Your cover showing Enoch Powell at a “Stop The Boats” lectern (TNE #333) is a reminder of the value of Edward Heath. He negotiated, as part of Harold Macmillan’s government, our entry into the Common Market and implemented the decision to join as prime minister.
He must also be the last Conservative prime minister to stand up to MPs making inflammatory, racist speeches. He ensured that Powell was removed from the Conservative Party.
Sadly today’s Conservative Party not only lacks the courage to do so, but, worse, is using those inflammatory tactics as a matter of course itself.
Harrow, Greater London
Re: Your coverage of Suella Braverman in recent issues (TNE #332 and #333). Braverman is awful, and as assorted scandals, idiotic remarks and now the picture of her laughing in Rwanda show, she is not very good at being a professional politician.
Yet the fault that she is home secretary lies not with her but with those who have overpromoted her; the latest being Rishi Sunak. She is obviously not up to the job but continues to do it because this so-called sensible prime minister is scared of the not-sensible wing of his party.
Of course, Braverman must be removed, but so must he, and so must the rest of them.
The Tories have run out of ideas and are now out of control. Desperation leads to bad choices and actions.
Re: Suella Braverman and your “Lie of the week” (TNE #333). Braverman says “billions (are) eager to come here if possible”. So by definition, at least 25% of the world’s population wants to live in the UK?
And this woman is our home secretary.
Just imagine if Diane Abbott had got her numbers muddled in the way that Suella Braverman did over the “billions” who want to come here…
It’s very interesting that Braverman gets a free ride for a calculated lie while Abbott got crucified for a genuine mistake.
For decades, British people have asked: “How could a civilised people like the Germans allow the rise of the Nazis?” For the answer, we only have to take an honest look at what, even without the context of post-first world war desperation, drew millions in the UK to the rhetoric spewed by Nigel Farage and the ERG, and why Suella Braverman and co are so sure it will continue to attract electoral support.
They can see that it succeeds despite all the evidence of damage to the nation’s economy, world status and to democracy itself.
The final, hard question is “Who is to blame for their confidence?” The answer may be even harder to accept, but is unavoidable.
Your correspondent John Simpson (Letters, TNE #333) says France is our closest neighbour. This is incorrect. Our closest neighbour is Ireland, the only sovereign state to which we are physically joined. You can’t get closer than that.
Gets my GOAT
Re: Bonnie Greer’s article about film and feminism (“Hitch and miss”, TNE #333). As a cinephile I’m embarrassed to say that I only heard about Jeanne Dielman (1975) – via “the influential [film] magazine Sight and Sound” – last year. Having now seen it I think it is a masterpiece and worthy of, belatedly, joining the acknowledged ranks of the greatest films of all time.
But the GOAT? Can any film really be labelled that?
As for Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) I’d like to point out that it only held the Sight and Sound GOAT title between 2012 and 2022 – hardly “a long time”. Prior to that, Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane (1941) was the GOAT between 1962 and 2012 – definitely a long time.
I suspect Jeanne Dielman director Chantal Akerman, like Hitchcock, would have “disdained” the Oscars. Most true cinephiles/cineastes don’t take them seriously and Sight and Sound barely covers them. The last time a truly great film won best film at the Academy Awards was The Godfather Part II (1974), nearly 50 years ago.
Adapt and die
Charlie Connelly (Eurofile, TNE #333) accepts radical departures from the source novel in the most recent movie adaptation of All Quiet on the Western Front, quoting Erich Maria Remarque: “A book is a book and when it’s made into a film it’s a new medium.” However, the novelist was referring to the outstanding 1930 treatment of his work, where the onscreen differences (such as, spoiler alert, the manner of Kat’s death) did work.
I will accept that some film “mutations” of novels improved on them (off the top of my head: Seven Days in May and The Postman – Kevin Costner, not Massimo Troisi), but far too many make a mess of it. The prevalent method seems to be cutting character and plot in favour of extravagant action, as per this century’s adaptation of Tolkien epics, with what happened on the page being far more effective than all the green screen (I’m not saying that they should have kept the songs).
I could write a book; Christopher Priest did to salute the film of his The Prestige, and one would think he should know, but the screenplay by the Nolan brothers messed about with historical details that weren’t exclusive Priest property. That film stands as a useful example of an adaptation where every change from the source is demonstrably worse.
Having worked at the top end of applied western physics for a number of years, I read with interest the well-explained and detailed article on Cern by Professor Shears (“Is the Large Hadron Collider stuck?”, TNE #333).
Two of the questions I was left with, were:
1) How much does it currently cost the UK taxpayer?
2) Where does it currently feature in the UK’s list of priorities?
Dennis Evans FRSA
It is not surprising that the British manufacturing industry is abandoning the Tories, as reported by Jonty Bloom (“Manufacturing outrage”, TNE #333). The Tories abandoned the British manufacturing industry in 1979 and have shown little sign of being interested in reviving it.
The question for Labour is, how are British manufacturers going to competitively find their way back into supply chains that involve European countries without a substantial shift on what the party is currently proposing?
Of course they are not interested in British manufacturing any more. The Conservative Party made some sort of sense as a voice for business when the wealthy made their money from manufacturing or agriculture in the UK. Now they no longer care about British industry as that is not how the wealthy in the UK make their money.
The Tories get millions and millions from billionaires and millionaires. I hope the manufacturers now put some money in the opposition parties’ coffers.
Like the subjects of so many of Jonty Bloom’s articles, the plight of British manufacturing shows the contradictions of Brexit in microcosm.
Brexit was supposed to free our manufacturing to compete on a global level, but it turns out that “Global Britain” actually means the freedom to import far cheaper goods from elsewhere in the world while our own manufacturers struggle with red tape, low skills and high costs.
No amount of Buy British campaigns will help.
We do make a lot, but so much of it is or was medium companies making fairly low-volume goods or products.
Look at aviation: Airbus wings, Rolls-Royce engines – all great to make but we’re not exactly knocking it out of the park with “whole aircraft”, are we? Arguably our last successful mass-volume jet was the Hawker Hunter – and Harold Macmillan was PM then.
Is Britain’s future, out of the EU or in, as a manufacturing powerhouse?
I would submit that it is not, in either scenario.
Future governments should therefore be thinking about both universal basic income and models for an effective care economy, which employs hundreds of thousands more in providing the care we need for our children and elderly people.
I enjoyed Jonty Bloom’s excellent piece on the TNE website about childcare in Denmark compared with Jeremy Hunt’s botched plans for the UK. I witnessed the same or very similar arrangements in Norway, Sweden and Finland during a multinational project investigating how countries and major cities supported migrants when they first arrived.
Guess who funded it? The EU wanted to identify good practice and disseminate it…
The childcare provision was local and of such good quality that private provision was not necessary; it was staffed by people who as a minimum had a first degree in early-years education. To lead and manage the provision, you needed a higher degree. It operated from very early in the day until around 6pm.
The provision was often located alongside other facilities such as a GP surgery, a pharmacy, the local library and a retirement home, so that young children and older people could interact with each other on a regular basis, to mutual benefit.
Of course, people in Scandinavian countries pay more tax than us. That’s the price of a decent society. They are light years ahead of us in terms of childcare and enabling parents to work. As one council leader in Sweden put it, “childcare is an investment, not a cost”.
A bad break
Europe could kill the gangs described in “Belgium breaks bad” (TNE #333) stone dead by simply decriminalising drugs.
Letters on your recent article about Miles Davis in Paris (TNE #333) remind me that the great man was a believer in Groucho Marx’s maxim about never joining a club that would have you as a member.
Adored by continental audiences, Miles rewarded them with quotes like “In Europe, they like everything you do, the mistakes and everything. That’s a little bit too much” and, on hearing Sun Ra for the first time: “That’s gotta come from Europe. We wouldn’t play no shit like that.”
Of no use
After tackling useless words (TNE #333), could Peter Trudgill excoriate the useless circumlocution “I would like to..?” To my mind, the phrase carries the connotation that there is something preventing the user from carrying out that desire (“I would like to do X but I cannot because Y”). In most parlance, however, the phrase is redundant.
For example, why not say “I thank”, rather than (deep breath) “I would like to thank”?
Sunderland, Tyne and Wear
As I wait, popcorn by my side, for Boris Johnson’s appearance in front of the Partygate inquiry, I wonder if Peter Trudgill has considered a column on Latin phrases and their use and misuse by great bores of our age, seeking to appear intellectual while actually revealing nothing beyond a simple feat of memory? Just a thought…
Paul Mason’s “If the Tories collapse, they will be replaced by something even worse” (TNE #332) illustrates that only PR and coalition governments will really keep excesses in check and avoid knee-jerk governments, not the current adversarial scheme in which the wishes of only 40% or so of voters are represented in government.
At the moment, the Tories have voter approval ratings of just over 20% but can still do whatever they want and impose their extreme agenda.
FPTP is producing governments with minority support; PR would force parties to cooperate and compromise. It is not a loss of democracy, but proper democracy to have over 50% of people represented by their government.
Imagine – the poor are poorer than at any time since the postwar decade, so let’s reduce the tax on pensions and enable the rich to cram their pensions full of money that they can pass on while avoiding inheritance tax. That’ll help.
Anyone want to splash out on a turnip?