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Don’t be taken in by the prime minister’s lies and distortions

We mustn't be fooled by Rishi Sunak's tactics of stating the obvious and distorting the truth

Image: The New European

Rishi Sunak is every bit as bad as James Ball suggests in “The man who wasn’t there” (TNE #324). The mismanagement of the NHS crisis is mind-blowing. Yet bills will come down and easily attainable targets will be met, and Labour’s poll lead will continue to be chipped away, while all Keir Starmer offers is lukewarm support for striking NHS workers and nonsensical fudge on Brexit. The complacency Starmer cautions his MPs against is his own biggest failing.
Conor Rigby
Stockport, Cheshire

“His tactics include stating the obvious,” you write in “The man who wasn’t there”. Don’t be taken in. Rishi Sunak’s “stating the obvious” can include downright lies, such as public sector pay review bodies being “independent”. They’re nothing of the kind.
David Wood
Via Facebook

Rishi Sunak’s actual tactics are disinformation, distortions, omissions… classic underhand stuff.
Paul Andrew

Rishi Sunak, the man who came second to a woman who came second to a lettuce… We really are in trouble, aren’t we?
Michael Wood
Via Facebook

Fishy Farage

One thing missing from “So long, and thanks for all the fish” (TNE #324) is that the country got thrown under a bus because supposed problems between the EU and the British fishing industry were bigged up by Nigel Farage, who attended only one out of 42 fisheries committee meetings when he was an MEP.
Richard Chappell

Venomous Self

I agree wholeheartedly with letter-writers Shelley Carr and Alison Hollyhead (TNE #324) that the late Vivienne Westwood was a hero of our times who changed the way people looked and thought and that she is undeserving of the opprobrium heaped on her by Will Self in his Multicultural Man column (TNE #323).

Self’s “vapid, vatic” writing-off of Westwood pronouncements is, to say the alliterative least, venomous. Having once seen an exhibition of clothes that were handmade by Westwood, I thought they exuded rebelliousness from every stitch, seam, and slash. Self considers the idea that Westwood represented a spirit of rebelliousness as “frankly ridiculous”; he is entitled to his opinion, and I respect it.

The major problem I have with Self’s article begins with his references to the tragic figure of Marxist-Situationist Guy Debord. Clearly, Self idolises Debord and, no doubt, should devote a full article to him (if he hasn’t done so already).

But linking somehow the “détournement” of Debord’s “non-spectacular celebrity” ideals by Westwood, her ex-partner Malcolm McLaren and their “ignorant army” of like-minded followers with Debord’s suicide is gratuitous. Sadly, Self demonstrates a vindictive streak that requires him to stick his literary boot into someone whom he does not like and whose work he does not rate.
Chris Fitzpatrick
Dublin, Ireland

Unlike some others (Letters, TNE #324) I believe that Will Self’s vilification of Rees-Mogg is valid. To me, despite his faith, Rees-Mogg is the opposite of the prayer of St Francis: “Where there is hatred, love, Where there is Discord, union, Where there is error, truth”.

The fact remains that Brexit is contrary to peace, unity and freedom. I wrote to Rees-Mogg about this, but his secretary advised me that he does not answer letters.
Paul Dardis
Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

Rees-Mogg uses his faith as another tool of self-promotion. Will Self was spot on. More please.
Alison Brown
Dobcross, Saddleworth

Solaar eclipse

Congratulations on what was a fine, if flawed, attempt by Sophia Deboick to name the 50 greatest European albums (TNE #323) No artists from the Republic of Ireland – part of the EU surely – so great work from The Dubliners, Thin Lizzy and many others left out.

And what about Mellow Candle? 1970s Irish prog/folk rockers whose mesmeric Swaddling Songs album is widely regarded as one of the most influential of all time. Artists who heard it went on to form bands, a little like the influence of the Velvet Underground. And what about French rapper MC Solaar?
DC Kneath
Swansea, Wales

Feud for thought

I enjoyed reading Alastair Campbell’s account of his visit to that great climbers’ haunt, the Clachaig Inn, Glencoe (Diary, TNE #323).

Next time he is confronted by that curmudgeonly bartender, Alastair could remind him that there may be two sides to the story of the 1692 massacre of Glencoe. Just three years previously, following the Jacobites’ defeat by government forces a few days after their famous victory at the battle of Killiecrankie, a disconsolate band of MacDonalds marched home westwards from Dunkeld to Glencoe, through the Campbell lands of Glen Lyon, laying waste their fields, carrying off their livestock and generally creating havoc in the best traditions of clan warfare.

Some might argue 1692 was merely “tit for tat”?

And BTW, I understand Alastair’s trouble with cold bagpipes at Hogmanay. I had a similar experience after taking the pipes at the last minute from their hiding place in a freezing car into a warm hall to play. They fell apart, the reeds all fell out, and I had two minutes to reassemble and re-tune the entire animal. But, as ever at New Year, everyone was so drunk that they didn’t even notice.
Peter D Brown
Morecambe, Lancashire

Re: “Would you dare” (TNE #323), your article in praise of wild swimming.

Let’s have more pulmonary oedema! The NHS needs stretching!

Ever tried thinking things through before making witless suggestions?
Peter Farrell-Vinay
Via Facebook

Passport blues

Re: The requirements for German citizenship listed by Tanit Koch in Germansplaining (TNE #323). Having gained German nationality in 2016, may I add that in addition to having been resident for over eight years, you also have to pass citizenship and language proficiency tests. The whole procedure took four months and cost about €800 (£709).
Sue Schmid
Via Facebook

May I thank Tanit Koch for the kind invitation to apply for a German passport.

Sadly though, my new year present was a polite refusal of my existing application, based on the premise that my German-born mother was not German at the time of my birth, as the custom then was for women to lose or have their nationality taken from them immediately on marriage to a foreigner.

So, despite having been brought up in a German way by my mother and two German grandparents, mine and actually her birthright remain removed by this old discriminatory law. “Mit dem Vater kommt die Nationalität, mit der Mutter die Heimat”.

Perhaps Tanit Koch can explain why the German authorities, despite more recent liberal thinking, still cling to this one.
Michael Stocks

If only I could take German citizenship! I inquired, because of my German-born mother, but was politely refused. Alas, she came to the UK a very long time ago, before the second world war, and became a British subject (as they were then called) on marriage to my father in the early 1930s. She did not register my later birth at a German consulate here – hardly surprising as we were by then at war with Germany!
Eric Callway

In Everyday Philosophy: Predictions (TNE #323) I think Nigel Warburton underplays the role of inductive reasoning. The basis of science is inductive reasoning on the basis of repeated observation, experiment and measurement. More generally, because reasoning is not taught in schools we easily fall victim to false logic.

To give two examples: Nigel Farage stated that “the experts said it would be a disaster if we did not go into the euro”. This is a false premise (both John Major and Tony Blair were told by the Treasury NOT to go in). It is also an invitation to make the false induction (they are always wrong) and the non sequitur (therefore I am right).

Steve Bannon claimed “there are no such things as facts” – ultimately true (!) in absolute terms – but with the non sequitur that therefore a statement true beyond reasonable doubt or true on the balance of probability is no more valid than one that is neither.
PE Basford


I regularly buy my copy of TNE in Sainsbury’s, Cockermouth. Yesterday, on the eve of the new edition’s arrival, I noticed that several copies of TNE #323 (“Happy new year… it’s going to be crap”) were still unsold. In my experience that’s only happened once before, and what the two occasions have in common is that both front covers featured lavatories.

Last week’s example was crude and lacking in wit or invention. I bought it anyway, because I’m confident of the quality of what’s likely to be inside.
David Lindley

Woke values Re: “Wokeness is a bad guide to history” (TNE #321). Is Dominic Sandbrook arguing against woke values (caring about racism, homophobia, climate change, Brexit and being tolerant, kind, compassionate and inclusive) or is he arguing against boastfulness, oversimplification and being judgmental?

If it’s the latter, are these exclusively woke traits that don’t apply to non-woke people and do they apply to all or just some woke people? Or is he being too simplistic and judgmental in his arguments?
Sarah George

Dominic Sandbrook moves on to dismiss the need for kindness in corporate policy. Seriously bad decisions have been made as a result of forgetting to be kind. The most glaring example is the Post Office Horizon scandal, “the worst failure of corporate governance in UK history”.

There are many more – Windrush, Grenfell Tower, Thalidomide – of disastrous decision-making where the main factor seemed to be a failure to see and empathise with the people who suffered the failures of the system. Another is the Tory front bench.

Dismissing kindness in policy does not make people tough, wise and businesslike. It makes them stupid.
Nigel Derby
Chesham, Bucks


Thank you Paola Totaro for the fascinating article on anosmia (“Senseless: My journey through a world without smell”, TNE #321). My Covid anosmia experience was catastrophic. I find her link with depression very convincing. I am sure that smelling anything and everything in my house and garden every day for months is still getting me back to some kind of normalcy.
Andrew Dean
Exeter, Devon

Paola Totaro’s article on anosmia was excellent. Until Covid-19 struck, the processes leading to viral anosmia were barely known, but a small cohort of people had been losing olfaction every year due to other coronaviruses. I was one of them. I lost mine in 1998. What Paola’s article doesn’t mention, though, is the potential cure.

I was treated at the Washington DC Taste and Smell Clinic using generic prescription drugs.
Michael O’Hare
Northwood, Middlesex

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