Category Archives: Scotland

Covid-19’s death toll on people with disabilities is HORRIFYING – but Scottish authorities won’t produce figures (Vox Political Scrapbook)

We’ve reached a point, now, where I can no longer talk to Mrs Mike about these stories because they send her into paroxysms of rage – and fear.

This particular news item is terrifying on two levels – firstly, that Covid-19 is having such a terrible effect on people with disabilities.

Don’t forget that, even if a person survives the virus, there may be knock-on effects that could seriously harm the quality of the rest of their lives: muscle damage, lung damage, neurological harm. If somebody already has a disability, this could be catastrophic.

And you know the Conservative-run Department for Work and Pensions wouldn’t give a damn.

Secondly, there’s the fact that the Scottish health authorities aren’t even bothering to research the effect of the virus on disabled people in that country.

To This Writer, the omission is as bad as that of the DWP itself when it spent years trying to hide the number of people who had died after being denied sickness benefits.

I eventually had to force the government to divulge those figures. And have there been any regular updates since then?

We all know the answer to that, I think.

Let us hope the Scottish authorities get their act together, compile those figures and then take action to help people with disabilities survive the virus.

Otherwise it will make the SNP’s claims to be more caring for people with illnesses and disabilities than Westminster look like a very bad joke.

Scotland has no idea how many disabled people are dying from coronavirus.

Despite public health chiefs in England and Wales using census data to check how hard the pandemic is hitting those with disabilities, Scotland is still in the dark.

Shock figures show that in England and Wales, an estimated 60 per cent of those who have died of Covid-19 considered themselves disabled in the 2011 census. Disabled men under 65 are 6.5 times more likely to die of Covid, while disabled women are more than 10 times more likely.

A separate report from Public Health England also found those with learning disabilities are six times more likely to die from Covid-19 than the general population.

Despite the alarming reality elsewhere in the UK, Freedom of Information requests have revealed that neither Public Health Scotland nor National Records of Scotland have extracted matching data.

Source: Scotland in the dark over how many disabled people are dying from coronavirus – Daily Record

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New pub closure rules can only increase Johnson’s lockdown muddle

Closed: but under what circumstances? Restrictions are now different across the UK and people are likely to catch Covid-19 due to confusion.

Boris Johnson’s ‘local lockdown’ plan is degenerating into incoherence as each tiny part of the UK adds new – and conflicting – Covid-19-related restrictions.

The latest addition to this babble is a restriction on pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues in England, forcing them to close at 10pm, starting on Thursday (September 24).

Why’s that? Does Covid-19 only come out for a drink after 10 o’clock?

It doesn’t make any sense at all – and in fact will only add to the confusion.

Look at Wales, where six local authority areas have local lockdown rules.

From 6pm on Tuesday (September 22), Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, and Newport join Caerphilly in having these restrictions: business closures are in line with national restrictions in Wales (meaning they’re different from those in England); you cannot meet indoors with anyone outside your household; you can no longer form a social bubble with another household; you cannot leave the local area without a reasonable excuse; and everyone over the age of 11 must wear a face covering in indoor public spaces unless exempt. I wonder if everybody there knows which indoor public spaces are exempt.

But in Rhondda Cynon Taff, the first four of those restrictions are the same – but the face mask rule doesn’t count. Instead, all licensed premises have to close at 11pm.

In seven local authority areas in northeast England, hospitality venues can only provide table service and take away orders, you cannot meet people outside your household/social bubble in a home/garden; travel is advised only for essential reasons, and a curfew applies to certain businesses between 10pm and 5am.

In seven local authority areas in Scotland, you cannot meet people outside your household/social bubble in a home/garden.

All of the places listed above are next to areas where these restrictions don’t apply – but others (that apply to all areas in their country of the UK) do.

There’s an area of northwest England that is really confusing: restrictions in Bradford are different from Pendle, which in turn differs from Burnley. Nearby Bolton is different again.

Is your head spinning yet?

Schools will remain open in all these places, despite the fact that they are now well-established as the principle route of transmission.

Further restrictions will also be announced in Scotland on Tuesday, while restrictions on households mixing indoors will be will be extended to all of Northern Ireland.

Ye gods!

It’s a lot of effort to be seen to be doing something when in fact – let’s be honest – Boris Johnson and his government are doing nothing to stem the tide of Covid’s second wave.

On Monday,  4,368 daily cases were reported – up from 3,899 on Sunday – along with 11 deaths.

This Site has already reported that a televised briefing by chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific officer Patrick Vallance warned that, if unchecked, the number of infections could be as high as 50,000 per day by mid-October.

Well, I’ve got bad news for them. Confusing as the restrictions are, none of them are going to stop that disaster from happening.

What we need is a working test, track and trace system that isolates people who have been in contact with those who have been infected – and prevents them from infecting other people.

Sadly, Johnson and his government have put the responsibility for such a system in the hands of profit-grubbing corporates who simply aren’t responsible enough to do it properly.

Johnson has offered to lift his “rule of six” restriction on social gatherings for 24 hours on Christmas Day, if we manage to turn back the new Covid tide – but this seems an empty promise; he knows it won’t happen.

My advice: go back into behaving as if the national lockdown in March never ended – if you can. If you can’t, do everything possible to avoid contact with other people.

You cannot rely on government intervention to save you from the virus.

So it’s up to you to do what you can yourself.

Source: Covid: Pubs and restaurants in England to have 10pm closing times – BBC News

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The Scottish Tories have a new leader – but he seems to be both confused … and prejudiced

New Scottish Conservatives’ leader Douglas Ross – in what seems to be the role he prefers.

The Scottish Conservatives have a new leader – Douglas Ross, who was elected unopposed by party members.

This seems a very odd thing for them to do.

Consider the evidence in the video below – which I know was created by a supporter of the SNP. Try to ignore the party political message and concentrate on what this says about the person:

The ‘dark money’ claim seems accurate, as the Scottish Unionist Association Trust did support Ross, and did not declare donations and contributions to political campaigns properly to the Electoral Commission. As a result, SUAT was fined £1,300.

His voting record speaks for itself and seems extremely, traditionally, Tory – supporting central government, hammering the NHS and minorities.

But he seems confused: his discussion of rural broadband, ATM closures and unfair postal charges challenged his own party directly, and his votes against equal marriage and equal gay rights ran against party policy.

Also, his claim that refereeing football matches would not interfere with his Parliamentary responsibilities – and his subsequent trip to Barcelona instead of voting on a Welfare Bill – is well-documented.

Let’s look a little closer at his attitude to travellers:

Tom London’s point is a good one. He doesn’t want tougher enforcement against a particular aspect of travellers’ behaviour that the public may find objectionable; he just wants enforcement against them because they are travellers.

So it is right to ask how people would have felt if Ross had been speaking about Jews, Blacks, Muslims, gay people or any other minority group.

And this is the Scottish Tory choice as leader of their party…

A man who opposes his party as much as he supports it, with a reputation for prejudice against a minority group for no reason other than that it exists, and who prefers to run off and referee football matches rather than representing his electorate.

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Scotland joins Wales to ban Covid-19 support to firms based in tax havens

Registered in a tax haven? Then no tax-funded help for you: there’s no reason the UK should give tax-dodging firms a hand during the coronavirus crisis if they haven’t paid their full dues. Wales and Scotland have made this clear; let’s see Westminster do the same.

Quite right too. If you’ve opted out of paying tax when the going was easy, then you can’t try to get help from the taxpayer in hard times.

Has the Tory government in Westminster made this decision yet?

The Scottish parliament has voted to block companies based in tax havens from using millions of pounds in coronavirus relief funding, in emergency legislation.

MSPs approved measures on Wednesday night brokered by the Scottish Greens to prohibit firms or individuals who are registered in tax havens, or are a subsidiary of an offshore company, from getting support grants.

The vote follows similar decisions by the Welsh government last week and by other EU member states, including Denmark and France, but ministers have yet to say how much Scottish government spending will be affected or how it will be enforced.

It is thought it could prevent companies with offshore links from applying to a new £120m enterprise resilience fund that provides grants for small- and medium-sized firms, and a £30m creative, tourism and hospitality bailout fund for firms that cannot get business rates relief.

The Welsh government blocked companies with headquarters in a tax haven from accessing its £500m economic resilience fund on 15 May. Ministers in Cardiff said last week it would affect a small number of companies.

Source: Scotland bans Covid-19 support to firms based in tax havens | Politics | The Guardian

BBC editor’s TWITTER clarification after ‘attack’ on Sturgeon in TELEVISION report. Where’s the TV apology?

Nicola Sturgeon: “Never in my entire political career have I ‘enjoyed’ anything less than this.”

Sarah Smith should not be allowed to get away with a mere attempt at clarification of this on Twitter alone, where her words will be seen by a tiny few, compared with those who saw her report.

Scottish viewers of BBC news were left fuming after Ms Smith gave a report in which she clearly stated that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was “enjoying” setting her own rules for the Covid-19 lockdown. Ms Sturgeon denied the claim:

Responses on Twitter have been uniformly along these lines:

Ms Smith has tweeted a claim that she meant Ms Sturgeon was “embracing” the opportunity to make law on Covid-19 – and has received equally short shrift from the object of her comment:

It isn’t an apology, is it?

That’s why I’m saying Ms Smith should return to Scottish screens and broadcast a full and frank apology for this astonishing piece of editorialising.

It was never her place to suggest that Ms Sturgeon was enjoying an inappropriate emotional response to the responsibility of setting policy on what is a life-and-death matter for millions of people.

And it seems clear that, for allowing this, the BBC as a whole must change its ways (and explain how it will achieve this).

 

Coronavirus: the Tories are trying to blackmail other UK countries into lifting lockdown early

Rishi Sunak: he seems to be denying the facts of the coronavirus crisis, in order to force an early end to the lockdown.

Never underestimate a Tory minister who apparently has mass murder in mind:

It seems Rishi Sunak is upset that the Scottish Parliament is more concerned with saving people’s lives than getting the economy back up and running for the benefit of a cadre of lazy billionaires, and has threatened to withdraw funding for the “furlough” scheme that pays for workers to stay at home if Holyrood extends the lockdown longer than Westminster.

The UK-wide furlough scheme has been extended until October, but when Scottish ministers called for clarity about the future, they received a discouraging response:

Scottish economy ministers Kate Forbes and Fiona Hyslop … appealed to the Treausry for assurances that workers will continue to access support even if Scottish firms are not reopened at the same time as English ones.

In a letter to the Chancellor, they wrote: “We understand that the support will need to be scaled back over time, but it is imperative that is done in a carefully considered way, and reflects the economic priorities of each of the four nations and the different sectors of our economies.

“The ability to stagger the closure of the scheme may be beneficial in considering how we safely exit the restrictions currently in place.”

But [a] Downing Street source said that furlough payments are now likely to be distributed by the Treasury on a “sector-by-sector” rather than geographical basis.

The Conservative government has made it clear that it intends to lift the lockdown as soon as it considers this to be possible – but has given no reassurances at all that it will carry out any tests to prove that it is safe to do so.

Indeed, the plan to force schools to reopen at the beginning of June has become a raging controversy, with fears that teachers, parents and friends could fall victim to Covid-19, and children themselves (who seem likely to suffer only light symptoms of that disease) may succumb to a follow-on infection that bears similarities to Kawasaki disease.

Conservatives have shown no concern about these issues at all.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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