Letters: Rishi Sunak has not done enough to turn the tide against Labour (2024)

SIR – It will surely take more than a speech to improve Rishi Sunak’s dire poll ratings and reduce the lead that Labour has over the Conservatives (“Britain will be less safe under Labour, warns Sunak”, telegraph.co.uk, May 13).

There has been plenty of time since October 2022 – when Mr Sunak promised to govern with “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level” – to demonstrate the kind of action he mentioned in his speech. The continuing scandal over unchecked immigration comes to mind, and there is no guarantee that Mr Sunak’s Rwanda plan will actually provide a solution.

David Taylor
Lymington, Hampshire

SIR – Although there is neither a leader nor a party that I could support with any degree of enthusiasm in the general election, deciding how to vote is not difficult.

The shambles in Scotland and Wales gives a pretty clear indication of what will happen if we are foolish enough to vote in a Labour administration. I suspect that Tim Stanley (Comment, May 13) will, like me, hold his nose and vote Conservative in the hope that normal service will gradually resume after many years of Covid-infected politics.

C M Watkins
Brentwood, Essex

SIR – The decline of the Conservative Party began well before David Cameron’s leadership (Letters, May 10).

The rot set in with John Major, who espoused the idea of “One Nation Toryism”. This has been perpetuated ever since by successive leaders and grandees of the party, who tried to block and later frustrate Brexit. They are still active as Rejoiners, aided and abetted by the Left-leaning Civil Service. What needs to happen is the democratic election of a leader with strong Conservative values, a return to the party’s original policies and principles, and a move away from the social liberalism that has engulfed the party for the past 25 years or so.

The argument that “a vote for Reform will let in the Labour Party” is wrong. On present polling, Sir Keir Starmer will win the next general election regardless of the Reform vote – but who can blame Tory voters deserting a party that no longer stands for Conservatism?

David Samuel-Camps
Eastleigh, Hampshire

SIR – For many potential Conservative voters there is one major problem that emerges: a lack of choice. Leaving Reform UK aside as a party that is unlikely to win many – if any – seats, we are being asked to choose between Red Labour and Blue Labour, and want neither.

Maybe the time has come for an extra voting option to be added to the ballot paper: “None of the above”.

David Muir
Scarborough, North Yorkshire

Hidden waiting lists

SIR – Lilian Hulse (Letters, May 11) recounts the travails of an acquaintance, who can no longer sleep or walk due to hip pain, being offered a telephone consultation in six months’ time.

Musculoskeletal services, by design, attempt to manage conditions by non-surgical means and limit the number of patients who are seen by orthopaedic surgeons. At the telephone consultation a programme of exercises will probably be provided, with instructions to call back in three months’ time if this doesn’t work. Then, if the patient is no better, they will be offered a face-to-face appointment with a physiotherapist – in six months’ time. And so it goes on.

Thus, there is a hidden waiting list for treatment that results in the patient’s general health and fitness deteriorating, and leads to inefficiency within the local health economy as desperate patients attempt to access treatment through their urgent and emergency care services.

Orthopaedic surgeons have more than enough work to do without offering unnecessary operations, but they are able to direct patients quickly to the most appropriate non-surgical management. Putting the most experienced and highly trained practitioner at the end of the process leads to the mess we are in now.

Sadly, until musculoskeletal services are truly aligned with the needs of patients rather than the finances of the local health economy, the only option for those able to do so is to bypass the NHS and resort to private care.

Andrew Roberts
Oswestry, Shropshire

Reckless riders

SIR – We drove to Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park on Friday. Some of the cyclists were racing at well over 20 mph (Letters, May 12). When we walked to the plantation it was extremely uncomfortable and at times felt dangerous.

The cyclists have taken over the road and we had to keep darting out of their way. I was recently in Vietnam and had to dodge the motorbikes. The visit to Richmond Park was reminiscent of that experience.

Kathleen O’Neill
Hayling Island, Hampshire

SIR – Only yesterday I found myself having to make an emergency stop because a cyclist had gone through a red traffic light. Clearly he had not seen me but being a (hopefully) attentive motorist I anticipated that he would not stop.

As cyclists are exempt from speed limits, are they similarly exempt from all the other rules of the road?

David Grey
Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

A better Eurovision

SIR – If, like me, you were appalled at the excesses of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, there is an antidote available.
The BBC recently showed the 1974 final in its entirety and it’s still available on iPlayer. The whole thing lasts just over an hour and a half and is refreshing in its simplicity. Much fun is to be had from the distinctly non-PC commentary of David Vine; the backing singers who appear to be wearing dresses made from curtains; the English singer representing Luxembourg who is singing in French with a beautiful RP English accent; and the peerless Katie Boyle, who presents the show without the excruciating “jokes” which appear to be de rigueur now.

Simpler times, and all the better for it.

Hilary Aitken
Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire

A tax on moving

SIR – I don’t think many people realise that if you move for work, rent for a while and don’t immediately sell your own house, you’ll be treated as a second home owner by your council.

I’ve moved to Orkney for work and am renting a house here. Until my old house is sold I’m being charged nearly £7,000 in council tax (200 per cent tax for the house I own and 100 per cent for the rented one). This is a tax on moving when it was intended to be a tax on wealthy people.

If my house doesn’t sell quickly, I’ll have to choose between leaving my job and going back to where I came from or being taken to court for non-payment of council tax.

There needs to be a wider awareness that councils are misusing these powers to target ordinary working people simply trying to survive.

Katherine Hayes
Kirkwall, Orkney

Faith schools’ example

SIR – As a former examinations moderator with many years’ experience, I wholeheartedly concur with Eve Wilson’s views (Letters, May 10) on faith schools.

I visited many schools, both faith and state, in the course of my work. The ambience in faith schools was apparent as soon as you entered the building. Pupils receive a sound education based on respect for others. This can be seen in class as well as in what the schools do for those in need, both in the community and further afield.

Surely these are principles that all schools should aspire to.

K R Moore
Ashton-in-Makerfield, Lancashire

Blunt instrument

SIR – As a schoolteacher in the early 1970s I confiscated a Swiss Army Knife from one of my pupils (Letters, May 13). To my shame I never returned it and it still resides in a kitchen drawer.

The only function I use is the corkscrew for opening bottles of wine.

Tim Leach
London SW19

SIR – I asked for a Swiss Army Knife as a present from my father-in-law some 45 years ago. It has been in my handbag and used many times ever since.

The only mistake I made was forgetting about it on a visit to Buckingham Palace. Never mind – it went into a little tray and was very efficiently returned at the end of my tour.

Penny Russell-Grant
West Mersea, Essex

When roadside wildflowers become a blight

SIR – Kate Pyco*ck’s letter (May 13) about roadside verges applies to Cornwall, too.

Grass and weeds are allowed to grow so high that they block drivers’ vision at junctions. Beautiful roundabouts are left to overgrow, making them look unkempt. This is all in the name of “greening up”.

Cornwall is 95 per cent rural and has many miles of hedgerows. Letting the verges grow wild is purely a cost-saving measure, and does little to enhance anything. I feel ashamed to see the entrances to some of our towns and villages.

Paul Caruana
Truro, Cornwall

SIR – In my area cars utilise the verges for parking, turning them into mud.

Allan Hook
Brighton, East Sussex

The undersung advantages of electric vehicles

SIR – I am saddened that most of the letters and articles published about electric vehicles are negative. Monday’s letter (May 13) bemoaning the fact that tyres had only lasted 7,500 miles is but one example. The cause is probably that the driver is using the EV’s greater torque to accelerate hard, which will shorten tyre life significantly.

My EV’s front tyres (the driven wheels) have lasted 17,000 miles and are probably good for another 10,000. A report from a business user of the same type of car who has done 120,000 miles of hard use states that the car’s tyres last between 45-50,000 miles and the brake pads are still original.

Yes, EVs have a few disadvantages, mainly related to the public charging infrastructure which is improving, but ours is great to use and almost free to run as we charge at home, usually at no cost thanks to solar panels.

Jos Binns
Malmesbury, Wiltshire

SIR – I drive an electric car and have done so for more than two years.

During that time, I have driven it the length and breadth of the country. In January I drove to the island of Islay in the Southern Hebrides and back, a round trip of more than 1,000 miles. Not once have I experienced what the press delight in calling “range anxiety”. Never have I had to queue at a public charger, and never have I stopped at one that was broken. Furthermore, new charging points are springing up all over the place.

Driving an electric car has been a revelation for me. It is quiet, smooth to drive and very cheap to run. The only downside has been that within weeks of buying it, I put on a stone in weight because each time I stopped for a charge, I couldn’t resist a cappuccino with rather too much sugar and, while I had the time, a couple of doughnuts or currant buns.

George Ponsonby
Lechlade, Gloucestershire

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