We know that this government has both anti-democratic and authoritarian tendencies, given that it has already unlawfully prorogued parliament, would like to reimpose first-past-the-post voting in local elections and is keen to clamp down on the right to lawful and peaceful protest. It needs to be kept under close and sustained scrutiny if we are to prevent an ongoing erosion of our civil liberties.
However, these serious matters are separate from the argument about vaccine passports and the concerns about two queues at the cinema raised by Shami Chakrabarti on the Today programme.
It is clear that mass vaccination is the only way out of this pandemic and that we all have a responsibility to be inoculated if we are able. We should draw a clear distinction between those unable to have the vaccine for medical reasons and those who don’t like being told what to do. This latter group needs to understand that, while they have a perfect right not to protect themselves, they do not have the same right to undermine the protection afforded to genuinely vulnerable people, nor to increase the opportunity for the virus to mutate.
Whether we like it or not, rights and responsibilities go hand in hand. If we want to be able to enjoy the convivial events we all crave, demonstrating immunity or having a recent negative test is a small price to pay, especially given the consequences of further outbreaks.
The 70 or so MPs who are campaigning against these measures would be better employed focusing on genuine threats to our democracy, of which, I fear, there will be no shortage in the coming years.
I am aghast that Keir Starmer thinks that vaccine passports “go against British instincts”.
The British people have always believed in protecting the poor, weak and vulnerable, which is why the vast majority have spent the last year isolating, wearing masks when in public, and are even now rushing to get the vaccinations that protect not only us but those around us. We also expect, as is our right, that the government do their bit, by protecting us from the fools and thugs who refuse to follow the very sensible advice on distancing, wearing masks, partying, and who are also refusing, for whatever reason, said vaccinations.”
Not only should business owners, publicans and shopkeepers be given the right to ask for proof of vaccination, the police should also be authorised to carry out checks that anyone out in public is not a threat, by demanding proof of vaccination or medical reason for not being vaccinated.
In response to a letter from Jade Bandit (‘Stamp out Covid with passports,’ 1 April), I would like to advise that I am not a non-believer in Covid-19, but by the same token I choose not to have the vaccination. And no, I am not an anti-vaxxer, either.
There are several reasons I have chosen not to be inoculated at this point but find it extremely unfair that my rights to enjoy the freedoms of others should be potentially withdrawn because of vaccine passports.
Are we seeing a new pandemic, whereby intelligent people are being denied their right to research, analyse and think for themselves? I believe it’s called herd mentality?
We need a leader like Starmer
While much of what Mary Dejevsky says of the Johnson-Starmer popularity ratings is accurate (‘Boris Johnson has had a better pandemic than Keir Starmer – by a long way’, 2 April) she omits to mention that Johnson’s so-called “brio” is founded upon obfuscation and lies, bolstered by an inability or unwillingness to answer questions, a refusal to be held accountable for anything and supported by a cabinet of incompetents.
So why do we accept that democracy is just a rhetorical conceit and that this is the “just the way things are these days”? Could it be that we have been seduced by easy slogans and soundbite politics for so long that we have lost our desire or capacity to think? When Johnson uttered the vacuous line, “we have always done the best we could” (who would do anything but), he gave those of us who are unprepared to think the easy line to excuse his woeful leadership.
The “Boris” brand continues to groom a nation and persuade it to adopt regressive, jingoistic and autocratic attitudes that are devoid of any values that are concerned with equality, wellbeing and a more responsible future.
Starmer may have the personality of a civil servant and lack political “charm” but he does have integrity and is a man of principle. By being cautious and playing his cards close to his chest, he is not articulating a vision and passion to counter Johnson’s bluster. Circumstances have been against him; the nation craves reassurance and optimism, so doesn’t think much of carping criticism.
However, he needs to be rougher with Johnson, catch him unawares, expose him for what he is and articulate a vision for the future that the nation can adopt as its own. The problem is that Johnson will continue to over-promise on anything that Starmer says, while under-delivering when the electorate’s attention strays.
I was amazed to read Mary Dejevsky’s article claiming that Boris Johnson is a better communicator than Keir Starmer. Johnson is a poor speaker, a stuttering mumbler who cannot put a fluent, coherent sentence together. Starmer speaks clearly and concisely and gets to the point without waffle.
I am not a Labour supporter but I would much rather have Starmer as prime minister, as someone whose judgement is sound, who can be understood and trusted and whose personal conduct does not give cause for ridicule.
Since it looks like we may be stuck with taking precautions for a good while longer yet, can we please stop calling the masks that we wear in public “face masks”? I don’t wear foot socks, bum pants or hand gloves, so why the compulsion to preface the items with “face”?
Yes, the garments are worn on our faces but they don’t even cover them. Face mask would surely be more appropriate to describe something that was worn as a disguise. Simply “masks” is more than sufficient for the items in question, or “breathing masks” if one feels compelled to add specificity, since they cover the mouth and (unless worn incorrectly) the nose.
I realise that the wave of contagion which has swept the planet has had a number of far more significant downsides, but every time I hear the term “face mask” I wince.
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