Letters: What are true Conservatives supposed to do at the next general election?

Plus: sewage pollution; BA soars; list cheats; pylon profileration; NHS Wales; perfect Proms; effective conservation; and HMRC fails again

Many lifelong Conservative voters are unsure who to back in the next general election
Many lifelong Conservative voters are unsure who to back in the next general election Credit: PA

SIR – Having read Allister Heath’s article (“Labour and Tories have joined forces to condemn Britain to national failure”, Comment, September 7), I am reminded that, in 2022, Conservative party members (true Conservatives) comprehensively rejected Rishi Sunak’s policies in favour of those of Liz Truss. 

How, then, will Mr Sunak persuade even these people to vote for him the next year general election – never mind the wider public?

David Bannister
Brough, East Yorkshire

SIR – Allister Heath expresses precisely how I feel.

I will not be voting in the next general election, for I do not believe there is any significant dividing line between the major political parties.

I’m 79, and this is the first time I have concluded that my vote will not make a jot of difference.

David Skelton

SIR – Allister Heath asks: “When was the last time there was so little ideological difference between the PM and the Leader of the Opposition?”

In 2005, I remember thinking it didn’t matter who won the general election, as we would still end up with a Tory government. 

Now the position has been reversed: we will end up with a Labour government either way.

Peter Eyres
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

SIR – This Prime Minister tries to give the impression of running a steady ship, but he is in fact in charge of a Government that looks increasingly indecisive.

On Wednesday, for example, it was reported that the clampdown on working-age sickness benefit claimants would not happen before the next election, and yesterday another policy was being kicked into the long grass (“PM may scrap ban on letting pupils change their gender”, report, September 7). The next general election is looking like a millstone round the Government’s neck, with Conservative policies being dropped in fear of pushback from fringe and focus groups. 

The Tories are heading for the very heavy defeat that their indecision entirely deserves.

Roger Gentry
Weavering, Kent

SIR – Whenever politicians are questioned about a problem, the standard response tends to be that they are “working at pace”, “working day and night”, “tackling it head on” or “leaving no stone unturned”. But are any of these claims true? Where are the results?

During my military service, if one of my officers responded to similar questions in such a way, I should want to know what they were doing and when I could expect results.

Major General John Stokoe
Sherborne, Dorset


Tough on pollution

SIR – The continuing discharges of sewage by the water companies are an utter disgrace, and an affront to the people of this country. The silence of the Environment Agency only compounds the matter.

Fining the companies clearly doesn’t work. They pay up, move on and do it again. The directors keep collecting their bloated salaries.

Fining the company acts through its directors and management, so these people need to be targeted. They should not be allowed to hide behind the corporate structure. If, as is quite clear, the discharges are illegal, then the managers, the directors and, of course, the companies themselves should be charged with conspiracy to break the criminal law and tried accordingly.

We might then find that the discharges quickly stop.

Philip Thomas
Arundel, West Sussex


When BA gets it right

SIR – British Airways (Letters, September 5) isn’t all bad. 

I recently had to make a hastily arranged flight to Geneva upon receiving the sad news that my brother had unexpectedly passed away. 

Arriving at Heathrow Terminal 5 early the next morning, I explained the situation to staff, who went out of their way to offer exceptional service, finding me a seat on the next available flight.

BA must have been informed of my circumstances, as the lounge staff were courteous and the onboard crew caring. BA bears the brunt of people’s emotions when things go wrong. It should also be commended when it handles emotional moments with professionalism and compassion.

Mark Peaker
London W1

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SIR – I sent my husband shopping one evening with a very short list (Letters, September 7) and he came back with the correct items. 

Gradually the lists got longer, until on one occasion I went with him. A store assistant came up to him with a smile and asked if he had his list, saying she would do it for him as usual. 

He had the grace to look abashed.

Mandy Lovick
Chudleigh, Devon

SIR – Unable to find double cream, my husband returned clutching two pots of single cream.

Sue Hamilton-Miller
Twickenham, Middlesex


Pylon proliferation

SIR – The signing of an agreement for six new offshore wind farms (Letters, September 6), which was announced earlier this year, will mean a bonanza for the Crown Estate – to the tune of about £1 billion per annum. The good news is that these wind farms will power about seven million homes; less appealing is the means through which this power will be delivered.

The crux of the issue is the reliance of wind farms on large, unattractive physical infrastructure. In East Anglia alone there is a proposal for 112 miles of pylons, some as tall as 164ft. All will be overhead, other than those in Dedham Vale – an area of outstanding natural beauty – where they will be buried. National Grid says that burying power lines is about 10 times more expensive than overhead transmission. However, some estimates have the figure closer to four times – a sum that could be reduced by employing local farmers and sub-contractors to carry out the trenching work.

Further, buried cables are less susceptible to violent, unpredictable weather patterns, require fewer repairs, and don’t pose any threat to birds or other wildlife.

Reducing carbon emissions to meet our commitments should not come at the expense of destroying our local environments and historic landscapes. In fact, burying our infrastructure might soften some of the opposition to wind farms in the first place.

Lord Swire (Con)
London SW1


Waiting lists in Wales

SIR – The Labour government in Wales has said that hospital waiting times are improving. Could it explain to me, then, why I have been waiting to see a cardiologist since December 2022? 

I phoned the Aneurin Bevan Health Board booking centre expecting to be told that my appointment was imminent. “Sorry, Mr Morgan  – waiting time is now 42 weeks,” I was told.

Sir Keir Starmer has said in the past that he wants to use practice in Wales as a template for the rest of the UK. If that is not a reason to vote Tory, I don’t know what is.

Garnet Michael Morgan
Ystrad Mynach, Glamorgan

SIR – I’ve just received a letter from the NHS Foundation Trust asking me to write a review of the care I received. Surely the money spent on this could have been put into improving the NHS.

Rosemary Corbin
Zeals, Wiltshire


The Proms’ ethos

SIR – There was no clapping (Letters, September 6) during Christian Tetzlaff’s masterly Prom performance of Elgar’s Violin Concerto in August. And not a single mobile phone disturbed the evening.
Where else could you witness such virtuosity, in one of the world’s most iconic venues, for £22? Elgar, who came from humble roots, would have appreciated the continuing egalitarian ethos of the Proms. The cheapest ticket to see Diana Ross in October is £112.

Stan Labovitch
Windsor, Berkshire

SIR – At the Theatre Royal in Bath, there was a long pause at the end of a dark performance, so I initiated applause. To my embarrassment, the play lasted a few minutes more. I no longer clap first.

Rob Dorrell
Combe Down, Somerset

SIR – Listen to old recordings of Puccini operas and you hear clapping before the soprano has even sung a note.

Malcolm John Dickson
Morley Green, Cheshire


Conservation done right in the Deep South

A metal alligator sculpture on display at Spirit Mountain Antler & Log Design om Salida, Colorado, USA Credit: Alamy

SIR – Charles Moore’s article (“Trophy bans, not hunters, endanger animals”, Comment September 5) reminded me of a holiday in Louisiana a few years ago.

I had learnt about an alligator conservation programme, which farmed them for their meat and leather, but also released a percentage of the hatchlings into the swamps to boost the wild population. Souvenir products made of alligator leather were available to buy, to support the programme. 

I did not buy anything, however, as I could not imagine explaining the situation to a sceptical customs officer charged with preventing the importation of endangered species.

Paul Winstanley
Braintree, Essex

SIR – I found Charles Moore’s article on hunting misleading. For instance, 99 per cent of lions hunted in South Africa are raised in captivity, then released into a fenced field to be shot by trophy hunters. How does that “[maintain] very large areas of wildlife habitat”? 

He also says that funds from trophy hunting pay for anti-poaching teams. Most are actually funded by charities such as the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which operates 23 teams in Kenya alone. 

Africa’s tourism generates about £28 billion a year, whereas trophy hunting generates less than £200 million, much of which is pocketed by individuals and companies. As a result of mismanagement and corruption, very little money from trophy hunting trickles down to the community or conservation. 

To attempt to justify the killing of any animal, particularly the endangered species that are being trophy hunted into extinction, is a conscience-salving exercise that is not supported by the facts.

Nicola Vernon
Greyton Farm Animal Sanctuary
Greyton, Western Cape, South Africa


Yet another thwarted overture to HMRC

SIR – After several failed attempts to contact HMRC (Leading Article, September 7) regarding a large amount owed to my business since December 2022, I finally received a phone call promising that it would be paid within days. Three weeks later, only a third of the sum had arrived, so I spent another hour and a half waiting to speak to an adviser. 

This week, one month later, my call was answered after 30 minutes by someone who was unable to say why the money remains unpaid. They gave me another number, which I rang. After waiting for more than an hour, at three minutes to 5pm I was told: “Thanks for calling – goodbye”, and the line went dead. This incompetence must be addressed.

Sylvie Dare
Wadeford, Somerset


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