Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

Labour's new clothes

From Mr Randhir Singh Bains

Sir: Your leader (3 June) rightly states that the government's anti-elitism campaign stems from its aversion to noting the difference between an elitist and an oligarch. However, there is another simple explanation: it is merely a ploy to mask Labour's growing shift to the Right.

Labour now accepts that economic egalitarianism, reducing the gap between the rich and the poor, is an unachievable goal. It has, therefore, replaced it with political egalitarianism, bridging the gulf between the ruler and ruled. Devolution, the setting up of the London Authority etc., these are but a few examples of this change.

However, on vital issues such as the economy, education and health, Labour's policies remain indistinguishable from those of the Tories except that these policies are projected with a heavy dose of left-wing nuances such as race and gender equality, anti-elitism, etc. In reality, this government has no core policies.

Randhir Singh Bains

Gants Hill, Essex

From Mr A.N. Binder

Sir: The Laura Spence/Magdalen affair has one redeeming feature: dons are squirming in a most amusing way. Mrs Thatcher was denied an honorary degree amid much selfrighteous trumpeting of the need to stand up for the rights of British universities to be properly (infinitely) funded. Blair arrives. Tuition subsidies are cut. Much amazed lipsucking ensues. Now the heavy brigade of Brown and Prescott inveighs against Oxford and Cambridge independence. Quelle trahison des clercs! Blair's chances of getting an honorary degree must now be worse than yours, sir.

A.N. Binder

(Magdalen 1949-53), Speldhurst, Kent

McCarthy's warts

From Cheli Duran

Sir: My attention has been drawn to Anthony Howard's review of Arthur Herman's book, Joseph McCarthy (Books, 6 May).

Anthony Howard is a reliable critic and journalist, so it is surprising to find him crediting Herman with `integrity as a scholar' or describing him as `meticulous'. Herman's portrayal of `McCarthy's many warts' may suggest objectivity, but this is deceptive.

If I am to judge by the misinformation and false allegations contained in the brief account of Gustavo Duran, my father, the book must be rife with errors and bias. Herman does not even see fit to mention that in January 1955 Gustavo Duran was cleared unconditionally by the Loyalty Board of all charges against him.

The dead cannot clear their names. Nor do the living have any legal recourse to do so. But the facts are readily available to anyone who wants to hear them. I would be happy to share with Anthony Howard any relevant documents in my possession.

Cheli Duran

London SW13

Five-star generals

From Mr George Cazenove

Sir: Peter Oborne's article on General Sir Charles Guthrie (`An officer and a politician', 27 May) made two errors. He wrote that there is an `iron rule' concerning the creation of field marshals in peacetime, and that a peerage for a retiring Chief of the Defence Staff was not always guaranteed. This is not the case, as the last CDS, Field Marshal the Lord Inge, held five-star rank throughout his tenure and was raised to the peerage on retirement. The only recent CDS not to have been ennobled is Marshal of the RAF Sir Peter Harding, who resigned in disgrace after his affair with Lady Buck. The elastic rule concerning five-star rank is a new one, introduced by the Major government, and General Guthrie is, in fact, the first CDS not to hold five-star rank. It will indeed be interesting to see if Tony's favourite soldier is promoted, but the Prime Minister would not be breaking any `iron rules' if General Guthrie managed the final step on the ladder.

George Cazenove

Selwyn College, Cambridge

Kodak's return

From Mr James T. Lyon

Sir: If Miss Edwardes (Diary, 27 May) and Mr Fabricant (Letters, 3 June) must be robbed in Europe, they should consider Germany. …

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