I AM astonished that, speaking with friends and former neighbours in England, there are still those who think Boris Johnson is doing a good job. He seems more obsessed with getting his plane painted red, white and blue than tackling Covid-19.

The latest news about the failure to develop a workable “test and trace” app is a further example of incompetence. Boris’s record during the pandemic has been woeful, yet his supporters still peddle the excuses that “this was entirely unprecedented” and “he has followed the scientific advice”.

Although a pandemic of this proportion has not be seen since the Spanish Flu of 1918, the Cygnus exercise in 2016 reminded the Tory government that the greatest threat to our society was not a nuclear attack, but a pandemic, and said that we were ill-prepared for such an event. A reminder by the Chief Medical Adviser in 2018 that the Cygnus recommendations had not been followed fell on deaf ears.

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As for being led by science, the SAGE group started the pandemic with ten qualified scientists and 13 political advisers. Why was it necessary to pack the committee with non-experts? The scientists who think their advice was not being taken into account have set up “SAGE independent” to voice their opinions. The number of scientists prepared to risk their reputations by working for a government which only listens if you say something they agree with has fallen.

The latest statement is that “the scientists are too busy to attend” the daily Covid-19 briefings. Believe that if you must. At the start of the epidemic, the government failed to take the decisive action to minimise transmission, such as testing at borders, social isolation and contract tracing for those who were symptomatic or tested positive for Covid-19. Instead they did nothing for three weeks, allegedly preferring “herd immunity” to medical intervention.

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Procurement of PPE, ventilators and now the tracing app followed the same catastrophic pattern. The order for new ventilators went to a vacuum maker who needed to design and test the machine, which it proved unable to do. There were ventilator makers in Europe who could have provided the equipment without the need for a design and testing phase, saving time and possibly saving lives. The government failed to join the European procurement of ventilators and PPE. As a result the stock of PPE in England remains low.

As an island, we had a great advantage over the rest of Europe when handling a pandemic, but we threw this away by delay and inaction. It was only when they realised the seriousness of the infection, and that the NHS would be unable to cope with the number of cases, that lockdown was put in place. Even then the testing regime was inadequate, never reaching its target of daily tests completed, and it was eventually abandoned.

There have been 42,000 deaths in the UK directly attributed to Covid-19. The Office for National Statistics says there have been a further 20,000 deaths over and above the norm for this time of year. Many of these will also be as a result of Covid. Comparing the government’s performance with other states shows how bad our response has been.

Boris supporters, please listen to the advice of one of the best ever football managers, Sir Alex Ferguson. He said “look under the sauce”. With the Boris government, there is no meat, it is all sauce.

Pete Rowberry

I PAID particular attention to our First Minister’s detailed statement on Thursday, describing our Government’s plan for implementing Phase 2 of our emergence from the Covid-19 lockdown.

Every schoolboy knows that the first duty of any head of government is the protection in safety of the people – a principle which to Carlaw, Leonard and Rennie is well down the scale of their priorities but which features dramatically and consistently in its importance to our First Minister.

The mountainous scale of the task of achieving Scotland’s safe, successful outcome – economic and social – is not recognised by any of the three “leaders” named, indicative of their transparent advocating of measures with no appreciation whatsoever of the means necessary for their completion.

The necessary availability to Holyrood of the magic wand required of their proposals demonstrates the sheer naivety, or destructiveness, or their willingness to risk our wellbeing in the gamble for purely political ends – the gamble of throwing caution to the wind and ploughing ahead with all kinds of regeneration schemes regardless of the continued presence of Covid-19.

The actions being taken by our government are showing success that is blatantly being ignored and discounted by Carlaw, Leonard and Rennie. Such politically motivated behaviour is beneath contempt. It is noticeable that our First Minister spoke without notes while Carlaw’s deliveries were scripted, no doubt with help from “down south”. Notable was that each opposition leader had prior sight of the First Minister’s Phase 2. I doubt if the courtesy of his oppositional output was made available to the First Minister.

Equally notable, and ignored by her opposition, was the fact that Scotland is in many respects faring better than our cousins “down south”.

There is now light at the end of the tunnel but it is not being held aloft by any of the opposition. Our First Minister and her colleagues, including her science and public health experts, are worthy of our full support, while her opponents deserve the derision they have surely earned.

J Hamilton

THE Union Jack flown upside down is a recognised distress signal. Will Boris Johnson’s aircraft have the same capability?

Les Wilson