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Letters to the Fenland Citizen editor – July 1, 2020

All that scrimping and saving a total waste

I see COVID is nearly over.

To save big business and the country’s economy instead of our personal health, and human welfare, the five star rating has been reduced so that we can stand one metre apart instead of two metres.

Clearly it is safe to be one metre apart, then all distancing should be reduced to one metre for less confusion!

So, one metre? That’s the average of three people standing in a queue and the piggy in the middle leaves and makes a gap!

The two metre distance is a typical queue at the checkouts with a shopping trolley’s length between you and the person in front.

Why didn’t we just lockdown/self-distance and isolate from March to September 202 and then tear up the barricades?

It’s sadly ironic that we are set to reverse all the savings made by the Conservatives, from central Government funding since Margaret Thatcher came to power, all that scrimping, saving, social repression and subjection has been a total waste of time and effort since 1979?

Mr Levic


John Dodd took this lovely picture at Gault Wood, March. (37531220)
John Dodd took this lovely picture at Gault Wood, March. (37531220)

Question on memorial... and Brexit Party

What’s the situation over the Chatteris RAF Memorial?

The last I heard was that they had selected a large rock and it was just saving up the last pennies to get one with it - and that was about two years ago.

On another issue, can anyone explain where the Brexit group and Nigel Farage have disappeared to?

After UKIP won the campaign to leave the EU, they said they had lots of local social policies aimed at making life for ordinary people a lot better, then they disappeared off the planet into the mists of time.

Now we have the one party agenda Brexit party. Nigel Farage received his three million severance golden hand shake from the EU Parliament and disappeared off planet Earth.

Has Nigel ever heard that song ‘Now I see your true colours shining through’?

So, we’re back to the three main political parties again as usual.

Wouldn’t these ‘leave the EU’ parties have been better named ‘my agenda single policy party’ or ‘the self-preservation society’ and drive around in Mini Coopers?

Mr Donaldson


Remodelling engine might not change the direction

Some Westminster observers were surprised, and there were some eyebrows raised too. Even in more straightforward times, let alone the agonies of the Brexit process and a change of prime minister, each of those jobs would have been more than enough for most mere mortals.

But the tensions of the coronavirus crisis and Boris Johnson’s team’s desire for reform have brought his time to an end.

There has been frustration in No 10 at how the Cabinet Office, meant to be the government’s powerhouse, performed during the coronavirus crisis.

On the other side, there is deep concern in Whitehall circles tonight about how the government perceives the impartial civil service.

But this is not about one person alone. While most people’s attention was on the health emergency of the coronavirus crisis, and how the country might start to make its way out of it, the government’s published road map included in black and white a very bold indicator of what might come. Which focused on how ministers planned to cope with the crisis, and then find a way out.

It said, “As the government navigates towards recovery, it must ensure it learns the right lessons from this crisis and acts now to ensure that governmental structures are fit to cope with a future epidemic, including the prospect of an outbreak of a second epidemic - for example, a pandemic flu, while the government is still responding to COVID-19.

“This will require a rapid re-engineering of government’s structures and institutions to deal with this historic emergency and also build new long-term foundations for the UK, and to help the rest of the world.”

A “rapid re-engineering” of the state is quite the intention. Most experienced civil servants acknowledge that there are things that the system can do better. The coronavirus crisis has forced government to act in ways unimaginable a few months ago.

“You never want this to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.” No 10 hopes that slimming down and then super-charging the Cabinet Office will make for a more responsive and more efficient way of doing business.

But Whitehall reform can consume the attention and effort of the very people who are charged with making policy happen. Remodelling the engine does not necessarily change the direction of any government. Politicians are still the ones that hold the wheel. After Whitehall drama, the government will hope this week to focus on plans for what happens on the ground.

J White


Aid is only one side of the equation

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced in parliament the merging of the Department for International Development (DfID) into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

Playing to his cheering audience of right-wing backbenchers and the Daily Mail, Johnson chimed: “For too long, frankly, UK overseas aid has been treated like a giant cashpoint in the sky, that arrives without any reference to UK interests.”

The DfID was established in 1997 by the Blair government to separately administer aid following the Pergau Dam scandal.

This scandal involved the 1980s Thatcher government committing to spend an eventual £234 million of aid to build an electricity generating dam of dubious economic value in Malaysia, in exchange for a lucrative arms deal. In 1994 the High Court ruled the deal “unlawful”.

Currently, a quarter of the DfID’s £15.2 billion budget is spent by other government departments, including the FCO, and used to advance trade deals and so forth.

Aid, or international charity, is only one side of the equation. Away from the headlines, huge amounts of financial resources are drained from poor countries into the advanced capitalist countries. Debt and interest repayments, repatriated profits and incomes, as well as unrecorded capital transfers, and false accountancy measures by big business, means that on a global scale, for every $1 of aid that so-called developing countries receive, they lose $24 in net outflows.

Illegal capital flight would not be possible without the existence of tax havens, and the biggest network of tax havens is centred on the City of London, operating through the British Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories.

While complaining about the “giant cashpoint in the sky,” Johnson is presiding over a system that organises mass theft from poor countries.

John Smithee


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