Introduction. Below are letters sent to my favourite Newspaper over recent months that have failed to impress the Editor.
What is likely to be the long term impact of throwing tarmac at natural pathways in a National Park as a means of attracting the young and ethnic minorities to the area? Nobody knows but I would hazard a guess that the intrinsic appeal of the Park will be lost forever. Does it not occur to the social engineering geniuses that the young, of whatever colour or creed, tend to prefer the bright lights? However, with the passing of the years the young apparently become older and then seemingly prefer a soupçon of peace and quiet……but wait that will not be an option since the natural habitat has been covered with tarmac.
I have long-term experience of driving around the many narrow roads and lanes of both Surrey and the West Country; without doubt the greatest danger to safe driving in daylight is the blazing headlights of oncoming traffic. The early years of such driving experiences (from 1961) were pleasurable and safer.
My superficial analysis of this safer claim is based on the following factors: Slower driving speeds; less wide cars – wing mirrors were an optional extra and certainly not adding 1ft to 18in to the width of a car; high rise Chelsea Tractors had not been invented; and in daylight drivers did not leave their headlights on. In daylight headlights cause momentarily blindness to oncoming vehicles when cresting a hill or rounding a sharp bend; unlike night-time there is no warning of such circumstances.
The variation in vehicle heights since the invention of the Chelsea Tractor and SUVs has made matters worse. It is also the case that driver fatigue is exacerbated by being confronted by streams of highly illuminated oncoming traffic. If drivers wish to be noticed then surely sidelights will suffice but what purpose does it serve to be noticed on the other side of a Motorway or Dual Carriageway? I make no mention of tailgate lights that now surround vehicles or the additional fuel costs of driving with lights.
Nicola Sturgeon’s particularly ecstatic celebrations at Jo Swinson’s electoral defeat sits uneasily with the latter’s emotionally delivered metaphor about falling shrapnel from penetrating the ‘glass ceiling’. Sisterly love does not seem to extend to politics!
David Preston is right to have reservations about returning the railways to State control (DT Letters 9 Dec). Some may recall that, in 1961, General Sir Brian Robertson resigned as Chairman of the British Transport Commission; it would seem that he did so because the task of modernising the railways proved to be beyond even his considerable talents. It might also be remembered that his successor was Dr Richard Beeching, a career Civil Servant. So, historical evidence suggests that re-nationalisation may not be a smart move.
[This letter was published in the DT but the Editor cut out this: “, a career Civil Servant.” Thereby destroying the whole point of the letter]
Corbyn – Who’s Next?
Mr Corbyn’s stance on the Jewry brings to mind Martin Niemöller’s famous words:
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Should we all be concerned?
A VOTING QUESTION
Voters have different reasons for deciding how to cast their vote – ranging from inherited prejudice to a detailed examination of a party’s dream sheet (aka Manifesto). Although my age group might be relaxed about the live now pay later claims of the Labour Party in particular, and the consequential inheritance of an unsustainable debt to many future generations, my immediate concern relates to the question of freedom of speech. Can any voter really be relaxed at the prospect of the likely primary future means of communications – namely Broadband – being State controlled? This voter is not!
The hectoring Sir John Major pillories Boris Johnson for using the word “surrender”. Is that the same John Major who called a cohort of his Cabinet Members “bastards”?
Retrospective Law Breaking
Mervyn Maciel (Letters 29th Sep) celebrates the Supreme Court’s decision with these words: “…now why know that – not even an Eton-educated Prime Minister – is above the law.”. However, by many, if not all, accounts the Court has changed the law. Is the law now to be applied retrospectively? By the way what has attending Eton got to do with this debate?
Mr Arthur identifies the ‘irony’ of Sir John Major’s contribution to the Supreme Court. Taking into account Sir John’s other contributions to democracy such as withdrawing the Whip and calling those MPs who disagreed with him ‘Bastards’, some might feel ‘hypocrisy’ to be a more appropriate term.
Ian Dale (DT 10 Sep) tells us that interruptions, insults and the prevailing bear pit atmosphere have made BBC 1’s Question Time unwatchable. Although a great admirer of Mr Dale, he really s a bit slow – many of us gave up on the programme for those exact reasons a long time ago. Of more interest was his statistical revelations of the overt bias in favour of the Remainers.
In her interesting article on the swashbuckling Brits, Julie Burchill touched on France’s subjugation of her ‘poor Empire’. In addition to the article’s focus on the murder of up to 300 pro-independence demonstrators by French police, Ms Burchill might usefully have mentioned France’s ruthless behaviour to Syria during her twenty three year mandate. Her theory that President de Gaulle blocked the UK’s application to join the Common Market on the grounds that “a bunch of swashbuckling mavericks” would not help the cause of European unity offered, to me at least, a new perspective. Hitherto it had been my understanding that de Gaulle blocked our entry until both the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) had been bedded down as a lasting protection for those two French industries (something Edward Heath failed to achieve for the UK’s more efficient industries). Today it is being suggested that President Macron’s trade relations threat to Brazil is more about blocking the EU Trade deal because it is not to his liking – plus ça change!
A 75% majority of the population apparently believes Political Correctness (PC) has gone too far. To us oldies this is an encouraging statistic since the percentage clearly includes many of the young. Is common-sense winning through at last? The Army recently touched on this matter when it decreed that describing the sewing kit issued to soldiers as a ‘Housewife’ is nowadays an unacceptable appellation; as far as I know the search is on for a PC version and the Army might wish to consider the alternative of SKARRS (Sewing Kit All Races Religions and Sexes). In a broader context it is dispiriting to be told by staff of the Underground that in wet weather I need to be careful of slipping on the pavement when outside while in hot weather I need to drink water. The most irritating mantra however, is SW Trains offering of: “See it, say it, sort it”. With so many activities in our lives given over to automation the young are correct in registering their misgivings of the Nanny State since the end-game is that will no longer be able to think for ourselves.
In the context of the recruitment of young soldiers and the operational limitations on their deployment, Charles Holden (DT 24 Aug) made this crucially accurate observation: “Many people under 18 have been failed by the educational system and the Army invariably rectifies this in a disciplined. Leading to worthwhile opportunities.”.
On 1 September 1972, under ROSLA (Raising Of School Leaving Age) the school leaving age in England and Wales was raised from 15 to 16 years. No doubt this change was introduced with the best of intentions but in a practical sense it condemned a raft of youngsters to yet another unwanted year in school or ‘failures’ as described by Charles. Up until that time the Army recruited 15 year old young men (yes – men only back then) for a two year training period in Junior Leader, Junior Soldier and Artificer Regiments; in such units those recruits, via sensitive discipline, not only completed their education for promotion for a full Army career and the basic elements of a Trade but also developed all-round societal skills such as playing a musical instrument or joining a PT Display Team that performed in village fetes etc.
ROSLA presented a challenge in that some Regiments decided that all the components of the existing curriculum were of equal value and opted to run it on in a compressed timescale resulting in a less enjoyable experience for those young men. However, before and after 1972 these ‘Boys’ Regiments provided the vast majority of the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Messes; indeed many, quite rightly, were commissioned.
Then along came Options For Change in the early 1990s which allowed the Government to save money via savage, and insensitively applied, Defence cuts. As part of the ‘deception plan’ to make such cuts acceptable to the general public, the Government and the Chiefs of Staff combined to talk of ‘no loss of bayonets’. In order to implement that illusion the Army implemented a massive restructuring that fundamentally impacted on logistics (no acceptance there that an Army marches on its stomach!), medical support and the training organisation. So it is that the Junior Regiment organisation has now become a shadow of its former self. This is more than a pity in that not only in Army recruitment terms but also in denying a raft of young people the opportunity to benefit from a system that overcame their disinclination to enjoy school.
[A shortened version of this above was published in the DT – I think]