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Letter of the week: Why Keynes was right

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By New Statesman

John Gray writes of the end of the market-led era that began with Margaret Thatcher (Cover Story, 27 May), and if John Maynard Keynes was alive today, he would be smiling quietly with satisfaction. Politicians and economists have never really understood his principal message, which was that capitalism needed to be saved from itself. The recent failures of Texas electricity generators, during which Texans froze in their homes, and of course the present fiasco of the British energy markets, where a timely investment in gas storage facilities would have prevented the current crisis, are quickly forgotten. This contrasts unfavourably with France, where a nationalised industry has kept prices to a minimum.

Was it naivety that caused politicians to believe the economists who said that economic management should be junked in favour of the self-regulating free market? When did any man-made institution ever work perfectly?  Now, having failed to heed Keynes’s words, we will have to relearn the politics of intervention, so foolishly abandoned 40 years ago.
Derrick Joad, Leeds

Fuel inequality

Your call for new ideas (Leader, 20 May) applies to the social injustice of domestic fuel poverty. Current proposals such as the windfall tax are welcome but will only bring some short-term relief. One longer-term solution is a progressive structure of charges for energy consumption: the greater the use of gas and electricity, the higher the cost per unit. The lowest unit cost would be paid by those obliged to use payment meters. The next band would allow occupiers of small or moderate dwellings to heat their homes without incurring unmanageable debt. Beyond that, successive tiers would oblige heavy energy consumers to pay more for the privilege of their lifestyle.
Nicholas Bowley, York

Gray matter

Andrew Marr is correct (Politics, 27 May) that the Sue Gray report will not dislodge the Prime Minister for now, but there must be a longer-term effect. It reveals a squalid pit of entitlement. Boris Johnson’s equivocations in defence of this blatant disregard for the rules that he was exhorting everybody else to follow brings to mind Aneurin Bevan denouncing Anthony Eden’s similar shiftiness over the Suez crisis.
Dr Colin J Smith, West Kirby, Wirral

I am enjoying the “new” New Statesman very much. How good it is to have Andrew Marr released from his Sunday morning show to chart Boris Johnson’s demise.
Liz Storrar, Oxford

Any Conservative should have realised the government’s lack of a moral compass (Correspondence, 27 May) when, in support of Dominic Cummings’s Barnard Castle exploits, Michael Gove avowed that he too had occasionally driven to test his eyesight.
Neville W Goodman, Bristol

Disparate diasporas

It was good to read Kavya Kaushik’s piece on Labour losing Harrow council (NS Online, 24 May). Trying to disaggregate the voting patterns formerly known as “BAME” is a fraught but worthwhile endeavour.

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However, Kaushik’s claim that Southall is “the west London equivalent of Harrow” is not accurate. Southall was mainly transformed by postwar migrants from Punjab – a great number of whom were Sikh – while the “Africanisation” policies that some east African states pursued was the main cause of Harrow’s demographic change in the 1960s. Southall’s radical history is often glossed over; this part of London has given birth to organisations such as the Southall Black Sisters and The Monitoring Group.

When Kaushik writes of Indian voting habits and aspirations, she is effectively discussing east African Gujarati Hindus and their British children. That two of the country’s most significant politicians, Rishi Sunak and Priti Patel, are the children of east African Asians is notable. Their attachment to the Conservative Party and conservatism is not a recent phenomenon, nor is it skin-deep.
Satya Gunput, Birkbeck College, University of London

One for the team

I am disappointed at the NS running a piece about teams and leadership with no mention of women (Newsmaker, 27 May). Whom are our girls to look up to when men are always cited? You could have included any number of women, from Natalie Campbell, who leads the incredible social enterprise Belu, to Abby Wambach and all she has done for football in the US.
Rebecca White, Norwich

Not many could find a thread running through Herbert von Karajan, Ben Webster and Jürgen Klopp, but Michael Henderson managed this in his fine essay on the team.
David Willis, London SE11

The Marshall myth

David Reynolds (The NS Essay, 27 May) gives a highly sanitised account of the Marshall Plan. The prospect of aid may have influenced the Italian election in 1948, but so did the fact that American and British warships were anchored off the Italian coast. In 1948, the CIA engineered splits in the major trade unions in France and Italy – ostensibly to reduce communist influence, but in practice to greatly weaken trade-unionism. While France achieved “intensive industrialisation”, it also clung on to its empire. This meant a vicious seven-year war in Indochina, leading to the even more disastrous American war that ended in 1975. This is hardly a model for anything.
Ian Birchall, London N9

Piece of the action

Leo Robson (The Critics, 27 May) makes the incredible claim that “in the three and a half decades since Top Gun, tales of military-industrial derring-do have been relatively rare”. What about, among many others, Pearl Harbor, We Were Soldiers, Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, Lone Survivor, 13 Hours, American Sniper, The Kingdom, Max, London Has Fallen, Angel Has Fallen, Independence Day, Midway, Stealth, Collateral Damage, Executive Decision, The Great Raid, GI Jane, Memphis Belle, Lions For Lambs, Under Siege and Under Siege 2?
Ian Sinclair, London E15

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[See also: How the rich have profited from a 13-year stock market boom]

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This article appears in the 01 Jun 2022 issue of the New Statesman, Platinum Jubilee Special