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We can be proud patriots and still eschew nationalism

Some on the left will roll their eyes, but redefining patriotism is something Keir Starmer should do. I want to be proud of a forward-looking, multicultural country

England’s Lionesses sing the national anthem prior to their Women's World Cup Group D match against China in Adelaide. Photo: Sue McKay/Getty

My thanks to Matthew d’Ancona for his excellent article differentiating patriotism from nationalism (“The Lionesses’ vision of England is worlds away from the Tories’ ugly variant”, TNE #353).

I read it on the same day the nationalist leader of a country with which we’re apparently about to do a landmark trade deal landed a spacecraft on the moon while tens of millions of his countryfolk live in abject poverty. Mind you, the UK is spending billions on a vanity project to marginally improve travel times while millions can’t afford to get from A to B, and makes nationalistic claims to be world-beating in most other areas while refusing to countenance the obvious steps to improve the lives of its citizens. So who are we to criticise…?
Phil Green

Brilliant article by Matthew d’Ancona, a must-read. Redefining patriotism is something Keir Starmer should do. Some on the left will roll their eyes, but I want to be proud of a forward-looking, multicultural country that understands its place and responsibilities in the modern world and can be critical of its past while also respecting it.
Lisa Walton

Heavy mob
In “The prosecutor’s dream” (TNE #354) Bonnie Greer links Donald Trump to the gangster Rico in Little Caesar. Judging by the size of Trump in recent photos, I would suggest that while he is still free to dine out he orders a little caesar salad rather than the triple cheeseburgers he’s evidently been gorging on between failed attempts to win back power.
Chris Brooks

PPE lesson
Thanks very much for the article about Michelle Mone and the yacht (“Stop this boat”, TNE #353). But what about other Tory-recommended suppliers and their PPE contracts?

There’s enough material there for a six-month series with details of what was supplied, how much was duff and thrown away or resold in the third world; what they spent their windfalls on; how many have been ennobled etc. Don’t leave it all to Private Eye!
Mike Hodson
Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Good trip
May I confirm wholeheartedly Patience Wheatcroft’s analysis (“Brexit is killing off the school trip”, TNE #353) of the loss of cultural, linguistic and educational benefits of foreign exchanges? I became a teacher of French, largely because I had benefited from individual exchanges from the age of 12. I then took my first school trip to France in my first year of teaching. Every pupil gained an insight into the life of their French peers, and the whole culture.

Brexit has accentuated the crash in exchanges and confirmed the fall in A-level language learning, the closure of modern foreign language departments, and thereby an inability to understand or cooperate with the culture of other nationalities.

However, Patience may have missed a further issue. For more than 10 years I attended the annual conference of a headteachers’ organisation in France. Only one colleague now maintains the school exchange; the rest no longer exchange with the UK, but rather go to Norway and Sweden to learn English.

Why? Simply because the red tape became so enormous, and French parents objected to the intrusive police checks merely to welcome the British pupil to their home.

The future of language learning, exchanges, and international cooperation is in our hands – sadly now it is ‘E’ for Effort, and ‘E’ for Achievement.
Mark J Philpot
Pantymwyn, Mold

Mother May
I applaud Theresa May for calling out her fellow Tories in her new book The Abuse of Power (Mandrake, TNE #353). May is about the age of retirement now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she carries on and ultimately will be the Mother of the House after Harriet Harman is finished.
Sue Whitbread
Via Facebook

It’s good to see Theresa May putting the wind up her party. Her greatest service to the country, however, would be to categorically state that the Brexit she tried hard to soften is not working and will not work. What does she have to lose?
Ella Thornton

No benefit
How depressing to read your piece on Italy’s Citizens’ Income scheme (“The end of costly free money”, TNE #353), complete with anecdotal talking points that seemed to belong to a different kind of newspaper: lazy scroungers growing fat on government money and preventing your writer from being able to find an adequate gardener or cleaning lady.

All benefit systems are liable to fraud, and also liable therefore to provide ammunition for the far right to say benefits should be cut. As we know, the most costly fraud is tax evasion by the rich, to which Italy is far from immune. Many of the missing jobs Silvia Marchetti describes can be explained away by the “quiet quitting” that took place after Covid; this is a worldwide phenomenon and little to do with Italians putting their feet up after being given a relatively small amount of extra money.

What was also not discussed was the impact the end of this funding will have on the poorest places – Naples, for instance, also mentioned in the same issue. No wonder there are growing protests against the decision.

Also not discussed is what Giorgia Meloni proposes to do with the money saved: more tax cuts for the well-off, returning once again to trickle-down economics; a concept far more divisive and discredited than the idea of universal basic income, whose time will surely come.
Charles Parker

In her piece on Guernsey hosting the Small Island Games (Carousel, TNE #353) Abigail King wrote “Guernsey, along with the other Channel Islands, left the EU along with the UK.”

In fact, the crown dependencies of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man were never EU members. Their relationship with the EU was governed by a protocol to the 1973 accession treaty between the UK and the then EEC. They were members of the customs union and had access to the single market for the export and import of goods. Few of the provisions of the Brexit deal struck by Boris Johnson and the EU apply to them.

To quote from the website of the Channel Islands Brussels office: “For most purposes, including taxation, financial services, anti-money laundering and data protection, the Islands have always been third countries to the EU, and this is not affected by the TCA.”

In most respects, the crown dependencies are quasi-independent states. Compared with the powers of the UK’s devolved institutions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, they have powers on a scale that dwarf those of Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.
Martin Roche
Via Glasgow, Scotland

Works for us
Re: Germany’s “Work and holidays”, as discussed by Tanit Koch (TNE #353). Things may of course have changed, but up to the early 1980s the Dresdner Bank (sic) ran a regular series of analyses on comparative labour costs. German nominal total labour costs were relatively high, but so were productivity rates. In consequence, unit labour costs were relatively low. Hence, the affordability of longer holidays and other fringe benefits. Among the latter was double pay at Christmas for some employees.

Subsequently, the costs of German unification have been quite significant. But so have the costs of Brexit!
Eric Owen Smith

Lucky break
I was surprised to find no mention of the Cross of Iron sequel, Breakthrough, in Richard Luck’s otherwise excellent feature (“Disquiet on the eastern front”, TNE #353). 

Despite Richard Burton replacing James Coburn as Sgt Steiner, it is no classic, but arguably, even more than the original, it is a clear influence on Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. Which is apt, since Breakthrough marks the screen debut of that film’s Hans Landa, Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz.
Matt Reynolds

Big spenders
I very much enjoy Josh Barrie’s writing, and many of the recipes he offers. Killiecrankie House (TNE #353) does sound like a magical place, but I am afraid that describing “a £65 lunchtime offer” as being suitable “for those unable to spend big” is magical thinking.
Elaine Cross
Brighton, Sussex

Sharp slang
If your letters pages are anything to go by, I am far from alone in my admiration of Peter Trudgill and selfishly hope his sabbatical won’t last too long. But I did enjoy Adam Sharp on slang in the same slot (“Mulligrubs and woofits”, TNE #353).

How brilliant that a pot belly is called a “cemetery for fried chickens” in Austria! And the 1892 term for a hangover – “feeling like a stewed owl” – wouldn’t have been out of place in the mouth of Richard E Grant as Withnail.
Sally Noakes

Carry on, Cleo
Roger Domeneghetti (“Drama queen”, TNE #352) states that what eventually became the Elizabeth Taylor version of Cleopatra was originally conceived by Fox studio chief Spyros Skouras as “a remake of Fox’s 1917 silent film starring Theda Bara”. There had also been an earlier version by Cecil B DeMille for Paramount starring Claudette Colbert in 1934.
Richard Chatten
London SE19

March with us
As mentioned in recent Mandrake columns (TNE #352, #351), momentum is building fast for the National Rejoin March II, which starts at Hyde Park in London on Saturday, September 23, from noon. The march is just one activity our team has achieved over the last year. With over 66 partner organisations with us, our reach and positive Rejoin messages are stretching countrywide and even to our European friends in the EU.

We need some help raising the funds for our second march – nobody on the team is paid for what we’re doing, so every penny raised goes towards the event. Please help us at

Our goal is to put Rejoin on the agenda, then keep it there until we are back where we belong. Will you join us on September 23?
Peter Corr
Co-founder, National Rejoin March

Eds will roll
Further to Alastair Campbell’s diary (TNE #352) explaining the difference between an editor, editor-in-chief and editor-at-large, there is also the story that when Rupert Murdoch fired Frank Giles as editor of the Sunday Times in 1983, he proposed that Giles assume the title “editor emeritus” for the two years remaining before his retirement.

Giles asked what on earth “editor emeritus” meant. “It’s Latin, Frank,” Murdoch reportedly replied.

“‘E’ means ‘you’re out’ and ‘meritus’ means ‘you deserved it’.”
Colin Price
Ilford, Greater London

Put to Bedford
With Nadine Dorries in mind, your letters page (TNE #349) quotes Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse as asking: “Did any good thing ever come out of Bedford?” Well, yes. John Bunyan wrote part of The Pilgrim’s Progress in Bedford County Gaol, where he was imprisoned for non-conformity from 1661 to 1672.
Jane Jakeman
Sandhills, Oxford

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See inside the Brexit has failed edition

The Battle of Kursk in July and August 1943 involved more than 3 million Soviet and German soldiers. Photo: Laski Diffusion/Getty

Kursk: The battle that changed everything

The 1943 Battle of Kursk was the largest tank battle in history and left a landscape of apocalyptic destruction. It still holds lessons for the war in Ukraine

Credit: Tim Bradford

Whatever happened to Nadine Dorries?