Recorder letters: Boris Johnson, coronavirus, Brexit and more.

PUBLISHED: 12:00 05 April 2020

Screen grab of Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressing the nation from 10 Downing Street, London, as he placed the UK on lockdown as the Government seeks to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Picture: PA Video

Screen grab of Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressing the nation from 10 Downing Street, London, as he placed the UK on lockdown as the Government seeks to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Picture: PA Video

PA Wire/PA Images

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Recorder readers this week.

Thank God for Boris Johnson

Terence F Matthews LL B (Hons), Clement Way, Upminster, writes:

I thought I had heard it all from Cllr David Durant but his letter in last week’s Romford Recorder exceeded all of his other attempts to put the world to rights.

What we need from our local politicians is positive actions to assist in fighting the Covid-19 virus not knocking, for political reasons, the measurers taken.

As somebody who is well known not to be a fan of the local Tories, I think Boris and the cabinet members are fighting a blinder and are showing real leadership.

Thank God we ended up with Boris.

Only by working together can we beat this disease

Cllr Damian White Leader of Havering Council, writes:

I read Cllr David Durant’s letter in last week’s Recorder almost in a state of amazement. It is clear he is totally out of step with what is going on.

Let us be clear, this is one of the most unprecedented times in any of our lifetimes. Coronavirus or Covid -9 is affecting everybody.

In response, there has been such an outpouring of support across our communities helping these suffering. This highlights a great strength of our borough and I wish to thank them.

The government’s had no choice but to bring in lockdown for people across the country. Asking people to socially isolate clearly was a tough choice to make – but it could save lives.

Cllr Durant wants to risk people’s lives by his blinkered approach – social gatherings mean this dreadful disease is spread more quickly. This would put additional pressure on our stretched NHS service

I therefore urge everybody to follow the government and NHS advice on this. I would also like residents to look out for those who are vulnerable and to let us know.

We are in this together – and only together can we beat this dreadful disease.

That old devil called Brexit again?

David Hughes, media officer, Barking, Dagenham and Havering Green Party, writes:

Perusing the opinions page in the Recorder recently, I jumped right into the article titled “Wrong to cancel local elections” and read with astonishment the view that, of Coronavirus, “it is sensible to say it’s just a form of flu as there are flus all the time, and far worse than Coronavirus….”

Then I noticed the author, Cllr, Durant, the councillor with a pre-historic grasp of science who seems, when actually applying any critical thinking, to have an appreciation of complex issues considerably less than that of an average pre-schooler.

It was astonishing to read that the Cllr felt, even with the possibility of postal voting, that the elections could safely go ahead and that somehow the counting of votes and all of the necessary logistic, checks and administration was compatible with “social distancing” and the required levels of decontamination necessary to keep the spread of this virus manageable.

The experiences of other countries principally Italy and up to date information the WHO, available when the Cllr was penning his misinformed “opinion”, confirmed death rates of 5 per cent of those infected from Covid-19, principally older people and those with underlying health issues.

Maybe the councillor, felt that “Johnny Foreigner” was not only intellectually inferior but less resistant to viruses than British people. That old devil called Brexit again?

In typical crass and ignorant style the councillor suggests at the end of his “opinion” that the pandemic is just another hoax - like climate change!

Politicians elected to make decisions

Cllr David Durant, Crime and Disorder committee, writes:

Council officers, civil servants and experts are paid to advise whereas politicians are elected to decide and then held accountable at elections.

This is the way democracy should work because politicians rather than civil servants are meant to be held accountable for decisions taken.

However many politicians seek to avoid being held accountable by saying, “you can’t blame me, I was just following expert advice”, (often after telling the experts what they want to hear)!

The problem with experts is they are qualified to give expert opinion but not qualified to give sensible opinion. That is they “go by the book” whereas sensible opinion involves applying common sense.

The other problem is expert opinion can vary depending on their integrity and who’s paying them, hence the phrase “the best legal opinion money can buy”, or you get the expert opinion you pay for!

This problem with expert opinion was highlighted by their alarmist claim 500,000 could die from the coronavirus and advising the government to impose a (irrational) national curfew to tackle the virus.

In other words the experts were “going by the book” and offering the worst case scenario, leaving it to the politician to look at the bigger picture, apply common sense and introduce sensible measures to tackle the virus.

Alas the politician, in this case the prime minster, ducked his duty to apply common sense and instead chose to agree with “the best expert opinion money can buy”, (wrecking the economy), for which he should be held accountable.

Dangerous and puerile ramblings

Cllr Jason Frost, cabinet member for Public Health, writes:

I would like to address few comments in response to the puerile and frankly dangerous ramblings of Cllr David Durant regarding the current public health emergency.

Now regular readers of these pages will already be well aware that the Cllr Durant maintains views which the overwhelming majority of residents will no doubt find quite abhorrent.

Knowing this, we should not really be surprised to hear that Cllr Durant thinks that the current pandemic is nothing more than an elaborate government conspiracy to curtail our parliamentary democracy.

I would relegate such an analysis to the ‘not worthy of a response’ file if it were not such a serious situation.

People are dying, and many more will die before this is over Cllr Durant. And because people in positions of civic leadership like yourself peddle these unsubstantiated conspiracy tales and package them as ‘fact’ cited supposed experts (you refer to the left-wing politician and senior health official Dr Wolfgang Wodarg - a man who has been denounced by the scientific community in Germany and by Transparency International for the poor standards of his scholarship) the timely interventions of the British Government to try to protect the population (interventions advised by the chief medical officer, the chief scientist, the NHS and leading universities) will be progressively undermined.

We are blessed to live in a free liberal democracy, and many of us rightly brace at government instructions preventing living our lives as we see fit.

This is not something that any British Government seeks to any lightly, nor will they wish to do so permanently.

The only barrier to the lifting of these barriers to our freedom Cllr Durant are people like yourselves who argue that we shouldn’t listen to sensible advice in times of crisis.

Governments ran down our services

A Hiley, Ockenden Road, Upminster, writes:

I would like to pay tribute to all who are affected by the coronavirus, to also praise all the emergency services, store workers for giving their all and doing the best they can.

This virus will be gone soon but I would like to condemn the successive governments of all the three incompetent parties who have run down our public and armed services.

Sadiq Khan is a disgrace for continuing his opportunistic party, student politics instead of blaming government will not help.

This country must move on from this and start electing alternatives to the stale LibLabCon party who have run down our vital services.

Virus war reminds me of the Blitz

William Swain, Barnstaple Road, Harold Hill, writes:

It is most heartening to see how people across Havering are pulling together and teaming up to help the elderly and the most in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

In many ways, it reminds me of the hardship and challenges that I and many others faded during and after the devastating London Blitz. However, we are now fighting an enemy we cannot see and at present have no effective weapons with which to fight this dreadful disease.

People of my fading generation are the last of the few and, over the years, life has shown me that in times of strife and calamity it can bring out the worst in some people (panic buying and hoarding for instance), but thankfully, and by far, it engenders a strong sense of personal responsibility and public duty.

As you quite rightly say, if we all work together, we will get through this crisis and beat this ghastly virus.

Please keep up the good work at the Recorder and, on behalf of all the elderly and vulnerable in Havering, a very big thank you for your sterling efforts.

Time for education service to step up

Steve O’Hara, director of education, Exemplar Education, writes:

You may also want to watch:

As schools are now in lockdown, I am pleased to say that Exemplar Education is making its entire Maths library of over 2,000 online maths lessons (for Year 1 to GCSE) available to all UK children free of charge.

The website is

With millions of parents now thinking about how to ensure continuity of learning, is it not time more businesses in the education community stepped up to support the nation’s families and children?

As schools grind to a halt for all but the children of key workers, the parents doing their very best at home, need resources to hand.

I encourage others in the education community to open up access to their home based solutions and join us in supporting parents and families everywhere.

Good bless our national health

Marie Wilkinson, Marks Road, Romford, writes:

How can we thank the NHS?

They are working around the clock

And doing their best

They’re saving peoples lives

and putting their own at risk

fighting this virus

and boy it does persist

They’re paid so little

Yet do so much

And so many hearts

they reach out and touch

There are no words

That we can all say

Except thankyou all

Each and every day

They are the angels we adore

And we could never forget

Their hard work that’s for sure

God bless you all

In our hearts you will always remain

For you stood by us all

and eased so much pain

You deserve so much

and even more

God bless the national heath

That’s for sure

Top tips on avoiding scams

Angela Rippon CBE, ambassador, Alzheimer’s Society, writes:

As the world faces the unprecedented challenge presented by the Covid-19 virus pandemic, people living with dementia face the greatest threat. Government advice says that men and women in the UK with chronic neurological conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus and are asked to stay at home for an extensive period. For the 850,000 people living with dementia, their loved ones and their carers, the situation is causing panic, stress and anxiety.

To add to the stress, fraudsters are exploiting the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus to help commit various types of fraud and cyber crime. For some people, Covid-19 may increase their susceptibility to the risk of financial abuse due to being home alone, answering telephones, being on the internet more than usual and potentially trusting others with their cash to buy supplies.

We are calling on people affected by dementia in the UK – whether you’re living with dementia, supporting or caring for someone living with the condition – to follow and share Alzheimer’s Society’s top tips on avoiding scams. This could have a huge impact in helping protect people affected by dementia from falling victim of scams during this period.

Current corona-themed scams include: fraudulent sellers claiming to sell protective face masks that haven’t arrived, paying for tests which do not exist, emails that appear to be from a legitimate company or government department attempting to trick you into clicking on a malicious link and providing sensitive information, and door-knockers using coronavirus as a guise to gain entry to homes and steal money.

Some older people living with dementia may not be familiar with handling emails and surfing the internet, meaning they can be easy targets for scammers. To avoid scams online:

• Check you’re buying from a real company. You can search for a company’s details on Gov.UK. This will tell you if they’re a registered company or not.

• Check to see what people have said about the company. It’s worth looking for reviews on different websites such as Which? – don’t rely on reviews the company has put on its own website.

• If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.

• If you get an email from a company with a strange email address or one that has never emailed you before asking you for money/payment unexpectedly, don’t click on links to download anything. Doing this could infect your computer with a virus. Make sure your antivirus software is up to date to give you more protection.

• There is also plenty of Covid-19 information available online from reputable sources, including Alzheimer’s Society, Gov.UK, and the WHO.

With people affected by dementia now being isolated in their own homes, they may be more likely to answer their door bell and interact with door to door scammers. To avoid falling victim of a face to face scam:

Don’t feel pressured to accept help from a stranger. Never hand-over money, bank details or bank cards to someone you don’t know who is offering to help you. Offers of help for most things should be free of charge, for example dog walking or fetching medication.

• If someone offers to do your shopping, ask for a receipt so that you can pay them on their return to cover the cost of the items.

• If someone claims to be from a recognised organisation, then don’t be afraid to ask to see proof (eg ID card) or check with the organisation itself.

• If possible, call a friend or family member to discuss the help you’ve been offered.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Alzheimer’s Society is providing advice and practical tips for people living with dementia and those supporting them – either in the same household or from a distance. Anyone affected by dementia can call their support line on 0333 150 3456.

Vulnerable children need your help

Nadiya Hussain and Rosemary Shrager, c/o PLATE UP, write:

We find ourselves writing this in uncertain times.

The past two weeks have seen all of us have to change our lifestyles dramatically, and come together as one.

Every area of our lives has been turned upside down, and for the first time in living memory many families have had to consider what life would be like if they didn’t have enough food to eat.

Thankfully, the brilliant people working hard to keep producing and delivering the food we need have come to the fore, and there is more than enough food for us all, as long as we are careful with our buying choices.

However, for 4.1m UK children living in poverty, this is not the case, and their reality is that they go hungry every day they’re not at school.

This malnourishment risks long-term physical and mental health difficulties, including poor growth, diabetes, mood swings, and lowered immune systems.

Not to mention reduced learning capabilities simply because of being hungry.

Fifteen per cent of UK kids are considered most vulnerable to food poverty, and in your area schools work hard to ensure they get at least one good meal a day during term time with the free school meals programme. However, during traditional school holidays this Holiday Hunger becomes a massive issue, when children can go weeks without a good meal. The ongoing crisis we find ourselves in now means that these kids are facing the prospect of being off school for a very long time. Where is their next meal coming from?

Children will be going hungry in your area today, and local schools are doing what they can, but we can all do more to help. Around the country Oasis UK’s PLATE UP campaign helps the most vulnerable children get nourishing healthy meals when schools are closed, and learn valuable cooking skills to support their families in future.

These children need us all more than ever, and there is a way to help.

As supporters of PLATE UP, we are urging your readers to stand with us and donate £5 to help feed two hungry children during these difficult times, by texting PLATEUP to 70085.

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