Letter: Just limits on property rights

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Sir: David Starkey ('Community life begins at home', 8 July) has blown the gaff on Conservative philosophy. His thesis amounts to a statement that community exists when people come together for the defence of property. Against whom? Obviously against the dispossessed, those who have no property, the underclass.

Such a community expects the state to defend its property by programmes of law and order. In more homogeneous societies, this promotes the public good and can appeal to a higher law than the will of the powerful. But when the early development of capitalist industry dispossessed a large proportion of the population, it became clear that the rights of property were trampling on the rights, and even the lives, of man, with intolerable working conditions, insanitary dwelling places, starvation wages, man traps for poachers, and the rope for stealing a chicken.

By the late 19th century, politicians of all parties had realised that a state with such a divisive philosophy could not long survive. It is the duty of government to promote justice for all the people, not just those who wish it to defend their interests.

The Tories speak of targeting welfare to those who need it. With the philosophy Mr Starkey outlines, should we be surprised that they regularly miss?

Yours faithfully,


Newport, Gwent

7 July