What sprang out at me from Andrew Rawnsley’s accounts of all the various factions of the Tory party crying out their frustrations was that Boris Johnson is not what they thought he was (“Boris Johnson has united every Tory faction – in anger at him”, Comment). The centre doesn’t think he’s liberal enough, the ERG and its Thatcherite fellow travellers don’t think he’s sufficiently devoted to the memory of the Iron Lady and the red wall MPs suspect that he’s not serious about levelling up.
What astonishes me is that this realisation that Johnson is a political chameleon is only now beginning to dawn on them. To anyone with even vague acquaintance of his pre-prime ministerial career, it was fairly obvious that he was a man of no real firm political beliefs or ideology, other than a burning desire to become “king of the world”. It was also pretty clear that he would say and do anything he felt necessary to anyone in order to achieve that goal.
Lord Heseltine said that Johnson was the sort of man who waits to see which way the crowd is running and then jumps in front of them and shouts: “Follow me!” If he could see it, why couldn’t the rest of them?
Andrew Rawnsley quotes a veteran Thatcherite as saying: “There’s a lot of us worrying: is this a Conservative government?” It’s time to get our terminology sorted. There hasn’t been a Conservative government since 1979. The founding ideology of Edmund Burke that the then Tory party should keep the best of what there was while moving cautiously forward was the governing style, right up to its apogee under Churchill, Eden and Macmillan, but was dumped by Margaret Thatcher, who told an aide that she didn’t like the terms conservative or consensus and decried the one-party grandees as “false squires”.
The Thatcherite style has always been to fracture, divide and rule, and the result after four decades has been the worst inequality since the Edwardian era and a divided, fractious people. “Pork barrel” Boris is merely the logical endgame to all this. Blue anarchists, as Rawnsley himself described them.
Your experts discussing whether we should have vaccine passports don’t mention their apparent acceptance in, for example, France and Italy, nor the feelings of those of us who are fully vaccinated and wish to involve ourselves in activities again (“Should vaccine passports be used within UK? Scientists urge caution”, News).
I would prefer to use public transport, go to the cinema, visit a museum or art gallery, browse an independent bookshop, knowing that the unmasked person next to me is also vaccinated or is now clear of infection. If unvaccinated people wish to sit at home that is their choice, but please don’t expect me to do the same.
Janice Gupta Gwilliam
Norton, Malton, North Yorkshire
No one in the north expects us to be able to ever again compete economically with London (“Punishing London will be a train wreck for regions, too”, Business). We don’t want to kill off London, but neither do we want a trickle-up economy from the capital.
We want the opportunity for the businesses to be able to have the connectivity across the north to allow us to collaborate and increase output. With the funding coming from Westminster this is choked, as we saw last week. The north also isn’t asking for London businesses to relocate to the north to save on rates or overheads. That model is unsustainable and smacks of the belief that we are all part of a great commuter belt.
Businesses born in the north are working internationally and its cities aren’t just “striving to achieve” culturally; there is a vibrant scene outside London. The UK is one of the worst cases of a country that focuses all of its resources, political and financial, on one bloated city.
small business owner
Dunham Massey, Greater Manchester
Regarding racism in cricket, the good manners required to behave appropriately need nurturing at home and in school (“If tackling racism is just a box-ticking exercise, we lose the moral imperative to change our ways”, Comment). Bullying, the basis for the cruel and harmful behaviour of racism, sexism and the rest, has to be dealt with among the youngest to stop the hateful behaviour between adults in all team games.
The number of state schools offering cricket is in decline, allowing the cricket community to develop without such scrutiny. “Banter”, unchecked and unchallenged, soon moves from bad manners to insulting and harmful assaults on religious beliefs and cultural norms. Start developing with young girls and boys the consideration needed in the game, then we may once again be proud of our cricketers, rather than ashamed.
Torsten Bell’s article on “hold-up power” demonstrates the risks involved in demarcation in the workplace and placing too much reliance on individuals, such as excellent managers and highly skilled chefs (“Having the power to put a spanner in the works pays very well”, Comment).
In the 90s, many employers in the motor industry broke down demarcation, instigated team working and flattened hierarchies. This meant that workers became multiskilled and that the learning resided in the team rather than the individual. Better training and consultation were intended to provide greater job satisfaction and retention. Perhaps wise employers should look at workplace culture and employee development so that they are not dependent on recruitment specialists.
Ryde, Isle of Wight
I was worried to read David Mitchell say that my surname is to be abolished and rather than known as “O’Sullivan” I will henceforth be “Osullivan” or just “Sullivan” after the abolition of the apostrophe (“A chilling catastrophe punctuated my week”, New Review) .
It was bad enough when my records at the dentist or library were misfiled under “S”. With the arrival of websites, names with apostrophes were not recognised and had to be written with no apostrophe and a lower-case second letter. Where will this all end?
East Wittering, West Sussex
The Q&A with Sarah Ogilvie (New Review) was one of the best pieces I’ve read in ages. Both of my sons are Gen Zers. I recognised some phenomena but learned an enormous amount as well, especially the ways of expressing “OK”, which was truly enlightening. The article should be required reading for their parents’ generation.
Lindfield, West Sussex