Sir: The most remarkable feature of Scott Morrison’s address to the National Press Club last week was that he failed to use the term mate during the entire 45 minutes!
Spring Hill, Queensland
Sir: The final paragraph of Koos Couvée’s article on drug related crime in London hits the nail on the head. Prohibition and regulation are mutually exclusive, the Americans discovered this in the twenties and thirties during Prohibition.
By prohibiting a substance or a practice the state makes a conscious decision not to control that substance or practice and inevitably a black market arises to satisfy demand. To be effectively regulated a substance or practice must be rendered licit. There is relatively little or no criminal behaviour related to or associated with the manufacture and supply of alcohol, tobacco and licit drugs. The conduct described by Koos Couvée will continue until the state seizes control over all drug production and supply through regulation.
Sir: Christopher Akehurst’s paean to Donald Trump in the most recent issue betrays either a fundamental misunderstanding of Conservatism or complete ignorance of the Donald’s history as a builder of neon monstrosities. For an ideology that lacks a founding text or quasi-divine figure, Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France is an admirable and indeed radical adumbration of Conservatism, which remains a work of profound importance in the Western tradition. Burke spends much of his time decrying the French revolutionaries’ penchant for confiscating property, whether it be noble or ecclesiastical. It’s difficult to reconcile such a profound respect for private property with the Donald’s fetish for eminent domain, a euphemism for seizing private property that puts the empty liberté of the French to shame. It is the reconciliation of these seemingly disparate positions for which Mr Akehurst deserves congratulations, though little else, in a tribute that would put Petrarch to shame.
In defence of the heads
Sir: It is fair for Ysenda Maxtone Graham to criticise heads who garner publicity but neglect the core business of good teaching, if such people exist (‘Big heads’, 20 February). However, targeting Anthony Seldon and Richard Cairns was a mistake.
Although both may be what my wife calls ‘media tarts’, Seldon saved two schools which were in great financial difficulties by hugely increasing the number of applicants and Brighton College under Cairns has maintained its trajectory to the upper reaches of the league tables, becoming one of the largest independent schools in the country in the process. Both heads have been outstandingly successful, creating secure and dynamic schools. Both, incidentally, are great classroom teachers.
Brighton College shines
Sir: I am one of those ‘loyal teachers in their fifties’ whom Ysenda Maxtone Graham refers to in her article and, personally, I am far from being ‘demoralised’, as she suggests. I have taught at Brighton College for over 20 years under the leadership of three headmasters and seen the school blossom into becoming one of the leading co-educational schools in the country.
The changes that I have experienced at the school have made for a much more stimulating, enjoyable and rewarding environment. I can focus on the business of teaching and not give a moment’s thought to classroom discipline, because all of the pupils have a genuine thirst for learning. The whole culture is much better, and the pupils are much kinder to each other than used to be the case. I have no desire to turn the clock back to some mythical golden age of teaching, and much prefer to work in a dynamic school than in an organisation that lacks clear direction.
Deputy Head of Middle School, Brighton College
Silence about women
Sir: Charles Moore seems to have been perplexed by Pope John Paul II’s amitiés amoureuses (if such they were) with two women. He should take heart from one of his predecessors. In 1948, in his Journal of a Soul, Pope John XXIII tenderly recalled Monsignor Giacomo Radini-Tedeschi, the Bishop of Bergamo, who had never spoken without ‘reverence, affection or respect’ about any ‘Vatican official, from the Holy Father downwards’. ‘As for women, and everything to do with them, never a word, never; it was as if there were no women in the world. This absolute silence, even between close friends, about everything to do with women was one of the most profound and lasting lessons of my early years in the priesthood.’
Rhodesia was not caused by its decision to secede from the UK; it was caused by the spineless, shortsighted masses that viewed Mugabe as the mandated alternative. And look how that ended.
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