Sir: Allison Pearson succinctly points out the absurdity of the so-called Welsh government and its assembly, now trying to masquerade as a parliament (‘Wales of grief’, 31 October).
For those of us living in Wales it is difficult to talk of the Welsh Assembly without using the F-word: failure. For the past 20 years it has failed the Welsh people at every conceivable level, while building a conceit that it is a true government. The only irony of the current Covid-19 debacle is that for once it has been forced to actually do something instead of talking endlessly around a subject before doing nothing. I have described its failure as the Sadim effect. This is the same as the Midas touch except in reverse: everything of value in Wales that it has interfered with has been reduced in value to the Welsh people.
We have also been betrayed over the past ten years by consecutive Conservative governments in Westminster that have failed to take action on behalf of Wales. They have been content to use the Labour failures in Wales as a convenient way of warning English voters of the risk of another Labour government, while leaving Wales to its ongoing fate. For devolution to really work it cannot be a one-way street whereby ambitious but incompetent regional politicians are granted more and more powers despite repeated failings. They should be stripped of their powers in those areas, such as education and health, where they are falling behind the rest of the UK and failing the people of Wales.
Sir: Allison Pearson affects concern for the country of her birth but it is clear that her attack on the Welsh government’s firebreak is nothing more than a diatribe against Wales’s right and ability to govern itself.
Now that Boris Johnson, after similarly mocking Wales’s First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has been forced into a climbdown because ‘no responsible prime minister can ignore the message’ of the rising R number, will Ms Pearson produce a similar tirade against the Westminster government?
After all, the problems she criticises in Wales are hardly unique. There are parts of England, ruled from London for more than a millennium, not merely since 1997, where school performances and NHS outcomes are no better — and often worse — than those in Wales. The north-east springs to mind. People in Gloucestershire’s most deprived area, the Forest of Dean, regularly cross the border to use Welsh GP services and associated free prescriptions. Is the pandemic also, as Ms Pearson so eloquently proclaims, ‘lifting a curtain’ on these very English tragedies?
Shot in the arm
Sir: Martin Vander Weyer is right to look forward to the arrival of one or more vaccines to help us tackle the Covid-19 pandemic (Any other business, 24 October). No vaccine in history has been as eagerly awaited.
My job, leading the government’s Vaccine Taskforce, is to drive forward the development of these vaccines. It is not, as he implies, to oversee vaccine distribution. For that, we are fortunate to have the NHS and its army of front line staff with their unmatched experience of day-to-day healthcare delivery.
The UK is at the forefront of a huge international effort to develop clinically safe and effective vaccines — from selecting the best candidates to ensuring they can be made and delivered as quickly as possible without compromising exacting safety standards.
The Vaccine Taskforce has a strategy intended to give us the greatest chance of protecting people quickly — yes; and with sustained protection from a broad portfolio of vaccines into the future too.
Clever but confused
Sir: Fraser Nelson reminds us (‘A long winter’, 31 October) of the alarmist predictions from Sage concerning the number of Covid cases and deaths we can anticipate this winter. But last week Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, stated this virus is endemic and we must learn to live with it.
Most of us with half a brain realise this but his statement can be interpreted in two ways: either we have permanent lockdown, which seems to be the most likely scenario if we follow his logic, or we have no lockdown at all as it would not have any beneficial effect. Needless to say, I (who have two scientific degrees) am confused.
More tea, vicar?
Sir: I don’t think I’ve ever disagreed with Rod Liddle on any topic, but in my part of the world scones and jam (along with cakes and sandwiches) are eaten at afternoon tea (‘The morality of free school meals’, 31 October). High tea usually comprises
Now lampoon the left
Sir: I for one don’t recognise David Hare’s Britain (Rod Liddle, 24 October), not even in the Labour stronghold of my city, where Tory-bashing is not unusual.
We have seen the Lib Dems taken apart in the BBC’s A Very English Scandal, featuring Hugh Grant’s excellent version of Jeremy Thorpe. But never in my memory have I seen a television programme of any sort about the left. With material like the silk-suited Trotskyite Derek Hatton sending out taxis with redundancy notices to his own people, there would be more than enough for a four-parter. Purely to restore balance, of course.