Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

Dutch tensions

Sir: Rod Liddle's magnificent portrayal of Dutch politics is marred by one error ('Orange alert', 16 October). The antiimmigration and anti-Islam leader Geert Wilders is not 'almost bizarrely Aryan', as Liddle states. His grandmother was from a Jewish Indonesian family. His blond hair is peroxided. These facts, unlike many about Mr Wilders, are not in dispute.

David Jones


The philosophy of Stone

Sir: I could have a little more respect for Oliver Stone's views on cutting defence spending in the UK if he had the slightest idea what he was talking about ('When Stone gets stick', 16 October). Defence spending costs £35 billion per annum, in contrast with welfare at £190 billion, health at £120 billion, and education at £90 billion.

Furthermore, as your own statistics show, spending on our hard-pressed armed forces has only just kept pace with inflation over the past five years, in contrast with the large real increases in the budgets of both health and education, with no discernible improvement in quality. You do the math, Mr Stone, as I believe your countrymen are wont to say on these occasions.

John-Paul Marney


Commitment to the classics

Sir: While I can only admire Peter Jones's commitment to his subject ('Classic spooks', 16 October), and can only agree that rigour in education is desirable, I fear he is making too much of the contingent survival of classics in the best schools. Is it not plausible that the aims of statecraft would be even better served by teaching the literatures of (say) Russian, Spanish, Persian and Mandarin to the standards of the curriculum for Ancient Greek?

Guy E.S. Herbert

London NW1

Downton anachronism

Sir: Yes, Downton Abbey is superb melodrama, as Charles Moore wrote (The Spectator's Notes, 16 October), as well as a feast for the eyes, and brilliantly cast. But may I gently point out that an Ottoman diplomat visiting the estate in 1912 would never have been introduced as 'Kemal Pamuk'. Pamuk (meaning 'cotton') is a surname, and surnames were not used in Turkey until the mid-1920s, when Ataturk made their adoption compulsory as part of his Westernisation drive. The visitor in question would have been known and addressed as Kemal Bey.

Lord Monson

London W8

With a clap of the hands

Sir: Further to Michael Henderson's excellent article about sanctimonious pop stars ('John Lennon, idiot', 16 October), I remembered that story about Bono saying at a concert that 'Every time I clap, a child dies in Africa.' A member of the audience shouted: 'Well, stop f***ing clapping then! …

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