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Letters: Labour are letting Farage off the hook

In order to woo Leave voters, Labour has adopted a policy of accepting Brexit, which is exactly what Nigel Farage wants

Is Starmer playing into Farage’s hands by refusing to mention Brexit? Photo: Geoff Caddick/Getty

Re: “The poison in politics” (TNE #392). The only way Nigel Farage is going to get through the door of No 10 Downing Street is if he gets a job at Pickfords and unloads Keir Starmer’s furniture.
Pam Thompson

What is deeply depressing is when we see Labour actively, if unintentionally, aiding Nigel Farage’s campaign. In order to woo Leave voters they have adopted a policy of accepting Brexit, and allowed the fact of its major role in our ongoing difficulties to fade into the background in favour of focusing on other inadequacies and failures of the Conservatives.

The main plank in Farage’s platform is his claim that any problems arising out of Brexit are due only to the Conservatives’ handling of it. By accepting Brexit and failing to bring focus on the evidence now available that the damage was inevitable from the start, Labour can be seen as tacitly supporting this claim. At the very least, it leaves it unchallenged.

Labour need to realise that as things stand Reform may well be the opposition in 2029. It is imperative that the myth of a fixable Brexit is dispelled before then, otherwise Labour will join the Conservatives in shouldering the blame for the inevitable failure to do so. 
Denis Jackson 
Bournemouth, Dorset

Perhaps the only Brexit dividend is the British public’s realisation that populist politics is vacuous. As a result, unlike the US or much of Europe, the UK looks set to elect a sober, principled party to leadership. 
William Westgate 
Newton Abbot, Devon

An aspect of Nigel Farage’s personality and mindset not touched upon in Matthew d’Ancona’s excellent analysis is his little-discussed antisemitism. Search behind the bluster and bombast, and you can find alarming instances, mainly on his numerous US visits to support Donald Trump, when Farage has used anti-Jewish tropes. 

In 2017, Farage decried the influence of the “Jewish lobby” in US politics. Two years later, he declared George Soros to be “the biggest danger to the entire western world”. He has appeared six times on the TruNews radio show of an antisemitic pastor who suggested Donald Trump’s impeachment was a “Jew coup”.

D’Ancona suggests the notion of Farage eventually leading a coalition of far right ex-Tories back into government. It is too easy to dismiss this and see Farage as just a bumptious man who failed on numerous occasions to be elected as an MP.

Adolf Hitler was also seen by many as a vulgar rabble-rousing little Austrian nebbish who would never succeed in getting into power. History showed us otherwise. We ignore the lessons of the past at our peril. 
Carol Hedges 
Harpenden, Herts 

Trust fund
Re: “15 ideas to make a greater -Britain” (TNE #392). Love the ideas, which target many fundamentals that need to change if the country is going to pull out of its current downward spiral. 

The key missing element is the part the public have to play. We want to be able to trust our politicians not to lie; but they have to be able to trust us not to punish them if they tell the truth. 

Rebuilding confidence and trust will be difficult, lengthy – and vital. If Labour get into power there may be a brief opportunity for them to convince the people that they GENUINELY have the best interests of the country at heart.

If Labour blow it, cynicism and despair will abound: and good luck to any leader trying to generate the pull of a sense of shared purpose to meet the demands of properly dealing with climate change, for example, or another general-mobilisation war. 

It’s not hard to predict the response if once again the country is asked to pull together as we were under Covid, or with an offer of blood, sweat and tears to beat the common enemy; the contrasting images of the late Queen sitting alone at her husband’s funeral and Boris Johnson partying cannot but intrude.
Ruth Tunnicliffe Wilson 

Good ideas? Make paying tax a virtue. Talk it up. Point out it makes for a civilised society. Introduce a new honour for notable large and small taxpayers. We could call it a CTS – Contribution To Society. Point to those countries where they don’t pay tax – all bad places to live.
Lynda Falquero

Ban overseas ownership of UK media. Only UK taxpayers should have the privilege of influencing UK politics.
Toby Mottram

Any governmental or parliamentary procedure that relies on the “good chap” principle needs adding to the ministerial code. The past five years have demonstrated a dearth of “good chaps”, and a decidedly not “good chap” is very likely to be elected as the member for Clacton.
Stuart Shingler

Mighty Macron
Re: “Macron’s great failure” (TNE #392). After so many years, how can you still underestimate him? Macron’s party will be the winner in the 2027 presidential election and Le Pen will lose it all.
Axel Graf

Into the wilderness
As usual, Patience Wheatcroft nails it in “The strange death of the Conservative Party” (TNE #392). I have been banging on about this strange malevolent manifestation of a flawed but once-decent party for so long now.

One-Nation Conservatives were outflanked by strident and divisive right wing rhetoric. The party sold itself to the lowest bidder and spread isolationism. When sane and committed Tory MPs were defenestrated for having the temerity to vote against a no-deal Brexit, the game was really up. 

I do have sympathy for those Tory members who do not recognise their party any more as it prepares for the wilderness years ahead. It is time for them to reflect on how it all went so disastrously wrong and, indeed, why.
Judith A Daniels 
Cobholm, Norfolk

Patience Wheatcroft says she accepted a Tory peerage and sat in the Lords because she believed David Cameron when he said he wanted to “heal the broken society.” Would this be the same David Cameron who, with his ideological friend George Osborne, and with the willing assistance of the Lib Dems, proceeded from 2010 to break society even more with the political choice of austerity?
 Laurence Todd 

Growing pains
Paul Mason’s “How to grow an economy” (TNE #391), sound though it mostly is, only tells us how to grow our GDP and, perhaps, our GDP per head. 

To assess whether an economy is growing, it is not enough merely to look at how active it is. You must also look at its balance sheet and take into account any capital losses or gains and, where there have been losses of essential capital, provide for the costs of replacing what has been lost. Paul has not touched on this aspect at all. 

Several asset bases make up our essential capital, but to my mind the most critical is that of the natural environment, our “natural capital”, which covers both renewable and non-renewable assets. The former include fresh water, clean air and fertile soil, fish in the sea and all forms of life on earth; we are already consuming/destroying these faster than they renew themselves, which is unsustainable. 

Even though the world population is growing and aspires to attain our living standards, what is unsustainable cannot be sustained, and in due course nature will ensure it comes to an end. Non-renewable assets include oil and gas, iron and copper, and the rare elements we need for solar panels and microchips. 

It must be at the core of our economic policy that we pass on to future generations at least as much natural capital as we inherited, and profits from using up non-renewable capital must in part be applied to developing substitutes. These constraints on exploiting both forms of natural capital are not matters to be considered “when resources allow”; they must be acted on now.
Richard H Burnett-Hall 
London W11

In “How to grow an economy”, Paul Mason says that UK “real pay growth is running at 6% over the past year”.

Real pay growth refers to increases after allowing for inflation. This appears to be the concept the author intends as he also talks about “real output per hour” increasing.

Sadly, this sort of number is far from reality. After a longish period of stagnation or even falling, real wages have indeed begun to rise, but by nothing like the amount quoted.

The Office for National Statistics, once my employer, produces regular clear bulletins on both average earnings and inflation. Growth in employees’ average total earnings (including bonuses) was 5.7% in the first quarter of 2024. CPI inflation to March 2024 was 3.2% on the standard measure or 3.8% if housing costs are included.

So at best real pay is growing at about 2.5%. Since housing costs do apply to most people, 2% and not 6% would seem a fair summary.
David Daniel

Building blocks
I have just read Jonty Bloom’s takedown of Michael Gove (“Gove has torn us apart”TNE #391). The worst is yet to come.

In October 2022, Gove’s brainchild, the Building Safety Act, came into force. When first mooted a couple of years previously, I contacted Mr Gove’s office no fewer than eight times, to commend him on the intent – change was long overdue – but also to warn him of the existential threat his regulatory reforms would impose on the property sector if badly implemented. 

I received not one reply, and in the intervening period, ignoring not only me but also my peers in the wider industry, he ploughed ahead regardless. 

Now we are saddled with a badly introduced, poorly guided, sub-optimal set of reforms being implemented by a newly established regulator that is woefully under-resourced and badly prepared. 

The impact will not be felt for a couple of years. Meanwhile, in the here and now, Keir Starmer is promising planning reform and a booster placed on residential delivery numbers that he will be unable to deliver when needed, thanks to Gove.
Richard Goodwin BSc (Hons)
MRICS construction director

The cost of history
We are approaching the eighth anniversary of the Brexit referendum. I’m a history teacher, so please trust me when I say that in 50, 100 or even 200 years’ time, school history students will be sitting exams about the past eight years.

As no less an authority than Boris Johnson said in 2016, leaving the EU would embroil us in endless fiddly talks that would detract us from the “real problems” facing the UK. 

If any place on Earth knows the currency of history, it’s Ireland. But so little attention was paid to it by Brexiteers, until the Good Friday Agreement politely tapped them on the shoulder, you want to ask how many even knew where it was in 2016. They know now.

All this is living history.

But as Clint Eastwood once told a competing bounty hunter, “dyin’ is a funny kind of livin”.
Peter Roberts 
Loudwater, Bucks

Comments, conversation and correspondence from our online subscribers

In “What has European football ever done for us?” (TNE #392), Simon Barnes takes inspiration from football to talk about politics. I find it an intelligent and appropriate idea. Congratulations to the author.
Flavio Finco

Re: “Migration? Yes please” by Jonty Bloom (TNE #392). I am the daughter of an immigrant and I was born in Britain 81 years ago. My father had migrated from Italy, which was about to go to war against Britain. 

As a hardworking and law-abiding member of society, my father encountered very little antagonism. Nevertheless, it was very fortunate that he sought British naturalisation prior to the outbreak of war – otherwise he would undoubtedly have fallen foul of Churchill’s “collar the lot”, been interned or perhaps worse – remember the Arandora Star.

So much of our British way of life has depended on the presence of people who were born elsewhere but who chose to come here to improve their own prospects, and, in so doing, enriched the British community. 

The fact that in the 21st century too many desperate people are being conned into small boats, and, in some cases, death – by criminals – is something we should all abhor; not because it produces immigrants, but because it is inhumane.
Doreen Lamont

The Great Life of Curd Jürgens (TNE #392) was a wonderful read on a fascinating man.
Frank Parry

A Jürgens recommendation: his Bismarck in the 1974 BBC TV series Fall of Eagles, about the downfall of the Habsburg, Hohenzollern, and Romanov empires.
Rosemary Morlin

Re: “My not-so-grand tour” by Max Décharné (TNE #391). I had a similar experience, but working in the performing arts. My adventures also started in the 1990s as I criss-crossed Europe from one venue to another. 

It was so free – a month in Belgium, back to London, Italy for six months etc. There wasn’t a lot of money in it, but there were many people to meet and places to experience. And never a single stamp in the passport or any questions asked.
Richard Riddle

Brexit may be denying British bands the opportunity to perform in Europe. But at least it is giving lots of European bands more opportunities to perform in Europe.
John Rawlings

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