Readers' letters: Johnson has let us down on Covid
In August 2020 Matt Hancock said ‘the first responsibility of any government is to protect its citizens.’ In that, the UK Government has utterly failed. The People’s Covid Inquiry report issued at the end of last year had one overarching finding about the UK Government – misconduct in public office.
The indictment is searing. Pandemic preparation was woeful, the NHS was in a parlous state – too few beds, staff, a crumbling infrastructure - due to a decade of austerity and the loss of personnel from Brexit.
The UK locked down too late, failed to establish a functioning test and trace system despite squandering £37.5 billion on Serco and failed to provide adequate PPE. It ignored scientific advice. It was dishonest with the public and brazenly prioritised the private sector over the NHS, profiteering from people’s health.
It engaged in corrupt contract processes, and consistently let down front line workers. Among the world’s richest nations, Britain’s overall response has been the worst in terms of avoidable deaths.
Scotland has suffered with the rest of the UK, mitigating the UK’s incompetence and corruption where it could. Scotland has the highest UK vaccination rate and lowest infection and death rate, more consistent messaging and has maintained sensible protections.
Now Scotland will lose free tests which means we’ll be flying blind but that’s the point. With a data vacuum, the UK Government can change the narrative to suit its political ends, to keep Boris in office.
Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh.
C Scott is wrong when he writes that a contract for difference does not apply to the nuclear power industry (Letters, 21 February).
The station being constructed at Hinckley Point, guarantees the price for the electricity Hinkley will generate for 35 years.
However, in future it is proposed to finance the construction of nuclear power stations by the Regulated Asset Base (RAB) model. This allows private investors such as pension funds and insurers to finance nuclear projects and reduce reliance on overseas investors. The Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill 2021-22 is presently going through Parliament.New nuclear power stations financed through the RAB would be funded by a charge on electricity suppliers, who are expected to pass the cost on to consumers.
Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh.
Elections Bill fear
The Ballot Act of 1872 decreed that everyone had the right to vote in secret. Despite this, four in five blind people still say they are unable to vote independently, in practice meaning they often have to share their voting choice with someone else.
The new Elections Bill at Westminster will only make this worse if passed.
Under current law, every polling station must have a device to make voting possible “without any assistance” for voters with sight loss. The Elections Bill drops this guarantee for UK-wide elections, making voting independently a postcode lottery for blind and partially sighted people.
We urgently call on Secretary of State Michael Gove MP and Parliamentarians of all parties in Westminster to maintain existing requirements that enable blind and partially sighted people to vote independently and in secret.
Please back RNIB’s petition by visiting our website www.rnib.org.uk.
James Adams, RNIB Scotland.
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