Friday, 24 April 2020

U-Turns on railways are sometimes needed!

Letter sent to The Times:

Sir, Your second leader (“Planetary Fitness,” 23 April 2020; ) makes the very important point that “virtual” business meetings have effectively replaced the face-to-face get together in the office; and that these arrangements “should stick.” 

I agree. One consequence will be a very significant drop  in work commuting into and from big cities.

This modal shift in work practices will inevitably lead to the reduced need for swift, extra rail capacity into and from London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

In this light, the recently given Government  green light to the start of phase2 construction of HS2 makes even less economic or environmental sense than ever before.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps needs to make a very unusual move in respect of a railway: a U-turn!
Letter sent to The Guardian:
I am sure millions across the nation concur with Professor Devi Sridhar’s exasperation over the ministerial mantra that government policies are based on “the science.”(Hannah Devlin, Analysis, 24 April)

Your correspondent, Carol Ferguson, (letters, 16 April) asked plaintively: why has the government got  this (its response strategy to  the Coronacrisis) so wrong?

The answer is partly given on the facing page by Professor Helen Ward (“We scientists said lock down. No one listened”).

 She also pointed out that ministers constantly repeat the mantra “ we are following the science” as if the interpretation of scientific data is uncontested. Thankfully it is not.

What Prime Minister Johnson clearly did was follow the non-scientific Ideological advice of his chief Policy advisor, Dominic Cummings- trained at Oxford University as a medievalist- to create conditions for Herd Immunity, despite the fact that the WHO had its own opposite mantra “ test, test, test!”.

Most other governments followed WHO advice.

For as yet unexplained reasons, the chief medical advisor and chief scientific advisor, Johnson’s wingmen at the Downing Street lecterns  in media briefings, agreed with a medieval historian rather than the global experts at the WHO, which incidentally is significantly funded by U.K. taxpayers.

Professor Jim Al-Khalili (“Our politicians must learn the value of doubt,” 22 April) is right to stress admitting mistakes in science is a “strength, not a weakness.”

The inescapable conclusion is the Johnson-led government has been following “politicised science.”

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