The Spectator

Letters: the admirable strength of Ukrainians

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The bravery of Ukraine

Sir: Few articles could resonate as strongly as that of Svitlana Morenets (‘Scrambled logic’, 20 April). She brings the agony of her brave countrymen and women home to us, and the effect of dithering and equivocation by the West. As a volunteer with a refugee charity, I weekly admire the character of our Ukrainian clients, mainly older ladies who spend their time bringing us delicious homemade cakes, volunteering in charity shops and signing up to English classes at the local college.

Tom Stubbs

Surbiton, Surrey

Well out of the EU

Sir: I have huge respect for Lord Sumption as one of the few people with the courage of his convictions to oppose state and judicial overreach, both during the pandemic lockdowns and, more recently, in suggesting Britain should consider leaving the ECHR. It is all the more surprising therefore that he seems unable to see the same phenomena at play in the EU (Diary, 13 April).

The EU’s over-mighty court has systematically stripped powers from Europe’s governments and parliaments. Its regulators have turned the EU into a slow-growth corporatist paradise which this country is doing itself much economic good by leaving. And its leaders, in their fear of so-called populism, are now trying to stigmatise political debate about any of this. I urge Lord Sumption to consider the possibility that the most inspiring project in Europe today comes not from Brussels, but from those who want to roll back unaccountable centralisation, reinvigorate the continent’s nations and bring back real democratic choice to European voters.

Lord Frost

Greenwich, London

A sorry tale

Sir: I’ve spent years investigating prostitution worldwide to test the idea of it being a career choice. I’ve conducted interviews in more than 40 countries and interviewed hundreds of survivors of the sex trade, and almost all of them have told me the same story: don’t believe the ‘happy hooker’ myth, as perpetuated by Lloyd Evans (No life, 20 April). The truth is that men who visit brothels don’t want to get a real date. And women in prostitution absolutely despise the punters.

Most women in the sex trade are particularly vulnerable to being trafficked. Often these women will tell punters they aren’t being exploited because it feeds into the fantasy that they are willing participants. The women scrub themselves raw when they go home. A number have told me that they don’t even want to kiss their children good night. Women in prostitution often dissociate, to avoid confronting their hideous reality.

It’s lovely isn’t it, being able to have sex when the woman doesn’t want to? We often call that rape of course, but the cash seems to sanitise this transaction legally and morally for these men. Prostitution is not a public service to be cheerfully reviewed: it is, always and everywhere, a human-rights violation against women and girls.

The Spectator may be a magazine that publishes articles on all angles of life, high and low. But it should never have published this piece. To confess to having visited a brothel doesn’t make you bold or brave. It makes you a sad, disgusting piece of work.

Julie Bindel

Via email

Full life

Sir: My wife read Lloyd Evans’s article online first and could not wait to share it with me. I am an ex-Royal Navy man who leans towards ladies of tarnished virtue, and she immediately thought I would love and sympathise with Lloyd’s passion for such a situation. Indeed I do, and am appalled at the furore that followed. It was Life as it should be, so thank you for allowing that excellent article to be printed.

Cymen Van Arme

Gillingham, Dorset

Lower life

Sir: From Taki to tacky.

Philip Gooden


Competing rights

Sir: I agree with Lara Prendergast that Stella Creasy’s campaign to decriminalise abortion at any gestation is an extreme position (‘Baby steps’, 13 April). However, she fails to mention a major reason why a woman in England has 24 weeks or ‘a majority stake in her child’s life… to make up her mind’. The ‘anomaly scan’ is a woman’s second, and in most cases final, pregnancy scan. It takes place at 18-21 weeks. By this point, most mothers-to-be are ‘showing’; have felt the baby’s faint movements; and have told their family and friends of the glad tidings. They have picked out some names. Women seeking an abortion at such a late stage are surely not doing so due to indecision, but due to receiving dreadful news at the anomaly scan. A 24-week limit seems to balance mother and baby’s competing rights fairly.

Kate Fletcher


Waste of space

Sir: Dot Wordsworth (6 April) raised the common solecism of referring to peers with, for example, the ‘Lord David Cameron’ format and Joshua Garner (20 April) recommends the accuracy and specificity of ‘Baron Cameron’. A radical alternative might be that all media adopt the simple first name and surname format. It should be noted that the ubiquitous Mr, Mrs, Ms and Miss titles are already near to extinction in media styles. Paradoxically, the tsunami of Professor and Dr titles, devalued by the über-inflation of tertiary education, now wastes valuable written and verbal space.

A media world of simple David Cameron or Keir Starmer would be a truly progressive reform. When the latter almost inevitably inherits the top job later this year the saving of the three letters of Sir would save much space for constructive comment.

Adrian Crisp

Weston Colville, Cambridgeshire

Going for a song

Sir: In his letter of 20 April, Tom Stubbs writes about a costly trip to Glyndebourne. Spectator readers may wish to know that this week I was able to purchase tickets for Carmen and The Merry Widow at the 2024 Festival for £30 each. A bargain for a cultural experience of which Vita Sackville-West said: ‘The graciousness of civilisation here surely touches a peak where the arts of music, architecture and gardening combine for the delight of man.’

Tim Fry

Chichester, West Sussex

Fine kettle of fish

Sir: Andrew Watts’s ‘Notes on Kippers’ (20 April) reminded me of Laurence Olivier’s 1970s campaign to have kippers reinstated to the breakfast menu on the Brighton Belle. Years later, when asked to name his greatest role, Olivier intoned: ‘Saving the kipper on the Brighton line.’ But for him, I may not now have fond memories of kippers for breakfast on my Exeter to London line at that time – which is more than can be said for the eponymous tie which fashion then dictated I wore as I dined.

Peter Saunders

Salisbury, Wiltshire

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