Letters: Why do we bully PMs’ wives?

2 July 2022

9:00 AM

2 July 2022

9:00 AM

Strong leaders

Sir: Freddy Gray states that ‘voters seemed most enthusiastic about the leaders who removed their liberties’ (‘Leaderless’, 18 June). I believe people just like to see their government take strong measures. People like to see the effect of a government policy straight away, especially in a crisis. This is probably the reason so many Americans like the idea of Trump’s wall. It is an immediate and physical solution to a large problem that can be seen and felt, even if it is not necessarily the best solution.

If the government, for example, came up with a policy that said all those on jobseekers’ allowance must do at least 20 hours of community service a week to pay for their handouts, I believe the country would see our streets, beaches and parks a lot cleaner as well as fewer people on benefits and more in work. People like to see big answers to big problems.

Jack Veitch

Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

Leave Carrie alone

Sir: I would like to thank Matthew Parris for last week’s article (‘Carry on Carrie’, 25 June). Like him I am a conservative, but I have always thought that the press coverage of Cherie Blair was extremely unfair. A pretty woman, but the press photographs were always most unflattering. The attitude of the media to prime ministers’ wives, who are unable to defend themselves and are therefore soft targets, smacks of bullying. Female MPs are also targeted in ways that do not apply to their male counterparts.

We are on the whole a kind, generous society, never hesitating to put our hands in our pockets for those in real need, be they people or dogs. But the media, under the guise of political discussion, can be vicious.

Angela Cable

Stroud, Gloucestershire

Money from nothing

Sir: Lionel Shriver (‘Central bank rate hikes are pathetic’, 25 June) rightly fulminates against the injustice of inflation, in particular regarding its violation of the social contract. I must, however, take issue with her mischaracterisation of ‘modern monetary theory’. She claims that its exponents argue that ‘governments that control their own currencies can concoct money from thin air without limit and not suffer any disagreeable consequences’.

Monetarily, sovereign states do concoct money from thin air ex nihilo, much of this being done by commercial banks in fact, given our relinquishment of commodity-backed money. Moreover, every prominent advocate of the theory stresses government finances are constrained by inflation, not by an inability to pay, which is uncontroversial given that the indebted state happens to issue the very currency it owes – which cannot be said for you or me.

Ryan Roberts


Bad boxing

Sir: Anil Bhoyrul took part in the dangerous and unregulated white-collar boxing sector which occurs up and down the country, often to profit the unlicensed organisers (‘Ring of fire’, 18 June). It should be avoided or banned. Safe amateur boxing can be found in clubs with dedicated and qualified volunteer coaches up and down the UK, regulated by the various home nations governing bodies.

It is one of the safest sports when properly taught (see the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Boxing’s report entitled ‘The Right Hook’) and no qualified coach would allow the terrible and dangerous mismatch that seems to have resulted in Mr Bhoyrul being knocked to the floor three times in just over a minute. That isn’t boxing.

Caspar Hobbs

Former chairman, England Boxing

Boo who?

Sir: Lloyd Evans laments the loss of traditional ways of displaying displeasure at the theatre (‘To boo or not to boo’, 25 June). However, it is rarely the performers who are fault. Most awful nights at the theatre are awful either because the play itself is a stinker or because the director is on some self-indulgent ego trip. We don’t boo because we’re not cross at the actors, who are often doing the best that can be done with a dreadful script.

Tim Cheatle

London E3

A guilty conscience

Sir: Charles Moore identifies the dilemma with ethics advice (Notes, 25 June). Shakespeare has Polonius reel off a list of values to Laertes, including the infamous entreaty ‘to thine own self be true…’, which allows self-deceit. The tragedy in Hamlet, and in life, is that for many characters a guilty conscience (our much more powerful moral guide) pricks far too late.

Struan Macdonald

Hayes, Kent

Clearly, O’Leary

Sir: Jonathan Miller is correct about Ryanair (‘Top flight’, 25 June). I know a lot of people appear to detest Michael O’Leary, but Ryanair works very well indeed. Clearly, O’Leary understands what the public wants and gives it to them. British Airways and the others don’t any more. Their loss.

Michael Wingert

High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

About fat-shaming

Sir: Douglas Murray (‘The shame game’, 25 June) asks whether there are times ‘when a little bit of fat-shaming might be useful’. As most severely obese people would tell him, the level of abuse directed at them, and the shame and humiliation felt, is already immense. If such fat-shaming were useful, it would already have been effective.

Peter Allmark


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