Letters: Voters will not forgive this feared delay to the restoration of liberties

·9-min read
Boris Johnson on Carbis Bay beach at the G7 summit - NEIL HALL/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Boris Johnson on Carbis Bay beach at the G7 summit - NEIL HALL/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

SIR – Should our timorous Government really delay restoring our civil liberties on June 21, it will lose my vote – and, I’m sure, the votes of millions of other right-thinking people.

These farcical restrictions have gone on far too long. The scientists and modellers advising the Cabinet have been wrong time and time again.

Peter Sullivan
Stamford, Lincolnshire

SIR – We may now spend this summer under harsher restrictions than last year, all because the Government spent two weeks dithering about putting India on the “red” travel list – and, when it finally did, allowed thousands in without hotel quarantine.

I wonder if the Government will still be talking about a world-beating vaccine programme when most of Europe has lighter restrictions.

Dr David Wisely
Ipswich, Suffolk

SIR – I’m thinking of having a big family party at Christmas.

Would it be better to postpone it until Easter?

Tony Delves
Wellington, Somerset

SIR – My son’s wedding has been postponed three times due to Covid restrictions. Following the announcement of the roadmap, it was rescheduled for the end of June, with 120 guests.

We are not alone: 220,000 weddings were postponed last year, which has not only been devastating for the couples concerned but has also pushed businesses in this £14.7 billion sector to the brink of closure.

I make an impassioned plea to the Government to lift restrictions on weddings after June 21, as anticipated. Failure to do so would cost the industry £325 million per week of delay – according to the Wedding Taskforce – as well as breaking the hearts of the many couples who have rearranged their weddings for this summer and are now committed to those dates. In our case, the church and venue are Covid-secure, all guests will have been vaccinated (many twice) and they will take lateral flow tests beforehand.

Marriage is a human right and a lifetime milestone.

Virginia Summerlin
Bourne End, Buckinghamshire

SIR – Professor Susan Michie’s suggestion that we should continue to wear masks “forever” indicates that Sage is a science group, rather than a science advisory group.

Its approach to reducing infections involves absolutely no attempt at an integrated overview which takes into account the many other aspects of society.

I happen to agree that wearing masks could be normalised (as it is in the Far East), but it is terrifying to think that Sage could have been advocating lockdowns with precious little thought for any of the wider consequences.

Roland Johnson
Buckingham

Royal yacht funding

SIR – Tony Blair has a lot to answer for, but not the decommissioning of HMY Britannia (Letters, June 6).

While an MP I served on a committee chaired by Lord Ashbourne which worked up plans to replace the royal yacht, at private-sector expense.

Michael Portillo, the defence secretary, had given us his pledge to man the proposed vessel with Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel, and all we then needed was the go-ahead from the prime minister.

True to form, John Major declined to give us a decision but, unbelievably, from the despatch box shortly before the 1997 general election announced that the Conservatives, if re-elected, would build a new royal yacht at taxpayers’ expense.

There is no doubt in my mind as to who the real yacht-stopper was.

Christopher Gill
Aberdovey, Merionethshire

SIR – Garry P High claims that, in decommissioning the Royal Yacht Britannia after the 1997 general election, Tony Blair was merely confirming a decision taken by John Major’s government.

In fact, following the election, Mr Blair asked the heads of British diplomatic posts in major trading nations around the world for their views.

As consul-general in Osaka at the time, and prior to that as deputy high commissioner in Madras, I had direct experience of the value of Britannia as a trade and investment-promotion tool from its visits to Tokyo, Nagoya, Kobe, Okinawa and Bombay, and argued for its retention. I suspect that most of my colleagues around the world did the same.

Mr Blair ignored us all. I have been convinced ever since that his decision was entirely political, a sop to the anti-royalist Left, and that his opinion survey was a sham.

David Cockerham
Bearsted, Kent

Moosic

SIR – Roy S Nicholson’s letter (June 6) about animals’ responses to music reminded me of an occasion many years ago in Oxford when those of us in a university orchestra decided to perform Handel’s Water Music on one of the college barges.

It was a very warm and sunny day in late May. To our surprise a herd of cows in Christ Church meadow left the shade some distance away and made their way over to the fences by the river.

There they quietly chewed the cud and listened to the music. When we finished they slowly returned to their original spot.

Hillier B A Wise
Wembley Park, Middlesex

SIR – Whenever I sat down at the piano to play and sing, our lovely border collie, Humbug, would dash in from wherever he was in house or garden and lie curled up at my feet to listen.

Sometimes he would join in too, which made me laugh so much that singing became impossible.

Joan Clayton
Twickenham, Middlesex

SIR – Years ago we had a quirky Jack Russell who, quite rightly, hated my singing and would immediately leave the room.

On one occasion I was in the middle of preparing a dish which needed all of my concentration and Henry was anxious to get away, but I continued to cook and sing.

Having endured it for a while, he then retreated to the farthest part of the kitchen and was promptly sick.

Terry Eiss
Roses, Girona, Spain

Gove and the EU

SIR – You report that the EU’s negotiators have said they preferred dealing with Michael Gove, rather than Lord Frost.

Little wonder. It was Mr Gove who, in May 2019, was all for the adoption of Theresa May’s appalling “deal” because, as he put it, “we have to face facts”. As I pointed out in a letter you published, Mr Gove’s choice of “facts” was based entirely on the perceived expediency of getting “Brexit” over and done with – no matter the travesty that the deal he countenanced would have made of the referendum result – and deliberately ignoring the actual facts concerning the promise made to voters that the referendum would be honoured whatever the result.

Philip J Ashe
Leeds, West Yorkshire

Ofcom and Covid

SIR – We were concerned to read unfounded claims that Ofcom has attempted to “stifle” criticism of the Government’s Covid response. At the start of the pandemic – a time of misinformation and growing risk to the NHS – Ofcom advised broadcasters to take care when broadcasting unverified information about the virus. We said they should take care around statements that sought to undermine the advice of public health bodies or trust in mainstream sources of information.

But we also said explicitly that such content can be broadcast with appropriate protections. There were no threats to remove broadcasters’ licences, and we have certainly not advised against questioning the need for lockdowns and public restrictions. On the contrary, we believe restrictions to personal liberty have made the right to freedom of expression even more vital.

We take freedom of speech into account every time we consider a broadcasting complaint – and the numbers speak for themselves. The public raised complaints about more than 11,000 programmes in the last year. We formally investigated 48, and found only 29 in breach of our rules.

The claims also conflated our broadcast standards work with our research into consumers’ media understanding, another duty given to us by Parliament. Our research uses common categories of misinformation from Full Fact, a charity established on a cross-party basis. These categories are not used in our regulatory work, and they play no part in our broadcasting decisions.

Dame Melanie Dawes
London SE1

All the ingredients for a healthy old age

Le Saumon (1864) by Edouard Manet - bridgeman
Le Saumon (1864) by Edouard Manet - bridgeman

SIR – I disagree with Dr Tony Hall’s prescription for weight loss (Letters, June 6).

My weight is 160 lbs, and I can still wear all the suits that I bought over 30 years ago.

How boring to live without wine. I drink half a bottle every day. We eat fish four or five days a week, drink instant coffee with full-cream milk, eat little bread, and never drink beer.

Today, however, we’re eating sausages, green beans, carrots and peppers. I am 88: perhaps Dr Hall and I should exchange notes in five years’ time.

Chris Minter
London SW6

SIR – I don’t know if Dr Tony Hall is hoping to live for 200 years, but with a diet of “broccoli, plain fish, nut cutlet, wheat beer and semi-skimmed milk” it will certainly feel like it.

John Newbury
Warminster, Wiltshire

Who pays for green home heating schemes

SIR – David Mansfield (Letters, June 6) states, in respect of his heat pump installation: “The total cost will be reimbursed by the Government under its Renewable Heat Incentive scheme over a seven-year period.”

He needs to be reminded where the Government gets the money: yes, from us, the taxpayers.

Stephen Gledhill
Evesham, Worcestershire

SIR – My domestic energy contract is due for renewal.

The new price of a kilowatt-hour of electricity is 5.7 times as much as a kWh of gas, up from 4.9 times in last year’s contract. An “average” heat pump is said to use just one quarter of the kWh, but the price difference results in a higher bill.

If lashings of hot water are required, the heat pump must work much harder, and the cost increase becomes eye-watering. And what about the matter of resilience in a power cut? Utopian gloss cannot disguise a huge capital cost that generates a negative return.

James Anderson
Winchester, Hampshire

SIR – We moved into a new house with a heat pump installed in its larger-than-usual downstairs cloakroom.

Not only do I love the friendly hum that it makes, but as the heating installed is all underfloor I also can dry a whole load of washing in there on rainy days.

We help save the planet – plus over £1,000 a year in running costs from our previous house.

Jacqueline Davies
Faversham, Kent

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