Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

Blinkered zealotry

From Mr David Radlett

Sir: 'Blair bottles out' (11 December)? That statement surely fits more appropriately Mark Littlewood. He grizzles about the reality of power politics, blaming it for his departure from the organisation Britain in Europe, yet he fails to tell the reader why he joined it in the first place. It is surely not enough to claim that he thought it would be a campaign for the single currency. Nor is it enough to proclaim ardent pro-European belief.

The problem for BiE is that it is desperately difficult to identify value in the single currency. It might work for the 11 members whose combined economy depends so little on world trade. The plummet in the value of the euro may well benefit them: a competitive edge for exports and little danger of importing inflation on the back of the 6 per cent of trade that they conduct with the rest of the world. The story is very different for Britain, which conducts 40 per cent of its trade with the big, bad world. Even the late Lord Home's matchstick economics would identify the problem there.

At least I was touched by his concern for the lost job opportunities for Brendan Donnelly and Stephen Woodard. Still, never mind, they can join the thousands of exminers, the thousands of ex-steelworkers and the thousands of ex-fishermen whose jobs have been sacrificed on the altar of pro-European beliefs.

It is, of course, too much to hope that Mr Littlewood's encounter with reality will cause him to question his beliefs. Zealots are not renowned for their introspection. It is a shame that they cost the rest of us so much.

David N.P. Radlett

119 Livingstone Road,

Gillingham, Kent

Dodgy bodycounts

From Melanie McDonagh

Sir: Is it on the basis of their visit to Belgrade during the Nato campaign that John Laughland and Mark Almond claim such remarkable knowledge of the number of Albanians killed in Kosovo (Letters, 11 December)? Since they were there, according to their interview with the Belgrade paper Politika, to show solidarity with the Serbian people, it does seem that their views on the ethnic cleansing were established before either of them went to the trouble of ascertaining the facts. Mark Almond suggests that the presence of substantial numbers of young Albanian men in the towns of Kosovo is proof that mass killing did not take place. In a population estimated at 200,000 people, the absence of 10,000 of them might not be immediately obvious.

I, too, have visited Kosovo since June, and what struck me was the slowness with which the International War Crimes Tribunal was proceeding with its work. it was treating each grave site as a scene-of-crime investigation, and this thoroughness, though commendable, meant that there were many human remains and graves which were not investigated. However, I can vividly recall interviewing one young man in Klina who bore bullet wounds in his legs and shoulder, which happened, he said, when he was shot with other Albanians who were removed from a convoy by Serbian militia. There were, according to him, up to 100 men in the group, and they were shot in batches of ten; he was covered by other bodies, and left for dead. The corpses of the other men had not been found at the time I was in Kosovo: am I therefore to assume that the young man was lying, that his wounds were self-inflicted, or - to take up one of the more extraordinary suggestions of John Laughland - that the graves were tampered with, but not by the Serbs?

Mark Almond knows very well how the Serbian irregulars and army worked in Bosnia, judging by his excellent book Europe's Backyard War, but seems unable to make the connection between that war and the cleansing in Kosovo. …

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