War in Europe, 70s sentimentality, utopian dreams, clowning leaders and much more
RANT OF THE MONTH
War in Europe
To those of us with any sense of history, it has been apparent from the outset that Brexit would have fundamental repercussions for the stability of Europe and could potentially lead to war on the continent within a decade. Well, it appears to have arrived even sooner than that, with Russia massing its troops on the border of Ukraine, and Boris Johnson saying that if they invade, he will send troops to Eastern Europe. We should have known this was coming. It was the Russians after all who threw money at the Brexit campaign as a way of destabilising western democracies, so that they could extend their influence and win back their former hegemony over Eastern European states.
L. Sabia Byrne, by email
Thank you for the most excellent piece from the Winter Special issue, Seventies Shades of Brown. I was born in 1957 and so also “suffered” the 1970s. Life really was poor, drab and dreary for many, and the music, compared to the decades of the 1960s and 1980s, was often terrible – for example, Bay City Rollers and Slade. And then there were the Labour governments, unable to act on anything and ending as all Labour administrations do, in national bankruptcy. Trains never ran on time, and you could wait a year for a new phone line. And of course, the almost daily Strikes. However, it certainly wasn’t all “brown”. The skirt suits, print dresses, and smart office outfits of the 1980s actually arrived much earlier, from 1975 onwards – and my college photos provide proof. Those Laura Ashley brochures? Now worth £150 if you have one; and original dresses are even more. Thankfully, Labour melted away in 1979, unlamented, and along came Mrs Thatcher, undoubtedly the most dynamic leader of Britain since the war. She made mistakes, but she smacked one enemy after another, restored Britain’s reputation and standing, and introduced an era of enterprise that has only accelerated since.
Marcus Gibson, via Perspective Online
PM takes flight
Sir, I saw a headline today: “Ukraine crisis: Boris Johnson heads to Kyiv”. Obviously he feels it is safer there than in the House of Commons?
Mark Greenish, by email
Et tu, Sue?
Many political commentators are predicting our Prime Minister’s (presumably metaphorical) “death by one thousand cuts”. Would that be by the “fifty blades of Gray”?
Anonymous, via Perspective Online
Gray clouds the truth
How can it take so long for Sue Gray to tell us just a little of what we already know? Everyone knows what went on, and this time even the police haven’t been able to ignore it. Let’s not pull punches – Boris Johnson is under CRIMINAL investigation on at least four counts of breaking his own Covid laws. One party took place in his private flat, and yet he lied to the House of Commons little over a month ago that he knew nothing of any parties. Lying to parliament used to be an unforgiveable sin. Why is there even any question of Johnson going?
R. Rowbotham, London
Make Museum idea history
Jonathan Lis’ idea of a British History Museum (Perspective Dec 21/Jan 22) is an aspirational but flawed proposition. I fear that however “democratic” we try to make such an institution – he suggests curating different galleries to reflect various views – we would end up with a confused mess that would actually give rise to even more culture wars. It wouldn’t “begin healing old wounds” as he imagines. Lis says that “the only way to have the discussion is to begin it.” In case he hasn’t noticed, our society is already having that discussion: it’s full of vitriol, polarisation and tribalism in which you’re either “with me or against me”. Spending millions on such an establishment will certainly not remedy that, let alone help us “confront the present by understanding what created it”. There are bigger issues facing us: rising poverty, inequality and an impending climate catastrophe. Against that backdrop, the idea of a British History Museum seems pointless at best.
Marianne Woodford, Chester
If people vote for a clown, why are they surprised when the circus comes to town?
Allan Davis, Fulham
No doubt there will be much discussion about the Prime Minister’s morals in this edition of Perspective. However, as a floating voter, of greater consequence to me is the dilemma of where else to put my cross. Angela Rayner, the Deputy leader of the Labour Party describes me as “Tory Scum” when I vote centre right, so how can I identify her party as a centre left alternative?
Duncan Dunn, by email
It seems to me that as our closest Allie doesn’t listen to a word we say, why on earth would President Putin?
We are a nation stuck in the past and the sooner we realise that the better!
Jeffrey Woodcock, London
I was delighted to read Tina Gharavi’s Journal article from the Winter Special issue of Perspective. I washed up on Venice beach in 1988, and stayed seven years. This lovely piece reminds us that little has changed in three decades as we sadly continue to ever more aggressively marginalise those at the fringes of society. Thank you for writing this and reminding us we are all connected! As films like Nomadland and Leave No Trace teach us, the American dream has failed so many – its dinosaur-like systems may take decades to fully breakdown and be rebuilt.
Anita Lewton-Moukkes, via Perspective Online
A lack of common decency
The thoughtful ruminations of the former archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, about the plight of immigrants trying to reach our shores (The Interview, Perspective Dec 21/Jan 22) illuminate all that is wrong generally with the holders of high office in this country. It seems they have lost sight of what some might call Christian compassion, but I call common human decency. All that seems to matter to our so-called leaders now is political point scoring and financial nest feathering. It is shocking that we do not have a humane system of dealing with asylum, thus forcing desperate people into unsafe boats because they feel they have no other choice. Legislating for the “secure legal structures” that Lord Williams highlights should be the sort of business being discussed by parliament, not arguing over parties.
Mrs A. Taylor, East Sussex
Batting at Number Ten
I don’t believe Perspective has published an issue since the miserable Ashes Tour over Christmas and it deserves some attention in your pages. Much like the state of Number 10 today, the England Test team needs a proper shake up. The main man should step down and his advisers with him. Let some other deserving person step into the driving seat and realise that leading or governing this country (in any capacity!) is – in the words of Keir Starmer – “an honour, not a birthright”.
Ted Dexter, Deal
What’s the good news?
Your magazine is going from strength to strength. However it is difficult not to despair at the stories of sleaze, incompetence and lack of integrity in so many areas you cover. Surely it is possible to give us at least one instance where things are improving to bring a smile to our gloomy faces.
Mary Brown, by email