Spectator letters: Allan Massie on the FBI; Christopher Booker on graffiti

Plus: Crazy presidential candidates, the imperial hubris of Brussels, and the mystery of Dear Mary’s blouse

13 June 2015

9:00 AM

13 June 2015

9:00 AM

The long arm of the FBI

Sir: The White House may be less willing than it was to play the role of the world’s policeman in international affairs, but the FBI seems eager to be the world’s cop. No doubt, as Martin Vander Weyer has noted (Any other business, 6 May), the US Attorney General has been ‘careful to assert that many of the allegedly corrupt schemes of the Fifa officials so far arrested were planned in the US, and that US banking and “wire” services were used.’ Still, we are told that the FBI is also investigating matters such as the award of the next two world cups to Russia and Qatar, where there is no evident US involvement.

Charles Moore, reflecting on the manner in which Fifa officials were arrested in a dawn raid on their hotel in Zurich (Notes, 6 June), sensibly asks whether we ‘are really satisfied that the US authorities should behave in this way outside their jurisdiction’. Are we? Has the FBI suddenly acquired extra-territorial authority? If so, when and by whose leave? And is the FBI’s record so clean that we should welcome such a development?
Allan Massie
Selkirk, Scotland

Fall of the Brussels empire

Sir: Neither James Forsyth (6 June) nor David Cameron should worry too much about the outcome of the promised EU referendum. It will not yet have dawned upon the Brussels bureaucrats or the politicos that all empires end in tears, through arrogance, greed, incompetence, or simply becoming too big for their boots. This monstrous European empire will, in due course, go the way of all others. It will be brought down by tensions between East and West, prosperous states and poor ones; between the eurozone and those outside it, between Schengen and non-Schengen areas — and because it never listens to its ‘citizens’. In every single member state the citizens expressing anti-EU sentiment has grown by at least 20 per cent in the past few years. I give it a generation at most.
Dr Derek Hawes
Mylor Bridge, Cornwall

Council development

Sir: As Charles Moore indicates (Notes, 6 June), my former Conservative Research Department employee, Edward Llewellyn, will not lack for company as a member of the Privy Council. He has no fewer than 663 colleagues. The ancient institution has grown by 57 per cent as a result of appointments under Blair, Brown and Cameron. The last is using it to give pleasure to rank-and-file Tory MPs, who were rarely nominated in the past. Under the Queen’s grandfather, George V, they were debarred. The entire Council meets on the accession of a monarch. At the current rate of increase, the Albert Hall will be needed when a new reign begins.
Alistair Lexden
House of Lords, London SW1

Fond hearts in the forces

Sir: I reach a different conclusion from Lord Tebbit regarding the success of military marriages (Letters, 6 May). Members of the armed forces spend much time away from their spouses and this, my experience teaches me, is the main contribution to a happy relationship.
Charles D. Wroe

Graffiti wisdom

Sir: As a regular user of the rail service into London from the West Country, I too was beguiled by that legendary line-side graffito, ‘Faraway is close at hand in images of elsewhere’ (Books, 6 June) — until I realised that it really described nothing better than a brochure for a cruise line.
Christopher Booker
Litton, Somerset

Crazy omission

Sir: Much as I enjoyed Philip Delves Broughton’s account of the wackier presidential candidates (‘Running wild’, 6 June), I was sad that he left out the gloriously bonkers Alan Keyes, who once challenged Obama for the senatorship of Ohio and ran three presidential campaigns. He would tell his opponents that they did not have Jesus Christ’s vote, and that he would happily campaign from a bus shelter even as it emerged that he had been paying himself $8, 500 a month from his electioneering fund. After one spectacularly bad campaign, Keyes said: ‘I kind of represent, in political terms, the abortion. You’re invited in but they kill you.’ Give us a thousand Alans over one Hillary Clinton, I say.
Peter Senderos
London W12

Bad winner

Sir: Toby Young really should calm down (Status Anxiety, 6 June). He has nothing to fear from ‘cultural Marxists’. Britain is a Conservative country and has been for more than 35 years. We have a new Conservative government; of our last eight, four were Conservative, one a Conservative-dominated coalition, and three quasi-Conservative. The BBC has been run almost exclusively by small-c conservatives from John Reith’s time to the present day. Just look back over the past ten years or so. Could Mark Thompson, Tony Hall, Chris Patten and Rona Fairhead be described as left-wingers? Our businesses, banks, police and military are conservative. Virtually all our newspapers are conservative. But present Toby Young with a mildly left-of-centre Labour leader (who resoundingly lost) and a play with a leftish slant, and he panics.
Mark Smith

Big girl’s blouse

Sir: Why does Dear Mary’s top always button the opposite way to those worn by my wife and all other female members of my family? Has she borrowed her husband’s shirt?
Robert Vincent
Wildhern, Hampshire

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