In yesterday’s Times an opinion column by Libby Purves was headed: “We’ll remember Covid’s heroes and villains: Companies and individuals should know that the stigma of having behaved badly during this crisis will be long-lasting”. This contained a discussion of which companies and individuals fell into which category. The story opened with this
Waking up with a Gilbert and Sullivan song in your head is rarely explicable or useful but there was satisfaction this weekend in humming: “I’ve got a little list!/I’ve got a little list. Of society offenders . . . who never would be missed!” One day we shall be out of this medico-political quagmire and be able to look back and judge it. Politicians are constantly evaluated elsewhere, so leave them out for now: try listing more widely not just Covid’s heroes but its villains. The type Evelyn Waugh called “hard-faced men who did well out of the war”.
In today’s edition this letter appeared:
Sir, Aged just 15 at the time, Evelyn Waugh would have been a highly precocious political commentator had he described the 1918 intake of new MPs as “hard-faced men who did well out of the war” (Libby Purves, Sep 14). That description was, in fact, coined by Stanley Baldwin. As a man who anonymously donated 20 per cent of his personal wealth to help pay off the country’s First World War debts, Baldwin recognised meanness of spirit when he saw it.