Letters: In defence of Steve Baker (by Steve Baker)
It’s not cynicism
Sir: I was amazed to have been projected so much cynicism in return for my plea that no one should suffer hate for their identity (“The cynicism of Steve Baker,” Toby Young, January 21).
The simple truth is that one of my employees came out as a trans man. Another is a proud gay man with a non-binary partner. I like and admire them and I’ve heard what they endure. I’m glad to be your ally. My employees are still being abused because of their sexual and gender identity and I wish them to live their lives free of that abuse. This shouldn’t be controversial.
My team and I were genuinely shocked that a benign tweet about supporting the LGBT+ community could spark such an aggressive backlash. Ultimately, my tweet and the reactions to it are about tolerance. As a straight, happily married man, I have never had to deal with issues of sexual or gender identity. Neither does Toby, as far as I know. But just because we’ve never shared other people’s experiences doesn’t mean we can’t listen to their concerns. Indeed, the only way we can avoid the extremes of social justice movements is to come together as a society and discuss our complicated issues.
Some argue that I did not do this in same-sex marriage, but I would reply that I did. I voted against, not because I want to impose social conservatism on others, but because I have long believed that marriage law needs serious reform. For those who have accused me of abandoning my ideology for my own career, please take stock. Minority desires to live their lives free from attack can be just that.
Toby, I know you’ve been interested in losing friends and upsetting people for a long time, but it’s not too late for me!
Steve Baker MP
High Wycombe, Bucks
A year later: How will the Ukraine war end?
Sir: Speaking of bison, Paul Whitfield, Director of the Wildwood Trust, is quoted in it The audience to say, “It’s like walking your dog on a farm. If you have a field full of oxen and you unleash a dog, you’re an idiot” (“The Beast Is Back,” January 28).
No you are not. If you walk your dog through an ox field on a leash, neither you nor the dog can evade if the oxen get too close. Let the dog off the leash if you must (not before) and he will usually outrun the oxen and allow you to get to safety. The increase in incidents of people being trampled by cattle is largely due to this misconception. Dogs are not always on a leash in an emergency.
Sir: I agree with Rory Sutherland’s comments about London (The Wiki Man, January 28). Since I live “in the north”, the capital has always fascinated me. However, I was disillusioned after boarding the LNER Newark to King’s Cross train at peak time last week. We trudged despondently through streets full of garbage bags, past empty shops and offices to the tourist office. The architecture is always inspiring, but Rory is right that things are better in most northern cities now than in London – certainly the sidewalks and parks are better manicured.
Sir: “When the Wind Blows” (Barometer, January 28) illustrates the wide variation and indistribubility of wind power. Britain’s claim to be “the Saudi Arabia of wind power”, with a capacity of 50 MW requiring coverage of around four times the area enclosed by the M25 (or 45 times the area of the Isle of Wight), is meaningless during the inevitable dark lull times when the wind isn’t blowing.
Prof. Peter Edwards FRS & Peter Dobson OBE, University of Oxford; dr Gari Owen, Annwvyn Solutions, Bromley
Sir: The over-complication of the English language in America and the use of euphemisms was well described by Lionel Shriver in her excellent article on new jargon (“You Can’t Say That!” January 28).
My late husband, John Dyson, wrote a short handbook for teenagers entitled The motorcycle book. It was published in 1977 and there have been several European editions, all equally succinct. However, the US edition “translated” into American was almost twice as long. In the original English edition, John wrote: “If you skid under a bus, you are dead.” Translated into American, this short sentence read: “If you are unfortunate enough to skid under an oncoming passenger transport vehicle, you are likely to have an ominous experience. “
stamp of beauty
Sir: Joseph Addison’s opinion (“Notes on … Stamps”, January 28) that postage stamps have been aesthetically sterile for a century cannot go unchallenged.
The 1933 Falkland Islands Jubilee set is widely regarded as a masterpiece of design and one of the finest ever issued. Over the next three decades, many former Commonwealth countries produced similar length definitives, again in the two-tone debossed format that has enthralled collectors ever since. More recently, Czechoslovakia, France and Sweden have employed internationally renowned master engravers to create miniature masterpieces. While it’s true that too many postal administrations today produce a plethora of revenue-generating, tackily designed stamps that see no postal use, there are still beauties to be found.
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