Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

Tories must be less strident

From Sluart Baran

Sir: Simon Heffer tells us that what the Conservative party now needs, above all, is 'stability' (The way ahead for Conservatives', 7 May). But it cannot have escaped his notice that the level of success we have enjoyed in the last decade has been all too 'stable', and that this is in no small part down to the influence of those who, like him, insist on seeing modernisation as an evil. Whilst Heffer and his friends resist change, Mr Blair is left grinning ever more manically. Mr Heffer gives him the ammunition to paint politics as a choice between those who believe the vulnerable should be helped, and those who would rather ignore them.

Heffer accuses the so-called Netting Hill Set of 'inexperience and arrogance', but-their sort of Conservatism is surely about allowing people greater control over their lives and not simply offering them the 'freedom' to agree with Simon Heffer. Only when the Tories adopt a more liberal, less strident tone can we hope to evict the sorry cabal of window-dressers who now 'govern' our country.

Stuart Baran

Jesus College, Oxford

London is safer

From Julian Joyce

Sir: There is a simple solution to Susan Hill's problem ('Sorry, the doctor can't see you now', 7 May). She needs to move to the city where, as she acknowledges, GPs are far more likely to attend her in an emergency. Otherwise I'm not quite sure what the answer is. If it's the recruitment of extra GPs to make calls to isolated farmhouses, I wonder where the money will come from? Does Susan expect urbanites like me to subsidise her rural lifestyle choice?

Indeed, as she has a serious wasp allergy, the countryside is the last place she needs to be. I would counsel a move to the grubby, but safer, streets of London immediately.

Julian Joyce

Isleworth, Middlesex

Junk these machines

From Jessica Johnson

Sir: I sympathise with Nicola Horlick's horror at the unappetising and unhealthy victuals she witnessed being consumed at a picnic on Bank Holiday Monday (Diary, 7 May). The same day I had the misfortune to be in the A&E department of one of our new PPI hospitals in Swindon and was further traumatised to observe vending machines producing the same kind of junk fodder Horlick sees in schools. It seems clear that the Department of Health has neither bargaining room nor real initiative where private enterprise operates in the public sector. If the now muzzled NHS cannot even take a stand on re-educating the public about the evils of an unhealthy diet, then in the long run we will have created a sick society and greater demands for hospital beds. Jamie Oliver - your hospitals need you!

Jessica Johnson

Malmesbury, Wiltshire

Tories need a new 'narrative'

From David Harcourt

Sir: There is nothing new about the distortion of truth into a coherent 'narrative' which encourages popular adherence to a particular world-view (Peter Oborne, 'What's truth got to do with it?', 30 April). The Romans did this. Goebbels did it. Churchill did it. You can see this view of the role of truth explicitly articulated more than 40 years ago at the end of John Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), when the newspaper editor says, 'When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.' Trying a little deconstruction of my own, I'd suggest that Peter Oborne's (and your) real problem with New Labour's narrative is that it's one which more people have found to be congenial/persuasive than the Conservatives' version. So change the narrative. (A hint about where to start with the rethink: the world didn't end when New Labour banned fox-hunting, and if the Tories had been in power they, too, would have supported the US in Iraq.)

David Harcourt

Wellington, New Zealand

From Dr Mark Vernon and Dr Paul Fletcher

Sir: We are fairly convinced of Peter Oborne's thesis that lying is on the rise in politics. …

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