Letter: Major's confused definition of Back to Basics issues

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your headline 'Major says 'basics' not a moral crusade' (7 January) is not only at odds with the accompanying quotes from the last Tory conference, but with the statement extending its definition from common-sense policies to include 'wider issues of decency, courtesy, neighbourliness, respect for others - and tolerance and understanding - but not personal morality'.

Decency, courtesy, neighbourliness, respect for others and tolerance are all attributes of personal morality. If we want to get back to the times when it was safe for old and young to walk the streets, to a situation where family life means respect for the responsibilities of parenthood by both parents, where the stronger take responsibility for those less able, then these attributes must be displayed in individuals.

I believe John Major, in common with all people of goodwill, wants to see these values adopted. We must understand that society is only the sum of its individuals and therefore an understanding and demonstration of individual morality is the responsibility of us all.

Politicians cannnot divorce individual morality from this collective effect. Neither can they simply say it is a job for the Church (Virginia Bottomley; Radio 4, 6 January). Yes, it is the job of the Church to teach, but it is the business of those who ask it to teach to listen and live by the basic tenets taught by all the great world religions. To do otherwise is hypocrisy not leadership.

Yours faithfully,

DAVID TAYLOR

Stubbington,

Hampshire

7 January

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