SIR – What is going on? Why can’t Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng explain their economic strategy and sell us their vision?
They must defend themselves. If they have a case, let’s hear it.
SIR – The Government knows that the wealth of the nation needs to increase. The tax rate was as high as it could go.
Unfortunately, the Prime Minister’s strategy is for the long term, and we live in a short-term world. To get its message across, the Government must make itself heard above the relentless noise of the media.
C M Watkins
SIR – Once again, the Bank of England has got it wrong.
Last week it announced that Britain’s economy was in recession, but we have now been told by the Office for National Statistics that, in fact, there was growth in the second quarter.
I wonder if the Guardian, the BBC and others will change their tune.
SIR – Conservative Party members elected the leadership candidate who was not favoured by the majority of their MPs, and it is shaping up to be a mistake.
During the hustings, Rishi Sunak said that controlling inflation was the priority and that tax cuts should wait. He said that Liz Truss’s economic proposals would stoke inflation, and that mortgage rates could reach 7 per cent. He was denounced as resorting to “project fear” tactics by Ms Truss’s allies. Even he must be surprised, however, by the speed at which his predictions have been borne out.
One of the overriding priorities in removing Boris Johnson from office was to secure a Tory win at the next election, with a candidate seen as more credible by the wider electorate. How’s that going, then?
SIR – For the first time since my naive teenage years, I wouldn’t mind if Labour formed the next government.
SIR – Raymond Byers (Letters, September 29) is “ashamed to be a member of the Conservative Party”.
I don’t share his embarrassment. Liz Truss is a breath of fresh air in Downing Street, blowing away the Brownite cobwebs.
SIR – Since many Conservative MPs seem unable or unwilling to follow their leader, I would encourage them to stand as independents at the next election. They could then express their views without destabilising the government of the day.
New grammar schools
SIR – I concur wholeheartedly with Sir Graham Brady on the need to bring back grammar schools.
I must point out, however, that the rot in our education system began with the “Leicestershire experiment” – proposed in 1957 and implemented more widely (as a “plan”) during the 1960s – which paved the way for the comprehensive system.
I was raised in a two-up two-down, rented house in that era, and my only wish was to go to a grammar school, which I eventually did. The education I received provided me with the knowledge and skills to embark on a successful career in management.
Grammar schools are vital for encouraging aspiration and improving young people’s prospects.
SIR – I was fortunate to be educated at a grammar school in Sir Graham Brady’s local authority area, and continue on to university in the 1960s.
For most of my late father’s working life, he taught in a secondary modern school. When the local authority where he worked decided to introduce comprehensive education, he took early retirement. His reasoning was that, in the secondary modern, the children in the top stream had the best chance of doing well in their O-levels, whereas the same children in a comprehensive setting would be about a third of the way down in the streaming, and would have little chance of excelling. The Government should retain selective education in the authorities where it still exists, such as Trafford, and legislate to bring it back in currently non-selective authorities.
SIR – Sir Graham Brady might be correct that grammar schools were once a force for social mobility, but the 1940s were a very different time.
The reason most of these schools went in the 1970s was that they were unfair, and didn’t work for the vast majority of pupils.
Those grammar schools that remain are successful because, like any school allowed to be selective, they keep “problem” pupils out. Aiming to make every school successful is surely a better aim for the Government.
Cancer scan delays
SIR – Lynne Stewart’s husband (Letters, September 29) has had to wait four weeks for his scan results from the oncologist.
It could be worse. I had a scan on September 24, and my telephone appointment to get the results is scheduled for November 7. Such waits are not uncommon: many cancer patients in an online support group to which I belong are also experiencing them. The NHS is struggling to cope.
Waiting takes its toll on both the mental and physical health of patients. In fact, in my support group, we refer to it as “scanxiety”.
SIR – I have just returned from holiday on the island of Kos, Greece.
Six days ago I developed an abscess under a tooth. The problem, I thought, would be just about manageable until I got home. I rang my dentist in Britain, who told me that the only way to get treatment the following week would be to ring very early on Monday morning to see if there was an emergency slot vacant. If not, I would have to keep trying on subsequent days until I struck lucky.
By yesterday morning my face had swollen, and it was obvious I would have to try to get something done. At 9 am I went to the hotel reception and explained my problem. They called me a taxi and the driver took me to his own dentist – a clean, modern practice, which in Britain would be very busy at that time. I could see no other patients.
I was attended to straight away, and the dentist confirmed the presence of an abscess. He treated it so far as he could, then gave me advice and a prescription for antibiotics. I was told that the €50 fee could be paid by card or cash – “but we prefer cash”. The course of well-known antibiotics cost €3.50, and the chemist very kindly – and without prompting – called a cab to take me home.
I returned to my hotel and entered the lobby exactly one hour after leaving. That’s service for you.
John D Hill
Barnsley, South Yorkshire
The time-honoured way to avoid wasting tea
SIR – A single teabag used in a teapot will produce four strong cups and avoids mess.
Given that Britain consumes roughly 61 billion teabags each year, say at a penny a time, I calculate that approximately £450 million could be saved annually. The only defect in this proposal is that many younger people, to judge by my experience, would not recognise a teapot.
Trust Britain’s farmers
SIR – Lord Crawshaw (Letters, September 30) advocates a system of subsidies and grants for farmers that would allow the Government “to steer farming in its preferred direction”.
I would not dream of lecturing farmers in a country I have not lived in since I was a boy – but based on long involvement in agriculture in Australia, I suggest that allowing government to interfere with or make decisions about farming enterprises is a surrender of autonomy that can only lead to impositions and financial quagmires.
Since agricultural subsidies and control boards were abandoned here 40 years ago, independent, demand-driven agriculture has flourished, stimulating innovation, growth, diversity and efficiency. Continual adaptation and survival are never painless, and capital-rich corporate farmers present strong competition, but in free-market economies subsidies and grants are a poisoned chalice.
Government naturally has an important role to play in the coordination and facilitation of the industry, but agriculture does not need to be steered anywhere, and farming decisions are better left in the hands of farmers than bureaucrats.
J R Francis
Lauderdale, Tasmania, Australia
SIR – James Dyson is correct to highlight the urgency with which we need to speed up food production in Britain.
He cites the Dutch, who, as second only to the United States in terms of agricultural exports, can teach us a lot about becoming more self-sufficient by introducing new technology and investing money into what should be a core national industry.
This would not be the first time we have turned to the Dutch, who gave us their expertise in land reclamation back in the 1650s, when Sir Cornelius Vermuyden helped drain the eastern fens, allowing England to increase food production and become a stronger nation state.
SIR – I am also dismayed that postal workers plan to strike in time to spoil Christmas deliveries for everyone (Letters, September 30).
Do they not realise that this, coupled with the cost of stamps, will destroy their jobs as people turn to digital cards and private companies to deliver their post?
Rosemary J Wells
BBC’s Arabic output
SIR – As a retired BBC Arabic radio presenter, I am shocked that the BBC plans to “stop Arabic Radio services” as part of its “digital first” policy.
Whereas access to the internet and television reception in vast areas of the Arab world is severely limited, all you need is a transistor radio to listen to the BBC Arabic service, which has been promoting Britain since 1938.
Dr S F Aranki
Superior sloe gin
SIR – A few years ago my wife and I made two batches of sloe gin from the same crop on the same day.
The first batch was made from sloes frozen overnight (Letters, September 29), the second from pricked sloes. The pricked batch produced a noticeably darker liquor – and a better gin.
Dr David Shoesmith
SIR – Janet Whiteway (Letters, September 29) adds quinces to the never-ending list of fruits from which delicious liqueurs can be made.
Whatever is selected, after the cordial is eventually decanted for bottling, a sweet, alcohol-laden sludge will be left behind. Among the multitude of tasty uses for it – in puddings, sauces, gravy and so on – none can be better than mixing it into homemade ice cream.
Throwing it away is a sin, and should be made illegal.
Niton, Isle of Wight
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