Letters: Conservatives wonder what happened to the party of aspiration and entrepreneurship

Tory voter Rod Stewart performing with the Faces on Top of the Pops in 1972 - Ron Howard/Redferns
Tory voter Rod Stewart performing with the Faces on Top of the Pops in 1972 - Ron Howard/Redferns

SIR – I was brought up in a mining village in the North East with no heating, no hot water and an outdoor lavatory. The whole village voted Labour.

From an early age I knew that I wanted to have a different life and start a business. As soon as I was able, I voted Conservative because I believed that this party supported aspiration and entrepreneurship.

My business was successful and I retired at 55. Now 79, I find that my savings and pension funds are fast depleting as a result of Conservative ineptitude. Even allowing for the challenges of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, this Government has performed abysmally, with its lies, waste and lack of a coherent plan.

I have no idea who I will vote for at the next election – but unless by some miracle the Conservatives change their attitudes, it will not be for them.

D M Turnbull
Newton Aycliffe, Co Durham

SIR – Jeremy Hunt’s speech yesterday demonstrated that he has a sense of humour.

After 12 years of Tory rule, we have societal disintegration and economic decay. This Government appears incapable of making any mature decisions. Now it is embarking on another PR drive in an attempt to convince people that it offers them a bright future.

Mr Hunt is deluded if he actually believes that alienated voters like me will be influenced by such nonsense. My Conservative friends and I see his party as totally disconnected from the people of this country.

Michael Gray
Holland-on-Sea, Essex

SIR – Jeremy Hunt can say what he likes but the truth is that, almost seven years after the EU referendum, we have not seen one tangible benefit from the Brexit that I voted for.

We have been promised bonfires of red tape on multiple occasions, but it appears that the matches are somewhat soggy.

Charlie Bladon
Cattistock, Dorset

SIR – Sir Rod Stewart is sailing – away from the Conservatives (report, January 27). He will no doubt take many of his fans with him.

“Can you hear me?” he sings to the Government. No chance.

Dr Nigel Knott
Seend, Wiltshire

SIR – As a previously dyed-in-the-wool Conservative voter, I agree with Sir Rod that the party is unfit for office, but the idea that Labour could do a better job is laughable.

Until a serious, centre-Right and truly Conservative party emerges, an increasingly large percentage of the population is effectively disfranchised.

N H Bailey
Stockport, Cheshire

Illiterate police

SIR – I was appalled to read your report, “Police ‘illiterate in English’ recruited in diversity drive” (January 27).

I served as a police officer in Birmingham and fully support diversity of all kinds, but not at the expense of public safety. If an officer cannot read, write or express themselves effectively, how can they possibly be expected to make critical judgments in a dangerous situation?

In certain circumstances this could be very damaging and even cost lives.

Christopher Fry
Banbury, Oxfordshire

HS2 ploughs on

SIR – The Chancellor has confirmed that, contrary to recent reports, there is still a plan for HS2 to finish at Euston.

He just didn’t say when this would happen – nor did he comment on the vastly increased costs and substantial delays.

It’s intensely frustrating to watch yet more funds being pumped into this white elephant, with no one brave enough to stop the haemorrhaging of billions and billions of pounds of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

John Stewart
Terrick, Buckinghamshire

The right to die

SIR – While I value the palliative-care ethic, I strongly support the principle of assisted dying (Letters, January 26) – not only when one’s life expectancy is limited to six months, but also when one’s quality of life is so poor as to be intolerable for whatever reason.

I have written my wishes down and hope fervently that they will be followed, although I am appalled by the thought that some kind and sympathetic person who helps me to die when that time comes could be prosecuted.

Suicide is not an “offence”, but in some circumstances it may not be possible to take one’s own life. Of course, there must be safeguards to protect the vulnerable.

Gillian Mackenzie
Worsley, Lancashire

SIR – Who is supporting my right to choose? I have been in charge of my life for more than 60 years. I would like to be in charge of my death.

John Dore

No sea change

SIR – Clearing out our cellar I came across a Young Telegraph newspaper dated August 1992.

In it there is an article about a campaign group being formed to stop pollution of our coastlines. Not much progress seems to have been made in the 30 years since.

Doris Grimsley
London SE2

One maestro’s soft spot for Beethoven’s Seventh

The conductor Sir John Barbirolli during a rehearsal with the Hallé Orchestra in 1952 - Getty Images
The conductor Sir John Barbirolli during a rehearsal with the Hallé Orchestra in 1952 - Getty Images

SIR – Norman Lebrecht’s fascinating article on Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony (Arts, January 26) confirms my own experience of this wonderful work.

The first concert I attended in 1961, when I was 16, concluded with a performance of this symphony by Sir John Barbirolli and the Hallé in the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, and began my life-long love of orchestral music. Nine years later I attended my last Barbirolli concert, in the De Montfort Hall in Leicester, which also ended with the Seventh. Two months later, and a few days before his death, Sir John concluded the King’s Lynn Festival with the symphony, making it the last piece of music he conducted in public.

Records of the maestro’s career, published by the Barbirolli Society, show that he conducted Beethoven’s Seventh 249 times, the Fifth 144 times, and the Eroica 105 times. This would seem to endorse Mr Lebrecht’s conclusion – that what Wagner called “the apotheosis of the dance” is almost certainly Beethoven’s most popular symphony. That said, I regard the Eroica as his greatest and most influential work, but that is the subject of another debate.

David Elliott
Falmouth, Cornwall   

Cost of childcare

SIR – I read your article, “The women whose childcare costs are so high there’s no point working” (telegraph.co.uk, January 25), with exasperation.

It astounds me that we have reached this point. If we end up in a situation where only those who earn enough to pay the UK’s extortionate childcare costs (or can simply afford not to work) feel able to have children, there will be a significant drop in birth rates.

There seems to be an attitude that taxpayers should not subsidise care for other people’s children. The implication of this attitude is that only the wealthy should have children. Yet just this week, Japan’s prime minister warned that declining birth rates are bringing the country to the brink of collapse.

We need to rethink our attitude to early years childcare and society’s role in it. The care and education of children from the ages of five to 18 in state schools is an accepted part of Britain’s infrastructure, paid for by taxpayers. It allows parents to work and, in turn, pay taxes. So why is there such resistance to the idea that the care of children up to school age should be supported by greater tax spending?

A E Couchman
Maidstone, Kent

Waiting for HMRC

SIR – I spent an enjoyable hour-and-a-half trying to speak to someone at HMRC yesterday morning. Leaving my phone on loudspeaker, I was able to finish both sudokus, as well as both codeword puzzles. What a luxury.

Unfortunately, when someone finally answered the phone, he couldn’t help because our connection was immediately lost.

Alexandra King
Ibthorpe, Hampshire

SIR – Much has been written about the reluctance of civil servants to work from their offices (Letters, January 27), so it was a pleasant surprise to receive my new passport 10 days after having a photograph taken and submitting the renewal application online.

I was impressed, too, by the way the Passport Office communicated progress on authorising and despatching the new passport.

Clearly one branch of government is functioning as it should.

Christopher Allanson
Ticehurst, East Sussex

Skate school

SIR – Tom Bliss’s letter on “wild ice skating” (January 26) put me in mind of my school days in Leeds in the 1950s. The little lake in Roundhay Park froze hard every winter and was a very popular skating venue.

As luck would have it, Mr Dobson, our chemistry master, had trained as a pilot in Canada during the war, and was an expert skater. He taught us some spectacular manoeuvres with which to impress our families and girlfriends.

I wish I had kept it up. I discovered a couple of years ago, while accompanying my grandchildren to an indoor rink, that I no longer have any skill in that direction, and spent more time on my bottom than on the skates.

Dr D P B Pound
Charwelton, Northamptonshire

SIR – When I was stationed in Celle – a wonderful town not far from Hanover – in the 1970s, the fields on the banks of the river Aller were flooded in winter, on the order of the town bürgermeister.

The German and English families’ attempts to ice skate – with most of the English never having donned a pair of skates before – made for a marvellous experience.

Nic Paris
Melksham, Wiltshire

SIR – Winter skating in England was not restricted to the Fens, or indeed the countryside.

In the 1960s and 1970s I skated at Battersea Park, the Serpentine, Wimbledon Common and Wisley. I proposed to my late wife on the lake in Hermitage, Berkshire, in 1970.

Tony Billington
Bucklebury, Berkshire


SIR – As one who plays the mandolin, I find that the inner pocket of my jeans (Letters, January 27) is the perfect place to keep a plectrum.

As a consequence, I refer to it as a “pickpocket”.

John Rigby
Chorley, Lancashire

SIR – I once used my inner jeans pocket to travel light with my Freedom Pass stored therein. It lived up to its name and fell out. Users beware.

Phillip Pennicott
London E18

SIR – I recall my sister at university in 1970 acquiring her first pair of Levi 501s. She bought them two sizes too big then sat in a bath of water while they shrank to size.

When did that practice die out?

Sally Butcher
Salisbury, Wiltshire


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