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6 April 2022

Letter of the week: Double standards

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By New Statesman

Thank you for Jeremy Cliffe’s enlightening article on Estonia (“Europe enters a dark new age of division”, 1 April), and the New Statesman’s ongoing coverage of the Ukraine catastrophe. Might it be possible for the NS to shed light on two murky areas in the logic of realpolitik? First, why Nato’s nuclear weapons did not deter Russia from invading a sovereign country, yet Russia’s nuclear weapons do deter Ukraine’s friends from defending that country? Second, how can Russia openly invite portions of the Chechen army to assist in the invasion when Nato troops are being withheld from supporting Ukrainian resistance for fear of being seen as some kind of provocation?
Tim Pears, Oxford

Royal rumble

In an issue with outstanding pieces by Andrew Marr, Gordon Brown, Jeremy Bowen and Richard Calvocoressi it was disappointing to read the anti-monarchy diatribe by Tanya Gold (“The royals’ Caribbean tour was doomed to fail”, 1 April). Yes, there are lessons to be learned from the tour but she failed to describe any alternative. Presidents in other countries tend to be retired politicians (President Thatcher or Blair, anyone?) or complete non-entities. Prince Charles offers us a slimmed down monarchy that would retain that essential non-partisan mystique.
David Steel, House of Lords, London SW1

“No monarchy can be a fair society,” writes Tanya Gold. It all depends what you mean by “a fair society”. If you mean one in which there is greater economic equality, the situation in most of the Nordic countries and Japan suggests that, insofar as any existing society can approximate to fairness, the presence or absence of a monarchy is not by itself a factor.
Andrew Connell, Cardiff

After reading Tanya Gold’s pointed piece, I thought I’d write in to suggest that she should be your royal correspondent.
Dave Beer, York

Why the Union works

Nicola Sturgeon (Another Voice, 25 March) addresses neither the practical economic problems caused by breaking up the UK nor the consequent loss of identity felt by those many of us with roots across the UK who identify as British. She makes no mention of the Brexit mess that would lead – with Scotland part of the EU – to checks on goods between Scotland and England/Wales, as between Northern Ireland and Britain. Perhaps we should remember that the NHS was created by a Welsh secretary of state, in a government led by an Englishman and by a political party founded by a Scot, and work together to create a just, tolerant and outward-looking multicultural UK.
Joyce Quin, House of Lords, London SW1

The educated working class

It bucked me up no end to read that TV in the 1970s mattered to Mark Gatiss (“On not going to Oxbridge”, 25 March), as it did to me. Working-class children like us gained access to elite knowledge that our families paid for, but had been excluded from for generations due to segregated education. Sadly, investment through funded student grants and fees was a short-term civic project that was too successful. The elite could not compete with an educated working class.
Helen Gunter, professor emerita, University of Manchester

Welfare wars

Gordon Brown (Another Voice, 1 April) is right that poverty has worsened under the Tories, but New Labour can’t escape that lightly. In 2006 Tony Blair welcomed 11 private healthcare providers into the NHS. As Phil Whitaker wrote in the NS in March 2015: “The coalition government seized on the [privatisation] inroads made by New Labour.”
David Murray, Wallington, Surrey

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Gordon Brown’s column is him at his very best – passionate and forensic. The Labour Party should adopt this analysis of the local effects of Tory welfare cruelty for every area in the country.
Mike Gibbons, Cartmel, Cumbria

Britain between the lines

I enjoyed your timely series of contributions about national identity (A Dream of Britain, 25 March). What struck me most was the absence of any solutions, with the exception of Tony Blair’s (Face to Face, 25 March). Maybe that reflects that diversity, toleration and muddling through are what it means to be British, and that’s a little understated to work as a slogan.
David Crowther, Oxfordshire

Laurie Penny’s 600-odd words on Brian May and badgers in Parliament Square (“Postcards from a small island”, 25 March) did more to restore my battered pride in being British than anything else anyone has said or done for decades. Thank you.
Kimon Roussopoulos, Cambridge

The Reacher man

I enjoyed Kate Mossman’s profile of Lee Child (“A most wanted man”, 1 April), but readers may be amused by an omission. It is not only Margaret Drabble and Philip Pullman who admire his thrillers. I gave his first novel, Killing Floor, a tiny review in the New Statesman, which for many years was quoted on his paperbacks. What is more, when I met the author many years later, he remembered this, and thanked me.
Amanda Craig, London NW1

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This article appears in the 06 Apr 2022 issue of the New Statesman, Easter Special