In a new Sunday Supplement series for The Westminster Hour first broadcast in May and June 2005, the broadcaster Anthony Howard examines episodes of our political history which have been sparked and shaped by letters to the newspapers.
In Part One, he takes us back to the most blood drenched year of the First World War. He discusses the Lansdowne letter which appeared in the Daily Telegraph to shocking effect on the British Establishment of 1917 because it put the case for a negotiated peace with Germany.
Nigel Birch was Economic Secretary to the Treasury from 1957 to 1958
In Part Two, Anthony Howard takes us back to the 'Night of the Long Knives' in July 1962 and recalls a letter that appeared in The Times.
The letter was just five lines in length. It was from the former Treasury Minister, Nigel Birch, who wrote a damming criticism of Harold Macmillan's decision to sack Selwyn Lloyd as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Within months, Macmillan himself was leaving Downing Street.
In the final part, Anthony Howard explains why Margaret Thatcher prompted 364 economists to sign one letter to the Times.