Letters: The Tories’ handling of the Reform threat has only highlighted their lack of nous

Nigel Farage, leader of Reform UK, on the campaign trail
Nigel Farage, leader of Reform UK, on the campaign trail - Carl Court/Getty

SIR – Rishi Sunak and his Conservative colleagues are telling voters that they should not support Reform UK because it might help the Labour Party (“Reform overtakes Tories for the first time”, report, June 14).

It is never a good idea to pressurise voters in this way. David Cameron tried it in 2016, and look what happened to him.

Richard Moorfield
Stockport, Cheshire

SIR – The Tories are wide of the mark in complaining that Reform is splitting the Conservative vote. To many people, Reform is the Conservative vote.

The fact that they seem unable to appreciate this helps to explain the dire situation they find themselves in.

Andy Tuke

SIR – Nigel Farage is a promoter of chaos, seeking to fulfil his selfish ambitions by dressing them up in conservative principles.

Perhaps he has learnt from a certain Republican across the pond.

Edward Page
Milford on Sea, Hampshire

SIR – Like it or not (and I do not relish it) we are in for some years of Labour government.

What the country now needs is a strong and watchful opposition, and the only party capable of providing this is the Conservative Party.

Chris Rome
Thruxton, Hampshire

SIR – The polling company YouGov has been described as “gold standard”. Yet in one poll shortly before the London mayoral election, it predicted a significantly larger victory for Sadiq Khan than he ultimately achieved.

I am therefore suspicious of its survey suggesting that Reform has reached nearly 20 per cent. After three weeks of canvassing for the Conservatives, I have met only one voter who has been willing to declare their support for Nigel Farage and his party.

Philip Duly
Haslemere, Surrey

Labour’s hot air

SIR – The more I look at Labour’s manifesto (report, June 14), the less I believe it – full of intention but short on practical detail.

How does the party intend to conjure up the extra dental practice hours – as well as additional doctors and nurses – to meet its goals? Where are the 6,500 subject-qualified teachers coming from?

Where are the answers to these questions that will persuade me to vote for “change”? This manifesto is simply a wish list that will not be delivered.

Rob Mason
Nailsea, Somerset

SIR – Left-wingers are condemning Sir Keir Starmer’s changed Labour for supposedly being a Thatcherite tribute band of traitors, while Right-wingers continue to label it a party of socialist tree-huggers that will severely damage the country.

Neither is the case. Labour is courting business and standing up for wealth creation but also advocating a less unequal and unfair society, with very reasonable tweaks and alterations here and there in order to (for example) save the NHS from its current predicament.

Sir Keir’s Labour, above all, seems grown-up, competent, patriotic and invested in Britain – unlike the divided and chaotic Tories.

Sebastian Monblat
London SE14

SIR – Labour’s proposed tax raid on private education (report, June 14) is indeed ill-conceived.

When our daughter was eight years old, we removed her from the village school because she was struggling in a class of seven-to-11-year-olds under one teacher. For the next 10 years she was educated at a Girls’ Day School Trust school some 25 miles away. The fees and travel costs were a great strain for us financially, and we could not have managed without her grandparents’ support.

Based on the average state spending per pupil, I estimate that we saved the Government approximately £100,000. Parents who educate their children privately are assisting the taxpayer quite enough already, without the added burden of VAT.

Gillian Powell
Oswestry, Shropshire

SIR – Labour’s plans to charge VAT on private school fees and change charity law are not the only things that threaten the existence of private schools.

The schools themselves have engaged in a kind of prospectus war with each other for decades, offering increasingly luxurious facilities to lure increasingly materialistic youngsters – a development very much against the grain of the traditional philosophy of public schools. This has driven prices up to astronomical levels, beyond the reach of normal middle-class families.

In the past, parents sent their children to private schools in order to prevent them becoming spoilt. The French aristocratic families who make up the backbone of our English school in the west of France are still asking for noble simplicity. And lower fees. We welcome English boys, too – as long as they don’t expect a five-star hotel.

Ferdi McDermott
Chavagnes International College
Chavagnes-en-Paillers, Vendée, France

SIR – Philip Usherwood (Letters, June 14), who proposed to his girlfriend after the 1997 Labour landslide and is now happily married with children, asks what big decision he should make on July 5.

My suggestion: start the emigration process.

Janet Haines
Reading, Berkshire

Pitfalls of veganism

SIR – Mark Richards (Letters, June 14) writes that “all slaughter involves taking the life of an innocent being for the sake of palate pleasure”, and that the only solution to this is veganism.

It appears, however, that the slaughter of living things is only considered wrong if they are large, easily recognisable and to be consumed. No mention is ever made of the billions of tiny creatures murdered during the production of plant-based food.

One area vegans should take a closer look at is the culling of thousands of small animals each year in order to protect avocado crops.

Graeme Brierley
Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire

SIR – What does Mark Richards imagine would happen to farm animals if everyone went vegan?

Elizabeth Prior
London SW10

SIR – I don’t disagree with a lot of what Mark Richards has to say about “humane” slaughter. No matter how high-welfare a farming system may be, there is always going to be a degree of suffering for the animals.

What I do disagree with is the assertion that veganism is the answer. Has Mr Richards considered the higher animal welfare conditions of wild meat?

The taking of a deer from a well-managed population with a single rifle round – fired by a concealed stalker who kills the animal instantly and without pain – not only removes any possibility of stress but also provides a low-fat and supremely tasty source of high-quality protein.

With the deer population at such high levels, more should be done to market this wonderful meat to the masses.

Andrew Pearce
London SE3

Enjoying a very traditional English summer

Musn't grumble: beachgoer makes the best of things in Brighton, East Sussex
Musn't grumble: beachgoer makes the best of things in Brighton, East Sussex - Grant Rooney/Alamy

SIR – Nick Crean (Letters, June 13) asks: “English summer – where are you?”

While enjoying the comforts of autumn in this supposedly unseasonal summer, he should recall and rejoice in the fact that this year’s is a traditional English summer – raining on our fêtes and sports days while maintaining our ravishing green countryside.

Diana Heffer
Great Leighs, Essex

SIR – I remember a photograph on the front of The Daily Telegraph in early June 1975 showing Buxton Cricket Ground covered in snow.

The rest of the month wasn’t great but the weather settled down by mid-July, temperatures rose and August 1975 was very warm. Indeed, until 1995, it was the warmest August on record.

There’s hope yet.

Jo-Ann Rogers
Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

Elusive dentists

SIR – While it may be the law that everybody is entitled to NHS dentistry (Letters, June 14), this simply is not the case in practice.

It has been impossible to find an NHS dentist in Devon, and we are resigned to paying substantial private fees, albeit for an excellent service.

Much of Britain is in the same position. Without doubt, the law and reality are poles apart.

Kate Graeme-Cook
Brixham, Devon

SIR – When I was at my senior school in the 1950s we received regular visits from a local NHS dentist (Letters, June 14).

He would appear in the school drive in a fully equipped caravan to give inspections and any follow-up treatment.

His van was fondly known as “the agony wagon”.

Sheila Williams
Ascot, Berkshire

Pothole slur

SIR – In March I wrote to you in response to a reader’s praise of the state of roads in the EU, commenting that he had obviously never driven on Italian roads.

Well, I am back in Italy, having driven here from northern France, and am so impressed with the repair work that has clearly taken place since I last visited in September 2023.

I feel I must set the record straight and apologise to the Italians. Is Signora Meloni responsible?

Joan Pickering
Stanley, Co Durham

Microchips for pets

SIR – The argument for microchipping cats and dogs (report, June 9) doesn’t always hold water.

A while back a cat was attacked on my allotment by another animal – perhaps a fox – and came to me for help. I took her to the vet, who said she was micro-chipped – meaning it would be illegal for him to treat her without the owner’s consent.

The owner could not be contacted, so in this case (which is probably not unusual) it seemed to me that the law was condoning animal cruelty, rather than preventing it.

Carol Lofthouse
London W12

Clanger redux

SIR – Jeff Smith (Letters, June 10) sings the praises of the portable meal in pastry: the clanger. The Windsor pub in Bedford used to have them on the menu. I wonder if, in keeping with current fashion, the clanger will be reintroduced as an English street food.

Rob Kendrick

King of comedy

SIR – I am an Amis fan too (Letters, June 14) but there is nobody to top Martin’s father, Kingsley.

Lucky Jim has been an annual favourite of mine for almost 50 years – but it is never to be read on a train, for fear of alarming other passengers.

Judy Davies
Tenby, Pembrokeshire

SIR – John Hammond (Letters, June 13) suggests that lending a book is a surefire way to get rid of it for good.

A friend of mine wanted to reread The Shell Seekers but couldn’t remember who borrowed it. I offered her my copy.

Opening it, I discovered her name and address inside.

Tricia Barnes
Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire

SIR – I recently had two books returned after seven and 12 years respectively. One was a delightful surprise; the other was on the Loan Register that I found it necessary to start about nine years ago.

James Ruddock-Broyd
Witney, Oxfordshire

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