Sir: In his otherwise excellent analysis of Boris Johnson’s premiership (‘The missing leader’, 19 September), Fraser Nelson suggests that he could still succeed. It’s too late. Although we ‘know that he’s not responsible for the pandemic’, he is responsible for the government’s response to it. The consequences of that hysterical response, seemingly contrived by a small, mostly unelected cabal, have been, and will be, disastrous for huge numbers of people; the enormity of the failures too great to be set against subsequent successes.
Boris persuaded us to support him with a carefully crafted image of a jovial positive thinker, a libertarian and man of the people. He’s been found out. He should prove that he can at least keep his Brexit promises over the next few months, then make way for a courageous Conservative who trusts the people and eschews ruling by fiat.
Where’s the old Boris?
Sir: Fraser Nelson’s article on the ‘missing’ Prime Minister reflects what many worried voters are thinking. We always knew Boris was not a details man, but expected there would be a competent cabinet behind him to enact policy, in the mould of the Reagan administration in the USA. This has proven not to be the case. As for Boris himself, I suspect his personal brush with Covid-19 was more serious than originally thought, and made him more cautious of the pandemic. Certainly he wants to be liked, and his penchant for agreeing with the last person he spoke to accords with John Major bearing the imprint of the last person who sat on him. His constant flip-flopping suggests poor advice from the ‘experts’. What we desperately need is the old Boris with his vision and ebullience to drag the country out of its confusion and lethargy.
Maids Moreton, Bucks
Sir: James Forsyth expresses a common misconception when he invokes Oliver Cromwell as a previous leader who cancelled Christmas (‘An autumn of discontent’, 19 September). It was not Cromwell who legislated against the celebration of Christmas and other holy days but parliament in the 1640s, when he was a mere MP. While Cromwell did not take steps to reverse this legislation when in power himself several years later, he is not recorded as ever having expressed an opinion on Christmas. As a Puritan, it is likely that he sympathised with those who considered the festival an extravagant survival of Catholicism with no biblical justification and so did not keep Christmas himself. But it is just as likely, given his dislike of those who ‘trample on men’s liberties in spiritual respects’, that he would have taken little offence at others doing so.
Dr Miranda Malins
Trustee, The Cromwell Association
Hunting on foot
Sir: If Cumbria police has a picture of a mounted huntsman on its campaign to encourage reporting of illegal activity (The Spectator’s Notes, 19 September), it doesn’t know its own county. In the vast majority of cases, hunting in Cumbria isn’t the sport of the wealthy on horseback, as it is in Gloucestershire or even in next-door Northumberland. Horses would break their legs on the Lake District fells. Hunting in Cumbria is a sport of the rural working class, hardy fell runners all — and, like John Peel, they do it on foot!
Even hand of the law
Sir: As a lifelong hunt protestor, I have long held the view, backed by my observations, that the police are firmly on the side of the huntsman. So I was therefore surprised to read Charles Moore’s view that the police frequently favour the saboteurs. The fact that we both feel that the opposite side is getting the rub of the green suggests that maybe the police are actually policing with a very even hand in what can be a highly emotive situation?
New Milton, Hampshire
The bag stays
Sir: I’m sorry to disagree with Laurie Graham, but I’m afraid all girls know that keys, bank card and phone are not enough when leaving the house (‘Bag drop’, 19 September). Surely everyone needs a packet of tissues and lip balm? Not to mention a face mask these days. I’m sticking with my handbag. But I might clean it out a bit more often — I probably don’t need seven packets of tissues.
Sir: Matthew Parris claims (19 September) that ‘the age of camp is over’ for gay people and that ‘we’re wanting not to be different’. I beg to differ. Camp has been enjoyed over the centuries and across the world. It is still fun, and I hope it does not go away.
I’m more in tune with Fraser Nelson who, in the same edition, calls diversity ‘a gift to be seized with both hands’. As a gay man, I’m comfortable being different, and don’t aspire to look or act straight. My life is enriched by friends of all religions and races. None of them want an ‘integrated theism’. A colour-blind society would be a colourless society. We are not divided by our differences; we are divided by not celebrating our differences.
Like Matthew, I dream of a world where we are treated equally. Pride events are still visible because they are unusual. The rest of the year, we check our surroundings before holding hands, even in London or San Francisco. Gay sex is still illegal in nearly 70 countries. Imagine a world where none of us live in fear because of who we love. I promise that world will not be boring.
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