Power is rapidly ebbing from Vladimir Putin’s monstrous regime
SIR – Vladimir Putin has lost his support and now looks frightened and hunted.
This is good to see, but if he is removed – and it certainly will be soon – we have to be prepared that his replacement will be even worse.
Mawnan Smith, Cornwall
SIR – In late 1941, as Operation Barbarossa reached its climax, a raging Wehrmacht army of 940,000 fought to within 10 miles of the gates of Moscow.
Stalin stood firm and remained in the city, which did not fall. He continued to rule the USSR until his death 12 years later.
By contrast, when a small vanguard unit of the Wagner Group’s motley collection of 25,000 men was only 400 kilometers from Moscow, Vladimir Putin reportedly left the city and fled to St Petersburg.
One wonders what that means in terms of the longevity of his premiership.
SIR – Let’s not fall into the trap of thinking Putin is done now. An injured animal is a dangerous animal.
SIR – The rejection reported by President Emmanuel Macron of the appointment of Ben Wallace as the next Secretary General of NATO, coupled with his demand that the position should be given to an EU national, is not only a contempt for Great Britain Britain, but also threatens the alliance that has kept our continent safe for nearly 80 years.
As Defense Minister responsible for our relations with the EU, I witnessed firsthand both the determination to create the EU’s “defense identity”, expressly for political – not military – purposes, and the military ineptitude .
President Macron, who hates the influence of the Anglosphere, clearly wants the EU to be designated as the European arm of NATO, which would sideline Britain (still, after all, the most powerful military force in Europe) ; help those in the United States who resent the disproportionate contribution of their country’s taxpayers to Europe’s security when America looks west; undermine the value of intelligence sharing by Five Eyes; and profoundly weakening the alliance, just as it faces its greatest challenges in 30 years. Who knows what crazy reaction the actions of the Wagner Group will provoke from Vladimir Putin?
That senior Falkland commander, Major General Julian Thompson, is absolutely right: the EU is trying to take Britain out of Europe’s defense and must be resisted with all the diplomatic force we can muster.
Sir Gerard Howard
SIR – I doubt anyone who voted for Brexit could have foreseen the chaos that followed – in the form of Remainers refusing to accept that we live in a democracy.
How could we have predicted the actions of, say, the former speaker of the House of Commons or the judiciary?
Added to this, of course, was the horrendous resentment of the rest of the EU. The French and the Germans were determined to make an example of us to dissuade any other country from withdrawing. They still do this.
No, I’m afraid I didn’t see any of these things coming. Incidentally, and contrary to popular belief, I voted for the future of our grandchildren, not for selfish reasons. I don’t regret doing that.
SIR – After three days of enjoying various arts in the north (Letters, 23rd June), may I put a plug in for Wakefield as Leeds rival?
In this beautiful, historic but neglected town, and its environs, lies the following: Nostell Priory, a beautiful 18th century house with a collection of Chippendale furniture that was actually made for it; the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, with its Henry Moores, Barbara Hepworths and currently an exciting exhibition by Erwin Wurm; then, in town, the Hepworth Wakefield. Designed by David Chipperfield, this inspiring building houses the finest collection from Hepworths and others, displayed in perfectly lit spaces.
There is also a beautiful cathedral, which sings a song of transcendent beauty all year round, followed by a voluntary organ.
Now that the leveling works have apparently come to a halt (though heavily advertised), I suggest that something be done urgently to restore the historic fabric of the city and promote its new cultural life.
Donald R Clarke
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
SIR – On Saturday, the BBC covered Glastonbury Festival for an hour on BBC One, seven hours on BBC Two and seven hours on BBC Four.
I thought BBC Three was for programs like that. Those of us who don’t appreciate Glastonbury have little else to look at.
SIR – We have been paying wind farms and solar panels for years via the green levy on our energy bill.
Did this lead to cheap, clean energy when the crisis started? No. British people are being forced at great cost to take the net zero route, while they are now hit by rampant inflation.
The government and the other political parties need to wake up to this reality.
SIR – The government should not give massive subsidies for the production of hydrogen (report, June 24).
Whatever the lobbying, the fact is that the production, transport and distribution of hydrogen are mature industries. Hydrogen has been used in U.S. space programs since the 1960s and is a key ingredient of many basic chemical and food processes. As a domestic fuel, it forms the heart of Saudi Arabia’s planned 100-mile linear city along the Red Sea, and 125-mile hydrogen pipelines have been in operation in continental Europe for many years.
In Britain, hydrogen was used for many years to sweeten coal gas, as distributed to domestic customers, until the advent of natural gas removed the need. Whether we should use it again as a component of our piped home fuel is another question. But it makes no more sense to subsidize hydrogen than any other basic chemical, such as ethylene or chlorine.
Professor Stephen Bush
University of Manchester
SIR – I lived in France for 16 years but before that I worked for the NHS for 30 years. I believe the service, as currently funded, cannot survive.
Developments over the past 50 years have made it impossible for any government to fund the NHS through taxes alone. The British model is not copied anywhere else. If a European system were introduced, where people take out health insurance on a private basis (not mandatory in France), and practitioners were independent, things would improve.
I remain convinced that the NHS’s medical expertise, nursing and general care are excellent, but the model is certainly not.
Juvigny les Vallees, Manche, France
SIR – Richard Youens (Letters, 24 June) may be interested to know that the over-80s pension bonus of 25 pence a week was introduced in 1971 and has not changed since.
In 1971, it purchased a one-year color television license. No longer, I’m sorry to say.
SIR – Checking my last grocery bill I couldn’t find one item that would buy 25p: the cheapest purchase was a pair of loose mushrooms for 48p.
Ilkley, West Yorkshire
SIR – Your report (June 24) on the cherry-stealing blackbirds reminded me of the tree in our previous garden.
When the cherries started to ripen and change color, my husband protected as many as possible with old tights. The birds got the ones we couldn’t cover, but the ones that were saved were delicious.
The decline and fall of design and technology
SIR – The answer from Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted, to the shortage of children choosing to study design and technology at GCSE level is that of the typical bureaucrat: the choice should be taken away from them.
She would be better off asking why this topic doesn’t capture children’s imaginations. Is it because the syllabuses are too cluttered with paper planning exercises and there isn’t enough actual construction? Or is it perhaps because the legions of graduates in abstract subjects have convinced parents and students that there is no future in design or making?
David J Critchley
How the Lords could better serve the country
SIR – It is good news that a respected Commons Select Committee is about to start an inquiry into the Lords’ appointment system.
The then prime minister has always had unrestricted control over it. That must change if public confidence, badly damaged by Boris Johnson, is to be restored. We need a legal body that can prevent completely unfit people from being peeraged by an irresponsible prime minister. There is a widespread view that the House of Lords is too big, although in the 1990s it was larger (with a total of over 1,200 hereditary and lifetime members) than it is today.
The Senate itself approved a plan to reduce the total to 600. Johnson ignored it. The House of Commons should strongly recommend it to Rishi Sunak. There may be reason to go further, especially if a change of government is to prevent a large formation of new colleagues. The fundamental question is whether the members of the Senate should in future be obliged to do serious work there. That has never been the case in our history. Should such a requirement be introduced?
Lord Lexden (Con)
SIR – The United States has a population of 334.2 million, while Great Britain has a population of 67.3 million.
The US Senate (upper house) has only 100 members, while the British House of Lords has 776 sitting members – including 83 Liberal Democrat colleagues, while the party has only 14 MPs in the House of Commons. Meanwhile, the US has 435 members of the House of Representatives (lower house) and Britain has 650 MPs.
The Commons and Lords have simply become too big and at some point a cross-party solution to this problem will have to be found. Otherwise, the efficiency of the government will be compromised.
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