Vallance and Johnson



Daily Telegraph

Letters To The Editor

sir – At the Covid Inquiry, Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser during the pandemic, bemoaned the fact that the then prime minister, Boris Johnson, had given up science at 15 and was unable to understand his advisers’ explanations. When I joined the Government Statistical Service (GSS) as an assistant statistician in 1979, I was sent on an introductory course at the Central Statistical Office. The highlight was a talk by Sir John Boreham, then head of the GSS. He impressed on the new recruits never to forget that most of the politicians and senior officials we would report to were unlikely to be “numbers” people, and that our most important service would therefore be the verbal explanations of our charts and tables. Clearly Sir Patrick never learnt this lesson. If Mr Johnson found his advice difficult to understand, then it was Sir Patrick who failed to explain properly what he was trying to communicate. He can’t pass the buck and claim that an obviously highly intelligent man was somehow “thick” just because he struggled with complex scientific concepts that fell outside his educational experience. Brian Gedalla London N3