Chris Whitty: the Chief Medical Officer is facing calls for his removal – before he has even had a chance to broadcast to the nation alongside Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance.
New hashtags on social media are calling for the UK’s chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser to be sacked – before they’ve even had a chance to address the public on television.
The broadcast was scheduled for 11am today (September 21) but platforms like Twitter have already been filling up with attacks on Chris Whitty and – notably – Patrick Vallance.
The attacks don’t make much sense.
In fairness to the advisers, we don’t know what their advice to the government has been. Their meetings have taken place behind closed doors and when they have faced the public it has always been under the shroud of shared responsibility – a line has been taken by Johnson government ministers and the advisers are obliged to support it.
“Bent science”? We don’t know that the gentlemen concerned have been bending science in any way at all.
We do know that the politicians have been as bent as the figure “8”, trying to delay lockdown to keep the economy going, trying to shorten lockdown to prevent the economy from being harmed more than it already has been… trying to continue making money for their party donors while people die (or suffer serious health consequences).
And it’s the politicians who have been misusing emergency procurement procedures to funnel vast amounts of public money into the hands of private firms – some running companies that have been dormant for years – that happen to be run by friends of theirs; the socialism of the very rich.
So This Site tends to come down on the side of those who have been standing up for the scientists:
The #SackVallance hashtag trending just shows that Boris' tactic of ducking responsibility and letting others take the blame works. The chancer who blusters, lies and avoids any responsibility Is throwing the scientists under the bus #Covid19UK
The scary thing is that if we don’t listen to top scientific advisers who do you want to get your guidance from? Jim Davidson? Karen on Facebook? A bloke down the pub who told you Covid is definitely a scam as he heard it from a bloke in the pub too? #SackVallance
Let's all rage against the scientists, it's all their fault! Absolutely nothing to do with the complete & utter failure of @BorisJohnson who, by pushing Vallance & Whitty out onto the stage first, is trying to shift the blame! Really? #SackVallance & #SackWhitty#Covid19UK
You have to wade through a lot of piffle paffle and wiffle waffle for the first couple of minutes. Anybody who has been paying attention will already know that much of what he says here is not true.
For example: “It is a fact that by adopting those measures [restrictions on our freedom that mean we have to stay at home except for necessary trips/exercise and keep two metres away from other people when we are out] we prevented this country from being engulfed by what could have been a catastrophe in which the reasonable worst case scenario was half a million fatalities.”
This is not true. By adopting these measures, we made it less likely that we would catch Covid-19 during the weeks in which those measures were adopted, meaning the National Health Service – that much-maligned organisation that the Tories have been starving for 10 years, in order to claim it is unable to cope with our health needs and so persuade us it is ripe for privatisation – would be better-able to cope with the thousands of new cases that have still been recorded every day. And it still has not been able to cope, because the Tories ignored advice from 2017, to stockpile personal protective equipment and have enough ventilators available.
The worst-case scenario, as This Writer recalls, was 250,000 deaths over the course of five or six peaks in infection rates. The UK has only just crested the first such peak. If a second arrives – and this seems likely, considering the latest information from Germany and China – then it may be as much as 10 times worse than the current wave that has caused around 60,000 deaths (although only half those are currently included in official figures).
He moves on to some waffle about millions of us being concerned over damage to their livelihoods and their mental and physical health, caused by the lockdown. He makes no mention that harm to people’s well-being is being caused by his refusal to introduce a Universal Basic Income, as the other measures the government promised to protect us were either inadequate, didn’t materialise or do not provide protection for everybody who has been endangered.
He wants to set out a plan to get us all back working for the benefit of the billionaires who run the country (he certainly doesn’t).
He says he has consulted across all four countries of the UK – although this seems unlikely, considering that Wales and Scotland immediately rejected his plan, such as it is.
It’s a conditional plan, he says: “We must protect our NHS. We must see sustained falls in the death rate. We must see sustained and considerable falls in the rate of infection. We must sort out our challenges in getting enough PPE to the people who need it, and yes, it is a global problem but we must fix it.” And we must ensure that the reproduction rate of the disease – ‘R’ – does not exceed one (this would mean that every person contracting the disease would be infecting more than one other person; creating a situation that the health system could not handle).
Then he takes a diversion to talk about the Covid alert system that some bright spark has devised. It’s like the DefCon system that warns us of the likelihood of nuclear war, with level one showing no evidence of the disease in the UK and level five meaning the NHS has been overwhelmed.
The Covid Alert Level will be determined primarily by R and the number of coronavirus cases, he says. So what was the point of talking about all the other things? I would have thought the death rate, at least, might have some bearing on whether we were at DefCon 5 or not.
“Over the period of the lockdown we have been in Level Four, and it is thanks to your sacrifice we are now in a position to begin to move in steps to Level Three,” he says. But he doesn’t say what levels four or three actually mean.
So what’s the point of telling us that?
He moves on to another diversion – telling us that, to keep pushing the number of infections down, we must reverse rapidly the epidemics in care homes and in the NHS; and we must have a world-beating system for testing potential victims, and for tracing their contacts. That may be true, but the general public cannot do anything about either of those matters. It is for the government and the NHS to do these things – not us.
The next part is ironically hilarious. He states that he wants the health service to be “testing literally hundreds of thousands of people every day.”
He has not managed to test even 100,000 people a day, yet!
There’s more waffle… and then, more than halfway through the speech (seven minutes, 10 seconds if you want to check), he finally admits that “no, this is not the time simply to end the lockdown this week.”
So we’re all staying at home, then?
Johnson went on to describe a change in emphasis for the lockdown that means some people will be required to go back to work. This applies only in England, although he did not make that clear at any point during his broadcast. Indeed, with all his talk of co-operation across the four UK countries, any viewer might easily be confused into thinking we all have to go back. We don’t.
At 7pm on Sunday May 10, Boris Johnson effectively ceased to be the prime minister of the UK and became prime minister of England.
“We said that you should work from home if you can, and only go to work if you must. We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work. And we want it to be safe for you to get to work. So you should avoid public transport if at all possible – because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited. So work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home.”
Why would you remove a clear instruction (Stay At Home), to replace with something ambiguous & nonsensical, if you wanted aforementioned instruction to continue?
This Government knows exactly what it is doing & they will be shifting the blame onto everyone but themselves.
Construction workers, as I recall, were never told to observe the lockdown. That’s why navvies up and down the route of HS2 are grinding up the countryside, hell-for-leather. As for people working in factories: it will be interesting to see whether bosses pay any attention to social distancing rules.
The fact Boris targeted working class and service professions as those who should physically return to work regardless of lockdown restrictions is perhaps one of the most mask off demonstrations of social murder at the heart of government policy
Johnson said his government had been working on new guidance for employers to make workplaces safe but, given the Tory government’s lack of exertion on other promises during the crisis, this seems unlikely – or the result will probably be slapdash.
PM's statement gives bad employers carte blanche to force workers to return to work without any risk assessment or safety guarantees. Also total lack of clarity about what restrictions remain; it's no wonder Scotland/Wales don't support the meaningless 'stay alert' slogan.
— Judy Hamilton #ShieldingFor6Months&Longer 😷 (@secretspartacus) May 10, 2020
If workplaces aren’t safe – or if employees are not satisfied – then bear in mind that s.44 of the Employment Rights Act gives them the right to walk away from the job, as their work will be unsafe.
Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act gives you THE RIGHT TO WALK AWAY FROM UNSAFE WORK. Too many of us don’t know our rights. Do not go to work if you feel you’re jeopardising your health and the safety of others and contact your trade union.
By telling people to avoid public transport, Johnson pushed them into getting to their newly-reopened places of work in their cars – one person per vehicle – thereby ensuring traffic jams, parking problems and a massive spike in pollution.
In the event, thousands of people flocked back to public transport. The government promised guidance on how to use buses, trains and the Tube network safely – but in a typical display of the incompetence for which the Johnson administration is now justly famous, this arrived at 2pm today (May 11) – long after it was likely to do anybody any good.
He has just sentenced so many people to death. Its too early to ease restrictions. He has forced people who have no financial relief from the state to go back to work.'Actively Encouraging' poor people to work. People will die 3 weeks from now that didnt need to die.
Moving on to leisure activities, Johnson said it would now be possible (for people in England alone, remember) to take more and even “unlimited amounts” of outdoor exercise: “You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports but only with members of your own household.”
He added: “You must obey the rules on social distancing and to enforce those rules we will increase the fines for the small minority who break them.”
Is he hedging his bets here? Suppose there’s a spike in Covid-19 infections after people go back to work – will he try to blame it on people taking exercise in this way?
Moving on again, he said step two of his plan to ease the lockdown would start on June 1 at the earliest: this is when he plans to begin a phased reopening of shops and send children back to school – in England, remember. Not in the rest of the UK.
The Department for Education appears to be taking this as an instruction: children will be sent back to school on June 1, whether it is safe to do so or not:
As confirmed by the Prime Minister this evening, we are asking education and childcare settings to prepare to open for more children from 1 June.
We will publish further guidance setting out more information for early years, schools and colleges tomorrow.
Expect a big spike in Covid infections if he imposes this measure on that date. Children are major transmitters of disease at the best of times. And how does he expect to get children in school to conform with social distancing rules?
Boris Johnson is expecting first year primary school children to follow the social distancing guidlines & if he didn’t abandon all the ones he fathered & spent a few years raising them he would know that this is a dangerously stupid idea
Step three would start at the beginning of July at the earliest, and would involve the reopening of parts of the hospitality industry and other public places – if they can sustain social distancing.
I don’t think we need to think about this yet. By July 1, if Johnson has gone ahead and implemented the first two steps of his scheme, England will almost certainly be in the midst of a second wave of coronavirus infections and deaths.
I would suggest to people living there that this would be an appropriate time to demand the resignations from Parliament of Johnson and all those involved in his policies relating to Covid-19.
He goes on to say that “it will soon be the time – with transmission significantly lower – to impose quarantine on people coming into this country by air”. What good will that do? The right time for restrictions on travel into the UK was January – possibly earlier.
There’s more waffle – a lot of it – and then he ends with his new, meaningless, slogan: “Stay alert, control the virus and save lives.”
The tune we're all tapping our feet – and scratching our heads – to this Monday? It's that jive-talkin Boris Johnson and the Bee Jays with: 🎶Stayin' Alert🎶 #thanksborispic.twitter.com/ggiALBAxHx
I rarely comment on politics here, and avoid publicly siding with one party (all pretty useless at the moment) because no one should give a shit about celebs opinions. But it’s hard to imagine a greater display of inept leadership and muddled thinking then Boris just displayed.
PM’s mess of a statement has caused more confusion than clarity, creating worrying uncertainty about the return to work & how safety will be assured, opening up divisions between the UK’s nations and displaying a complete lack of clarity about what activities are now allowable.
The PMs statement was shambolic. We have the highest death rate in Europe & he tells us it’s time for workers to go back to work but not use public transport. It’s a Government who has no idea, no plan & no care about the communities we serve. #livesbeforeprofit
Construction and manufacturing workers in England must go back to their jobs. Employers are receiving advice on how make their workplaces safe.
Nothing else has changed.
And the chances are that nothing will. The evidence of today shows that he will fall at the first hurdle – but we will have to wait a couple of weeks to find that out.
The verdict: Johnson’s new plan means alertness won’t matter; the virus will not be controlled and lives will be lost.
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.
It’s “duper’s delight” yet again: It seems Boris Johnson thinks he can fool the Queen into giving him a free Party Election Broadcast. Wouldn’t she rather get her reserve powers out and sack him, instead?
Boris Johnson is planning to prorogue Parliament again next week, according to the political correspondents on the mainstream news. But they’ve been very quiet about whether the Queen will let him.
I made the point a couple of days ago that he brought exactly no new policies to the Conservative conference, yet now he is saying he wants to shut down Parliament for a further three debating days – on top of the 10 or more that were lost in the illegal prorogation – and re-open it with a Queen’s Speech detailing a new legislative programme. Is he delusional?
Private Eye certainly seems to believe Her Majesty is likely to cast a jaundiced eye over any future proposals from the man we call BoJob.
According to Beastrabban, “The magazine’s ‘Court Circular’ … covers the fall-out from Lady Hale’s judgement, including the Queen’s immense displeasure at hearing that the judges concluded that sovereignty lay with parliament and the orders written in her own hand were absolutely valueless. But she is also angry with Dictator J. Peasemold Johnson for not defending her in this fiasco. The mag’s correspondent, ‘Flunkey’, writes
“Johnson’s phone call with Brenda later on Judgment Day was similarly perplexing. He had part-blustered, part-charmed Brenda into believing his vision of a prorogational paradise and presented her with legal opinions to back up his case. But lawyers can be found to argue that black is white if someone is paying them to. Brenda bowed to Johnson’s demands because she had no choice. But it is the job of prime ministers to protect a monarch who has no voice, and that is what Johnson failed to do. Worse, he didn’t even try very hard. The palace had assumed that Johnson’s phone call, with officials listening in on both sides, would consist of an apology and a request that she return to London to accept his resignation. But no. Despite briefings to the contrary from Downing Street, Johnson merely told her he “deeply and sincerely” regretted the supreme court’s decision… and that was it.
“Things look set to change now that the Supremes have sung. The palace will not indulge Johnson so readily in future. A normal state opening of parliament this month has been almost impossible: what if Lady Hale and her colleagues were to conclude that the Queen’s Speech, too, was written in invisible ink? Private audiences between Brenda and Johnson may become not so private, with suggestions they should be recorded in some form and stored in the archives just in case. And it is possible that a very reluctant Brenda might be talked into using her untested reserve powers to act in a crisis by dissolving parliament or sacking the prime minister.”
And then there’s this, from The Independent: If a Queen’s Speech is made within weeks of an expected general election, will it not assume the characteristics of a Party Political Broadcast for the Johnson government?
After the prorogation fiasco, Her Majesty is unlikely to take kindly to that!
The article states: “Boris Johnson will be using the Queen ‘to make a Conservative Party political broadcast’ if he launches a new session of parliament just weeks before a general election, a constitutional expert is warning.
“The prime minister is being urged not to ‘further abuse her position’ – after the embarrassment of the Queen’s signature being used to shut down parliament before being declared unlawful by the Supreme Court.
“Mr Johnson’s new plan is to prorogue parliament for just a few days, to allow a Queen’s Speech on 14 October when the monarch will set out his flagship domestic legislation amid huge pomp and ceremony.”
It quotes Professor Robert Hazell of the constitution unit at University College London as follows: “The Queen’s Speech will be not so much the government announcing the legislative programme for the next session, but more of an election manifesto.
“The Queen will have been used to make a Conservative Party political broadcast.
“It would bring more embarrassment to the Queen, dragging her again into political controversy.
“Boris Johnson has already caused the greatest constitutional controversy of her reign; he should not further abuse her position.”
He added something that the rest of us have suspected for some time: “This would be the first Queen’s Speech when the government had no real intention of introducing the bills it had just announced, because it hoped that, within weeks, parliament would be dissolved for an early election.”
So those funding promises on the NHS and all the other services BoJob and his cronies promised to boost really were examples of “duper’s delight” and they had no intention of fulfilling them.
Put it all together and, if I were in the Monarch’s position, I would be very nervous about agreeing to anything this man wants. He has proved himself to be uninterested in preserving the reputation of any of the UK’s constitutional pillars – and there is also a suggestion that his real purpose may be to make money for a shady group of backers at the expense of the entire nation.
Will the Queen really allow herself to be brought down by the antics of this liar?
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.
Banned: Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Australia was taken off-air by independently-owned Sky New Zealand because it was showing footage of the Christchurch massacre. The Murdoch channel said its decision to show edited footage of a Facebook stream attributed to the killer was “in line with other broadcasters”.
Can you smell the hypocrisy here?
Certain mainstream media organisations – naming no names because I don’t want to encourage anybody to look up this material – broadcast extracts from the live stream of the Christchurch killings earlier this week, and then condemned the social media for allowing live streaming.
Perhaps somebody should make these organisations aware of their own cynicism, in using this highly-offensive material as clickbait – enticing viewers to their websites with footage of this nature.
We might also point out the self-interest inherent in their demand that social media users be prevented from live streaming events – ensuring that the mainstream corporations maintain control over the news that we see. How many climate change strikes by schoolchildren were live streamed on Friday (March 15) – and how many were covered by the MSM?
It seems to me that the youngsters concerned, their friends and relatives, may all want to see, and have, a record of their participation in this important – vital! – pubic issue.
(I mention the climate change strike because it is a topic that should be widely-recognised; in fact I think a more important value of live streaming is in covering more localised issues that the MSM would overlook.)
Finally, in practical terms, there is the fact that the people posting questionable – or downright unacceptable – material are hard to ban because they do it from fake or anonymous social media accounts; close one down and, like the hydra, several more appear in its place. Perhaps this is another good reason for action to prevent people creating fake accounts. It could be done by demanding proof of identity.
Moves to end the creation of anonymous or fake accounts have been halted in the past by those who say it stifles free speech of people who might otherwise be unable to speak out about important issues. But, as a victim of hate posts by anonymous Twitter accounts, I think it could curtail some of the worst behaviour we see on the Internet. People write the most hateful screeds in the belief that they can’t be held to account for them.
So – yes, let’s attack the hypocrisy of mainstream media giants who both broadcast questionable material and then use its existence elsewhere to protect their own highly-profitable interests. But let’s also attack the culture of anonymity on the social media that provides a platform for this filth in the first place.
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David Cameron: “Like an ox… a stupid animal.” [Image: BBC]
Gogglebox, the recursive Channel 4 programme – in which, while watching TV, we watch people watching TV – has become a highlight of the Vox Political viewing week; especially when there’s a political item.
This week’s show featured responses to the Conservative Party’s election broadcast. One can only conclude that the Conservatives will have been panicked by the response.
None of the viewers featured on the show had a single good word to say for the Tories. They were unanimous in their condemnation – not only of the Tories’ election plea but also of their record in government over the past four years.
In the broadcast, reading between the lines, the Tories begged us to let them keep their seats in the European Parliament and not to vote for UKIP instead.
They did this – apparently – by stealing UKIP policies and by harping back to events they have claimed as achievements, whether they were or not, such as cutting the deficit (by one-third, according to the broadcast; in fact they’ve cut it by around 1/17), reforming the NHS and education.
“[They’ve] made our NHS weaker and our education poorer, and the gap between rich and poor has never been so big,” said the Reverend Kate.
Claims that a record number of people are in work met this response from German-born Ralph: “I can’t feel that I have more money in my pocket.”
His partner Viv added: “We’re worse-off, since the Conservatives came into power, than we were before.”
Another commenter said: “This is the ‘I Will Ruin your National Health party’, and then make out and pretend that they’re doing a wonderful job.”
The voiceover – by an unnamed Welsh woman – came in for particular scrutiny: “Where have they got this voiceover? Why haven’t they got him speaking?” (“Him” being David Cameron.)
“A lot of people don’t like his voice.”
Rev Kate’s husband Graham made it clear that this ploy wasn’t fooling anybody: “I can’t believe they’re trying to use a Welsh person to voice over it! They’re trying to say, ‘Look – Welsh people can vote Tory as well!’ I bet she don’t even vote Tory!”
The broadcast moved on to tick off a list of all the things the Tories say they would do in the European Parliament, starting with “taking back control of justice and home affairs”.
The responses: “Who gave it away in the first place?”
“It’s ridiculous! They’re talking about taking back all these things…”
“… That they gave away!”
“Every single one of those… has been stolen from UKIP, because they’re terrified they’re going to be outflanked by UKIP at the general election.”
Finally, Conservative leader (and comedy Prime Minister) David Cameron was wheeled out to tell us what we should and shouldn’t do.
“I believe that you have the right blah blah blah…” jabbered the Face of Modern Conservatism.
Response: “Oh, he just makes me want to punch him.”
Let’s leave the last word to Ralph – he is, after all, a European gentleman who has come to live in the UK. His opinion? “[Cameron is] like an oxen, you know?… Ox is a stupid animal in Germany.
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