Category Archives: Personal Protective Equipment

Conservative Covid-19 contracts cronyism: professionals suffer as cash goes to Tory chums

One more time: we can hope the PPE provided by Platform 14 was better than what we see here – but the fact that this Tory-run company beat firms that may be considered better-qualified remains a scandal.

This is an outrage.

A Merseyside company specialising in medical wear from its establishment half a century ago was ignored and passed over by the Tory government’s “emergency” tendering process for PPE contracts.

Meanwhile a former Tory councillor was given £276 million worth of PPE contracts for a company that was dissolved in April 2019 after making a loss of around half a million pounds.

The Merseyside firm – Florence Roby – is having to lay off staff – while the owner of the revived Platform 14 has apparently skimmed £1.5 million off the top of his contract and used it to buy a 17th-century Cotswolds mansion with 100 acres of land.

This is Tory cronyism – and profiteering – at its worst.

If Florence Roby – which has five decades of experience – had won some of these valuable contracts, it would have produced excellent PPE. Moreover, the investment in this well-established firm would have provided employment and security to experts in their field.

You can draw your own conclusions about Platform 14 (est. 2012) from the fact that it managed to run up huge losses in seven years, and from what its owner has done with your money.

These are the decisions the Tories have been making regularly since they started using the so-called “emergency” system to avoid going through a proper tendering process for Covid-19-related contracts.

As a result, the effort to control the disease has been hampered by substandard products – where they have been supplied at all – and amateur manufacturers.

And Boris Johnson has run up a borrowing bill that is expected to total more than 316 billion more than this year’s national deficit, when the financial year ends in April 2021.

He’ll expect you to pay for Steve Dechan’s £1.5 million mansion. How do you feel about it?

Source: Mersey company forced to lay off staff as PPE contracts go to Tory connected firms buying from abroad – Liverpool Echo

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Piers Morgan nails Matt Hancock on live TV as government ends GMB boycott: ‘Why haven’t you resigned?’

Matt Hancock on GMB: when he wasn’t doing his nodding dog routine, he was avoiding answering questions about his many failures over the 200+ days since any government minister has been interviewed on that programme.

After the mauling he took, Matt Hancock probably wishes the boycott imposed on ITV’s Good Morning Britain by former Tory Comms boss Lee Cain was still in place.

It isn’t; Cain is history – and presenter Piers Morgan was determined to go over all the history he could not discuss with government ministers during the more-than-200-day boycott.

It wasn’t pretty. But it was very entertaining:

Hancock tried to defend himself by raising his record on testing for Covid-19:

“On testing, we’ve hit each of the targets that I set – half a million tests a day capacity now. And I’m here to tell you we’re going to double that over the next few months.

“That means we can use testing in order to find where the virus is and crucially we’ve got those turnaround times down and people can isolate if needed.”

So Morgan examined the government’s pitiful record:

By now, if you’ve watched both clips, you’ll have realised what Hancock was doing:

He was avoiding the questions.

If he thought we wouldn’t notice, he was wrong:

Hancock hadn’t done any better with the BBC, where he had been interviewed on Breakfast News. There, he had been asked to defend a photograph of prime muppet Boris Johnson ignoring social distancing with MP Lee Anderson, who then tested postive for Covid-19.

Johnson is now self-isolating in his Downing Street flat, during a week that is crucial for the UK’s trade negotiations with the EU.

Here’s what Hancock said:

It was just a lot more evasion.

The simple fact is that while we all have the same rules, Boris Johnson simply doesn’t think they apply to him. If Downing Street has Covid-secure rules, they don’t mean anything if Tories don’t follow them.

At one point, Hancock said Johnson followed them, which is a flat-out lie.

Source: Piers Morgan asks Matt Hancock why he hasn’t resigned as Tory admits ‘mistakes’ – Mirror Online

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Now the Tories have given £240 million to a firm linked to religious extremists for PPE

It’s only money: Boris Johnson has no problems with handing over fistfuls of our cash to rich religious extremists. His problem is using it to help poor people. And were the contracts even honoured?

After all the criticism for awarding major contracts to firms run by their friends, you’d expect the Tories would have gone back to competitive tendering for their biggest PPE contract.

Not a bit of it!

Instead, they gave nearly a quarter of a billion pounds – for the supply of full-body overalls – to a firm founded and run by leading members of a hardline, conservative religious sect which preaches that the outside world is morally corrupting, according to Byline Times.

Unispace Global Health was also awarded a £103.7 million contract for the supply of examination gloves. Among the contracts so far revealed by the Tory government, these two represent the largest amount of taxpayer cash handed to a single firm for the supply of PPE during the Covid-19 crisis.

One of the firm’s bosses is linked to the world leader of the Exclusive Brethren, a subset of the Plymouth Brethren, who avoid contact with non-Brethren as much as possible, because the outside world is morally corrupting.

Apparently their ideology finds a way to allow commerce with the “morally corrupting” outside world, though.

Perhaps the Tories agree with their worldview. After all, “morally corrupt” seems an apt description of their procurement strategy.

And, was the contract even honoured? I seem to recall a lot of concern over the lack of PPE during April and May, when these contracts were awarded.

Source: Government Awards £240 Million PPE Deal to Firm Linked to Religious Sect – Byline Times

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What will you say when they ask what you did in the class war?


I seem to have hit a nerve when I said the Tories are waging a class war on anyone who isn’t filthy rich.

In fact, two Vox Political articles touched on this class war – the first implied it, the second made it explicit.

Today I opened Twitter to discover those words all over the place:

I’m not claiming credit for calling a thing by its name – this is “multiple discovery”, “simultaneous invention”, “synchronicity” or, if you like, an expression of the “zeitgeist”. More and more people are simply coming to realise, understand and accept that it is the policy of the UK’s Conservative government to push them down unfairly.

That is what the decision – and it was a decision, deliberately made – to punish ‘A’ level pupils who weren’t from private schools was all about. Yes, Gavin Williamson and the other Tories are saying it was down to a mechanical system, an algorithm – but that algorithm was written by a human being who intended it to give an advantage to the children of very rich people.

In this way, the Tory class war has stolen your children’s futures and given them to the undeserving rich.

It’s what the decision  – and it was a decision, deliberately made – not to fight Covid-19 in any meaningful way was all about. Tens of thousands of people in care homes have died – your relatives, maybe – because Matt Hancock and the other Tories said people with Covid-19 who lived in those homes should be sent back to them – never mind the fact that they did not have isolation facilities and the virus would run through those places like wildfire and be transferred to others by part-time staff who worked in different homes run by the same – private – firm.

The Tories – and their private business collaborators – failed to source personal protective equipment, ventilators, tests and the facilities to carry out tests. The lockdown they imposed was half-hearted and failed to stop the progress of the disease. Now that they have lifted it, albeit with a few measures still in place, more people are contracting the virus again. So they have stopped reporting the daily number of infections.

And the Tories have rewarded their private business collaborators for their failures with hugely expensive contracts to continue failing us – all at the public expense. Serco’s test and trace contract has been renewed, even though we know it won’t stop any second wave (really just a resurgence of the first wave that was suppressed but never went away).

You won’t get justice against the Tories by the normal means available to civil society because the Tories have either corrupted them already or are in the process of doing so. Boris Johnson illegally terminated Parliament’s last session in the autumn of 2019 and what was the result? He called a general election, lied to us until he was purple in the face and was rewarded with an 80-seat Parliamentary majority.

Now he is using that power to ensure that the courts will not be able to stop any more of his corruption by planning a curb on judicial review of government activity. He is imposing a dictatorship – just as he told you he would, if you could have been bothered to read page 48 of his election manifesto.

The police won’t help. Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock, Gavin Williamson and the others are all above the law – no matter what they do. Try reporting a cabinet minister for a crime and see how far you get. They’ll tell you they’re treating it seriously, bounce the accusation around a few different departments and then say there’s no evidence. I’ve been there.

Hundreds of thousands of people have died already because it is Tory policy to kill claimants of sickness or disability claimants, who they consider to be “useless eaters”. That’s why the newspapers have been full of reports showing people with long-term illnesses and disabilities starving to death.

They wanted your homes so they imposed the Bedroom Tax and took them away from you.

The list goes on and on.

And still, too many people think they are the best choice to run the UK – even though the economy is in its deepest recession ever, and Brexit means it may never recover. You will suffer – they won’t. They have been stockpiling your cash and will simply use it to sit out any unpleasantness in the future.

But I feel sure a tipping-point will come – a flashpoint. I wonder how much we will all have to lose before that happens. I’m guessing it’ll be pretty much everything.

By then, many people may think there is nothing they can do. I am reminded yet again of Martin Niemoller’s poem about how the Nazis came for different groups who received no help from anybody else until, by the time they come for the author, there was nobody even left for him to ask.

But I am reminded of another group who were put in a similar position. When I visited Bosnia in the 1990s, I was told how – when the tanks from other countries moved in – the people, who were weaponless, left their homes and went up into the hills. They came back at night, when they took weapons – and lives – from the soldiers who had taken everything from them. And slowly, they took back their land from their oppressors.

I can see that happening here in the future.

I would rather it didn’t.

But it will, if people of good conscience don’t wake up, get up and put up a fight.

Keir Starmer won’t do it. He agrees with the Tories. That’s why he’s busy turning the Labour Party into Tory Lite Mk II (New Labour was Mk I) and accusing anybody who disagrees with him of anti-Semitism.

If you don’t want this to fall into violence, then you need to think what else you can do.

The ‘A’ level fiasco creates opportunities. Already some further education institutions have said they will take students who were downgraded, on the basis of their predicted results. Some haven’t. Clearly we should take note of the side that each University, each college, takes. Those who do the right thing should be rewarded in whatever ways we can. Those who do not should be shunned – meaning not only that we should not even try to send our children there, but that we should reject their graduates when they seek employment with our businesses. We know they won’t be any damn good anyway.

And employers who turn down applicants on the basis of the Tory algorithm’s discredited results should also be named, so we can stop buying their products.

That’s the best – non-violent – response I can conceive on the spur of the moment, and these things need to start happening now.

We’d better get to it, if we don’t want to roll over and die. And yes, that means you.

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Ministers demand investigation of Covid-19 NHS and care worker deaths. What result are they after?

Yet again: the PPE used in UK hospitals is pictured bottom right. It seems a new inquiry has been commissioned, to claim that this was enough to protect doctors and nurses from catching Covid-19 in hospitals.

When you read that Tory ministers have asked medical examiners to investigate whether the Covid-19 that killed NHS and care home staff was contracted as a consequence of their work, what do you think?

Call me superstitious but it makes This Writer think Boris Johnson is trying to find an excuse to say his government’s failures aren’t responsible.

Bear in mind that Johnson has been heavily criticised for failing to order the personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary to protect NHS staff.

And the Tory government’s decision to ship care home residents who had contracted the disease back to their places of residence was also attacked as a cause of more than 20,000 excess deaths.

It would be hugely valuable to Johnson if a report could be cooked up, exonerating him of any connection with these deaths – or at least, with the vast majority of them.

The medical examiners involved in the review are described as “senior doctors employed in hospitals to independently review all deaths to verify the correct cause of death and identify any treatment concerns”.

By a curious coincidence, they were “introduced in the NHS last year”.

Never mind superstitious – call me plain suspicious if you want, but I have a doubt about the result of this inquiry. How about you?

Source: Coronavirus: Deaths of hundreds of frontline NHS and care workers to be investigated | The Independent

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Tory corruption? Party supporters get £180m of OUR money to supply PPE. But will they?

Michael Gove: this minister (who once got caught making a joke about rape on the radio, by the way) is in charge of handing out procurement contracts for PPE. They seem to be going to his friends but we’re being told it’s all perfectly fair and above-board.

You’d think the Tories would have learned their lesson after Liz Truss was caught handing £150 million to a Board of Trade crony for face masks that don’t work.

But no – the UK’s corrupt-to-the-core Tory government won’t learn because it will never face any consequences.

So Tory ministers have handed a further £180 million of our cash to supporters of their political party, on the grounds that it is paying for more PPE (personal protective equipment) that will be used to help treat people with Covid-19.

Will it arrive? I don’t know. If it does, will it work? I doubt it.

Seven contracts – worth £65 million alone – were handed to businessman David Meller’s firm Meller Designs.

Not to be confused with the former Tory minister David Mellor, this Tory donor handed £65,000 to the Tories over the last 10 years, so the contract represents a markup of 1,000 times his outlay.

How did he get his contract to provide gowns, gloves, masks and hand sanitiser? Well, he provided thousands of pounds’ funding for Michael Gove’s failed Tory leadership bid and Gove is now in charge of PPE procurement but perhaps you see no connection there.

According to the government, ministers are not involved in the selection process because there is a “robust” system to ensure that orders are of high quality and meet safety standards.

That’s what they said about Ms Truss’s friend and his face masks, wasn’t it?

Some members of the public are sceptical about the Tories’ protests:

Are the Tories still using emergency powers to avoid scrutiny of these contracts?

If so, I would have thought the emergency was over.

There’s certainly grounds for suspicion of foul play; the firms themselves may say they submitted their tenders in good faith but the Tory decision-making process deserves scrutiny.

But we know what they’ll say:

First it’ll be “now is not the time”, and then it will be “it’s all in the past”. Consequence-free.

Source: Tory backers ‘handed £180m worth of contracts’ to supply the Government with PPE – Mirror Online

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Did Tories not make face masks compulsory because it would cause fights in shops?

Are the English really so stupid that they would start a fight rather than wear a piece of cloth that could save lives?

Days after Boris Johnson was photographed wearing a face mask in a shop, the Conservatives have backed away from making them compulsory in shops.

Was this because retail businesses voiced fears that shop staff would face violence if they were asked to enforce such a rule?

And what about people who would be exempt, because of disabilities or breathing problems? Would they be caught between staff who don’t know they don’t have to wear masks, and customers angry at the exemption?

The UK’s record on face masks is shockingly bad, compared to other countries; only 36 per cent of our people wear them in public compared to 78 per cent in France and 83 per cent in Italy.

So now retail staff must face an increased possibility of catching Covid-19, along with anyone else visiting their shops.

It seems to This Writer that the pig-headedness of the anti-maskers has allowed the Tories to once again increase the risk for us all.

Source: ‘I trust people’s good sense’: Face coverings will not be made compulsory in shops, Michael Gove says | The Independent

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Tories STILL have no strategy to provide PPE in coming second wave of Covid-19

Back to improvisation: the UK’s medics will be forced to resort to cobbling together their own weak imitation of protective equipment in the second wave of Covid-19, if Boris Johnson has his way.

The UK government does not have a clear strategy to acquire and distribute the equipment needed to protect clinical and care workers in a second wave of coronavirus, parliament’s spending watchdog has warned.

Here‘s The Guardian:

The public accounts committee on Wednesday insisted that ministers should return after the summer with a detailed explanation of how they plan to stock the NHS and care sector with gowns, masks, eye protection and gloves.

MPs on the cross-party committee said they were “extremely concerned” by shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and said the government was still developing plans for replenishing current stocks if there was a further outbreak.

It follows a national outcry during the pandemic when some health and care workers were forced to improvise – sometimes using rubber gloves and bin liners – while treating those with the disease.

More than 300 health and care workers have so far died of Covid-19, and many NHS staff groups and families claim that inadequate PPE played a key role in exposing them to the virus.

The Tories cancelled supplies of PPE before Covid-19 arrived in the UK, allegedly in the belief that it would not be needed.

It seems Boris Johnson still believes there’s no need for such life-saving equipment in the NHS.

Don’t blame me – I didn’t elect him. Who did?

Source: UK has no clear PPE strategy for second wave of coronavirus, MPs warn | World news | The Guardian

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Super Satur-die: but if pubgoers catch Covid-19, the blame will still belong with Boris Johnson

As I write this, some English people will have been in the pub for more than 10 hours. I wonder how many of them have caught Covid-19 by now?

Boris Johnson said pubs could open from 6am, dubbing the day “Super Saturday” in an attempt to get people in – and it seems to have worked.

People have camped outside and queued up to get into their local drinking establishments – forgetting the 2m social distancing rule in the process, This Writer notices.

There seems to have been a widespread amnesia about face masks, also:

Admittedly, Johnson has taken precautions. He told everybody to use their “common sense”:

So it seems likely that England is cruising towards another peak of infections, on a wave of alcohol – and lies.

Johnson claimed he would not ease lockdown if the ‘R’ rate – the rate at which Covid-19 infections multiply, edged above 1 – that is, one person being infected for every person who already has the disease. But the ‘R’ rate is above 1 now in many parts of England and he hasn’t said a word.

What’s going on? Some covert deal with Wetherspoons?

(It would make sense – Johnson might be expected to at least try to get back the £48 million he has given to the pub chain.)

The decision to allow pubs to open is like spitting in the face of everybody at the NHS who has worked hard to keep the number of deaths down, despite the Tory government’s continued failure to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) or carry out tests to any recognisable standard (because Johnson was determined to outsource provision of these to private firms that failed us all). NHS staff have protested…

… but it is impossible to reason with blank stupidity. That’s why this is likely to be accurate:

Of course, some of us might hope that certain people catch the virus, considering the way they have flouted all the other rules of lockdown…

And what about this idiot?

But we should all remember that if anybody gets it at all, they will not be to blame. They are, after all, only obeying the instructions of their government.

And any deaths will be entirely the fault of Boris Johnson.

Alternatively…

Remember the words of Samuel Pepys during the Black Plague of 1665:

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Covid-19 hate crime fear for people with disabilities who can’t wear face masks

This is a bitter turnabout: and Boris Johnson should be the first to admit that people in masks used to be the criminals rather than those in fear of crime:

Disabled people are frightened about travelling as lockdown eases due to a lack of public awareness and clarity about exemptions to the mandatory need to wear face coverings on public transport, according to a new survey by Disability Rights UK.

Nearly 40% of respondents said that they cannot wear a face covering and just under half said that mental health conditions and breathing impairments would prevent them from wearing a mask, with a fifth citing sensory issues and needing to intake medication and/or food and drink while travelling.

Nearly forty per cent said they had a hidden disability which affects their ability to wear a mask, and 13% said they needed to lip read.

Nearly 60% said they feared being challenged if they did not wear a mask, with the same amount not feeling they had the confidence to stand up for themselves if challenged.

Almost 70% said they feared being judged for not wearing a mask, and 55% feared being the victim of a hate crime if they were seen without a mask.

The fact that more than half of people with disabilities who cannot wear masks fear hate crime says everything we need to know about the prejudiced and judgemental attitudes that have been created in the UK – mostly by the government.

And the Tories have been blamed for creating the current situation – by switching policies with extremely short notice.

Fazilet Hadi, Disability Rights UK Head of Policy, said the Government must improve its communications strategies with big shifts like this.

“Releasing information on a Sunday for a Monday morning start, with no awareness campaign, no posters on buses and trains to provide reassurance about exemptions, and guidance hidden deep on the gov.uk website leads to the kind of horror stories we have been hearing from disabled people.

“Members of the public have been calling the police on them for not wearing masks while on trains, and British Transport Police refusing to let people through station barriers without face coverings, even when they have insisted they have an impairment which makes them exempt.

“As one survey respondent said: ‘Having both fines for not wearing a mask, and an unproveable exemption alongside each other is an impossible situation. Greater global clarity is needed, and fast.'”

So next time you’re out on the streets, if you see someone who isn’t wearing a mask, don’t jump to aggressive conclusions!

Source: Coronavirus: Disabled people fear becoming victims of hate crime as 40% say they cannot wear face masks – Welfare Weekly

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