RANT OF THE MONTH:
It seems that if the quest for Covid immunity has thus far eluded our political leaders, they have at least discovered political immunity. The current (apparent) success of the vaccine programme notwithstanding, their atrocious handling of the pandemic has cost tens of thousands of lives. Meanwhile billions have been misspent, much of it corruptly, on ineffective products and services, whilst NHS staff remain underpaid, and thousands of businesses fail every day. Yet, the polls keep rising in the Tories favour. Your last edition was right – next stop, Dystopia.
Gillian Munns, Crawley
Whilst the sight of Scotland getting a first win at Twickenham since 1983 a few weeks ago was a bitter pill to swallow for this English reader, sporting loyalties take a back seat when I look at the turmoil currently embroiling Scottish politics and remember that I am (by birth) a native of Alba myself. I have watched with amazement, and only a little schadenfreude, as the two goliaths of Holyrood have wrestled for control of the narrative on the ongoing scandal surrounding Alex Salmond. That the committee of MSPs have pushed the nuclear button and concluded that Nicola Sturgeon did indeed mislead the Scottish Parliament is not surprising, but it does call to mind the (now rather hypocritical) language the First Minister gleefully used in the Brexit War. Referring to the Prime Minster as a “tinpot dictator” is a good tactic if your own powder is dry, but these are precisely the words that can come back to bite when an SNP-led Crown Office attempts to redact evidence in your favour. I can only hope that this credibility-shattering episode marks the start of a new dawn for politics north of the border that doesn’t evoke names of fish. But perhaps this is really just a bump in the road towards an independent Scotland.
Oliver Simon, London
Spending your first year of university sat behind a screen is not quite the thrilling experience you’re told to expect. Arriving as an excited fresher, the first blip was soon discovered – we were to be confined to a household of sixteen people. Awkward conversations occurred on the first night out at the pub which is, of course, a natural part of meeting new people at university – however this year it’s different. Freshers’ week was spent with these same people and the silence at each socially distanced “party” was deafening. There is no hope of meeting “your people” at later events – you are stuck. With no sports teams, no societies and no in-person lectures, it becomes impossible to meet anyone new during the day. And yet university students somehow became the national scapegoat. The rising R rate
was, of course, our fault, with articles covering huge gatherings that we, as a body, had to take the blame for. There was outrage at us being allowed to return to campus, with people expecting us to spend the “best year of our lives” at home, without the few friends we had been allowed to make. And yet there is no personal responsibility taken – it was justified for people to mix households over Christmas, and yet questionable for students to want to travel home. We are ignored time and time again in the Government’s Covid updates and are stuck in limbo. We merely sit behind our screens, hoping next year is better.
Mimi Quinton, Durham
Everyone has been saying that Covid has given us a chance to rethink the way we want our lives to be and commit to new priorities. Has anyone told the Prime Minister or the Chancellor? They have set out plans to spend £200 billion on defence over the next four years. Last year, we were told we were going to replace our nuclear armed Trident submarines at a cost of over £30 billion, and now the cap on the number of nuclear weapons we can have has been raised. Our military spending is of course minuscule compared to that of our “enemy” Russia, and our “competitor”, China, which just proves how stupid it is for us to waste our resources in this way. Meanwhile, we have an army of medical professionals slaving away to keep us safe and get us vaccinated, but we can’t afford one thousandth the amount of our defence spending to give them a 2% pay rise, nor maintain the £20 uplift in Universal Credit for the poorest in our community beyond six months. People are right – there is a chance for us to reset and do things a different way, to start prioritising helping those in need, protecting our health, our economy and the planet. So why is the Government insisting on charging us down the same path that got us into the mess we are in, in the first place?
Gareth Jones, Swansea
I’m utterly appalled by how European countries have used the AstraZeneca vaccine as a political tool, putting the lives of their citizens at risk. What’s worse is that no one seems to have the balls to admit it’s all about politics! Whichever side of the vaccine fence you sit on (and don’t get me started on the “anti-vaxers”) you just can’t deny this has nothing to do with safety and precaution. It’s beyond me how so many countries think it’s ok to further hinder an already slow vaccine roll-out. For all our failings over the past year, at least we’re not part of that band of loons. Oh and of course, they don’t resent us for Brexit, or for being organised, or for being the first
country in the world to approve a vaccine.
Leora McGuinness, Belfast
Is it just me, or is this all starting to feel… well, normal? Everyone used to say how they couldn’t wait for lockdown to end, and pubs to open. But I hardly hear that anymore. Everyone seems content hiding in their own little burrows and not having to bother to go to work or socialize. Even making plans to meet up in the park feels like hard work these days. I can’t remember the last time I had a drink over Zoom. Have we all given in and given up so quickly?
Callum Fitzpatrick, by email
Future’s not bright
I read with interest your take on the future of the High Street after Covid in the last issue of Perspective. Perhaps you’re right, and in the countryside the future will be bright for market towns and the like. I know everyone is ecstatic about the success of the various vaccines, and I hate to pour cold water on things, but I truly fear for what will be left of high streets in highly urbanized areas, particularly those with a lot of transient office workers. Unlike many, I have worked – out of necessity – at my place of work, ever since lockdown began over a year ago. I have been walking past the same closed up shops, restaurants and bars, and the same empty
office blocks, during the different lockdowns. Over 2020, it all felt temporary, a brief holding of breath until everyone came out and life returned to normal. It has to be said, this time it feels different. There are many, many shops and restaurants that are boarded up and clearly shut for good. And office buildings on the whole remain empty. They are unlikely to return to anything like normal capacity, even when lockdown is over. Things have moved on. If these areas are not to turn into lifeless ghettos, the slums of the future, we will need the Government’s full commitment to helping regenerate these areas, repurposing their buildings, and giving them new life.
Michael Hughes, Clerkenwell
BoJo’s third boo-boo
Boris Johnson is renowned as a clever politician, cunning even, able to sniff the way the wind is blowing and capitalise. Why is it then that he can’t get it right with lockdowns? Both with the first and second lockdowns it is clear that Bo-Jo dithered, waited too late, and then tried to shut the gate when Covid had well and truly bolted. This time though, he has made the opposite mistake. Clearly, the
vaccination programme has been a thumping success, and already the vast majority of those at serious risk have had at least one jab. Yet, here we are, stuck with a rigid schedule of slow release from lockdown. If it really is data not dates that we’re going off, we should start allowing much more sensible mixing now, and get things moving again.
Philip Spratt, London
Prince William insists, “very much”, that the royals are not racist. Really? Let’s just take the Grand old Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Phillip. He has been both the subject of racism by members of his own family who have called him everything from “The Hun” to “Stavros”, mocking his Greek heritage, and has made several racist comments himself. He’s made slurs against practically every race that doesn’t qualify as white, with quips about “spear-throwing” Aboriginals and “slitty-eyed” Chinese, to mention just two. The worst thing about Meghan’s accusations is that they ring true. The royals know that, and it hurts. That’s why they’re pushing back.
Tina Hudson, by email
Give it a rest
Harry and Meghan have spent the better part of the past year telling us just how much they’d like to be left alone and need privacy. Meanwhile, there’s been a book they supposedly had nothing to do with, a couple of court cases, a Memorial Day photo shoot, a letter written by Megs to the New York Times, and the Oprah interview. I don’t doubt Meghan’s difficulties adjusting to royal life, but was she living under a rock before she met Harry? If you want privacy, get some and stop goading the press at every given opportunity — you’ll get your wish!
Mikey Smith, by email
The views expressed in Readers’ Rants are those of the individual writers and not of Perspective magazine.