22 NOVEMBER 2003, Page 40

Not so good old days

From Graham Wade Sir: Roger Scruton (`The beastly British', 15 November) accuses us both as individuals and as a society of 'depravity', an act of 'collective treason' and responsibility for 'the martyrdom of the Prince of Wales', even in such acts as searching the Internet for the answers to the recent rumorous enigmas. This contrasts with the good old days of Professor Scruton's youth when apparently the 'response of English people' to such 'prurient interest' was to meditate on the words of St Paul, following 'serviceable Boy Scout morality'. I have established that Roger was born in 1944 (four years later than me), and unfortunately my memories of that golden era of allegedly unsullied loyalty to monarch and country on the part of the populace are somewhat less paradisiacal than his. Scruton's paranoia against 'papers like the Guardian' which 'masquerade as the protectors of public morality' is misplaced. There are many publications that arouse `the basest of human desires', including porn on the Internet and quite a few of the tabloid pages, but the Guardian is not among them. His extraordinary image of the Guardian as a receptacle of all evil is not supported by any intelligent daily reading, and every newspaper is far more than the sum of its leader columns, thank God. The Guardian's Saturday literary supplement, for example, represents one of the few attempts to take literature seriously, while its daily news coverage is thoughtful and diverse. (It was also one of the few papers during the IDS crisis to offer a platform for John Redwood.) Moreover, contrary to Scruton's assertions, not all people have lost their 'shared religion' or an 'idea of the sacred', and it is often those who possess these very principles in abundance who also believe that Prince Charles, through the adulterous betrayal of his wife, cannot ever again be regarded, whatever other virtues he might possess, as a selfevidently 'noble or public-spirited character'.

Graham Wade

Withernsea. East Yorkshire