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The last thing the UK needs is another blurred visionary

After 12 years Tory mismanagement, the country needs someone who'll make tackling the vast inequalities a priority

Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/PA Images

I am a little disappointed to see Paul Mason jump on the “What’s Sir Keir for?” type of line (“Where is the vision, Keir?”, TNE #297). I have followed more than seven decades of UK and world politics and I have no great desire to see more visionaries, especially in the current UK. Historically they have usually been disastrous even if entertaining for a time.

This country needs someone who can restore respect for UK politics at home and abroad. We need someone who understands and respects the law. We need someone aware of the huge inequalities after 12 years of Tory mismanagement and we need him/her to have a team with similar qualities.

I am a LibDem member but am well aware we cannot win power without an alliance. The modern Labour party seems to me to offer that prospect. I believe Sir Keir knows very well that the EU would not accept an application from the UK to rejoin so that line is pointless. Much closer alignment would be an excellent step and a possible one that is, I think, very much in Sir Keir’s sights.

What this country really does not need is entirely unrealistic and ideological sniping from sections of the Labour party. It has carried out that kind of self-harm far too often and the present state of the UK demands that a decent, intelligent figure be supported in restoring sanity to our public life.
Robert Graham

Whilst there is indeed a regrettable lack of a clear statement on policy from Keir Starmer, Paul Mason’s promotion of Momentum’s 20th-century solution of a “fundamental and irreversible shift of power to the working class” is not the solution.

A cooperative approach in which managers and those managed share the responsibility of decision making, with each recognising the role the other plays in delivering success and the ensuing profitability, is essential in the formulation of any coherent policy for the progressive development of this country. For far too long we have been bedevilled by the separation of responsibilities between management and labour, with perhaps neither in a situation to understand nor empathise with the priorities of the other.

Perhaps this is too much to ask because, as in our electoral system and government, opposition is a default position when what is needed is cooperation. At least it would be reassuring if someone was actually exploring the idea and what changes our education system, amongst others, might require to implement it!
David Weaver
Cranleigh, Dorset

Woah, Paul Mason. Any attempt to bolt “redistributing wealth downwards” on to the Rejoin movement dooms it from the outset. It sounds much like taking earned money from taxpayers and giving it to Labour voters. Whether that is what you mean, or not, the very framing of the objective is total anathema to many British electors, and explains why they fled from Corbyn’s Labour into the arms of Johnson’s English nationalists, who bolted “get Brexit done” on to that gut rejection.

Love your insightful articles, but not interested in starting the socialist revolution here – I just want my freedom of movement restored please.
Simon Flett
Norwich, Norfolk

Labour are in opposition. The opposition never gives its game plans away. The Tory media would kill off Labour if they “go” too soon.
Alison Alger
Via Facebook

Time to stop pandering to the Red Wall Tory converts with faux nationalism. Time to get honest. Aside from the negative social aspects, huge damage to GDP, exports and our future prospects have been caused by the lunacy of leaving the single market and customs union. Many have now sussed the biggest con job in history. Starmer needs to embrace this.
Chris Stratton
Via Facebook

Brexit crumbs

It is not completely fair to say there have been no Brexit benefits (Cover, TNE #297) Nigel Farage is no longer an MEP, that has got to be worth something!
Patrick Whelan
Via Facebook

Brexit is a disaster, on myriad levels. But I fear the English-nationalist delusion which fuelled it has only grown, not diminished. The UK is going to have to suffer even more, so much so that even the hardest and most closed of minds will no longer be able to deny that Brexit and its impossible lies are to blame.
Marilena Moriconi

Jonty Bloom’s article in TNE issue #296 highlighting Jacob Rees-Mogg’s list of nine Brexit opportunities (“Is that it?”) shows just how bereft of real opportunities Brexit really is.

Rees-Mogg’s ninth benefit, suggesting reduced requirements to test fixed wiring and portable appliance testing, is downright dangerous and in fact is a distortion of domestic wiring regulations which never have been subject to EU regulations. This is just another distortion, in the long list of falsehoods, by Rees-Mogg and his Brexiteering ERG mob.

Electrical installation and testing in the UK were regulated by the IEE (Institution of Electrical Engineers) and are now encompassed in the IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology) wiring regulations. The EU does not regulate domestic electrical installations – an impossible task – of all the member states, although some commonality of equipment, cable and safe working practices does exist.
Ian Auchterlonie
Dundee, Scotland

Simple wins

Clár Ní Chonghaile’s damning “Dossier of Disaster” (TNE #297) and Jonty Bloom’s typically perceptive piece on the Norway option (“Is Norway the way back?”, TNE #297) both allude to an interesting question: what is a sensible Conservative position on Brexit if/ when Johnson goes?

No one who espouses an immediate return to the single market or customs union is likely to win a Tory leadership election. Yet there would be no point electing someone who is simply Johnson with a new face. Whoever does win it is likely to do so by appealing to all sections of the party by recognising that there are problems with the implementation of Brexit and that they are not all the fault of others. Why continue to pretend?

Some of the simple wins David Lammy has outlined would cut red tape and Brexit friction. These include sorting the agrifood mess, sealing Horizon Europe membership and bringing back visa-free travel for touring musicians and actors. A new administration in Downing Street could do all of these without surrendering Brexit.

Another interesting question is then: if these are done by the next Tory leader and prime minister, what does Labour’s position on Europe become?
Kevin Hare
Banbury, Oxfordshire

Counting costs

Alastair Campbell’s enthusiastic description of the Elizabeth Line (Diary, TNE #297) properly included a criticism of the lack of easy wheelchair access.

He included the phrase “… given how many more years than planned it took to build, how many more billions it cost, and what seems to have been a blank cheque in getting other detail right…”) What he did not mention (like everybody else) was who paid for it.

There have been some massive and expensive projects in London during the last few decades but never any publication of the details of how they were financed. Perhaps this is just part of the well-established convention that anything for London is essential national expenditure, whereas support for anything outside London is subsidy, whose costs are usually announced, accurate to the penny, and well-publicised.
Peter M Dryburgh
Edinburgh, Scotland

Alastair Campbell wrote back in 2018 (in TNE #90) a long article clearly explaining why Johnson (then foreign secretary) is a liability, and why “Britain needs a statesman, not a schoolboy”. You printed my letter in response to this in which I wrote that, while I knew that Mr Campbell did not “do God”, we needed divine intervention if we were to avoid even worse from him.

Mr Campbell’s latest reflection (TNE #297) on Johnson’s unsuitability is coruscating, and the adjectives he uses to describe this current prime minister are damning – odious, lying, gaslighting, amoral, immoral, crooked, corrupt, narcissistic, philandering, inept, incompetent, unethical, unprincipled, unscrupulous.

Campbell is entitled to say that the country was warned, as Johnson had already shown all of these appalling characteristics during his career as a journalist, which Mr Campbell has now reiterated. The Conservative party has no excuse for keeping such a dangerous joke of a man in power.
Robert Parker
West Bridgford, Notts

I see Boris Johnson says he is planning for his third term. I would wish him all the best but I am too busy planning for my Liverpool FC debut and my wedding to Emilia Clarke.
Roy May (aged 70)
Southport, Merseyside

Acting royalty

Thank you for Jason Solomons on wonderful Jean-Louis Trintignant (“And God Created Trintignant”, TNE #297).

Jason wrote a few weeks back about how seeing a photo of Sophie Marceau sparked his interest in French cinema; for me it was the perplexing and compelling Ma nuit chez Maud, starring Jean-Louis and Françoise Fabian and directed by the great Éric Rohmer.

I had never seen a film like it before and we will never see an actor quite like Jean-Louis Trintignant again.
Miranda Peacock

So so sad to hear Jean-Louis Trintignant has died. His voice was and is unforgettable.

Un Homme et Une Femme introduced me to French movies and then to many other foreign-language movies and TV series. I saw the first UH et UF sequel but hadn’t realised until Jason Solomons’ piece that Jean-Louis had made the second, final sequel just recently so at least there’s that to watch now.
Ros Williams
Wells, Somerset

Self esteem

Will Self’s perceptive comment on the comparative connection between conflict resolution processes in Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland is instructive (On Sri Lanka, TNE #296).

In the case of Northern Ireland, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness came into mainstream politics with the help of the Good Friday Agreement and UK politicians, but in the case of Sri Lanka, even with the external encouragement of Norway as a neutral peace-broker, the Tamil Tigers opted to remain as political outsiders.

Perhaps what Northern Ireland needs now post-Brexit is a Norway to help advise them and guarantee a stable economic future.
Dr Alan Bullion
Author of India, Sri Lanka and the Tamil Crisis

I read with interest Will Self’s piece on Lionel Shriver (TNE #295), having just returned from Hungary. Whilst there, I happened to have read Shriver’s recent novels Should We Stay or Should We Go, one of the most surprising, funny and thought-provoking books on ageing I have ever read, and The Motion of the Body Through Space, hilariously funny, especially when debunking political and verbal correctness.

I have not read her piece in the Spectator nor the recent column in the Times to which Self refers. But I was surprised to find that she might be a subscriber to the “Grand Replacement” theory. I cannot remember her airing that idea in either of her two recent novels nor in all of the excellent novels that came before.

And wasn’t it just a bit “below the belt” to blame her for being childless and therefore not doing her bit to contribute to the racial balance?
Dr Jeremy Bending
Amble, Northumberland

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