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I have a dream.. an end to cronyism and corruption

We need a Britain that rewards hard work, where so-called tax exiles and clever tax accountants are no longer seen as heroes

All smiles... but will Rachel Reeves and Keir Starmer be able to bring us the Britain we crave? Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty

I cannot see Rachel Reeves delivering the budget Jonty Bloom prescribed in TNE #378 (“The budget Hunt won’t dare deliver”) if Labour win the coming election. But we can dream!

A Britain that regains its self-respect, and stops treating its executives and risk-averse, featherbedded “buccaneers of free enterprise” so absurdly well, and the rest of us like dirt. A Britain that no longer gives foreign companies control of all its prime industries.

A Britain that rewards hard work, and in which people cease to boast at dinner parties of how their cleverly chosen house has earned more money for them than their employment. 

A Britain where people do not have to struggle to get a foot on the housing ladder, in order to have secure accommodation, and can rent housing in order to be more able to move to develop their careers.

A Britain free of waste, cronyism and corruption, where so-called tax exiles and clever tax accountants are no longer seen as heroes.
John Ball
Penryn, Cornwall

I am totally in agreement with Jonty Bloom’s massive house-building proposals on brownfield sites, though this does beg the question “where will all the builders come from?”. His apprenticeship proposals will take a long time to bear fruit in this regard and, of course, many in the building business scarpered back to mainland Europe after Brexit.

Coincidentally, I read on the same day that Wall Street landlords are now muscling in on our new-build homes and pricing would-be buyers out of the market. Jonty’s, or indeed anyone’s, budget will need a clause to put a stop to this practice.
Colin Hayward
Fareham, Hampshire

Make Jonty Bloom chancellor NOW.
Richard McIlwraith
Godalming, Surrey

No Lee way
Claims that the extremist views expressed by Lee Anderson (“The Tories’ indelible stain”TNE #378) simply prove he is in tune with ordinary people are as offensive as Donald Trump’s recent statement that he is popular with black people because he’s facing criminal charges…
Amanda Baker
Edinburgh, Scotland

Isn’t it a bit rich of Rishi Sunak (well, let’s face it, he is rich) warning about the dangers of inflammatory rhetoric in parliament and by politicians more generally?

You have to ask yourself – but obviously he hasn’t – who started all this, who initiated the culture wars and the attacks on anyone who took a different view to the Tory right? Hypocrisy plumbs a new depth.

Maybe the clue is in the last four letters of “inflammatory” and “intimidatory”?
Rex Nesbit

Brexit drama
After reading Matthew d’Ancona’s excellent “ITV is now the nation’s conscience” (TNE #378) I’m longing for an ITV drama series on the Brexit referendum – origins, organisation, campaign, interpretation of the result, ongoing outcomes.
Tony Jones

Unique Rothko
In your letters page of TNE #378, Julian Watmore says of Mark Rothko’s Seagram Murals: “Anyone could have painted them”. Perhaps, but in 300,000 years of human history nobody else did! His paintings are magnificently mysterious and uniquely beautiful.
David Weaver
Cranleigh, Surrey

Julian Watmore should paint a “Rothko” picture and get it hung on the wall of the National Gallery in order to prove that “anybody could do the art he did”. Otherwise his letter amounts to nothing more than stating that “I do not like his pictures”, valid in its way but not serious art criticism.
Graham Heap
Lewes, Sussex

New Europe?
I am an Italian professional, resident in this country since 1977. Since the Brexit referendum I have felt alienated from the political and cultural discourse in the UK, but very recently I subscribed to TNE, hoping to find there a more open, progressive voice.

But I have been disappointed, especially concerning Paul Mason’s commentaries: they seem to be based on the view of this country as a contending power in the world of powers, not carrying anything but its centuries-old ambition for domination (eg “Starmer must be ready to lead Nato”TNE #378).

His point of reference when he talks about the crisis of regulation on the international front is not the American (and British) erosion of the UN capacity to exercise arbitration, but the “badness” of the other, the perennial enemy that is not “us”. 

His faithful abiding to the very dangerous claim by Nato and by consequence Europe that the Ukraine war was “our war” to win is also one-sided: repeating a script from last century, a vanquished and humiliated enemy (USSR) is set up as the opposite side for a potential clash of armies.

War is needed by the economic and political system, and unless all cares are taken it will systemically be reproduced. 

I wonder if the New Europe you allude to has to be simply a reflection of the Old Britain.
Donatella Landi

Pauper poet
In Charlie Connelly’s “Her Hopes Rose in Grasmere” (TNE #377) we are told that in 1799 “Wordsworth was dependent on the munificence of friends and family to survive”. 

Yet in 1795, his friend Raisley Calvert had left the poet £900. Could he have splurged such a large sum in only four years?
Dorothy Woolley
Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire

I enjoyed the sly reference to Panic by the Smiths in the headline of “Her Hopes Rose in Grasmere”. 

I wonder whether the alarmist MPs Lee Anderson and Paul Scully are also fans, given that they seem to believe there’s “Panic on the streets of London, Panic on the streets of Birmingham”?
Richard Davalos
Whalley Range, Manchester

Barking mad
An interesting piece by Peter Trudgill about German-speaking Alto Adigi in Italy (“Italy’s Austrian national hero”TNE #378). Some years ago on a walking holiday in the area, my wife and I found that even the dogs understand German.

Having stopped for coffee at a farm, and the farm dog having made friends with us, we resumed our walk, and found the dog padding along behind us. A couple of times we stopped, and I shouted “Go back, go back!” pointing back along the track. The dog also stopped, looked at us, and then resumed padding along faithfully behind.

Remembering where we were the third time we stopped, I pointed back and shouted “Zurück, zurück!”. The dog spun around, its tail dropped between its legs, and it shot back along the track.
David Courtney
Dover, Kent

Feast or famine
Like every new subscriber to the New European, I have developed my favourite corners of your fine paper – from the scurrilous insider gossip of Mandrake to the reductio ad absurdum verbosity of Will Self.

Then of course there is the brilliant Josh Barrie, whose recipes often had me skipping to the kitchen to cook up whatever feast he had imparted to us that week. 

So imagine my dawning horror to see yet another edition of TNE (#378) with the recipes inexplicably excised from his column. Will they ever be returning?
Alastair Beach
Finchley, London
Josh’s column will continue in its new format… with occasional recipes! – Editor

No limits
Loved Ingrid Robeyns’ article on Limitarianism in TNE #377 (“Put a cap on personal wealth”). A fantastic idea, which I’d vote for in a heartbeat, but I can’t help wondering if it’s never been thought of or tried before!

Would there be a realistic way to implement this without billionaires all leaving the country and/or stashing their money elsewhere? And to prevent individuals claiming their money belongs to a company (no doubt listed in the Cayman Islands).

Just to clarify, is the recommended limit of wealth £10m in the bank or £10m per year in earnings? Not that I’ll ever get to either, but one can dream.
David Hill
Glasgow, Scotland
£10m in total – Editor

Name game
I thoroughly enjoyed Tanit Koch’s piece about plagiarism and doubtful doctorates (Germansplaining, TNE #377). It reminded me of a teaching colleague who challenged himself not just to complete the Times crossword by the end of morning break, but to come up with alternative clues for the answers.

This led to a competition for cryptic clues to teachers’ names. One such clue was “academic timber chopper”. The colleague’s name? Dr Woodcock.
Phil Green

Minority vote
Further to Jonathan R Hunn’s letter (TNE #377) in which he states that under Britain’s first-past-the-post voting system it is possible that a party with only 25% of the vote could form a government. He is correct, but it is far worse than that.

Under this system only 326 people (yes, that’s just 326 people out of a population of 67 million) could theoretically, by voting Conservative (or, indeed, Labour or any other party), elect a majority government in a general election.

It seems inconceivable, but it’s true. Our voting system really is that arcane.
Mick O’Hare
Northwood, Middlesex

While I agree with Luke Wilson (Letters, TNE #377) that Mandrake should have clarified that the £1,000 bet between Rishi Sunak and Piers Morgan was destined to go to a refugee charity, I am not convinced this renders their conduct any more acceptable. 

To use a charity in this way and potentially put it in the invidious position of accepting what it might feel is a tainted donation, or refusing and being criticised for not taking the money and doing some good with it, is in my view utterly beneath contempt; Sunak and Morgan should feel ashamed of themselves. That this grubby episode even occurred is almost beyond my comprehension.
Katy Amberley
London N1

UK silence
According to the German website Deutsche Welle, there have been arrests, as a result of a police operation in Germany, France and Belgium, of people suspected of supplying boats for people smuggling into the UK. The report also refers to a similar operation in 2022, which succeeded in rounding up one of Europe’s largest people-smuggling gangs, but there is no mention of UK involvement.

If there has been a reduction in small boat traffic over the Channel, maybe this is a contributory factor, but these stories don’t seem to feature in the UK media. I am puzzled as to why.
Jonathan West
Rochester, Northumberland

Shelf life
My latest gripe about Brexit malaise is the lack of outrage about the lack of produce on our supermarket shelves.

I have recently returned from a holiday to Madeira. On visiting two big-brand supermarkets in its capital, Funchal, I was shocked not just by the quantity but also the variety of produce bulging off the shelves. Not only was this a timely reminder of the current state of our food supply chains and supermarkets, but a warning that things are likely to get worse before they get better.

Am I the only one who is tired of seeing a particular product replicated 10 times or more along a shelf, but  just one or two deep? If this is the price of sovereignty, they can stick their Brexit where the sun don’t shine.
Danny Abrahams

Sound vision
Why are we mealy-mouthed about the collapse of the NHS being imminent?

Let’s be clear, it has been encouraged by this government. We have a National Illness Service, which is struggling to stay on top of a growing queue of elderly and ill people, public health initiatives have disappeared after being ripped off for private gain, and local authority involvement in health has similarly vanished. National politicians act like little boys sticking a finger in the dyke and seeking praise, while the flood around their knees rises ever higher.

Our society has to have a vision for the NHS. After a consistent 14 years of disruption and disrespect from our government, the underlying damage to healthcare – which is physical, psychological and emotional – has to be repaired. The investment required is long-term, multi-dimensional and immense. It also needs active leadership.

The private sector will inevitably have a role, and how private investment in healthcare plays out with the public will be interesting. We have to get away from the idea that healthcare must be entirely government-funded and provisioned. A new vision relying on a broader funding base, involving private investment, charities, and community action, is needed. 

An attractive model may come from recognition that the nature of the service provider is irrelevant, but meeting a service guarantee is crucially important and is subject to effective regulation.
Roger Wilson CBE

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See inside the Gaza edition

A Volkswagen storage facility in Wolfsburg, Germany, where the car industry is undergoing big changes. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty

Regardless of what gloating Brexiteers say, Germany will be back

Brexit supporters claim Germany’s crisis proves we were right to leave the EU. That’s puerile, illogical stuff

Credit: Tim Bradford

Cartoon: What is extremism?