SIR – As Olaf Scholz, the new Chancellor of Germany, and Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, propose mandatory vaccines, it has never been clearer that any such move highlights the failure of governments to create the case for voluntary compliance.
The countries keenest to follow this path appear to be the ones with the least political accountability. EU countries with proportional representation and overshadowed by Brussels seem readiest to swap persuasion for authoritarianism.
SIR – I think I can safely say that the Armed Forces personnel involved in the booster vaccination programme will carry out their duties efficiently and cheerfully with no reward other than the feeling that they are serving their country and making a contribution to the community.
GPs, on the other hand, need to be bribed: £15 a throw, £20 on Sunday and £30 to administer to some poor soul who is housebound.
The BMA and its greedy members should be ashamed of themselves.
Colonel Mark Rayner (retd)
SIR – If qualified medics are too busy to give booster jabs, why are volunteers not used? Administering an injection requires very little skill and, if a controlled environment is provided, could easily be done by volunteers.
The Red Cross, St John Ambulance and Scouting movement have mature, trained first-aiders. Volunteers do not seek extra payment, they work evenings and weekends and are open to challenges and extra training. In past crises, volunteer organisations have been integral to a co-ordinated, efficient response; why not in this one?
Michael A Fopp
SIR – What on earth is going on? Our super-efficient vaccination centre in Bracknell is entirely staffed by volunteers – doctors, nurses and others doing it in their own time and for no reward.
On my frequent visits with elderly patients the place is almost empty, with vaccinators waiting for patients.
Now the Government proposes to pay doctors a bonus for administering the jab. How crazy is this?
SIR – Why cannot those who had no ill effects from the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine be given that in the next round of jabs, saving millions of pounds and showing faith in our home-grown vaccination?
SIR – Peter H York ( Letters, December 2 ) asks for a lockdown to solve the problem sooner. May I ask how long for? Lockdowns do not get rid of Covid; they reduce the infection rate among people. The last lockdown ended once we were all vaccinated. We had light at the end of the tunnel. What are we waiting for this time?
And when the next variant arrives? We'll be in perpetual lockdown.
As Boris Johnson said, we have to live with Covid.
SIR – Victor Launert ( Letters, November 30 ) likens mask scepticism to questioning turning lights off and closing curtains during the Blitz.
But the early days of blackout led to needless deaths from poor lighting on the roads. The King's surgeon wrote in the British Medical Journal that by "frightening the nation into blackout regulations, the Luftwaffe was able to kill 600 British citizens a month without ever taking to the air".
The point is the unintended consequences of such blanket policies. In a free and liberal society, especially during times of fear, asking "Why should I?" is more important than ever.
No power all week
SIR – We have had no power since Storm Arwen took out the electricity at our farm. This means no boiler, and, as we rely on a well (like most remote properties here), no water either. Were it not for coal stoves and wood burners we would be in serious trouble, which is why most homes here have stoves as backup. Yet the Government wants to move us all to electric heating, so it is merrily taxing oil and coal.
Northern Powergrid is struggling to reconnect thousands of homes. We've had no update, and I can't help noticing the Government's indifference.
SIR – I was diagnosed with a similar condition to Ray Illingworth's oesophageal cancer ( "Illingworth backs calls for assisted dying", report, November 30 ). A consultant told me to get my affairs in order and take a good holiday, as I had six months to live.
I got a second opinion from America, had major surgery, and recovered. But six months later I was diagnosed with bone cancer, and was again told that it was incurable. I went back to America, where the diagnosis was reversed.
This was in 2002, 19 years ago. If assisted dying had been legal I might well have chosen it.
Not so many swifts
SIR – We have long had swifts nesting on our house, built in 1553 ( "Modern houses with no nooks land swifts on endangered list", report, December 1 ). In the past five years, fewer have come. They have two broods a year here, and I'd suggest numbers have fallen due to predation where they migrate to, rather than lack of insects here.
Their arrival marks the beginning of summer and their departure its end. What joy these little flying machines bring!
H J Clark
SIR – In 1976, I bought a Creda tumble dryer. It still works well ( "Still working flat out", report, December 1 ).
Since then I have replaced six washing machines, the latest recalled by Whirlpool.
Recorders: a defence
SIR – Ken Atkinson ( Letters, December 2 ) is being a little unfair to the recorder.
In proficient hands it is a noble thing. However, it suffers from being one of those instruments that is easy to play badly and rather difficult to play well – unlike say, the violin, which is difficult to play in any fashion, or the French horn, which is hard to get a noise from at all.
The recorder also has the misfortune of being cheap and easy to fit into a school satchel, which is why it has been foisted on reluctant musicians for generations.
If something more demanding, like the cello, had been adopted at school assemblies, millions of parents and neighbours might have been spared the torture of indifferent musicianship – and the recorder would have a different reputation.
SIR – As a former head of music, I am glad it is open season on the recorder.
A friend always mentions, with a wry smile, the performance of the "Rockin' Recorders" as the highlight of many a school concert, while a former primary school teacher talks of 40 children "tuning up" their disinfected recorders in a distant hut.
I can't think of anything worse. Well, maybe the bagpipes.
The point of Brexit
SIR – Philip Duly ( Letters, December 1 ) thinks that most people voted to leave the EU because they wanted Britain to become a European Singapore.
A few probably did, but most simply wanted Britain to be an independent country. They hoped for good public services funded by the minimum responsible level of taxation, and an economy supporting entrepreneurial capitalism and open for free trade (provided it is fair trade), with sensible, not excessive, regulation. Boris Johnson's Government is doing a good job.
SIR – With regard to gendered language ( Comment, December 2 ), a Swedish friend, who is a retained firefighter in Wincanton, proudly describes herself as a brandman when we speak in Swedish.
Immortalised as a coded rugby lineout call
SIR – I was interested to read the article ( Sport, November 24 ) on rugby at the John Fisher School, Purley. I was the first female teacher to work there in the early 1970s, and the peak of my achievements was to be a lineout call – Doris – for the Second XV. It's good to see that the support of staff and parents is still going strong 50 years later.
The risky art of charging home for Christmas
SIR – Chris Rea's time of arrival home for Christmas ( Letters, December 1 ) may depend on his finding sufficient charging points for his electric car.
SIR – My Christmas began with the arrival of The Daily Telegraph 's entertaining and thought-provoking book of unpublished letters, Wake Me Up When It's All Over .
One particularly appealed to me, as it demonstrates the importance of punctuation. Clare Gill writes: "Meanwhile, 'No' voters across Scotland are purchasing popcorn."
Wrongly punctuated, the sentence would indicate a big downturn in sales for popcorn-makers.
SIR – What has the BBC been doing with our licence fees if it has not been making new programmes ( report, December 1 )? This year's Christmas offerings are exactly the same as last year's. Can't it at least trawl its archive to give viewers a merry Christmas?
SIR – I wonder how many people realise that it now costs the same to send a Christmas card to Australia as it does to send one from London to Paris? Postage for the smallest and lightest card costs £1.70 to anywhere outside the United Kingdom, even across the Northern Ireland border.
This revised pricing came into effect on January 1 2021. Far from becoming "Global Britain" we seem to be fencing ourselves in.
SIR – Alan Simpson ( Letters, November 29 ) says that it's the cost of postage that deters people from sending Christmas cards.
In 1958, when I started work at Eastbourne post office, the cost of sending a letter was 3d (a little more than 1p). A portion of chips was also 3d.
Today, the chips cost £2.50, while a second-class stamp is just 66p. I think 66p for collecting, sorting and delivering cards to any of 30 million addresses nationally represents extremely good value for money. So please, stop knocking the Royal Mail.
Letters to the Editor
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