SIR – It was Tony Marlow MP, at a 1922 Committee meeting during the battles of the Community Charge (poll tax), who coined the phrase "A government should not go to war against its own people".
Huge fines for allowing friends to drink together? The Army called in to help police contact informers against their neighbours? University halls of residence as prisons? Compulsory isolation for unproven disease-carriers? Curfews and lockdowns?
SIR – Your headline "Neighbours told to call the police on isolation cheats" (September 28) sits uneasily with the picture next to it of a police officer hugging someone during a minute's silence for Sergeant Matt Ratana.
SIR – The nation is urged to report to the police anyone who has tested positive for Covid and is not self-isolating. How will they know who has tested positive? Will a red plague cross be painted on their door?
A O H Lewis
SIR – The brilliant idea of fines up to £10,000 for breaking quarantine will mean that many people with Covid symptoms will avoid taking a test.
If this had been debated in Parliament I am sure such a fatal flaw would have been quickly identified.
SIR – I have received an email from the Government urging me to download the new NHS Covid-19 app.
As I do not have a smartphone, can I ask my doctor to prescribe one?
SIR – In the Vale of Glamorgan we have been locked up again because of a rise in Covid cases by 34.4 per 100,000 people, over a week. The population is 130,000. So the economy, already on its knees, is being halted once more by – what – 45 new cases in a week?
This is unsustainable. Sooner or later, if we are to save our way of life, we will have to stand up to this virus.
SIR – Plans should be made for those in care homes to have a visit over Christmas. A relation or close friend could have a Covid-19 test and have access to the care home, wearing PPE.
Care staff are tested weekly, go home after their shift, shop and lead normal lives, then return to the care home. So why cannot a similar process apply to a nominated relative?
SIR – Sherelle Jacobs ( Comment, September 24 ) is right to speak of our government-by-focus-group ignoring the evidence by continuing to pursue the policy of lockdown. More than four in five of the 41,988 coronavirus deaths in the UK have been of patients over the age of 70, the majority of these being over 80 and suffering from diseases of old age.
A large proportion of these will have been in care homes, or housebound by infirmity or by government advice and regulations. Lockdown for them will have been irrelevant, apart from isolating them from their families.
The UK imposed stringent lockdown and suffered 618 deaths per million. Sweden did not impose lockdown, suffered 581 deaths per million, and may have achieved a degree of herd immunity.
Dr Max Gammon
SIR – Minor fluctuations and statistical error aside, surely the disease of the pandemic has passed.
Am I the only fool in the land?
Dr Jai Chitnavis
SIR – Lois Heslop's portrayal ( Comment, September 27 ) of freshers turning up at the start of term unaware that most teaching would be online is unconvincing. There has been ample discussion on all media platforms of the adjustments required for universities to function safely.
Her claim that the "vast majority of under-30s have been Covid compliant" is at odds with data from scientific studies, which shows the current spike is almost completely driven by this age group. One only has to look to France to see that it is false to claim that "in no other country" has the behaviour of the young been identified as the driver of the current outbreak.
Her view that "it is … young people who have suffered most through lockdown" is self-centred, when in fact the care-home-dwelling elderly and care-giving NHS front-line staff have paid the ultimate price.
If students do not want to be economic casualties of lockdown they only have to comply with the social-distancing rules that the Government has imposed to obviate the need for lockdowns in the first place.
SIR – Kate Green, the shadow education secretary, said it was "unthinkable" that students could be locked in halls and unable to see their families at Christmas.
Care-home residents of all ages have been locked in and unable to see their families since March.
SIR – Former cathedral choristers of my age will have happy memories of how, between the ages of about 10 and 14, we did not go home for Christmas but stayed on to sing. Our holiday from boarding school began on January 6 – the Epiphany – when my mother had a second Christmas waiting for me.
Dr Philip Hickman
No time to chat
SIR – Ron Kirby ( Letters, September 28 ) asks why people don't phone each other any more.
Calls rarely arrive at a convenient time. The caller may have set aside time to chat, but usually when my phone rings I am up to my elbows in something – and I'm not a busy person.
When the phone rings on television, the conversation always develops the plot. Seldom so in real life.
SIR – The Demos research on taxation ( "’Raise taxes by 10p in the pound for the wealthy’: most people, including Tory voters, support tax rises" , telegraph.co.uk) did not yield surprising results. However, such tax increases, if implemented, would be self-defeating, as revenues would decrease due to the Laffer-curve effect.
More interestingly, people hugely underestimate the amount of tax they pay. And, when the amount they do pay is revealed to them, they reverse their preferences for more government spending and taxation, and instead favour lower government spending.
It would benefit a government committed to lower spending and taxation to make the tax system more transparent so that the public could became advocates for a smaller state.
Meanwhile, what Frédéric Bastiat said 170 years ago still applies: everyone wishes to use the state to try to live at the expense of everyone else.
Wasted hospital beds
SIR – Last Friday my grandson required urgent ear, nose and throat treatment and was unable to get any help from his GP, either remotely or face-to-face.
His discomfort was such that his parents rang the private hospital where he had been treated before. It couldn't help because it did not have NHS permission to use its facilities, in case they were needed by the NHS – extraordinary given the hiatus in coronavirus hospital admissions.
That would require appointments, for the frail and the unwell to receive advice in a face-to-face consultation. Surgeries remain locked and phone queues are prohibitively long.
Dr A C E Stacey
Buckets of bullaces
SIR – I, too, have noticed that starlings aren't eating elderberries ( Letters, September 22 ). They're not eating our bullaces – small damsons – either.
I've harvested buckets of each for our neighbours to make wine. That's the second lockdown provided for.
Welcoming back commercial freight to canals
SIR – I was delighted to see the photograph (Business, September 24) of John Branford's barge on the Aire and Calder Navigation.
However, I was dismayed to read that this was the first commercial traffic on the stretch for 19 years and that Mr Branford had endured a long battle with the Canal & River Trust. I cannot understand how the trust could be so short sighted as not to encourage commercial traffic on this length between Goole and Leeds, and also on stretches in Sheffield and South Yorkshire, which were, and should be again, valuable assets in the region's transport network.
SIR – The Canal & River Trust fully supports freight on Britain's larger industrial waterways and is delighted that the Aire and Calder Navigation is being used to import marine-dredged aggregates from Goole into Leeds.
Freight operators are already using our canals in the region, including on the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation, with all the environmental benefits waterborne freight brings.
The trust has worked hard to enable the latest trial in Leeds, and we plan to construct a 10-acre inland port further along the Aire and Calder at Stourton in east Leeds. Full planning permission has already been obtained, and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority has offered £3.37m towards the costs. The Trust is now seeking funding from Government for the balance required to deliver this. The Stourton site would initially move 200,000 tons a year of marine aggregates – the equivalent of eight barges a week, taking 7,200 lorries off the region's congested roads.
The National Trust's double standards foreseen
SIR – Simon Heffer ( "The National Trust's job is to conserve our history – not vilify its heroes" , telegraph.co.uk) did not expect that Rudyard Kipling (who won the Nobel prize in literature) would be placed "at a bargepole's length from the present generation".
Kipling was aware of double standards in his own times. In Something of Myself, he writes of "several men and an occasional woman whom [he] by no means loved…[who] asserted that the British in India spent violent lives 'oppressing' the Native. (This in a land where white girls of 16, at £12 or £14 per annum, hauled 30 and 40 pounds weight of bath-water at a time up four flights of stairs!)".
He goes on to observe that "collaborating with these gentry was a mixed crowd of wide-minded, wide-mouthed Liberals, who darkened counsel with pious but disintegrating catch-words, and took care to live very well indeed. Somewhere, playing up to them, were various journals, not at all badly written, with a most enviable genius for perverting or mistaking anything that did not suit their bilious doctrine."
Kipling's life should be chronicled, not expunged.
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