SIR – Kwasi Kwarteng’s “mini-Budget” on Friday was one of the best enunciations of Conservatism I have heard since the day Margaret Thatcher resigned as prime minister. The only thing missing from it was the requisite economy on the spending side of the nation’s financial ledger.
Moreover, this radical growth plan has thrown the opposition parties into disarray, exposing their lack of any alternative narrative, let alone policies. It is very early days but the new Prime Minister has played a political blinder. If the economy is growing again in two years’ time, she will win the next election; if it isn’t, Labour will fight an election with a commitment to tax rises across the board – hardly a winning strategy.
SIR – Congratulations to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor for having the courage to set the right course based on solid Conservative principles, despite the predictable braying from the sidelines.
SIR – I would be obliged if someone could explain how this mini-Budget is going to help the unfortunate people who cannot afford to put food on their tables or heat their homes. They need more immediate assistance.
All the 1p reduction in income tax will achieve is taking much-needed funds from Britain’s public services.
This new Conservative Government remains misguided.
SIR – Before there is too much hysteria about “giveaways to the rich”, people should remind themselves that stamp duty remains at rates of up to 15 per cent, in some cases on relatively ordinary family houses, and capital gains tax remains at chargeable rates of up to 28 per cent with no indexation. Both of these taxes constitute very substantial wealth taxes on the rich – and have not been touched.
SIR – Let’s have an end to the constant pessimism from institutions such as the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the Office for Budget Responsibility and the Bank of England. None of them has correctly predicted the financial woes of recent years.
SIR – It is clear that Vladimir Putin is clinging on to power by his fingernails.
His mobilisation of 300,000 reservists is, in effect, state-sponsored homicide, as these people will be given a day’s training and a rifle, then thrown into battle to be slaughtered by a well trained, properly equipped and motivated Ukrainian army.
Putin’s much-vaunted tactical nuclear weapons are, in my opinion, virtually unusable. I would be surprised if the trucks that carry them actually work, as I expect they are in the same poor state as the rest of Russia’s vehicles. As soon as they move – as they must to get in range of Ukraine – Nato intelligence will identify them and could, if necessary, take them out before they have a chance to fire.
When the Russian population realises that it is not 5,000 soldiers who have been killed, but rather more probably 100,000, they will surely remove this tyrant from office. Then we can get back to restoring world peace, sorting out the cost-of-living crisis and dealing with climate change.
Col Hamish de Bretton-Gordon (retd)
Former commander, UK and Nato chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear forces
SIR – Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, along with his annexation of Crimea in 2014, have been obvious breaches of the Budapest Memorandum, signed in 1994 by the Russian Federation, whereby Ukraine and others gave up their nuclear weapons in return for territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Two things are clear. First, the UN is completely ineffective in its current form, with Russia as a permanent member of the Security Council. Secondly, Putin will carry out further annexations if he is not stopped now. He has suggested that he will use nuclear weapons if Russian territory is threatened (including annexed parts of Ukraine). But it is time to call his bluff.
SIR – Vladimir Putin has obviously never read C S Lewis: “How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been; how gloriously different are the saints.”
SIR – When is Germany going to start paying its fair share towards the Ukrainian war effort?
Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire
SIR – I recently received a smart tailored jacket ordered from Jaeger through Marks & Spencer.
I was surprised to see that the garment had been made in Belarus. What sanctions apply here?
SIR – If successive governments had not deferred the building of nuclear power stations, there would be no need for fracking – on which Jacob Rees-Mogg has lifted the ban – to help the nation out of its current circumstances.
We must, without bankrupting ourselves, taper demand for fossil fuels towards zero emissions. But it is also true that we are where we are, and fracking is an essential tool to achieve our environmental objectives.
All that is needed is a sensible level of constraint to protect communities and the environment, as is the case in the United States. The prize is so great that, as recompense, affected areas could even receive free energy.
SIR – Fracking may help to reduce our dependence on imported gas, but the real issue at stake is whether governments or activists control planning policy.
Whatever the development, there has always been some group opposed to it, and it seems there are myriad means available to such groups to delay and frustrate the implementation of necessary strategic decisions made by elected governments.
Ending the ban on fracking, along with other mooted changes to planning policy, will hopefully send the message that the Government has the final say – rather than pressure groups made up of superannuated individuals who benefited from infrastructure built in the 1950s and 1960s.
SIR – Jacob Rees-Mogg is ill-informed, I’m afraid: the problem with fracking is not earthquakes, which happen occasionally in north-west England, but groundwater pollution.
The small amount of peer-reviewed academic study to have leaked out of America shows that fracking has made groundwater in some parts of America undrinkable and toxic to many aquatic animals, including salmonids.
A pet that lets guests know when it’s time to go
SIR – Chris Moore’s letter (September 18) about his cat reminded me of my African grey parrot, Rudy, who also liked to go to bed at 10 pm.
If we were entertaining friends and they stayed beyond that time, he would start saying, “Good night Rudy, good night Rudy”, strutting along one of his perches in his cage, until they got the message and left.
SIR – Chris Moore’s cat is clearly effective, but there are other ways of dealing with dinner guests who outstay their welcome.
My late father, for instance, would bring in a small one-cup teapot (an aluminium 1953 Coronation edition, as it happens) and announce that he always had a cup of tea before going to bed.
John H Stephen
SIR – No sensible person could possibly disagree with Angus Fraser’s point, in his defence of Marylebone Cricket Club’s decision to end the Eton v Harrow and Oxford v Cambridge matches, that the MCC should move with the times and focus on encouraging “the next generation to take up the game and to flourish”.
However, Mr Fraser’s article subtly dodges the gravamen of the charge against the MCC, which is that its governance and decision-making, not for the first time in recent history, have been shown to be deeply flawed.
The argument being made at the special general meeting, scheduled for this coming Tuesday, is that the MCC failed properly to consult with the membership before taking the relevant decision.
Lord Grabiner (Crossbench)
SIR – Angus Fraser’s assertion that “institutions must understand their place in history without being trapped by it” requires scrutiny.
While stating, correctly, that the “ancient pastime” of cricket has undergone “steady evolution”, he is on less certain ground when he concludes that it is therefore justifiable to abolish the two oldest fixtures in the annual calendar at Lord’s.
It may, of course, be argued that cricket’s long history would still be honoured in the MCC museum, but that is not the same. Curated relics, no matter how fascinating, cannot be other than dead. Continuous fixtures are a living link with the past.
Before voting, MCC members should remember that such a link, if broken, will be difficult, if not impossible, to reinstate. They should also consider whether talk about public schoolboys and a lack of inclusiveness is any longer fairly applicable to those ancient schools and universities which, by making great efforts through generous scholarships and radically altered admissions practices, have shown their sense of responsibility to wider society at least as surely as the MCC itself.
SIR – I recently came across a letter dated August 9 1805 in an archive I am researching. The letter is from a 16-year-old Harrovian to his old school friend, now a midshipman, Augustus Clifford.
It reads: “The Harrow boys sent a challenge of a game at Cricket to the Etonians a little while ago. It was accepted and played at Lords Cricket Ground a few days ago, but I am sorry to say that Harrow was beat. Tavistock who was there said that they could not play at all … We have just received newspapers which [say] that Ld Nelson has been heard of at Gibraltar and that he has most likely met the combined Fleet by this time – Dear dear Clifford how I wish you was here safe.”
The first game, played in the shadow of war, with the Battle of Trafalgar impending: a reminder of the history that the tradition of school cricket brings.
Badgered by badgers
SIR – In August you reported on warnings from wildlife campaigners that, because of the extreme heat and dry weather, badgers were in danger of dying from a lack of water and earthworms to eat. The campaigners called on the public to supply the animals with fresh water to drink, along with fruit and nuts.
As I occasionally saw badgers in my garden, I duly provided them with a nightly feast. Now that weather conditions have improved (for badgers), when can I stop doing this?
I ask because every night, at about 10.30 pm, I find two badgers outside my kitchen door, waiting for my offering.
Pamela June Thomas
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