic roles, but here he was serious. He managed to convey exactly the right balance of world-weariness, cynicism, compassion and forensic analysis to make the depiction both credible and moving. Highly recommended.

Jeremy Tyrer

London SW19 

Shall I be Brother?

Sir: My City livery company, the Stationers and Newspaper Makers, has been led by two women Masters (‘Brother in alms’, 2 September). The day before I was due, as Master, to ‘cloathe’ female members in the livery, I would ring them up and ask if they had any objection to my making them liverymen and addressing them as Brother. No candidate ever objected.

Christopher McKane

London N1

La même chose

Sir: It is said that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Leafing through a past copy of The Spectator, I read a letter from Naomi Parkes agreeing with Ysenda Maxtone Graham’s piece which stated that ‘the billions being squandered on HS2 (not to mention its destruction of swaths of beautiful countryside) would be far better spent on high-speed broadband and funding the cash-strapped NHS’. This letter appeared on 10 September 2016.

Guy Bargery