Letters: If the Tories can’t pull themselves together, they will deserve to lose the next election

Liz Truss and her husband Hugh O'Leary wave to delegates at the Conservative Party Conference - OLI SCARFF/AFP
Liz Truss and her husband Hugh O'Leary wave to delegates at the Conservative Party Conference - OLI SCARFF/AFP

SIR – I was a Conservative MP in 1990, when the parliamentary party panicked and dumped the greatest prime minister in living memory.

We survived the 1992 election (though it was more a case of Neil Kinnock losing than John Major winning). Then we staggered on to our just deserts in 1997.

This year, the parliamentary party has done something similar, dumping a prime minister who won us a thumping majority, implemented Brexit, coped with Covid and led the West in supporting Ukraine.

The panic has not subsided. I advise current colleagues to grit their teeth, settle down and back the new Prime Minister. If they do not, they will share the deserved fate of my generation.

Jacques Arnold
President, Tonbridge, Edenbridge and Malling Conservative Association
West Malling, Kent

SIR – Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Had Liz Truss not tried to put all her ideas into practice immediately, and instead taken time to discuss things properly with her colleagues, the current chaos might well have been avoided – and her plans implemented to the advantage of the country.

Phyllis Jones

SIR – I voted for Liz Truss in the Conservative leadership election because I share her desire for the country to break out from the old, low-performing, established order. She wants to reinstate true Conservative values.

The behaviour of Michael Gove and other Conservative wets has been totally unacceptable.

Jeffrey Thorogood
Malvern, Worcestershire

SIR – I applaud those Conservative MPs who have quietly and privately objected to Liz Truss’s policies. That is the way to do things.

As for those who have publicly undermined the new Government, they should hang their heads in shame. Michael Gove and others really are the new useful idiots of the Left.

Bruce Boulden
Maplestead, Essex

SIR – Sherelle Jacobs portrays our tax-cutting, modernising Prime Minister as an agent of national renewal, but publicity shots of visits to large Birmingham building sites cannot alter the fact that our country appears to be disillusioned with the alleged panaceas of free markets and “growth”.

Instead, polling and by-election results suggest that Britain favours a more Scandinavian, social-democratic type of politics. We are less obsessed with “keeping our own money” and keener, for example, to see better local bus routes that enable pensioners to get to the hospital – services in danger of being cut in my neck of the woods.

Now that Sir Keir Starmer has embraced King and Country, and the Liberal Democrats are no longer refusing to accept Brexit, there is the potential for millions of Tory voters – both recent and long-standing – to find new political homes.

Stuart Millson
East Malling, Kent

SIR – I have a golfing analogy to give Liz Truss heart. If your first shot is a beauty it is very unlikely to be repeated throughout the round – but shank it off the first tee and things can only get better.

Peter Boxall
Haddenham, Buckinghamshire

SIR – Liz Truss walked on stage at the Tory conference to the sound of Moving On Up, the 1990s classic by M People. I was expecting Checking In, Checking Out by High Llamas.

Richard George
St Albans, Hertfordshire

SIR – One thing Liz Truss did not mention in her speech is that she is the first prime minister to have attended Merton College, Oxford.

John Latham

Tripartite schooling in theory and practice

SIR – The post-war state secondary school system (Letters, October 5) had its origins in the Education Act 1944, devised by Rab Butler.

This made education free and universal, with three types of school: secondary grammar, secondary technical (of which there were ultimately very few) and secondary modern. All had equal esteem.

Pupils were entitled to an education that matched their abilities. This was politically uncontroversial, and the Butler Act, though a Conservative idea, was backed by Labour because first-rate education would be available to all – an excellent tool for social mobility.

It was a great pity that these schools did not receive equality of funding per pupil.

Roger Croston
Christleton, Cheshire

SIR – The debate over grammar schools overlooks a few points.

I have knowledge of the entry scores for two local authorities with these schools. In both cases there is wide variation between the scores required. A student might be offered a place in one school while not making the reserve list for a place in another a few miles away. In another area girls are disadvantaged. Historically there was an urban and gender bias.

Unfortunately, the problem is compounded by the casual use of the term “comprehensive” for other schools. Most are not comprehensive. Perhaps, instead of having this debate again, we should ask why countries without any kind of selection do so well in international tests.

Dr Alan Pritchard
Broadway, Worcestershire

SIR – After grammar school I read botany at university, before spending three postgraduate years on research.

I then joined the Civil Service as an inspector of taxes and received six years’ training in accountancy and law. Nearly half my fellow trainees had, after O-levels, joined the Inland Revenue and worked their way up to do the same job as me. They also knew a lot more about what went on in tax offices than I did.

Michael Staples
Seaford, East Sussex

Policing revelation

SIR – You report that, following a “rapid evidence assessment”, the College of Policing has advised chief officers that “visiting crime scenes could offer investigative opportunities to solve cases, as well as reassuring victims and preventing further offences”.

If chief officers didn’t already know this, they shouldn’t be in the police service at all, let alone leading it. It’s akin to the Royal College of Surgeons telling doctors that stopping bleeding could help to save a life.

If ever there was evidence that policing needs to get back to basic principles, here it is.

Roy Ramm
Great Dunmow, Essex

Electric cars in winter

SIR – Eleanor Mills’s tale of woe (“What I wish I had known before I got an electric car”, Features, October 5) is a familiar one of insufficient and unreliable charging points.

But her journey of 160 miles was undertaken in fairly mild weather. Try doing it in January, when it’s -5 C and you need the lights, heater and wipers on for the entire trip. One recharging stop would almost certainly turn into three or more.

Graham Wistow
Holmfirth, West Yorkshire

Rugby and the brain

SIR – Research shows a clear link between playing rugby and suffering serious brain disorders in later life. A similar link has already been established for football players.

If I ran a business where working practices caused such health problems, the Health and Safety Executive would fine me – and, if I did not implement changes, my business would be closed down. Why are the businesses of professional football and rugby any different?

Terry Lloyd

Delayed relief

SIR – Boots the chemist is advertising Gaviscon double-action indigestion tablets with a second packet half price.

The trouble is that there are none in the shop, nor have there been for days. Online it says: “Stock coming soon.” When it does come, will the reduced price still be on offer?

Anne Ellison
London SW6

Autumn forecast: heavy showers of walnuts

Walnut trees in early October, by the Anglo-French Impressionist Alfred Sisley (1882) - Alamy
Walnut trees in early October, by the Anglo-French Impressionist Alfred Sisley (1882) - Alamy

SIR – I have a very large mature walnut tree overlooking my drive and house.

The slightest breeze results in my car, my balcony and my two cats being bombarded with walnuts. Throughout the night the nuts ping on the roof. The local grey squirrels are having a field day.

Last season the crop was practically non-existent. Now, however, the tree is laden as never before in the 27 years I have been here. The bucket at my front door is being constantly replenished. This will most certainly be the season for pickled walnuts and walnut cake (Letters, October 5).

David Brown
Lavenham, Suffolk

Underwater spy ships

SIR – I was interested to read that the Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, has signed off on the design and construction of a specialist vessel to carry out underwater surveillance, following a suspected sabotage attack on the Nord Stream gas pipeline to Germany.

In the 1980s I was part of a small development team involved in the design of a seabed operations vessel for the Royal Navy. On launch it was named HMS Challenger, and came into service operating around the British coastline. Its features included a saturation diving bell, on-board decompression chambers, electronic dynamic positioning and a drone known as a towed submersible.

Unfortunately, in later years it was – along with many other ships – a casualty of the defence cuts of the time. What a waste: it would still be able to do the jobs that the Ministry of Defence now requires.

Lionel Anderson
Peñíscola, Castellon, Spain

Save the World Service

SIR – The BBC World Service, which is facing cuts, must be maintained at all costs (Letters, October 4). Perhaps even the Government should step in.

The rest of the BBC – apart from the news – should be a subscription service.

Susan Lowther
St Saviour, Jersey

SIR – The BBC, our only broadcaster effectively funded by a poll tax, could have matched its recent indignation at the plight of the poor by scrapping the licence fee for people with incomes of less than £20,000.

After all, it has squandered funds on vanity projects like the new news studio, suggesting that it has money to burn.

Don Edwards
Lawford, Essex

Tea by the pint

SIR – I like my tea very strong (Letters, October 5), though sadly it now has to be decaffeinated.

As a child, I spent most holidays with my grandparents in West Yorkshire. An uncle had a “pint pot” of tea with every meal. As I recall, the instructions were: three spoonfuls of good, solid Co-op tea, plus one for the pot.

Needless to say, it was possible to stand up a spoon in the resulting drink.

Keith Hopson
London E4

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