Skip to main content

Hello. It looks like you’re using an ad blocker that may prevent our website from working properly. To receive the best experience possible, please make sure any ad blockers are switched off, or add to your trusted sites, and refresh the page.

If you have any questions or need help you can email us.

Integrity and accountability? Not in this government

Rishi Sunak allowed a man found guilty of misleading parliament to hand out honours to useless carcicatures, bullies and lockdown lawbreakers

Sunak clearly thought he had a deal with Johnson, who has now come back to bite him. Photo: Leon Neal/WPA/Pool/Getty

How does the promise of “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level” square with Rishi Sunak’s actions in this latest Boris Johnson farrago? Allowing a man found guilty of misleading parliament to hand out honours to useless carcicatures, bullies and lockdown lawbreakers shows there is no integrity or accountability at the heart of government.

As for professionalism, Sunak clearly thought he had a deal with Johnson, who has now bitten him without even muttering “I’m a snake, what did you expect?”. So much for professionalism.
Lisa Taylor
Brighton, Sussex

Incompetence (and worse) should not be rewarded. Boris Johnson should be losing his parliamentary pension for his abuse of power, not giving out honours.
Walt Fos
Huércal-Overa, Spain

I was sorry to hear that Nadine Dorries didn’t get an honour after all, and wondered if I’m right in thinking she will be appearing as a pantomime dame this Christmas. It may be the only way she’ll become one.
David R Pollard
Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire

Howls of indignation greeted the news that Boris Johnson’s “honours” list included his hairdresser. Apart from the obvious fact that being given a peerage (considering cruel asset-stripper “Sir” Philip Green etc) should now be regarded as an insult – why should the hairdresser not be rewarded?
In my view anyone willing to go within five feet of Boris Johnson deserves canonising.
Amanda Baker
Edinburgh, Scotland

Boris Johnson’s honours list should be a signal to Sir Keir Starmer that the House of Lords must be replaced by an elected upper chamber or senate to represent all the regions of Britain. This new upper house should be elected using proportional representation.
David Hogg
Bristol, Avon

The ever-present BoJo ShitShow might just explain my spotting Stanley Johnson taking an afternoon stroll along Back Rd in Stromness, Orkney a few days before his son’s resignation.

I can understand him wanting to put as much distance as possible twixt himself and that lying/cheating/workshy son of his! But, as Johnson Sr is ultimately responsible for inflicting such an odious slob as BoJo on to humanity, could I suggest his choosing another island even more remote and distant from the rest of us – such as Tristan da Cunha or Pitcairn Island – and that he take the lying clown with him. Just a thought.
Antonio Toma

Woke western
The western Bonnie Greer refers to in “Trump’s apprentices are entering the boardroom” (TNE #344) would have been She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, directed by John Ford in 1949, and generally considered to be among the very best of the genre.

While Bonnie considers not apologising to be “the Trump way”, the John Wayne character who said “Don’t apologise; it’s a sign of weakness,” was a serving soldier. The ex-president’s record indicates that actual soldiering isn’t very Donald Trump.

The principle of Not Saying Sorry readily develops into Not Having Anything For Which To Be Sorry and even Being Sorry For Oneself: The Trump Way and indeed the Boris Johnson Way.

Western movies often demonstrate this trope: the US Cavalry are the ones who warrant sympathy for being the instruments of greedy geopolitical aggression for successions of governments that were as often as not reneging on agreements (without suffering the sort of consequences customarily dished out to “renegade Indians” on screen). And critics would damn Dances with Wolves for being even slightly woke before the term was coined.
Bryn Hughes
Wrexham, Wales

Coy Starmer
Alastair Campbell (Diary, TNE #344) describes Keir Starmer’s Brexit stance as “baffling”. But Starmer is simply playing it coy.

He doesn’t want to be out and out anti-Brexit as this will alienate a fair number of people. No, all he can do is to “make Brexit work”, which can only happen with closer links to the EU. In effect, the UK will end up joining the single market but not have any say in its running, a right forfeited by Brexit.
Laurent Guiderdoni
Via Facebook

Irish error
Re: “The Celtic tiger roars for real” (TNE #344). The figure for EU funding for Ireland to help with the shock was £800m, not billion – £800bn is more than the entire Irish economy produces in a year.
Dave Curran

Oh, Vienna!
John McTernan’s “A history lesson from Vienna” (TNE #343) discusses the failure of societies to come to terms with unpleasant parts of their past.

The first thing to do is to teach history without a national bias. Not focusing on kings and queens, and tosh like that. With a real examination of the ideas of empire, both here and elsewhere, as well as the effects it had on other countries that were invaded and turned upside down…

Not with a bias here, either, but just trying to see and discuss all angles.
Cara Lockhart Smith
Via Facebook

Austria has yet to face its past far-right extremism. The nation’s empathy with Vladimir Putin is very much present in contemporary Austrian politics.
Peter Todd

Your piece on Vienna? It means nothing to me.
Richard Bell

Bad books
Browsing recently in a local bookshop, I came across Simon Jenkins’s book, The Celts, A Sceptical History. The cover blurb promised an interesting and thought-provoking work, so I bought a copy.

Reading it proved to be a dispiriting experience. The tone of the narrative was relentlessly anglocentric, and the text told us more about their antagonists down the centuries than about the poor beleaguered Celtic peoples themselves.

Thanks to Peter Trudgill’s assessment (“The war of Jenkins’s book”, TNE #343), I now feel that my own conclusions about this deeply flawed work are duly vindicated. I would urge the general reader seeking insights into Celtic culture and legacy to look elsewhere.
Donald Nichol
Galashiels, Scotland

Planet AI
Henry Shevlin’s feature (TNE #343) asks if artificial intelligence can save the planet. It will – by destroying humans. A bit ironic, but there you go.
Chris Purcell
Via Facebook

AI (certainly at present) doesn’t really add much (except reliably good grammar and spelling). It just seems to average the sum of its inputs. So what it writes or “thinks” is better than 50% of the people it feeds from, but worse than the other 50%.

You can spot AI-written text a mile off (at the moment). I’d hate to be one of the people who is below average in what they produce because I’d now be less useful than an AI (I’m looking at you in particular, mediocre journalists and copywriters, worse than average doctors and lawyers).

We’re heading for another great divide where about 50% of the people see something as a benefit and 50% see it as a threat. That always works out well, doesn’t it?
Ross Hamilton
Via Facebook

Flaky article
I must disagree with Will Self’s description of “scraps” as “the tiny twists and flakes of potato that detach from the chips during the deep frying (process)” (“On chips”, TNE #343).

“Scraps” or “batter bits” are in fact a by-product of the fish frying process and made up of the leftover pieces of fried batter that remain in the fryer.
David Coombs
Corby, Northants

Thank you! That was quite a tasty snack of an article, even if I was left wondering, as so often with Mr Self, quite what his point was.
John Leake
Via Facebook

As I’m sure you have been told 100 times (or perhaps just 90 times), Georges Simenon’s L’Ecluse no 1 (Lock No 1) was published 90 years ago in April 1933, not 100 years ago as you said in Great European Library (TNE #343).
Richard Homer

Facing up to it
In “Hanging in the balance” (TNE #343), James Ball equates hoping for a hung parliament with “throwing away any chance of improving day-to-day life in the next decade”.

Unfortunately, we are in a position where any credible economic policy requires acknowledging and addressing the economic damage being caused by Brexit – and Labour are currently unwilling to do that even though it is difficult to believe that Sir Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves are not fully aware that that is the case. Perhaps a hung parliament, particularly one following a campaign where this became an issue, would give Labour more room to acknowledge reality.
Colin Garwood
Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire

Westminster is like a dear relative with a drug problem; immune to familial “interventions”, and we know it won’t mend its ways until it hits rock-bottom. If a hung parliament won’t give us the change we need, then the alternative is rock-bottom – breakdown: the collapse of core state functions.

The NHS isn’t far off this. The police seem close to being unable to solve any crimes. And when we can no longer pretend that the country is still working, there will be a run on the pound and our problems will begin in earnest…

So, if a hung parliament is out of the question, perhaps another Tory victory would be best for the long-term interests of the country. Why? Because at that point not even Labour could continue to prioritise its own interests above those of the nation.
Robin Prior
Wargrave, Berkshire

To be fair, when does Owen Jones ever get it right? Anyone who keeps declaring “he’s simply telling the truth” when presenting his opinion is a little too far up their own backside.
Jack Millard
Via Facebook

First past the post is not democratic. I have lived in the same constituency all my life. I’m 78 and I have never voted for the party that has held the seat for a century. My vote is wasted. With proportional representation, my vote would be counted.
David Jeremy Paley
Via Facebook

James Ball used the perfect analogies to illustrate the Brexit situation (Useless duckers, TNE #342). First, the purchase of a lottery ticket (I often use the related analogy of the punter who rips up a betting slip at the races, while declaring “That’s not the outcome I wanted …”). Second, the home improvement scheme that turns out to be far more complicated than expected.

The point here is that Brexit was a step into the unknown, with an element of risk. This was probably the only thing that we could all agree on around the 2016 referendum and in the critical three years before the 2019 general election. It is a fair bet that equivalent risk and complexity (not to mention chagrin) await any attempt to “rejoin”.
Nigel Britton

Hello. It looks like you’re using an ad blocker that may prevent our website from working properly. To receive the best experience possible, please make sure any ad blockers are switched off, or add to your trusted sites, and refresh the page.

If you have any questions or need help you can email us.

See inside the Never again edition

Civilians who had remained in west Mosul during the battle to retake the Iraqi city from Isis line up for aid distribution. All photos on this page: 
Ivor Prickett

No home from war: Images of conflict, survival and loss

Ivor Prickett’s photographs capture not just the horror of conflict but also the tender moments, the tedium and the weary suffering

Credit: Tim Bradford

Will we miss Boris Johnson?