The situation regarding Huawei begs a few questions. Let us assume that as well as wishing to support the US’s stance and to put pressure on a totalitarian regime, we are concerned about the possibility of 5G communications equipment being used by China for the purposes of espionage or sabotage. Then surely the removal of their equipment at speed is a sensible idea.
It may, therefore, be time to consider what to do instead, including reviewing the country’s needs. Firstly, do we need 5G? If its primary purpose is to provide an internet of things – so we can check the contents of the fridge while at work – then possibly the answer is no. The more interconnected everything is, the greater the disaster if the overall system fails to work for some reason. This would be a shame, particularly if the advantages are arguable.
If we do need 5G, there is still the question about whether or not we need it quickly. Are we currently tearing our hair out because we can’t download the latest Hollywood blockbuster in three seconds flat? If it is needed quickly, then organisations such as Nokia would be encouraged by our financial support for them. If it is not, then we could invest in our own hard-pressed labour market to produce much of the equipment ourselves, perhaps in partnership with such a company.
Returning briefly to the question of totalitarianism – in fact, China resembles Orwell’s Oceania, a post-totalitarian state where a ruthless managerialism pays lip service to ideology – we also ought to pay attention to power politics. If we fall out with China, we are still only junior partners with the US. It is a pity that our current government seems determined to leave our current partnership with Europe, where facilities are pooled to pay attention to the needs of all its members.
Money before lives
The news that the UK is to resume arms sales to Saudi Arabia is no surprise.
It shows, if proof were needed, that successive British governments continue to put income from exports of deadly armaments above the wellbeing of millions of innocent human beings. Claims that individual weapon use will be vetted, and assurances that civilians will not die as a result of their use, are hollow and meaningless. We all know that this cannot be guaranteed.
In the current crisis, where trade deals, growth and slippery politicians appear to rule the roost, there seems little hope that sales of weapons of war will end.
Temporary masks not permanent
I would be prepared to wear a mask in shops for a limited period to help reduce coronavirus infections. However, it seems clear that the government intends this to become a more permanent requirement. This will result in our high streets becoming the preserve of miserable, isolated individuals, quite literally avoiding each other like the plague – a deeply unpleasant prospect.
Unfortunately for Boris Johnson and his most senior adviser Dominic Cummings, the euphoria of the landslide election win and the ratifying of the withdrawal agreement on 29 January have long gone. Things have since taken a significant gear shift downwards – mismanagement of the Covid-19 crisis leading to thousands of unnecessary deaths, followed by a catastrophic economic crash, failure to agree on any trade agreement with the EU, relations with China, and not forgetting the UK has plotted a Titanic-like course for a hard Brexit to end our 2020.
What a year! I am sure Cummings, the man known as the brain of Boris and the mastermind of Brexit no less, has all of this in hand. I am not so sure of his visions of an Odyssean future though. Maybe he should go for another drive and get those eyes checked once again. Personally, I am more inclined to think of Mr Cummings as the bungling Inspector Clouseau.
Fingers off faces
Fearful as many of us may be about this government’s undemocratic authoritarianism, we must concede that mandatory mask wearing in shops now makes sense. However, there are potential drawbacks.
If, as not infrequently happens, people remove or adjust the mask by grasping the part in front of their face, they have thereby contaminated the hand which will touch other surfaces. It may well be that microdroplets are the main means of spreading the infection, but surface contamination is probably not insignificant. There needs to be an urgent public education campaign to teach us all that a mask should only be handled by its strings.
“Fingers off faces” might be a three-word slogan such as those beloved by our leaders.
Frampton Cotterell, South Gloucestershire
Mask exemption worries
With regard to the mandatory wearing of face coverings in shops coming into force on the 24 July, I have already avoided public transport and will I now have to avoid going to the shop for food for fear of confrontation or being treated as a social outcast because of a disability?
Exempt badges have been sold out, so maybe I should make a sign to wear around my neck.
Hostile environment still alive
I read Rob Merrick’s column, on how EU citizens guilty of minor offences “will be deported”, with consternation and a distinct feeling of deja vu that the “hostile environment” is still alive and thriving in the Home Office.
Draconian measures for minor offences does not bode well, that is not to say malefactors should be excluded from the rule of law, but treated on a par with everyone else. As stated I too feel that the lessons from the Windrush scandal have still not been sufficiently learnt and have now been extended to bona fide EU citizens. Somehow as we approach with eyes wide shut a global Britain, there appears to be a deeply worrying trend of less inclusivity and a denial of our inherent multiculturalism which has served Britain so well in the past. This is a negation of a modern facing, open country, and should be swiftly addressed.
Judith A Daniels
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk