A selection of readers' correspondence.
Peers and Parliaments
Hugh Trevor-Roper’s The Invention of Scotland was written, so Nigel Saul tells, ‘to lance the boil of Scottish devolution’ (December). As a member of the Campaign for the Scottish Assembly, could I suggest that the book was counter-productive, encouraging Lady Thatcher to replace the ‘gentleman’s agreement’ of 1707 with the Anglo-Conservative one-party state? Bogus Caledonian sentimentality reached a climax in 1996, when the Secretary of State, Michael Forsyth crossed the Tweed, bearing with him the long-lost Stone of Destiny. Trevor-Roper gained a peerage, but Scotland got its Parliament.
Yom Kippur War (October) is flawed by its report of the UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967.
This did not call for the ‘withdrawal of Israel’s forces to the pre-1967 borders’. On the contrary, it seeks their withdrawal ‘to secure and recognised borders ... in the event of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East’. Lord Caradon in the Chair then expressly made clear that this binding English version of the resolution did not call for withdrawal from all the territories won in the Six Day War.
The ongoing importance of a correct report and proper implementation of the resolution remain apparent. Thus, for example, Egypt obtained all the land it coveted in the Camp David Accords. It has however failed to prevent this land being the main entry point for massive armament and and bombardment of peaceful civilians inside Israel.
Dr Henry Goldblum
It was pleasing to see the birth of John Milton commemorated in your December issue. Though often portrayed as an austere puritan, Milton was ahead of his time on a number of issues. He was a proponent of sexual experiment, for example, arguing in The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce (1643) that the chaste and modest were more likely to find themselves ‘chained unnaturally together’ in unsuitable unions than those who enjoyed more varied experience in their youth.