Letters: The pinged PM’s U-turn demonstrates the Government’s complete absence of common sense

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Boris Johnson leaving 10 Downing Street last Wednesday for Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons - JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP via Getty Images
Boris Johnson leaving 10 Downing Street last Wednesday for Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons - JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP via Getty Images

SIR – I was recently mulling over the idea that a Ministry of Common Sense should be established so that the claptrap currently emanating from our government might in some heaven-found way be at least minimised by someone living in the real world.

Alas, I could not think of one MP to fit the bill as its minister. The U-turn of yesterday morning, regarding isolation for the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer, who purport to be our leaders, illustrates the problem.

Anthony Bolton
Church Stretton, Shropshire

SIR – Yesterday’s pantomime, with a swift U-turn by the PM and Chancellor confirms the “them and us” system.

Freedom for the nation? Forget it!

Diana Dixon
Tonbridge, Kent

SIR – Does anyone else remember the time when a Conservative government provided strong and stable leadership?

David Miller
Chigwell, Essex

SIR – I suggest Boris Johnson changes his doctor. What lamebrained medico suggested he needed to self-isolate when he has (a) had the disease and (b) been further vaccinated against it?

Rev Philip Foster
Hemingford Abbots, Huntingdonshire

SIR – I have voted Conservative all my life, but I cannot take this shambles of a government any more. It appears that Boris Johnson is just a big bag of wind who has no grasp of reality and no sensible advisers at No 10.

John Dore

SIR – I had a most unsettling Sunday lunchtime. I agreed with everything Tony Blair said in his interview on The World This Weekend.

Trevor Jones
Sidmouth, Devon

SIR – It seems the Government is perilously close to considering further lockdown restrictions in order to cope with the (non-Covid) healthcare consequences of (Covid) lockdown policy. Sage doubtless likes the idea of that inescapable vortex.

Andrew Shouler
Grays, Essex

SIR – In our household we have a new name for the UK Government’s NHS Test and Trace app. We call it the Trick and Trap app.

Daphne MacOwan
Ballajora, Isle of Man

SIR – Installing and using the Test and Trace app are not compulsory. The advice to isolate if pinged is not a legal obligation. The app is clearly deeply flawed. Why is anyone still using it?

Claudia van der Werff
London SW1

SIR – I do not own a smartphone and therefore have no Test and Trace app.

I have often visited restaurants since the reopening of hospitality venues. My contact details have been recorded, with no problems, with pen and paper by a helpful staff member or by me. I am ping-free and have had no contact from anywhere I have visited.

Government guidelines make clear that no venue can refuse entry to a person without the phone app, and it must have alternative recording arrangements in place.

Richard Hall
Belper, Derbyshire

SIR – How long until something like the Test and Trace app becomes a pre-installed, permanent application on the mobile phone operating system?

Every new phone and software update comes with “bloatware” that customers cannot delete. Big Government surely won’t miss this trick.

James Mann
Taunton, Somerset

SIR – I often leave my mobile in the car when I shop. If, on return, I find it has been pinged, should I put the car into quarantine for 10 days?

Michael Yates
West Moors, Dorset

A GP you can see

SIR – A number of letters (July 17) have cited the impossibility of seeing a GP. I wonder why good practice is not shared.

We have lived in our village for 34 years, and in all that time, from the births of our three children until now, we have never struggled to get an appointment when needed.

Our local health centre operates a system that separates acute and routine appointments, and we have never had to wait more than 24 hours for a consultation when appropriate.

During the Covid pandemic, we have had a variety of online consultations, phone consultations and even a couple of face-to-face appointments. I would say the record response was 20 minutes.

I’m sure that others could emulate our health centre’s great system.

Jeanne Leader
North Curry, Somerset

Perry Mason in peril

SIR – Simon Heffer pays tribute to the television incarnation of fiction’s most successful criminal lawyer In many of the shows the expression of Perry Mason’s legal brilliance did, indeed, become “formulaic”, with the murderer’s sudden confession in the courtroom marking a point almost exactly two minutes before the end of every programme.

But the earlier episodes, based on Erle Stanley Gardner’s novels, had better plots and more varied locations. And the friendly rapport seen later between the hero and his legal adversaries was entirely absent.

Indeed, in those days Perry Mason often sailed close to breaking the law himself – to the extent that Hamilton Burger, the district attorney, and police lieutenant Arthur Tragg frequently smacked their lips at the (happily unrealised) prospect of having him disbarred.

Francis Bown
London E3

Fire down below

SIR – In the London division tender, HMS Humber, ever morning we would hear on the loudspeaker: “Minerva alarm. Minerva alarm. Fire in the forward paint locker. Standing sea fire party stand to.”

It was always the junior rates mess toaster (Letters, July 17). I hope the Brazilians (to whom Humber was sold in 1995) are not toast lovers.

Gregor McNie
London SE25

Birmingham bombings

SIR – Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland Secretary, epitomises how naive this government is if it believes that people will sit back and accept its amnesty proposal.

Our families and thousands of others affected by the Troubles are sickened by it. My sister Maxine was one of the 21 murdered by cowards in the Birmingham pub bombings in 1974.

Mr Lewis say: “The state kept records ... the terrorists did not.” Since the security services had infiltrated the paramilitaries to such a high degree, paramilitary records seem redundant.

This is the salient point, because the records hold the key to what all the families directly impacted seek. But successive governments have kept these records embargoed and hidden.

This is the only true impediment to all of us receiving “equality before the law”. The best way of dealing with the past for Northern Ireland is for Mr Lewis to make the records available.

He writes that “through the truth-recovery body, there would be some chance of families finding out what happened to their loved ones”. We know exactly what happened to our loved ones. They were blown up beyond recognition.

The Government is attempting to issue what would be tantamount to “a licence to kill” for past and any future terrorist. How deluded can you be?

Julie Hambleton

Porridge while you sleep

SIR – For perfect porridge (Letters, July 17), put 2oz of pinhead oatmeal, a third of a pint of water and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Cover with a lid and put in an oven at 50C overnight (or in the plate warmer of an Aga). If you cook it above 50C, the porridge loses texture.

In the morning, take out, pour on blueberries, stewed apples, honey or nothing, add milk or cream, and enjoy a speedy, healthy breakfast.

A 20kg sack of pinhead oatmeal lasts me about 18 months.

Ian Sandison
Colinsburgh, Fife

Cricket and rappers

SIR – I see that the Hundred cricket is to employ “an all-star line-up of DJs and rappers” in an effort to attract a more diverse and younger audience.

Have nightclubs considered earlier hours and softer music in an effort to attract a more diverse, older audience?

No. I thought not.

Hilary Mathews
Tring, Hertfordshire

The Pied Piper of obesity

Children running to the sound of the visiting ice-cream van - ALAMY
Children running to the sound of the visiting ice-cream van - ALAMY

SIR – If Boris Johnson is serious about childhood obesity, why doesn’t he ban ice-cream vans?

Every day from March to September, between 4pm and 5pm, one comes down our road belching diesel fumes, playing the same jarring tune as for the last five years.

It calls to the children like the Pied Piper: “Come and buy a 99 cornet, only £3 each. Ruin your dinner and your waistline.”

Supermarkets have removed sweets from the checkouts, let’s now remove this scourge from our residential roads.

Elizabeth Gomm
Loughton, Essex

CofE threatened by lack of clergy

SIR – William Nye, the secretary of the Archbishops’ Council, assures us there is no crisis regarding ordinands for service in the Church of England (Letters, July 16). “Nearly 600 people were recommended for training for ordination last year,” he says, with “the highest number expected to take up paid posts for a generation”.

The next day, under the headline “Archbishop laments clergy shortfall in face of planned layoffs”, Gabriella Swerling, your religious affairs editor, reports the Archbishop of York saying that “the Church of England’s future is threatened by lack of clergy”.

Are these two gentlemen singing from the same hymn sheet?

John Bowden
Siddington, Cheshire

SIR – Responding to Allison Pearson’s article about the plight of parishes, Mr Nye repeats the Church of England’s frequent comment that there is a rise in ordination figures. However, it does not follow from these that a church is healthy. The size of congregations is far more relevant.

If you replace the solid foundation of three years’ full-time theological training with part-time courses and reduced academic and practical content, then it becomes easier to attract candidates – many for part-time ministry instead of the traditional commitment to full-time ministry.

Emma Robarts
Buntingford, Hertfordshire

SIR – In 40 years as the patron of five livings, I have watched the decline of the Church of England’s ministry at parish level with dismay.

There has been a decline in congregations, stipendary priests and in income. The Church’s apparent remedy is to impose more costly administrative staff at diocesan level, financed by demanding ever greater parish shares from ageing congregations. If these are not forthcoming, it closes churches and makes ordained clergy redundant.

Clergy should be at the forefront of the Church’s pastoral care to its parishioners but this now seems to be in jeopardy.

R M Abel Smith
Watton-at-Stone, Hertfordshire

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