Letters: What Sturgeon has got wrong

9 July 2022

9:00 AM

9 July 2022

9:00 AM

Sturgeon’s single issue

Sir: Nicola Sturgeon needs to be careful what she wishes for. Declaring that the next general election will be concerned solely with the issue of Scottish independence is, as you say, ‘a constitutional absurdity’ (‘Sturgeon’s bluff’, 2 July). Heads of government who stipulate single-issue elections are on a hiding to nothing, and rightly so. Theresa May’s ‘Brexit’ election in 2017 turned out badly for her, although at least she kept her job (just). Ted Heath wasn’t so lucky in 1974 (‘Who rules Britain?’), ditto Churchill in 1945 (‘Who won the war?’) or Stanley Baldwin in 1923 (‘Free trade or protection?’). Even the 2019 election was about more than Brexit; subjects such as economic competence and a fear of Corbyn certainly played their part. The SNP government is accountable for all of its actions, however loudly it bangs the drum for independence. The clue is in the title, Nicola: a general election.

Tim Holman

St Albans

Money pit

Sir: Lionel Shriver’s conclusion that our inflation crisis is self-inflicted is spot on (‘Central bank rate hikes are pathetic’, 25 June). Decadence in the developed world, facilitated by mass money-printing to finance state largesse and boost asset prices, has been indulged for years without stoking inflation thanks to the offsetting deflationary effects of globalisation. Now, with currents shifting to deglobalisation and decarbonisation, the tide has turned dramatically. The developed world is stuck between the rock of a rates-induced recession/depression, and the hard place of chronic inflation. Putin’s war provides a convenient scapegoat, but is only a small part of the equation. Our politicians know it. It was timorous populations the world over, whipped up by social media, that willed their states to lock down excessively and set the printing presses whirring, at a financial and societal cost that vastly outweighed the benefits. The result is a tragedy. Alas we are only at the beginning of this crisis.

Fergus Hall

London SW14

The cleanest cars

Sir: Martin Vander Weyer might continue to bang the drum for electric cars and their ‘green’ credentials (Any other business, 2 July) but the problem is that in the drive for such cars we have effectively seen a cessation in development of petrol and diesel engines. While these internal combustion units are cleaner than ever, further progress has been stymied. Even the Society of Motor Manufacturers, where I once worked, seems to have thrown the towel in. I note too your correspondent swerves the issue of just how clean these cars are, especially when we follow the production process back to the raw materials. In reality, the cleanest cars are those already built and maintained. It’s time for the independent aftermarket to get its act together to push this line rather than seeing customers spend tens of thousands on cars whose battery life remains questionable.

Rich Barnett

Pwll, Llanelli

In Scarlett’s defence

Sir: Sarah Churchwell (‘A study of Scarlett’, 2 July) hugely misunderstands Scarlett O’Hara in describing her as being ‘selfish, bewildered, bored by anything outside the realm of her material comfort and thus a representative American’. At the beginning of the novel, she is just 16 – sassy, quick-witted and vain, yes, but also courageous, loyal, protective of those she loves and a true grafter. O’Hara’s driving force is not the pursuit of material comfort but, as the theme music to the film of Gone with the Wind suggests, love of the land.

Dr Susana Ingram


The glow of boredom

Sir: Lloyd Evans lists the ways modern audiences can register their dissatisfaction with a play – (‘To boo or not to boo’, 25 June) such as coughing, rustling sweet wrappers, or leaving ostentatiously. But he has missed one, increasingly encountered in recent years: phone-checking. The little lights can be seen by all around, including the actors, as they illuminate the faces of bored audience members who decide that checking their Twitter feed will be more interesting than focusing on the poor loves shouting up there on the stage.

Nigel Planer

London SE1

Lore of the hedgerow

Sir: Peter Parker’s enticing review of Leif Bersweden’s Where the Wildflowers Grow (Books, 2 July) reminded me that I learnt most of my wildflower lore from Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairy books. While, to an adult sensibility, the illustrations may seem unbearably winsome, the verses have stayed in my mind. I’ve never forgotten, thanks to this rhyme, one of the names for bird’s-foot trefoil: ‘Hoppity hop on nimble legs/ Some folk call me bacon and eggs.’

Salley Vickers

London W11

Museum piece

Sir: Andrew Roberts is correct in every detail about the National Army Museum (‘Notes on’, 25 June). The expensively refurbished museum of five years ago was a monstrous exercise in self-referential design, vacuous both metaphorically and almost literally, making the turbine hall at Tate Modern look cluttered in comparison. It was little more than a huge café with a small museum attached. Veterans were dismayed; others were baffled. ‘How could you let this happen?’ asked the visiting head of the Indian army. It was Professor Roberts’s original article in The Spectator that kickstarted the heroic transformation. The British army has seen many a disaster in its long and largely admirable history, but such is its resilience that it has not always recognised immediately the scale of the setback. The journalist’s pen has often been the necessary corrective.

Allan Mallinson

London W1

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