Letters: The Tories’ televised squabbling doesn’t inspire confidence in voters

Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid at the debate
Credit: tim anderson/epa/rex

SIR – Surely I am not alone in thinking that Sunday night’s debate between five of the candidates for the Conservative leadership was a grave mistake.

All it achieved was to highlight the disunity in their party.

John Hembry
Brillac, Charente, France


SIR – None of the MPs taking part in the debate demonstrated real leadership qualities.

They all came across as managers, without charisma or vision. No one had the guts to say they would take the Tory party down a centre-Right path, embracing the true blue principles of conservatism.

John Drew
Budleigh Salterton, Devon

SIR – I was most encouraged by the debate. It became apparent that whoever wins the contest will have an array of talent to work with.

Howard Webster


SIR – Clearly, the person who came out of the debate best was Boris Johnson.

David Mathieson
Epsom, Surrey


SIR – Until Sunday I regarded Mr Johnson as the best person to lead the Conservative Party and the country.

But his absence from the debate showed that he feels able to pick and choose which events he attends. A prime minister cannot hide. I shall now vote for Jeremy Hunt.

Anthony Fernau
Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex

SIR – Mr Johnson’s decision to steer clear of the fray may yet prove a shrewd one; but as any field athlete will confirm, you have to clear the bar at some stage to win, and he remains vulnerable if Rory Stewart keeps achieving personal bests.

Peter Robinson
Guildford, Surrey


SIR – Mr Stewart is the only candidate who thinks and acts like a prime minister. He also seems to have the ability to bring people together, even when they hold different views.

Jean Brushfield
Tunbridge Wells, Kent

SIR – The Remainer establishment is uniting behind Rory Stewart.

He is portrayed as “straight-talking”, which is fine if you like liberal-metropolitan platitudes. However, his stance on Brexit is clear: although he has pledged to deliver it, he will take a no-deal exit off the table and thinks the Withdrawal Agreement is the way forward. Does this sound familiar?

Norman Inniss
London SE9


SIR – It is obvious that Tory MPs intend to prevent Brexit: witness the increasingly vituperative attacks on Dominic Raab, the only candidate to declare unequivocally that he is prepared to deliver no deal.

Whither democracy?

Ian Anderson


Channel migrants

SIR – As a former director of ports at what was then the UK Immigration Service, I note that the number of migrants intercepted by Border Force while crossing the Channel this year sits at 511 – almost double the number for the whole of 2018.

As a Home Office spokesman observed, it is an established principle that those in need of protection should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach. In January the Home Secretary announced that agreement had been reached with the French that migrants intercepted in the Channel would be returned to France. Since then, only 35 have been. Why?

It is also evident that, rather than serving as a deterrent, cutters are being used as a taxi service to Britain. This means they have been sidetracked from their main purpose: to intercept prohibited goods, primarily drugs.

Incidentally, the French are in the habit of returning migrants on the France-Italy border. Is this a level playing field?

Peter Higgins
West Wickham, Kent


We need a sea change in attitudes towards litter

Turning the tide: a volunteer picks up litter on Crosby beach, on the Mersey estuary Credit: alamy

SIR – The biggest problem this country has with rubbish (Letters, June 17) is that too many people simply do not care about it.

My nearest beach is Weymouth, and I swim there regularly. I get extra exercise by collecting the rubbish that I encounter as I swim and taking it ashore to a bin. I often receive puzzled looks.

On one occasion I noticed a family sitting on the beach with a bin liner, into which they were putting their rubbish. I thought this was a sensible idea – but then, while in the sea, I watched in amazement as the family tied up the bag and left the beach without it.

It will take generations to overcome this attitude, but we need a quicker solution than that. Perhaps higher fines, properly enforced, are the only option.

Rosemary J Wells
Weymouth, Dorset


SIR – Our beautiful lane is routinely sullied by litter from passing cars and walkers. As pensioners in our seventies, we need the walk, so we clear it ourselves – and so it remains immaculate. Locals remark on how nice it looks.

Everyone could do this. It does not take much time or effort – just a little pride.

Jacqueline Davies
Faversham, Kent


SIR – While Gill Glenwright (Letters, June 17) makes a valid case for another “Keep Britain Tidy” campaign, the phrase itself is rather weak.

Some years ago there was a highly effective campaign in New York, with the slogan: “Don’t Be a Litter Pig”. Rather than exhorting people to do a bit better, we should point an accusing finger at the culprits. We may not be able to name them, but we can surely shame them.

Robin Sudlow


Happy donor

SIR – My experience of the NHS blood service (Letters, June 17) over 30 years has been very positive: I have only ever been treated with kindness and courtesy.

There are numerous ways to make an appointment, and I have always had a warm welcome. Due to a recently diagnosed condition, I can no longer donate, but I received a letter of thanks from the director of blood donations, who also suggested that I could take on a new role as an ambassador to encourage others to give. I am very happy to do this.

Peter Jones


SIR – In the Sixties and Seventies my mother volunteered at her local blood donor sessions.

She gave out the tea and biscuits, but it was also her role to send the invitations to regular donors before each session. She wrote the date and venue on the cards but always added, in her best handwriting: “Please bring a friend.” I remember this because, when I was home from university, I was pressed into service too.

Donor numbers increased, and when she retired she was presented with a pewter replica of a blood-letting bowl, which I still have.

Elizabeth Allison
Tenterden, Kent


Cycle lanes shouldn’t impede other road users

Credit: aaron chown/pa wire

SIR – I was interested to read the comments from road users about the cycle lane in Birmingham (Letters, June 15).

We have a similar system in Enfield, where I imagine about 10 per cent of the population are cyclists. I watched the road for about an hour the other day: only two cyclists went by, while the traffic was backed up, as no one could overtake when buses stopped.

The cycle lane is marked out with black rubber blocks, which are difficult to see in the dark or rain, and pedestrians regularly trip over them when crossing the road. They also prevent people parking.

I completed a survey asking for my views. Rather than addressing my concerns, the reply simply said that the purpose of the lanes was to encourage more people to cycle.

Jose McVicar
Enfield, Middlesex


Short-term letting

SIR – Your report shows the impact that short-term letting can have on individual property owners, but it is also creating much wider problems in our society.

Local authorities, especially those in London, are at the forefront and face a very difficult balancing act. We have no issue with people who legitimately let out their properties within the 90-night limit, but have real concerns about those who break the rules and let out homes all year round. We hear too many complaints about rowdy parties, overcrowding and sex work all occurring within nightly lets. More than 1,500 properties in Westminster alone are under investigation over short-term letting, and we’ve set up a taskforce to help tackle this issue.

For many years, Westminster City Council has led the call for companies to work together on a cross-platform registration scheme to stop landlords letting a property for 90 days on one website and simply moving the listing to another platform. Support for such an approach seems to be growing, but we need the Government to act.

Cllr Ian Adams (Con)
Cabinet Member for Public Protection and Licensing
Westminster City Council


Silent carriage

SIR – Val Wake’s experience of commuting (Letters, June 17) is rather different to mine.

During my 10 years of daily travel to London, just two of my fellow travellers regularly bade me “good morning”. The only other person who spoke to me was a gentleman who complained that I was rustling the pages of my Telegraph too loudly.

Roy Freeman
Tunbridge Wells, Kent


Closed book

SIR – Professor Anne Rowe (Letters, June 17) challenges the view that Iris Murdoch has become as “unfashionable as a novelist can be”.

Does anyone now read Charles Morgan, a widely admired novelist in the Fifties?

Shirley Puckett
Tenterden, Kent


Proper pies

SIR – Victor Launert (Letters, June 17) is right to criticise the “skill-free abominations” that are palmed off on us as traditional British pies in many pubs nowadays.

Fortunately our local pub provides the real thing, with proper shortcrust pastry, served in lavish slices from a 12-inch diameter pie dish (traditional pies cannot be measured in millimetres). Admittedly they would be a bit messy for walkers to slip into their pockets, but the pub also provides rigid doggy bags.

Bruce Denness
Whitwell, Isle of Wight


Class act

SIR – Those students who were “distressed” by the email from the Cambridge careers service about third-class degrees may find it reassuring that, as someone whose final-year result was “declared to have deserved an ordinary degree”, I just put “Mathematics degrees from Trinity College Cambridge” on my CV.

At one interview, I explained: “By the third year mathematics became an esoteric subject but I am a practical person.” The response: “Thank heaven for that – we’ve got two people here with firsts and they’re useless”.

Michael Symons
Cheveley, Suffolk