Letters - Thursday, May 20, 2021
Travel ban delay was dangerous and tragic
In order to establish how and why the Indian coronavirus variant has entered the UK, it is worth establishing a timeline.
March 22: BBC reports sharp rise in Covid-19 cases in India is “alarming”.
March 25: BBC reports “Double mutant” variant found in India.
April 2: Bangladesh and Pakistan are put on the travel red list; India is not, despite having a higher incidence than the other two countries.
April 18: Labour urges that India be put on the red list.
April 19: Boris Johnson cancels his trip to India, scheduled to leave on April 23. India is put on the red list, but only from 4am on April 23.
April 19-23: Thousands arrive back from India so as not to incur the cost of hotel quarantine. No-one is prevented from using public transport.
As a desperate compensation for the economically detrimental Brexit deal, trade deals, or even the mirage of trade deals, have become of the utmost importance for this Government.
It is obvious that India was not put on the red list because of Boris Johnson’s proposed visit.
The tragic result, once more, is that this dangerous delay has put at risk the lives of British citizens.
Face up to some hard truths
The Labour Party has long been fractured between democratic socialists and fanatical ‘revolutionaries’, but two new fault-lines appear to have developed between ‘metropolitan’ Labour and, for want of a better word, ‘northern’ Labour, and between the Paymasters – (trade unions) – and the flock – individual members.
Much to the horror of socialists, many members of the proletariat transferred readily to membership of the petit bourgeoisie, and the collapse of traditional mass-employment extractive and service industries saw the Party’s foundational base shift – a feature made worse by the erosion of organised labour in the form of declining mass trade union participation.
Furthermore, the rise of Scottish nationalism severely damaged the party north of the border.
Demographic factors of aging population compounded the difficulty, since many of the elderly during their lifetime manage to accumulate capital which, not unnaturally, they wish to keep within the family and pass down to the next generation.
These are not just problems about lack of listening, they arise as much from a lack of seeing.
It is worth remembering that New Labour was invented because Old Labour couldn’t get elected.
New Labour did, at least, recognise some of these changed realities; while the Old Labourites railed against an electorate that had changed beyond all recognition.
The old root structure that kept the Labour Party tree upright and nourished has withered, and I am not sure that the party grasps fully the extent to which it has self-toxified its brand across large swathes of the North.
The party may consider changing leadership, but that’s a bit of a problem when the talent pool is fairly small and takes time to nurture and grow.
Whether the party can be held together into some sort of settled coherence sufficiently long enough for Labour to regain its former position and glory is a moot point.
The party is going to have to face up to some hard truths.
If history is any guide, they’ll do anything and everything to avoid doing so.
Keeping our plant heritage
Plant Heritage, a leading horticultural conservation charity, is calling for volunteers from Lancashire to help save ten different plant groups at risk of being lost from our gardens.
Anyone with a passion for plants, or whose interest in gardening or caring for houseplants was sparked during 2020’s lockdowns, is being asked to consider looking after a specific plant group as part of Plant Heritage’s annual ‘Missing Genera’ campaign.
Each year the Missing Genera showcases different plant groups that aren’t cared for as part of a ‘National Plant Collection’.
If plants aren’t being actively conserved in these collections, they are at risk of disappearing from cultivation. This year, the ten plant varieties in need of a home are: campanula; erigeron; lysimachia; papaver; phormium; phygelius; pittosporum; sansevieria; silene (campions) and zantedeschia (arum lilies). To find out more, visit www.plantheritage.org.uk
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