Pirates and Tories
Sir: Daniel Hannan is himself a pirate, masquerading as a Conservative MEP (‘Here come the pirates!’, 4 January). Oddly, since he’s fighting an election against it in May, he found nothing to criticise in Ukip, while attacking the European People’s Party, who are not standing in the south-east of England. He’s certainly right that we should not lump all protest parties in Europe together, though on weak ground in suggesting there are no differences between the mainstream EU parties. What did surprise me, though, was his description of the Front National as ‘essentially constitutional’. So he’d be confident that, were the Front National to gain power in France, subsequent elections would proceed smoothly?
Sir: I fear that Sebastian Faulks has lost the plot over basements in Kensington and Chelsea (Diary, 14–28 December). He calls the council ‘supine’ but then concurs that national planning law is indiscriminate, ineffective, permissive, and deaf to the impact of the particular disruption and inconvenience to others caused by the current fashion for troglodyte living in this most densely populated of boroughs. The council does indeed want to see tougher controls, but it does not have the power to make up its own rules. We are proposing significant limitations, but these will need to be approved by a national planning inspector and will be hotly opposed by developers with little interest in the disruption they cause to others. I would urge Mr Faulks to support greater local discretion in planning matters if he wants to be sure that this story has a happy outcome.
Cllr Nicholas Paget-Brown
Leader of the Council, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, London W8
Friends for dinner
Sir: Hugo Rifkind was as witty as usual on the topic of bestiality (4 January). But as far as his moral dilemma goes, surely the answer is that as we do not normally expect to eat those we shag, why should we agonise over failing to shag those we eat?
Sir: The radio is, as Kate Chisholm writes, a well-spent 40p for her (14–28 December). However, for her to get this bargain, thousands of other citizens of this country — such as me — have to pay their 40p as well, even though they have no interest in BBC radio. It is not obvious to me that this is a reasonable state of affairs.
Sir: Charles Moore reports that one of the reasons his Dublin contacts fear the prospect of Scottish independence is that this might result in Scotland becoming more attractive than Ireland to foreign investors (Notes, 14–28 December). He then goes on to list this as one of the dangers of the forthcoming referendum.
Has he considered that many of us in Scotland might actually welcome such a prospect?
Dr Ian McKee
The forgotten persecution
Sir: Many thanks for Michael Nazir-Ali’s article ‘Protecting Christians’ (14–28 December). In an age when our politicians are very quick to raise their voices concerning human rights, it appears that many of them do not regard Christian communities (many of whom are under severe pressure) as worthy even of comment, let alone action. Perhaps this article will raise awareness of the terrible problems many Christians face in their everyday lives, as they live under regimes which discriminate against them. As Mr Ali said, there was much concern about the persecution of Muslims in the Balkans and other places. Why then are no voices raised in defence of Christian communities?
David A. Littlewood
Sir: In your Christmas offering, Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester, blames Islam for the decline of Christianity in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East in the 5th and 6th centuries. However this decline was massively assisted by the persecutions inflicted by Christians on other Christians. Probably the most culpable of the persecutors was Saint Augustine of Hippo. Even before Islam came into existence, earlier movements against the church in the eastern Mediterranean were gaining great success from populations whose own version of Christianity was slightly different from that which the church councils had ordained.
Sir: I was inspired to pen a letter to Peregrine Worsthorne as soon as I had read Harry Mount’s excellent piece on him in the Spectator’s Christmas special. I was overwhelmed and delighted to get a phone call from the great man himself, saying he doesn’t write much these days, but was deeply touched by my letter. He thanked me in the most charming manner and in that lovely voice we remember so well.
Sir: Entirely through my own error, I said in my interview with Sir Peregrine Worsthorne that his 90th birthday was on 23 December, not 22 December, the right date. My apologies and many happy returns.
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