Letters: Once-loyal Tories wish to see Conservatism reborn after years of Blairite betrayal

Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt during a Cabinet meeting at a factory in East Yorkshire, February 2024
Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt during a Cabinet meeting at a factory in East Yorkshire, February 2024 - Paul Ellis/PA

SIR – As a long-term member of the Conservative Party, I cannot wait to see the back of this totally incompetent Government. These Blairites must never be allowed to return.

There are a few good MPs, like Penny Mordaunt, and I can only hope that they will join together with Nigel Farage to form a new, invigorated and competent Conservative Party.

Meanwhile, I’ll vote for Reform UK.

David Bowen
Lyme Regis, Dorset

SIR – There is now no choice. We have to endure a period of unpleasantness under Labour for the Conservatives to have any chance of redemption.

Simon Warde
Bognor Regis, West Sussex

SIR – Sadly, Allister Heath’s “populist tsunami” (Comment, June 12) has long been predictable.

It is not surprising that lifelong Conservatives are moving to Reform en masse. After decades of party membership, I resigned four years ago. By then the One Nation clique had already subverted the entire party. 

Now there is nothing left to save.

Dr Tony Parker
Ringmer, East Sussex

SIR – Like many others, I’m not sure where to put my cross on the ballot paper on July 4. But if nothing else, may we hope that the popularity of Reform UK might at least bring about an increase in the use of the name Nigel, and save it from extinction?

Penny Scott
Neston, Cheshire

SIR – I support Reform UK. However, I do not want proportional representation (Letters, June 9). 

No voting system is perfect, but PR inevitably leads to coalitions. The resulting mish-mash of policies thrashed out behind closed doors results in government that nobody voted for. 

Tim Pope
Weybridge, Surrey

Israel’s rescue mission

SIR – Operation Arnon will go down in history as one of Israel’s most formidable rescue operations, proving that the state spares no effort in saving its citizens from captivity (“Daring raid frees Nova festival hostages”, report, June 9). 

Yet very quickly afterwards, a narrative of Israeli wrongdoing took hold, due to the high casualty count – with allegedly more than 200 dead. These are Hamas’s own figures, so should be taken with a pinch of salt. 

But one thing is clear: if one side chooses to take hostages, it doesn’t get to dictate how they are rescued. And if hostages are hidden in residential neighbourhoods, it is highly likely that there will be civilian casualties during a rescue, especially when troops come under fire, as was the case in this mission. 

Any right-minded person should conclude that responsibility for these deaths rests solely with Hamas, not with the Israel Defense Forces.

Dr Jeremy Havardi
Director, B’nai B’rith Bureau of International Affairs
Pinner, Middlesex

Schools in peril

SIR – I represent the 660 schools in the Independent Schools Association (ISA). These include inner-city schools, faith schools, Send schools, specialist language schools, alternative schools and suburban schools, and most have fewer than 200 pupils. Parents have chosen them because they believe they are the best option for their child’s education.

Schools within the ISA confound the stereotype of what an independent school is. Most of our members are smaller and specialist schools, and these will be hardest hit by Labour’s policy to impose VAT on fees (report, June 14). We are concerned that Labour has ignored the diverse reality of our schools.

Most are not wealthy and will have to pass on the full 20 per cent to parents, many of whom will struggle to pay the extra amount. Some schools will not survive. This will not only disrupt the education of thousands of children and harm the communities the schools serve, but will also have serious consequences for the state sector, as pupils are forced to leave independent schools in search of state places.

Surely there are more effective ways to raise the funding that the state sector so desperately needs, and for independent schools to increase their support for state schools. Why not work with the independent sector and our association?

Our schools have so much to offer in terms of sharing facilities and best practice in pedagogy, as well as helping with teacher training. We are all part of the same educational community – doing our best for the children we serve and, ultimately, for the country.

We would ask the Labour Party to rethink this policy and work with us for the benefit of all children. 

Rudolf Eliott Lockhart 
CEO, Independent Schools Association
Great Chesterford, Essex

Americans for Trump

SIR – You print two letters (June 9) that condemn Donald Trump. On a recent cruise, I met many Americans, all of whom were Trump supporters.  

Do we denounce them as idiots, deluded – or just a “basket of deplorables”, to use Hillary Clinton’s terms?

Eve Wilson
Hill Head, Hampshire

SIR – Often, when the subject of Donald Trump’s sentencing arises, the suggestion, either made expressly or by implication, is that his offences were trivial – like someone taking steps to save a bit on tax. I could not disagree more. 

These crimes were committed in order not to alienate those voters who would otherwise have been appalled that a presidential candidate was behaving as he was. He knew how his actions would be perceived – and hence paid Stormy Daniels in return for her silence. 

Without that payment he might very well not have been president of the most powerful country in the world – and the world would surely have been a better place for it.

Mr Trump should be sentenced accordingly.

David Crawford
Llandudno, Caernarfonshire

SIR – Derek Wellman (Letters, June 9) suggests that Donald Trump insulting the judge was not a bright idea. 

The converse may also be true. I had a defendant who consistently called the judge “Your Majesty”, and still received a severe sentence.

Mark Solon
London E1

Brilliant beouf

SIR – Having recently had a few friends to stay in Provence and given them French fillet of beef with estragon mustard, I must protest against Margaret Baker’s letter (June 9) claiming most French beef is inedible. 

Our local butcher in Paradou has never failed to sell us the most tender beef, which melts in the mouth.

Sarah Strutt
Ipswich, Suffolk

SIR – We have travelled to France for many years. There are any number of excellent butchers who hang meat for up to 42 days. Some food halls have the conditioning chamber on display. 

The difference between France and England is that, in France, the local markets still thrive and have huge varieties of good produce. 

Bruce Jackson
Hayfield, Derbyshire

Overgrown road signs

SIR – For years now, roadside foliage has been allowed to grow and obscure our road signs (“Drivers risk fines over bushy hedges”, report, June 7). 

Covid lockdowns substantially reduced the traffic on our roads, and sign maintenance was allowed to dwindle. 

When one travels anywhere today, one notices that direction signs are almost totally obscured by trees and hedgerows, as are important speed-restriction signs. Moreover, damaged and vandalised signs are not repaired. All of this contributes to the safety issues noted by the RAC in your report. 

It must surely be a priority for the highway authorities to start a massive campaign to restore our road signage to pristine condition as soon as the hedge-cutting law allows after the end of August.

Dr Russell Walshaw
Horncastle, Lincolnshire

Personal luggage

SIR – There were drawbacks to sending luggage in advance (Letters, June 9).

I sent a trunk ahead of my return from university in the 1960s. My diary was in the trunk. 

My mother opened the trunk and read the diary.

Veronica Reynolds
Liskeard, Cornwall

SIR – I had a banded cabin trunk, which my grandmother had used on a voyage to South Africa. Packed with my belongings, it went in advance to college and back home again at the end of the year. 

On one occasion I was delighted to see chalked on the canvas: “From Russia with Love”. This amused my friends and was never erased.

Sue Lonsdale 

SIR – In the 1960s our parents sent a trunk of our holiday clothes ahead for our seven-day summer holiday on the south coast. We didn’t own a car, so Father delivered the trunk to the station in the wheelbarrow, taking a route straight through the middle of town. Happy days.

Martin Webster
St Neots, Cambridgeshire

SIR – I still have the very large steamer trunk that my mother used to pack for our family seaside holidays. This would be collected and delivered back by a mechanical horse and trailer – a three-wheeler made by Scammell.

John Bentley
Colchester, Essex

SIR – In 1967 I finished back-to-back tours in Malaya and Borneo, and had secured a further two years in Hong Kong. While the earlier tours had required not much more than jungle greens, Hong Kong required my RAF blues, which were worn for about half the year.

I asked my parents to send these to me from Britain in my trunk, with which I had been issued on joining the RAF. The kit was collected from my parents’ home and shipped to Hong Kong as “deep-sea freight” by the government agents, Hogg, Robinson and Capel Cure, arriving in the colony at about the same time as me.

In 1969, the reverse happened, but this time I was bested by my girlfriend, a government-sponsored teacher, who at the end of her contract had her car brought back. 

Colin Cummings
Yelvertoft, Northamptonshire

Doubts over the benefits of salmon farming

Industrial scales: a network of cages used to farm fish at Loch Fyne in Argyll, Scotland
Industrial scales: a network of cages used to farm fish at Loch Fyne in Argyll, Scotland - alamy

SIR – I read with interest your article about the pros and cons of salmon farming (Features, June 9). As an active salmon fisherwomen, and someone who lives near a salmon farm in a Scottish loch, I have some knowledge of this debate.

I was appalled that it was suggested that farmed salmon are a good, healthy food, when often these fish have been reared in cages and fed a diet of hormones, antibiotics and colouring. I have not bought salmon for years, and, judging by the price at Ocado, it is not exactly the cheap option that people claim it is. 

Also, the tragic loss of so many reared fish – 210,000 in a month on one farm – is surely proof that they are under huge stress.

Caroline Bond

SIR – Calling for an end to salmon farming “for the health of fish, people and planet” (June 9) is deeply hypocritical in a nation where chickens, cows and pigs are reared and killed in factories that emit numerous harmful gases.

Farmed salmon has one of the lowest carbon footprints of any main livestock protein, and is nutritious. As the UN has acknowledged, aquaculture provides one of the best solutions to feeding the world’s burgeoning population.

The salmon farming industry needs to be improved, not banned. Farming fish has pros and cons, but should be viewed in the context of the negative impact that factory farming has all around the world.

Emilie McRae
Trowbridge, Wiltshire

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