Contributions from Vincent Fean, Vicky Pryce and Roger Scrutonby Prospect Team / September 19, 2018 / Leave a comment
Read Prospect‘s September issue, “The one state solution,” here
Avraham Burg and Donald Macintyre shed light on the injustice inherent in Israel’s 51 year occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem (“The one state solution,” September). Britain bears its share of responsibility, as the author of the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate Power until we walked in 1948. Our government calls the occupation unacceptable and unsustainable. Unacceptable, yes. But it is sustainable, until the cost-benefit calculation of those who impose it changes. Britain has historical responsibilities; we should support Palestinians and Israelis in building a just, peaceful future and press our government to recognise the state of Palestine alongside Israel.
Your editorial challenged us to think the unthinkable. Open minds are certainly needed, but that doesn’t have to mean a one-state solution, where those with power would never share it. I believe it is not just thinkable, but do-able to bring forward—by recognising both states and upholding international law—that two-state solution which remains the best outcome for Israelis, Palestinians and the rest of us. So let us cease to defer to that empty vessel, Donald Trump, and act with partners to make that happen.
Vincent Fean, Chair of the Balfour Project and British Consul-General to Jerusalem, 2010-4
Costs of the ECB
Adam Tooze (“Called to account,” September) is right to worry about the power of the European Central Bank (ECB), given its inflation remit, to exercise undue influence on economic policy. He singles out the conservatism of its past presidents, particularly Jean-Claude Trichet, as having contributed to the depth of the eurozone debt cri- sis after the 2008 financial meltdown.
Mario Draghi, Trichet’s successor, has been much more expansive and has engaged in massive quantitative easing. But it could all be reversed under a more hawkish successor.
My concern is that the ECB’s actions were only part of the problem. The euro was created without the institutional backing needed to deal with crises. There was no fiscal transfer mechanism to countries in need, no risk sharing and no real understanding of the differing needs of disparate countries at different stages of development.
The necessary supporting framework is now finally being put in place. The ECB has also effectively become a “lender of last resort.” But the costs of earlier mistakes will be felt for a long time, not least in places like Greece.
Vicky Pryce, CEBR and author of “Greekonomics: The Euro Crisis and Why Politicians Don’t Get It”
Music and judgment
In his review of my book Music as an Art, I think it says more about Ivan Hewett (“Lend me your ears,” September) than about me that my “insistence on music’s high purpose… has a debilitating effect” on him. We live at a time when judgment of any kind is regarded with suspicion, and it seems to me that Hewett is giving vent to this.
I agree with him that there is much more to music than the masterpieces of the classical tradition, and I respect the findings of ethnomusicology. Nevertheless I insist that music, like every artistic enterprise, rests on a foundation of aesthetic judgment, and that the habit of hearing without judgment, as opposed to listening critically, does not mean a gain of new musi- cal experiences, but merely the loss of an old one.
And that old experience matters, not just to me, but to every musical person, far more than Hewett implies. It mattered in particular to the early modernists, which is why they wrote as they did. It is what distinguishes musical modernism (the attempt to keep the tradition alive) from architec- tural modernism (the decision to sweep it away). I oppose the latter, but embrace the former.
Roger Scruton, Brinkworth
The Lords’ work
Martha Gill (“The ermine elec- tion,” August) is right to say that the “elections” for hereditary peers in the House of Lords are farcical. There are other aspects too of the Upper House that are hard to defend in a 21st-century democracy.
But this should not obscure the valuable work undertaken by many peers, not least when it comes to technical legislative and policy scrutiny. Our research has found the Upper House to take scrutiny of delegated legislation more seri- ously than the Commons.
On Brexit the Lords has en- gaged in more institutional in- novation than the elected House. A Brexit Liaison Group of Lords committee chairs exchanges information and helps to avoid duplica- tion and gaps; and the Lords took the lead in establishing the Inter- parliamentary Forum on Brexit, for contacts between Westminster and the devolved legislatures.
Brigid Fowler, Hansard Society
Regarding the final years of Oscar Wilde (“When love dared to speak,” August), it is hard to find coherence in the differing accounts from those who met him. Everyone has an agenda. George Bernard Shaw thought him a “drunkard and swindler”; Vincent O’Sullivan never saw him worse for alcohol.
Wilde’s last years have recently been looked at closely, as you report, by Nicholas Frankel, Rupert Everett and John Vanderslice. All recast him as a man who was living a life of some contentment. As someone who sees Wilde as a badly mistreated genius, this view is one that I rather want to believe—as I said, we all have an agenda.
Geoff Dibb, Oscar Wilde Society