The Spectator

Letters: we’ve forgotten the point of motherhood


The least deserving

Sir: In your leading article (‘All that glitters’, 14 October) you point out that Keir Starmer avoided mentioning inflation and illegal migration at the Labour conference because the Labour party has historically been weaker than the Conservatives on the two issues.

On the first of these issues, the current administration, and indeed the Tory party as a whole, is surely showing itself to be equally devoid of ideas on how to solve it.

On the second we were treated at the Tory conference and before to the unedifying spectacle of the Home Secretary using unpleasant and unfeeling language about asylum seekers and migrants, amounting in the minds of many who have supported the Tories in the past almost to hate speech.

Caught between the Scylla and Charybdis of a tired, divided and apparently clueless government and an opposition that is seeking to be all things to all people, it may well be the case, as you conclude, that there is little real enthusiasm for Keir Starmer among former Tory voters: but that will not stop many of them voting for a change of government. The sooner this happens, the sooner the Conservative party can start to rebuild itself, perhaps into a one-nation party that will be electable in the future. As it is, there is almost nothing to show that they deserve to be re-elected.

Patrick Rackow

London SW18

How bishops vote

Sir: Andrew Roberts is wrong to think that the voting record of bishops in the Lords points to an anti-Conservative bias (‘Meddlesome priests’, 7 October). Bishops take our roles as unwhipped and independent members of a revising chamber seriously. While we do not vote often, our votes are usually for the improvement of legislation by amendment, not for party-political reasons. Behind the scenes, our relations with ministers and frontbenchers are generally good and productive. Where there is agreement with government, such as the recent Online Safety Bill, it will usually fail to make news headlines. Despite our serious misgivings about the Illegal Migration Bill, bishops did not support an attempt by some peers to vote it down in its entirety, because we respect the will of the elected House. In the 2016/17 session, more bishops voted alongside the government than against to support activation of Article 50, a statistic overlooked by Lord Roberts. Bishops are called to public service in the Lords to lead it in prayer, to reflect our constitutional arrangement and to give a voice for those of faith and those on the margins who may not otherwise be heard. We are inspired by our Gospel values, not partisan politics.

The Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith

Bishop of St Albans and Convenor of the Lords Spiritual

Only children

Sir: Well done to Mary Wakefield for her honesty in saying that she was sorry that she had left motherhood too late to have more than one child – thereby denying her son a sibling or two – and wondering why more women didn’t admit to this (‘I regret not having more children’, 14 October). I am constantly surprised by the ‘me time’ attitude to motherhood found in the media, with mothers bemoaning the demands made on them by their children. Surely the whole essence of motherhood is the giving up of oneself for the sake of one’s growing child, not having a child as an accessory to one’s lifestyle? Hard though that might be at times, I have found that the most rewarding relationships to be had, besides with a partner, are with one’s offspring: delightful and unexpected moments in their childhood, and friendship and respect in adulthood. The Chinese have realised too late the detrimental effects of the one-child policy – it is time the western world woke up to that, too.  

Charis Cavaghan-Pack

Taunton, Somerset

Winning games

Sir: Mark Mason’s review of Marcus du Sautoy’s book of board games was very interesting (Books, 14 October). A taste of the wider world that lies tantalisingly beyond tedious rounds of Monopoly when trapped indoors on damp afternoons. There are many dozens of different board games, both simple and complex with strategies considered or quick, and you don’t need to venture into the terra incognita of an obscure geeky specialist store to find them: most Waterstones bookshops these days have almost an entire wall dedicated to board games.

It’s important to select a game appropriate to the company and the occasion – I still remember an embarrassingly unsuccessful house party where we spent what felt like three hours setting up a game of Arkham Horror across an entire kitchen but only about 20 minutes actually playing it. But I always find that Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride are both compact enough to not take over the dinner table and accessible enough to be enjoyed by all ages and newcomers. Hopefully this can set off a journey of discovery for many more.

Robert Frazer 

Salford, Lancs

Big cats in Britain

Sir: Matt Ridley is right to be sceptical, but in the countryside we are more open-minded about big cats than those within the M25 (‘Fools’ paradise’, 7 October). We don’t rely on photographs in the tabloids.  We have other evidence (dead and missing livestock). Our neighbour has just had something – I will not specify what – taken away to be DNA-tested by a university zoology department. We also tend not to talk about it much because we don’t want the people who believe in crop circles trampling all over our land. Big cats are like honest politicians: vanishingly rare. Just because you don’t personally know someone who has seen one doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

Stephen Dudley 


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