Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

Still better than Cameron

Sir: I disagree with your editorial ('Agony prolonged', 23 March) that Theresa May is the worst prime minister in our history. Unlike her predecessor, Mrs May -- for all the flaws that have been ruthlessly exposed by the Brexit process -- did not fail to learn the readily accessible lessons from the 1975 referendum. Harold Wilson played something of a blinder, and even a brief reading of this history would have guided a premier willing to learn. David Cameron clearly failed to do this and must assume the mantle of the worst. History will surely judge the PM who caused our current malaise more harshly than its unfortunate inheritor.

Richard List

Aylesbury, Bucks

North: not so grim

Sir: Lord North deserves to be released by Mrs May from the ignominy of being 'the worst prime minister in our history'. This hugely popular man dominated the Commons for 12 years, speaking regularly for two hours without notes. One discerning contemporary noted that: 'He attracted almost all the attention, being powerful, able and fluent in debate. It was impossible to experience dullness in his company'. Like all the best Tories, he cut taxes and increased prosperity. The great paradox of the American War of Independence is that North did not want to fight it. He stayed in the premiership out of loyalty to his monarch, who knew the value of this remarkable and loveable man. One day an opponent complained, in the middle of a violent attack, that 'the noble Lord is asleep' -- whereupon North, his eyes still shut, said: 'I wish to God I were.' He possessed all the qualities a prime minister needs, except luck and selfishness.

Alistair Lexden

House of Lords, London SW1

Doctors and nurses

Sir: J. Meirion Thomas ('Wanted: UK doctors', 23 March) is right about the current recruitment and training of doctors. However, I believe he is somewhat out of touch when it comes to the selection criteria. Any potential medical student reading his article and seeing that the requirement is for four A*s may well think again. Our daughter applied this year to four medical schools, was interviewed at all and received offers from three. Cardiff and Bristol have asked for three As, with Birmingham requiring one A* and two As. Our daughter found the UK Clinical Assessment Test (UKCAT) and the BioMedical Admission Test (BMAT) most enlightening, educational and well worth the hours spent studying.

As for nurses -- only the foolhardy or those with private funds would train as one these days. The requirement for them to pay tuition fees has dramatically reduced UK-trained nurses and we are now almost totally reliant on foreign staffs. The government should force a cull of pointless degrees and ensure that funds are relocated, so that we can train doctors and nurses to work in the UK without substantial debt hanging over them for years. …

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