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13 October 2021

Letter of the week: The truth about One Nation

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By New Statesman

For far too long, the term “One Nation” has been attributed to Disraeli. It was  first used by Stanley Baldwin, as Emily Jones (The Critics, 1 October) states. On  4 December 1924 Baldwin addressed a packed meeting in the Royal Albert Hall, following an election in which the Tories (then known as Unionists) gained the largest majority achieved in parliamentary history by a party without a coalition partner. Baldwin said: “I want to see the spirit of service to the whole nation the birthright of every member of the Unionist Party – Unionist in the sense that we stand for the union of those two nations of which Disraeli spoke two generations ago; union among our own people to make one nation of our own people at home which, if secured, nothing else matters in the world.” Who could imagine Boris Johnson, who spuriously claims the mantle of “One Nation”, saying anything so inspiring or uplifting?
Alistair Lexden
Conservative Party historian, House of Lords, London SW1 

The Green machine

I was surprised that Harry Lambert’s article (“Why the Greens are missing their moment”, 8 October) made such little mention of the Scottish Greens. In May we had our most successful election results to date and, for the first time, there are Green ministers in the Scottish government.

We are also a member-led party and  are committed to LGBTQ liberation. These things are central to our identity and have not held us back. We are now able to enact large parts of our manifesto and deliver rent controls, free bus travel for young people and record investment in climate action. These are changes that would be welcomed across the UK  and beyond.

One of the biggest differences between the Scottish Parliament and Westminster is that Scottish elections use a proportional electoral system, which allows smaller parties to make a greater impact and to thrive. Likewise, forms of proportional representation are used in Germany, New Zealand and everywhere else that the Greens have influence.

I wish Adrian Ramsay, Carla Denyer and their colleagues every success and look forward to campaigning alongside them. The biggest problem they will face is the outdated and undemocratic UK electoral system, not their fellow Greens.
Lorna Slater MSP, co-leader, Scottish Greens

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There is no “British” Green Party and hasn’t been for 30 years. For people living in Scotland, it has become tediously predictable and very dismaying continuously to read content in  intelligent publications where what  applies to England is taken to apply everywhere in the UK. It would be good to see something about the differing experiences of the Green Party of England and Wales, the Irish Greens and the Scottish Greens. 
Sheila Currie, Cromarty, Highland

As a Green Party councillor I read Harry Lambert’s article with joy (at the Greens featuring so prominently in the New Statesman) and apprehension (at his razor-sharp observations hitting a nerve). If it were up to me – and as his article points out, it’s not – the English Greens would eschew any policy that does not bring the membership together in favour of one that does. And if that’s not possible, we should have no policy on that issue until holding some sort of power demands otherwise.
Dave McElroy, Reading and Wokingham  Green Party

Harry Lambert’s analysis makes Green Party electoral prospects seem dauntingly grim. In truth, despite Britain’s outdated electoral system, the party made impressive inroads in Brighton – it won council seats from 1996 onwards, and in 2010 Brighton Pavilion’s excellent Green MP Caroline Lucas was elected.

The challenge for the new co-leadership is to address the absence of a credible manifesto. Having two co-leaders offers scope for one to concentrate on drafting  a convincing manifesto in collaboration with Lucas, tapping her parliamentary experience. While gaining approval by a Green Party conference will be challenging, this is vital for the party’s political credibility and future electoral success.
Keith Jago, Brighton

A toxic influence

Sophie McBain’s excellent report on  the rape culture in British schools  (“The reckoning”, 8 October) made no mention of pornography, and nor did  any of her interviewees. For the first time in history, hardcore pornography is instantly available for anyone who  wants to see it. By some estimates, 35 per cent of internet downloads are related to pornography.

I would not advocate banning  internet pornography for those adults  who wish to use it (although in my opinion pornography culture shares the same dehumanising characteristics as rape culture), but it seems extraordinary that  so little heed is taken of the possible damage to young minds that such material might cause. This appears to be a colossal failure of collective judgement, rooted, it seems to me, in the right-wing trope, now adopted by some elements of the far left, that individual personal – and above all psychic – liberty trumps everything else.
David Perry, Cambridge

Labour’s power struggle

Like many on the Labour right, Philip Collins (The Public Square, 8 October) finds it difficult to explain Labour’s high vote in the 2017 general election and so doesn’t mention it. (Labour got 40 per cent, almost the same as in 2001.) If Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour was found wanting on economic competence and patriotism in 2019, as he suggests, why was this not so in 2017, with the same leader, who had been in post for almost two years, and a similar programme? What 2017 proved was that it is possible for Labour to be within sight of winning with a radical programme, and any honest analysis should recognise that.
Peter Rowlands, Swansea

The carbon capture fallacy

I was enjoying Rachel Cunliffe’s article  on the censorious (Out of the Ordinary,  1 October) until she started referring to carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a “technological solution” to the climate crisis that environmentalists are ignoring. Having just come off a four-week planning inquiry into the Cumbria coal mine, I can reassure Ms Cunliffe that we’re all best to avoid CCS as a “technological solution”.

No steel plant in Europe and almost  no power stations – with the possible exception of Drax (circa 1 tonne a day) – use CCS as it’s too costly and inefficient. Betting our children’s future on an unproven technological panacea is dangerous, delaying the much-needed action we have to take now.
Magnus Gallie, Fulford, York

The whole picture

I was mildly put out to discover that there appear to be longer and also different edits of some print articles online, such as one by Philippa Nuttall (“How politics fuelled the energy crisis”, 1 October). As someone who reads every word of the print magazine avidly each week, it would be helpful if you can indicate that a longer digital version of an article exists, or better still not produce different versions in the first place.
Chris Lawer, Buckingham

Veterans’ club

Steve Richards (Diary, 8 October) laments being labelled “veteran”. He should embrace it, as I have done, although I am even more veteran than he is. All it means – or so I choose to believe – is that we might know a thing or two. In any case, if we were in the running to become pope, we’d be described as callow youngsters.
Robin Lustig, London N10

I remember Steve Richards’ arrival at the New Statesman almost 30 years ago – he was neither youthful nor a veteran, though he was on the way to being venerated. He should worry less about being described as “having been around the block a bit”. Instead, I’d like him to draw on that wisdom to explain how long it takes for a Tory MP to be come a “grandee”.
Les Bright, veteran reader, Exeter

Mr Bond, I believe?

Surely the point of critics is that they give us their honest opinions. David Sexton (Critics, 8 October) suggests broadsheet reviewers have not been entirely truthful in what they think of the overhyped new James Bond film, No Time To Die, “acclaiming it as… a triumph, whatever reservations they might have more privately”. This is a deceptive duality to which I’m certain Mr Sexton has yet to succumb. The message to his colleagues is clear: this is no time to lie.
Grant Feller, London W4

Yesterday’s news

Janice Turner’s review of The Status Game (The Critics, 24 September) includes  the book’s author Will Storr’s observation that Paul McCartney is still “bitching” about John Lennon’s name being first  on the credits for “Yesterday”. Could McCartney’s unhappiness be justified by John Lennon making zero contribution  to writing “Yesterday”?
Steve Chapman, Thackley, Bradford

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This article appears in the 13 Oct 2021 issue of the New Statesman, Perfect Storm