15 JULY 1978, Page 18

The dubbin factor

Sir: Mr Waugh's article 'The dubbin factor' (8 July) seems to suggest that Mrs Thatcher has not enough experience of criticism/msults/physical assault to be an effective leader. If this is indeed Mr Waugh's view, it would seem to be singularly naive, in view of Mrs Thatcher's experience as a target of anti-women, anti-Tory and anti-politician barrages during the last three years. It also shows ignorance of the goings-on in girls' schools (thank the Lord) and of the difficulties of bringing up children. In order to reach a position of political power or eminence, Mrs Thatcher, Barbara Castle, Shirley Williams and the others have all.been subjected to a certain amount of dubbin, apart from the occasional political drubbing. Any woman who has attempted a political career has necessarily been the object of many more insults and cat-calls than many a man in Parliament. Mr Waugh himself, in his latest article, has provided another example of this; and very grateful we all are too for his solicitous debagging. One viewpoint, favourable to women Mr Waugh may note, is that a woman's experience of the world, in work with or against men, motherhood and political involvement, is a much better basis for the understanding of people and the limits of power in a democracy than the somewhat artificial, not to say boorish, environments of public school and the services.

I do not see much point in trying to contradict Mr Waugh's references to 'lesbians, sluts and harridans'; his idea of womanhood is obviously very individual, and I rather think he only does it to annoy. However, I must ask him not to scotch over or dismiss lightly the possibility of 'brutal or neglectful' husbands. One feels they are so often to blame for the existence of the lesbians, sluts and harridans Mr Waugh so hates.

P. W. Spooner 72 Lyford Road, London SW18