Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

No Peel appeal From Delwyn Swingewood

Sir: Michael Wharton (`Alien nation', 1 April) appears to be laying the blame for England's `degradation' over the past halfcentury at the door of Tony Blair and `New Labour', whatever that is. This seems strange. Conservative administrations have been in power for most of the period to which Wharton refers. During those years, notably the Thatcher-Major era, there was little regard for the thrust of Sir Robert Peel's original Tory manifesto which pledged to conserve what was good. Or maybe there was. Thatcher certainly did `con' the public and `serve' big business.

Delwyn Swingewood

39 Friern Road,

London SE22

From Mr Peter Ford

Sir: Lord Nelson and the Duke of Welling ton would have recognised and appreciated the qualities of Sir Richard Branson.

Under his personal leadership, way back in the days when Virgin Atlantic had only two aircraft, the airline won the `Best Airline on the Atlantic' award. Since then, Virgin Atlantic has become one of the finest airlines in the world. Such continuing success can only happen with the right sort of inspirational and appreciative leadership.

Then there is the small matter of crossing the Atlantic in a speedboat. Not just once but twice; after the first attempt had ended in near disaster off Scilly. If that isn't enough, there was the successful crossing of the Atlantic in a hot-air balloon and the attempt to fly around the world in another one.

No, Mr Wharton. Sir Richard Branson does not deserve to be named as a `sham personality' in the company of the Gallagher brothers and Peter Mandelson in your otherwise excellent article in the 1 April edition. But then, perhaps you just meant that bit of it as an April Fool joke.

Peter Ford

Edgbarrow Cottage,

Sandhurst Road,

Crowthorne, Berkshire

From Mr Edward Driffield

Sir: I have for many years enjoyed the writings of Michael Wharton in his guise of Peter Simple. He has always provided reactionaries with real red meat when he has sallied forth against the various lunatic outbreaks of modernism.

His piece in The Spectator was vintage Wharton, but I am not convinced he was right to blame left-liberalism for the decline of England. Yes, the left-liberals and the dreadful brigade of know-nothings that call themselves New Labour have managed, with great chatter and aplomb, in the last two years to vandalise much of the remnants of traditional England. But should they take so much of the blame for creating dismal, conformist New Britain? If we were to be modish and create a league table of horror and guilt, I fear the Conservative party (one refuses to grace them with the word Tory) would top it.

It is not only that the Conservatives failed to attempt to turn back the clock or, for that matter, simply resist some of the dreadful examples of `progress'; it is that they colluded in the destruction of traditional England.

It was the Manchester Liberals in the Conservative ranks that turned the country into Great Britain plc, uprooting traditional values in favour of the values of the free market; it was they who ploughed up the country and sacked the towns to make way for motorways, supermarkets and other assorted `monstrous carbuncles'.

It was they who turned higher education into a branch of business management, where the notion of a classical education was replaced with `relevant' nonsense fit only to dull imaginative minds so that they might better become management consultants, or worse.

It was the Conservatives that allowed the greatest coarsening influence on this nation, Mr Murdoch and his Sun newspaper, to grow in power. And, worse still, rather than shunning the man and his dirty little product, courted him.

It was in the Eighties, as people got richer and their souls poorer, that the culture of `lifestyle' choice and the marketing man's obsession with `youth' spread throughout the whole of our culture. …

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