With the US air force general Mike Minihan saying there will be war between the US and China within two years (Letter from Kinmen, 31 March), Graham Allison’s warnings about US provocation (NS Online, 1 April) help frame the way much of the non-Western world views the Ukraine war.
In Latin America, where I live, the US has had a hand in so many armed invasions (Panama, Grenada), coups (Honduras), trade embargoes (Cuba, Venezuela) and proxy wars (Nicaragua, El Salvador) that the Ukraine conflict is seen as fitting a pattern. While people know that Russia invaded Ukraine, many in the Global South view this as a stand against the US war machine. China in particular and Russia and Iran are also seen as trading partners and investors in countries whose priority is recovering from the economic damage caused by the pandemic. We now live in a multipolar world where many countries are responding to US threats in the same way that Saudi Arabia did after criticism over the Jamal Khashoggi killing – as Allison pithily puts it: “Screw you!”
John Perry, Masaya, Nicaragua
[See also: Gabriel Boric and Latin America’s new pink tide]
The radical will
Andrew Marr (Politics, 31 March) gives us a bleak summary for Easter. Political choices are only ever constrained by a lack of political will. Dramatic tax options are not unthinkable: a radical Labour government should introduce wealth and land taxes to end the over-reliance on income tax in this country.
Radical economic policies should be built alongside an industrial strategy that includes a focus on skills, education and funding for research and development in new technology to drive increases in productivity. New alliances are not unthinkable if the first-past-the-post system is removed and people can see the value of their vote.
Ruth Potter, Stamford Bridge, East Yorkshire
Andrew Marr rightly bemoans Britain’s dependence on other countries for “green technology” we should be making.
When electricity was invented, installation and distribution costs were accepted because the technology delivered big benefits. Yet over the past 40 years the alleged cost has been a major excuse for failing to transition wholeheartedly to green energy.
Nonetheless, in 2022, the UK economy saw more than £2.9bn from exporting approximately 1.9 terawatt hours of electricity. At one point in May, 72.8 per cent of the grid’s power came from renewable sources. Renewable energy is such good value now that, even if we didn’t need to reduce carbon emissions, it has become an excellent investment in its own right, and reliable whatever the weather.
David Murray, Wallington, Surrey
I was intrigued to read that Helen Macdonald has only once seen an adder in the wild. In the New Forest, they are a common site during the spring and summer months, and can often be seen basking in the sun on forest pathways.
Mike Prince, New Milton, New Forest
Stone cold classic
Cold War Steve has produced another brilliant cover design for your Easter special. That and his cover for your Christmas edition are almost worthy of being framed.
Terry Fairhall, Chessington, Surrey
Swing when you’re winning
I greatly enjoyed your profile of John Curtice (Encounter, 31 March), as it took me down memory lane. Like him, my first remembered election was that of 1964, and at university I heard David Butler speak. However, the swingometer is usually attributed to Bob McKenzie, the Canadian psephologist, rather than to Butler.
Dr Roger Luther, University of Sussex
Edward Docx (Critic at Large, 31 March) has surely written the definitive account of the parliamentary Privileges Committee’s investigation into Boris Johnson’s alleged misleading of parliament over partygate allegations.
Docx’s scathing wit and searing criticism – “the clown believes in neither offence nor censure; his life, his work, one long assertion that the deeper truth of human affairs is revelry, debauch, appetite and spectacle” – filled me with laughter and indignation at the same time.
Brent Charlesworth, Lincoln
Failure to deliver
Veronica Hardstaff (Correspondence, 24 March) asks whether other NS subscribers are having delivery problems. Our cheery postman walked out during the December strikes and no replacement has been found, so our postal deliveries have dwindled to sporadic at best. I now make a weekly trip to the sorting office to collect mail.
Caroline Ivy, Hayes, Kent
Childcare in crisis
Sophie McBain’s article (“The parent trap”, 24 March) is very important. There is no more crucial time in a person’s life than the first few years, and yet the debate on this subject has been dominated by the economic consequences of parental care.
In the Fifties the salary of one civil service clerk could support two adults and two children. In the Seventies my husband and I shared the childcare, fitting in our working hours around it. Since then a raft of economic changes have forced most parents to outsource their parental role to people they may not even know, including the astronomical rise in the cost of housing, the reduction in real wages and worsening employment conditions.
These are the issues that need to be addressed in order to re-establish a humane, intelligent pattern of childcare.
Jenny Webb, chartered clinical psychologist, Chichester, West Sussex
This article appears in the 12 Apr 2023 issue of the New Statesman, The Anniversary Issue