As much as I take no delight in, once again, raising Covid-19 and the farcical mismanagement of it by our Government on your letters page, regrettably, the issue continues to dominate all our lives.

From this week, apparently despite overwhelming view by the Cabinet committee overseeing Covid-19 response, the health secretary has used emergency powers to limit gatherings to a maximum of six in both public and private places. This includes my back garden and my front room and is enacted without any oversight by Parliament.

Surely, such restrictions on our fundamental freedoms should not be decided by one man because he has made such a dogs dinner of a response to the crisis?

Now we have the ridiculous situation where university students are being urged to return the their halls of residence while all their teaching is moved online, where kids are back in school and everyone who has had the opportunity of working from home must return to the office but we can’t be trusted to look after ourselves without threats of neighbourhood wardens or fines and arrests by a police service patently unable to enforce these restrictions across every household.

Throughout this disaster the Prime Minister, his Cabinet and his lickspittle supporters in the House of Commons, have, if one wanted to introduce a comic touch, acted more akin to The Muppet Show than responsible, elected, Members of Parliament.

However, this is not a time for hilarity when one deluded and delusional minister can impose draconian limits on the public in their private places.

We have had Prime Ministerial promises of ‘turning the tide’ and sending Coronavirus packing in 12 weeks (March 2020) a ‘world beating track and trace system’ (May 2020), a contact tracing app in place by June (May 2020) none of which have been delivered due, in no small part, to the lack of any intellectual rigour at the head of Government. Indeed, so inept is the Prime Minister that he now asks the Speaker of the House to allow more members into the chamber, presumably so he can have his Parliamentary Private Secretary and MP for Copeland, Trudy Harrison, sit behind him to pass notes and soundbites to him during PMQs.

Alongside all of this we have the Government sticking two fingers up to the very people we are supposedly negotiating a trade deal with, thereby putting to bed any notion that our word is our bond.

Surely, it is time to let the curtain fall on this unseemly episode of The Muppet Show and get rid of the whole sorry lot of them.



Save our farm standards

As politicians return to parliament after their summer break, they are faced with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to protect the UK’s farm animal welfare standards. Failure to act now could result in a catastrophic weakening of the hard-won protections for millions of animals in this country

We are calling on the people of Cumbria to sign our petition urging Government to ban lower standard imports.

With three months until Brexit, the increasing risk of there being no deal with our European neighbours, and as a net importer of nearly 40% of our food, the vast majority coming from the EU, the Government has to feed the nation. Manifesto promises and pronouncements guaranteeing to protect our high welfare standards as we seek new trade deals around the globe have not been backed up by the legal protections that are essential to ensure the Government does not roll back on their commitment to protect British farmers and their animals.

The realities of chlorine washed chicken and hormone-treated beef ending up on our supermarket shelves have been well documented, but British consumers also face having products from pigs produced using sow stalls, banned in the UK since 1999, and egg products from laying hens kept in barren battery cages, also illegal in this country since 2012.

Lords are due to discuss this vital issue this week, and how we feed the nation and crucially where it comes from and how it is produced is becoming an increasingly pressing issue and we know the public back our campaign to protect and enhance our food standards.

Without clear legislation banning food produced to lower welfare standards from our shores, we rely totally on political promises and risk setting back animal welfare by decades, causing the suffering of more animals to produce the food on our plates and failing to protect British farmers.

We urge UK shoppers to sign our petition at


Chief executive, RSPCA

Fitting birthday tribute to fitness guru

I HAVE always been an admirer of fitness guru and personal trainer Barry Johnson of Eaglesfield (“Mr Motivator kept us all fit and connected”, Times & Star Person of the Week, September 10), not least for his witty one-line jokes.

Adding 10 years to the Biblical milestone of three-score-years-and-ten is a congratulatory achievement for everyone.

As for Barry, his fitness at age 80 is unsurprising. For this work-out fanatic, his bike says it all. He gives no quarter to the current e-bike trend. A tork-assisted battery would be unthinkable on his Wrynose uphill.

Running over this Pass has been on many a runner’s bucket list.

My no stopping rule begs the question. Before I get anywhere near 80, what changes do I need to make to my daily Weetabix and two four-mile jogs round the block. What will it take to get me over Wrynose? Only Barry knows.



Perfidious Albion?

During the Napoleonic War, Napoleon referred to Great Britain as “Perfidious Albion”, that no one should trust Britain.

Having had Brexit, and desperately seeking trade treaties, the Government now thinks it is a good idea to negate an international agreement into which Britain freely entered.

The spin is being put out this is merely precautionary. But the clear perception is that Britain is illegally preparing to break the Brexit Withdrawal Treaty with the great risk of reigniting the Irish Troubles once again!

When a trade deal with our biggest (and nearest) trading partner is immediately threatened, the reputation of this country and every British business operating abroad is put at serious risk.

This has a knock-on effect. What reputable country will make a trade deal with a country that cannot be trusted? That seeks to break international treaties when it suits them?

When would-be trade partners look more closely, they will see the pattern of Government decision making, of at least ELEVEN U-turns, they will back away, or demand massive financial guarantees up front.

Great Britain’s reputation took centuries to build. This country is increasingly being seen as some kind of banana republic.

Cummings’ corrupt crew are using Covid 19 scares as a useful distraction to keep their scandals off the front pages. And their destructive strategies still continue behind the scenes.

We need to be protected from the small clique who have seized control of this government!