Jobs for all
Sir: Charles Bazlington championed Universal Basic Income in last week’s magazine (Letters, 9 May). It is welcome to see innovative ideas being discussed at a time of unprecedented economic crisis.
Might I suggest that if we wish to empower citizens, not just pay them, we instead look to provide employment via a National Job Guarantee? A guaranteed job at the living wage backed by the state and administered by national and local government as well as the charity and private sectors. This crisis has proved that people need not only money but purpose, camaraderie with colleagues, and the pride of a ‘job done well’; they want to provide for their families and contribute to society. We have plenty of work that needs doing.
If the Tories want to secure their new coalition of voters, and ‘grow’ us out of this economic hole, let’s hope that Dominic Cummings managed to recruit some of the ‘Unusual Economists’ he was seeking recently. We need individuals with the creativity and imagination to look beyond the textbook answers of the Treasury that have left too many people idle on benefits for too many years.
Day of deaths
Sir: Until I read Nigel Farndale’s excellent article about obituaries, I thought I was the only person in the world who couldn’t stand what he describes as the unlovely euphemism of ‘passed away’ (‘Dying art’, 9 May). It suggests that our fear of death can be assuaged by pretending that nothing more significant has occurred than that the loved one has simply ceased to be here. And on the not uncommon event of two big names dying on the same day, I am reminded of 22 November 1963, when JFK, C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley all died. Not surprisingly, Lewis’s and Huxley’s obituaries had to wait a few days.
Dizzy was no rascal
Sir: There is a glaring omission from the political biographies recommended for lockdown reading by Simon Heffer (‘The great and the not so good’, 9 May): Robert Blake’s Disraeli (1966), described by Colin Matthew, editor of the Gladstone diaries, as ‘the best single- volume biography of any British prime minister’. It laid to rest the charge that Dizzy (as he liked to be known) was no more than a lucky charlatan. Blake showed that the man who invented the political novel invested his writing with inspiring Tory ideals. He was the greatest parliamentary debater of his time, frequently running rings round the ponderous Gladstone. He is the only British statesman to have inspired a political cult; the Primrose League attracted some two million members by 1914. In beautiful prose Blake explains why Dizzy exerts a perennial fascination.
House of Lords
Sir: I wish Melissa Kite the best of luck with her plans to boycott goods from China (Real Life, 2 May). A useful first step might be for Amazon to state the origin of their stuff. I recently bought two things from them, naively judging them to be from somewhere within the EU, or at worst from the USA. First, a Morphy Richards slow cooker and, second, a Nest smoke detector. Nope — both were made in China.
National Care Service
Sir: Your leader of 2 May (‘Call that care?’) rightly refers to the care system as an iniquity; but it’s worse than that. The thrifty subsidise the system via taxation; if they require care they are means-tested by local authorities; and they are routinely invited to top up inadequate care plans using their own resources. That this triple whammy is visited on those who played by the rules (and, in the case of my own parents, served in the armed forces during the war) is a disgrace. It could be solved by making all taxpayers contribute, whether they end up needing care or not. Perhaps Boris could use this crisis to found a National Care Service. If the Tories don’t, Labour probably will; and then we’ll never hear the end of it.
I remember ‘furlough’
Sir: The word ‘furlough’ (Letters, 2 May) has been familiar to me since my earliest days. The church in which I grew up supported foreign missionaries. I remember a lady missionary sent to south India in the late 1940s by ship, when a five-year term of service consisted of four years in the field and one year back in the UK ‘on furlough’.
Sir: Bruce Anderson’s Drink column amuses and educates, and is accessible even to an abstemious provincial parson such as myself. But he referred recently to cavaliers ‘rescuing the beauty of holiness from Laudian cruelty’ (2 May). Fake news. Laud was a great beautifier of churches, which is why the Puritans put him to death.
The Revd Sam Aldred
How to stop squatters
Sir: I am grateful for a tip in Charles Moore’s column a few years ago about demolishing house martins’ nests over winter (19 July 2018). For the past few years they have arrived to find squatter sparrows in residence. With no martin nests to squat in this year, the sparrows have reverted to nesting behind the gutters under the slates. As predicted in Notes, the martins are back and busy rebuilding in their original spots.
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