Heroes and “Hard-Faced Men”

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:

POSTWAR VILLAINS
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.
Rob Maynard

Bristol

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