RANT OF THE MONTH
Without a trace
I am a Polish student, recently returned to the UK. Like all entrants, I was expected to quarantine for ten days, which I was more than happy to do. As part of the programme, I was directed to book Covid tests from a list of government approved suppliers online. Imagine my surprise when the first company I contacted was a dermatology clinic, which had never offered tests. The second one no longer offered tests, and the third one was out of tests. Finally, I gave up and resorted to Google, where I quickly found a supplier who wasn’t on the list but should have been. I read somewhere that the Government has spent £37 billion on test and trace. If that is true, the least they can do is update their website, so that we can all comply.
Magdalena Grokowska, by email
Low Traffic Nightmare
Who in their right mind thinks the Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme a good idea? In theory it’s meant to reduce pollution but instead the traffic it causes has the opposite effect. But that’s not all: disabled residents of LTNs are having problems getting to public transport, unable to get dropped off or picked up at their front door, and ambulances are being delayed. London Ambulance Service recently reported a four-minute delay to an “immediately life threatening” call because of the LTN in Lewisham and Lee Green. That’s just one of many such incidents. In a recent BBC report, some residents praised the scheme for increasing “quality of life” and letting “kids play outside”. That’s all very well, but cars, buses, traffic and noise are part of city life in the 21st century. In the absence of a time machine, perhaps they could move to the countryside and fulfil their lofty rural idyll and leave the rest of us to get on with our urban lives. LTNs were implemented without consultation, rushed through during lockdown, and not part of any manifesto we voted for. They have divided communities and pitted neighbours against each other. As if we’ve not had enough divisions in our society the past few years! Poor air quality in cities is a serious problem, but simply diverting traffic elsewhere and making entire neighbourhoods less accessible is not the answer.
Malcolm Thwaites, London
It seems we have developed herd immunity to government corruption. Barely a day after the announcement of the ESL, football fans were on the streets demonstrating their opposition, which undoubtedly influenced the decision to pan it. When was the last time we gathered to oppose cronyism, as some like to call it? We’ve stopped traffic for days on end in the name of climate change, and stood together against racism, so why aren’t we getting angry about the government ministers lining the pockets of their friends and family? It seems we have come to accept as a given that those in power will abuse it, which is even more worrying than corruption itself.
Terry Chappell, Manchester
I’m dismayed by the unanimous press predictions that Sadiq Khan will win a second term as Mayor of London. He isn’t solely to blame for the increase in robbery, street muggings and homicides in the capital since his election in 2016 — we also have the Conservative government to thank for mercilessly hacking away at funding for the police and other public services. But still, homicides in London increased by 10% over 2018-19 while they fell by 20% over the same period in the West Midlands, despite the same cuts. Transport For London, which is run by the Mayor, now has record levels of debt and is operating at a deficit of almost £1bn a year — a pre-pandemic statistic. His mayorship has seen delays to several Tube line extensions, and the cost of Crossrail spiral. While keeping his pledge to freeze Tube fares on one-way tickets might win votes, it leaves TFL struggling financially. No wonder he hasn’t talked much about crime or transport in his re-election campaign. Or housing, for that matter, where in 2016 he promised Londoners 116,000 more homes but by 2020 they had delivered only 20,000. I won’t be fooled twice. Even if he’s unlikely to win, I’ll be casting my vote for Mr. Brian Rose, the American seems to be making promises he would actually keep. Haven’t heard of him? You’ll need to add more than just terrestrial TV to your viewing repertoire if you want to know about him – but that’s another rant!
Abi Besley, by email
In case anyone missed it, the performance of the Government in containing the Covid crisis succinctly summarised in Failures of State, a new book by Sunday Times journalists, Jonathan Calvert and George Arbuthnot. It shows how the Prime Minister is personally responsible for 4.5 million Covid infections, for his dithering and delays over 2020. He is the UK’s ultimate superspreader.
Ali Rowbotham, by email
Boris, family man
When Boris Johnson was Mayor, he seemed pretty harmless showing off his bikes and preparing for the Olympics (until the Jen Arcuri accusations appeared). Being put in charge of a city was a good way of getting a reckless politician out of the Commons. But I never expected him to become PM and now it’s no longer funny. I have no respect for a man who’s worked his way through two wives and has had six children with three women, among countless affairs. What sort of example does that set? He has no respect for women whatsoever and is clearly a pathological liar. I can imagine nothing worse than deceiving my wife only to grin it off on national television. I don’t understand why his latest fiancée Carrie Symonds looks at him so adoringly – he’s only going to let her down! It’s as if Boris is still in the Bullingdon comparing “conquests”. I’m sure he keeps a diary where he notes down which women he has managed to have his way with, so it’s no surprise that an MP is accused of sexual harassment practically every week given the PM’s nature. He’s got to go and so has this prevalent misogynism in Westminster.
George Hamilton, Leeds
Was I the only one scratching my head over the idea that texts being leaked between the Prime Minister and wealthy businessmen is the scandal, rather than the fact that those communications are being done in secret in the first place? Surely, all these discussions, which involve public money and public services, should be in the public domain? David Cameron himself called for full publication of the emails, phone logs and minutes of meetings, arising out of such lobbying, although no doubt he has now changed his mind. The problem is that most of these conversations are taking place on encrypted platforms like WhatsApp and will never see the light of day. Insider trading is illegal in the City. Insider dealings (that is, cronyism) should be up the road in Westminster too.
Eugene Gregory, by email
I am so pleased that Derek Chauvin has been found guilty on all three charges: second degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. The world was watching his trial and, for once, the US has delivered on a racially motivated police murder. Of course it’s no comfort to the family of George Floyd, but if the world hadn’t been watching, I’m sure Chauvin would have been given a slap on the wrist and sent back to work the next week. I watched the trial and you could see in Chauvin’s eyes that he knew an example was going to be made of him. It wasn’t the first time Chauvin had knelt on a black person for so long that they said “I can’t breathe” either. He knelt on a fourteen-year-old’s neck for seventeen minutes in 2017. It’s pretty much commonplace “policing” in the US. We have problems with systemic racism over here in the UK but watching the States from afar is scary. It felt good to see justice being delivered for once.
Katie Sidlett, Plymouth
The situation in India is like a Greek Tragedy although it won’t end well; it’ll only end. In March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared the pandemic was in its “endgame” and now India is reporting new daily cases of over 362,000 and over 3,000 deaths a day. Covid came back with a vengeance on a country that has a broken healthcare system, where doctors have been begging the government for oxygen supplies and 68.8% live in poverty. The UK’s first delivery of 100 ventilators at the end of April was pitiful – like bringing a sword to the Somme. The Government seems to have no interest in helping, abandoning their country as they fall short of breath and die, holding funeral pyres in public places. The world must do more to aid countries such as India. We can’t abandon 1.4 billion people simply because they have a government that chooses to look away.
Louise Mettrick, Chester
Beware broad band of speeds
When I moved house recently, a company contacted me to say it could get me the best deal on broadband and other services, and I signed up. They duly got me the cheapest internet contract, an almost £5 per month saving on the rest. Alas, I was horrified to find I have been lumbered with almost Jurassic era speeds of 5 Mps, when for just £3 more per month I could have got fibre from a different supplier with speeds of 100 Mps. Locked in to my contract, I will have eighteen months of flickering Netflix to rue my decision. Broad band buyer beware!
Bridget Taylor, by email
The views expressed in Readers’ Rants are those of the individual writers and not of Perspective magazine.