Your two latest editorials (“Stricken Gazans need a respite from the bombs”, last week, and “The world needs to act to avoid a wider conflict”), along with several related articles and letters concerning the Israel-Hamas war, cover many important points, but do not discuss Israel’s stated aim of “destroying Hamas”. Understandable as this aim may be, it will never be achieved by Israel’s strategy of bombing and ground offensive into Gaza. These actions may eventually kill most of the present Hamas fighters and destroy their infrastructure but they will also fuel Palestinian hatred and despair, thereby inevitably creating a new generation of Hamas terrorists.
As recent voices make clear, speaking out of the troubled experience of Northern Ireland, the only way that Israel can establish lasting security is by heeding the voices that call for moderation, stopping the violence and holding bilateral talks towards mutual understanding and toleration – as per the UN two-state policy. Bold international leadership is urgently required to support reconciliatory voices within both camps.
Give a rescue dog a break
Higher veterinary costs are only part of the reason why “Animal refuges are full to bursting” (News). We are actively seeking a rescue dog and I’m not sure these rescue centres help themselves.
We live in a flat in Edinburgh with a shared garden but in the lengthy profiles written up about the rescue dogs they often need “direct access” so they can sun themselves when they like – our balcony doesn’t suffice. The animals are also surprisingly often listed as finding other dogs unnerving, which rules out a shared garden or park. Nor can the dog be left alone for too long, so going to the gym or non-dog-friendly supermarket is out. And so we get turned down, although we see months later the same dogs still at the centres.
A dog’s greatest attribute is its adaptability, and, with a good home, love, walks, food and adventures, it’ll thrive. I wonder if this is all denied to many dogs, and folk, by overly zealous psychological and material profiling.
Strawberry Fields for ever
I’ll tell Neil Spencer why people keep dragging up the Beatles – because the technology is there to do so and there’s money still to be made (“Here, there and everywhere: why the world is still crazy about the Beatles”, Comment). Let’s hope they don’t find John Lennon’s Dakota diaries. They’ll probably be hailed as a modern Plato’s Republic.
Economics the feminist way
Rachel Reeves’s book, The Women Who Made Modern Economics, convinced Will Hutton that a more gender equal economics profession would make a difference because “women look at the world differently” (Books, New Review). But he still contends that economic concepts, such as the multiplier effect and opportunity cost, seem gender neutral. If Reeves had paid more attention to feminist economics (as developed in the last 30 years in the International Association for Feminist Economics, to which men as well as women belong), she would have been able to explain that gender inequality shapes the operation of the multiplier effect and the value of opportunity cost. Since women have a greater tendency to consume additional income than men (not because they like shopping more, but because their lower incomes mean they cannot afford to save as much), an economic stimulus that puts proportionately more income in the hands of women will have a higher multiplier effect.
Inequality in the labour market also means that the opportunity cost of women’s time will be lower than that of men, tending to make the unequal division of unpaid care work self-reinforcing. Ignoring these effects is not gender neutral, it is a barrier to developing polices that will achieve the goal that Reeves and Hutton share: making the economy work better and more fairly. The economics profession not only needs more women, it also needs to recognise the insights of feminist economics.
Hove, East Sussex
Do the right thing, Tory MPs
Re the long wait for a general election, David Curtis (Letters) asks: “Is there no way, in our mature democracy, to rescue our country from this grim situation?” I can think of one: that a significant number of moderate backbench Conservative MPs, who remember they are public servants rather than there by gift or for self-aggrandisement, call a vote of no confidence in the government. They would be doing us all a favour, bringing down this rotten parliament. It might be worth waiting until after the King’s speech, when Rishi Sunak will “advance expansion of North Sea oil and gas exploration, as well as pro-car policies, in the hope of opening up a clear divide over the green agenda with Labour” (News). I pity our new King having to read such duplicitous policies against all he stands for.
My despair at housing sell-off
Thank you, Rowan Moore, for a clear and comprehensive exposition of what is wrong in housing today (“How home ownership killed Britain’s property dream”, New Review). Working in social housing since the late 70s, I have watched in bemusement and growing despair as what was a valuable national asset that provided the basic human right of shelter has been systematically dismantled and plundered to enrich the privileged.
There’s more. Over 40% of homes sold under the right to buy are now rented out by private landlords, at much higher rents, and often to people who would be eligible for council housing now – if there were enough. What remains of social housing is disproportionately occupied by people with the highest social needs, creating a concentration of need.
Security of tenure in the 1980s was a legal requirement in all rented accommodation, and eviction without breach of tenancy was illegal. This must be restored.
Riding high in Norwich
It was a joy to see Stewart Lee reminding us that in East Anglia the word “dickie” means a donkey (“The Tory MP protecting Ipswich, Twix by Twix”, New Review). When I moved here from Northamptonshire 40 years ago, my Suffolk-born friend Terry Grant warned me that I was likely to be asked “Ha’ yer father got a dickie, bor?”. To which I should reply: “Yeah, an’ he need a fule to ride un – will ya come?”