Rules for romance
Sir: Lara Prendergast describes a floundering generation desperate for reliable love but with no real idea how to find it (‘Sexual reformation’, 4 November). Our culture has forgotten the basic principles of forming successful relationships. My daughters apply three simple guidelines on choosing boyfriends wisely. One, does he fight for you? Men’s commitment is linked to willingness to sacrifice. He needs to show that he will put himself out for you. Two, is he marriageable? I’m not saying marry straight away. But he needs to have characteristics such as kindness and generosity. And three, can he make decisions? Commit to things and stick at them? Does he decide, rather than slide? Result, four young women who are confident about their relationships and have made good choices. My guidelines for my two teenage sons? Be that man.
Research Director, Marriage Foundation, Cambridge
Sir: As a fellow recent casualty of the Scottish education system I wholeheartedly agree with Madeleine Kearns’ article on its current state under the SNP (‘Class struggle’, 4 November). I am a staunch critic of Tory education policies in England, so specifically chose Scotland for my training as a secondary English teacher. To my horror I found a disheartened and disjointed education system which, though nobly idealistic in theory, was characterised by vagueness, uncertainty and disorganisation in practice.
Although it is only part of a continuing public sector tragedy which is detrimental to both teaching and learning in Scottish classrooms, the Curriculum for Excellence perfectly encapsulates both the political arrogance and lack of organisation of the SNP in wilfully changing a system that once worked well for Scottish children.
Their aim was to leave a legacy in education. In the light of the recent catastrophic drop in attainment levels in reading and writing, that legacy is one of failure, with a whole generation of Scottish pupils as the victims.
Someone I know
Sir: I note that Mr Lloyd Evans, in reviewing The Young Marx (4 November) writes: ‘The inaugural show is a comic biography of Karl Marx written by
Richard Bean and someone else.’ The ‘someone else’ is Clive Coleman, an esteemed colleague and the BBC’s Legal Affairs Correspondent.
Mansur the martyr
Sir: I hold no brief for Reza Aslan but I must point out some important elisions in Alexander Waugh’s review of God: A Human History (Books, 4 November). Mansur al-Hallaj, the Sufi saint who declared ‘I am the truth’, is indeed a controversial figure in Islam. But as his biographer, Attar of Nishapur, pointed out, he had many Muslim admirers. Over the centuries beautiful miniatures were painted commemorating his martyrdom. And his spiritual descendants include the perennialist philosopher Seyyed Hossein Nasr, recent editor of The Study Quran, as well as Aslan. The Islamic tradition is wider than Waugh seems to think.
Passport to peril
Sir: There are many examples of bad UK governance in the past few decades: being misled over the Iraq war in 2003; Hinkley Point’s fantastically expensive electricity; 25 years or more of dithering over Heathrow’s third runway. But can there be any worse instance than that described by James Forsyth (‘What to do about returning jihadis’, 4 November)? We have known for years that about 500 jihadis would attempt to return. These are perpetrators of genocide in the name of a self-declared state with whom we have in effect been at war. For all this time the government has had the authority to withdraw the passports of those entitled to a second citizenship (that means most of them). The first duty of government is to defend the nation, and its reluctance to do so is profoundly disturbing.
Sir: Charles Moore seems to think that the Windsor Link Railway, which would create a single Windsor station, is a good idea (The Spectator’s Notes, 4 November). Would he be so keen if he was aware that Mr Bathurst intends to build his new station, hotel and office complex on, and construct his railway link through, National Trust land? This was bought by public subscription to protect the rare (these days) views of Windsor Castle from the west. What is more, Bathurst proudly claims that his plans will be funded by building mansions on the riverfront, with views overlooking the gloriously picturesque and ancient Eton College flood meadows.
Have we descended so far into planning mayhem that any such proposals will be given a moment’s consideration merely to reduce our choice of train services and destinations from two to one? I hope not.
Editor, the Royal Windsor Forum
Hall the best
Sir: Further to Peter Hitchens’s paean of praise for the architecture of Liverpool (Diary, 4 November), he might also have included what is arguably Britain’s finest 19th-century building in the form of St George’s Hall by Elmes and Cockerell.
Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Subscribe – Try a month free