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
Chris Whitty: the Chief Medical Officer has now self-isolated with symptoms of the coronavirus himself. Doesn’t that suggest there’s something wrong with his ideas?
Those of you who have been following This Site over the past few days will have read article after article exposing the failures of the Conservative government – firstly to anticipate, then to combat the coronavirus crisis.
So it should come as no surprise that these failures have ensured that NHS workers and people who contract Covid-19 will die, who should be saved.
And the pedigree of the man making that claim should not be doubted: Richard Horton is the editor of what is possibly the most highly-regarded medical journal of them all: The Lancet.
He said measures implemented “far too late” had left the NHS “wholly unprepared for the surge of severely and critically ill patients”.
As a result, it had been plunged into “chaos and panic”, with patients and NHS staff condemned to “die unnecessarily”.
He pointed to an article in The Lancet, already referenced by This Site, stated on January 24 that the coronavirus was on the verge of becoming a global pandemic and urged the government to ensure that the NHS was prepared.
But Boris Johnson and his government didn’t bother. Successive Conservative governments over the previous 10 years had systematically dismantled the UK’s capability of tackling a pandemic like Covid-19.
The strategy to deal with it was last updated in 2011 and is hopelessly out-of-date.
The dedicated government Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Team, tasked with tackling this type of crisis, vanished around 2011.
The crucial document for getting the right messages to the public – the Communications Strategy – was written in 2012 and is wildly inaccurate in its assumptions about how and where people now get their information.
Worst of all, the government guide to dealing with the fatalities of a pandemic – the deaths – was written in 2008 and had never been updated.
Perhaps we should not be surprised, then, that the Conservative government’s response to coronavirus – throughout February – was wrong.
The Lancet article warned that “preparedness plans should be readied for deployment at short notice, including securing supply chains of pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment, hospital supplies and the necessary human resources”. But this warning was ignored.
Mr Horton lays the blame for this on Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, Chief Executive Officer of the NHS in England Simon Stevens and Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance.
Vallance’s was the mind behind the ridiculous “herd immunity” scheme to allow us all to become infected and if millions of vulnerable people died, that was a reasonable price to pay if the rest developed a resistance to the virus.
It didn’t last long but valuable days were wasted and, of course, while the overarching strategy was “do nothing”, nothing was being done to make the UK ready to fight the disease.
And when the government finally adopted an acceptable approach, the NHS was caught unprepared.
It didn’t have pharmaceutical supply chains ready – note the call for volunteers to ship medicines where they’re needed.
It didn’t have the necessary human resources.
And it didn’t have personal protective equipment, despite protestations to the contrary. As part of his article, Mr Horton called on England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jenny Harries, to apologise to health workers for saying the UK has “a perfectly adequate supply of PPE” and supply pressures had been “completely resolved” on March 20.
She was wrong, and it means doctors are risking their own health, if not their lives, every day by having to assess patients with respiratory symptoms, without the equipment necessary to protect themselves.
Worse still, the government didn’t follow basic World Health Organisation (WHO) advice. According to Mr Horton: “They didn’t isolate and quarantine. They didn’t contact trace. These basic principles of public health and infectious disease control were ignored, for reasons that remain opaque.”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: all the way down the line, Boris Johnson and his government have had to be dragged into doing the right thing – always late and never willingly.
Already more than 1,000 people have been acknowledged to have died.
And it seems clear that more will follow – who would have lived if Mr Johnson and his ministers, their advisors and the leaders of the NHS had simply done their jobs properly.
Powys is, geographically, the largest county in Wales – with the smallest population. It habitually receives the least extra cash in the annual settlement from the Welsh Assembly.
As a result, it struggles to provide services – partly because private companies that carry out many of those services assume local authorities have money to burn and charge accordingly (I had that from a council officer).
It must be true, the reasoning runs, because just look at the salaries paid to the council’s chief officers.
And salaries paid to chief officers are high because if they weren’t on a par with richer councils, nobody would even offer to do the job.
So everyone with a chance to demand more is on the take – and who can blame them in these uncertain times?
And public services suffer.
But the only reason we pay our taxes – council tax, income tax, and any other tax that feeds into local authority budgets – is to receive public services.
But (again) we can’t withhold our tax money on the grounds that these services are being withheld from us, because that is a crime and we would be fined at the very least (thereby giving more money into the pot).
Whatever happens, we lose. And this will continue as long as public servants are paid £55 for doing nothing at all.
Incoming Powys chief executive Dr Caroline Turner, has been given a cash boost worth more than £25,000 by Powys councillors.
This will be on top of her salary of £138,000 a year.
At the Full PCC meeting on Thursday, January 24, councillors had to appoint Dr Turner to … statutory roles [including] election returning officer.
There are five sets of fees, some of which are set by external bodies:
Parliamentary elections fees which are set at Westminster – £2,685 for Brecon and Radnorshire and £2,500 for Montgomeryshire.
Welsh Assembly election fees of £4,730 for Brecon and Radnorshire and for Montgomeryshire it’s £4,730.
Elections for Police and Crime Commissioner (set by the Police and Crime Commissioner Board) – £2,870 for Brecon and Radnorshire and £2,574 for Montgomeryshire.
European Elections (which may not happen again) – £5,952.
Local Government elections £110 per contested ward and £55 per uncontested ward.
Lord Sacks: Look into his own behaviour and beliefs and his attack on Jeremy Corbyn loses all credibility.
It must be an amazing thing to see the world through the prism of Jonathan Sacks’s mind.
I would not recommend it, though; it does not seem pleasant at all.
Take a look at the way this former Chief Rabbi has perverted the words of Jeremy Corbyn, regarding that incident with the Zionists in 2013. Mr Corbyn, you will recall, had said a group of Zionists had listened to a speech by Palestinian representative Manuel Hassassian at Parliament, then complained about it by deliberately misrepresenting his words. He said they did not understand English irony – a clear reference to the fact that people whose first language was English had distorted the very clear meaning of a person for whom it was not the mother tongue. It was an entirely reasonable response.
And Lord Sacks said it was the most offensive statement by a senior UK politician since Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech!
But it gets worse. He also said Mr Corbyn had “given support to racists, terrorists and dealers of hate who want to kill Jews and remove Israel from the map” and labelled the Labour leader as an anti-Semite.
He has provided absolutely no evidence to justify these claims. None at all.
Let’s look at what he said about Mr Corbyn’s 2013 comment: “It was divisive, hateful and like Powell’s speech it undermines the existence of an entire group of British citizens by depicting them as essentially alien.” No, it does not.
If any part of the incident was hateful, it was the way the Zionists mentioned by Mr Corbyn had tried to twist Mr Hassassian’s words in order to score a political point. If anyone was being divisive, it was the same group of Zionists, for the same reason.
The claim that Mr Corbyn depicted an entire group of British citizens by depicting them as essentially alien falls for two reasons. Firstly, he was referring to a specific group of individuals – not every single Zionist who ever existed. Second, he was not depicting anyone as essentially alien by saying they did not understand English irony – thousands upon thousands of schoolchildren have grappled with the concept over the years and many adults still don’t understand it. He was simply pointing out the inherent irony in somebody who should understand English perfectly well, deliberately misrepresenting the very clear words of somebody whose grasp may justifiably be less strong.
I have laboured that point a little, but it needed to be made perfectly clear. Lord Sacks’s words were not true.
“When he implies that, however long they have lived here, Jews are not fully British, he is using the language of classic prewar European antisemitism.” It’s a good thing he wasn’t doing that, then.
Again, Lord Sacks raises a couple of points. First, Mr Corbyn was talking about Zionists, not Jews. The two are not the same and should never be conflated. As a rabbi, Lord Sacks knows that, and the fact that he did it anyway raises gravely serious questions about his motives. Secondly, Mr Corbyn said nothing about the bona fides of the Zionists’ nationality. He said they did not understand English irony, and that does not and cannot equate to implying that they are not British.
“When challenged with such facts, the evidence for which is before our eyes, first he denies, then he equivocates, then he obfuscates.” No, no, no and no.
First, the evidence of Lord Sacks’s claims is not before our eyes. The evidence supports Mr Corbyn every step of the way. Secondly, Mr Corbyn did not deny the facts – he stated them. Thirdly, he has not equivocated – it means using ambiguous language so as to conceal the truth or avoid committing oneself and if you need an example, watch Theresa May’s disastrous attempt to avoid telling Michael Crick whether she thought Nelson Mandela was a terrorist. Mr Corbyn was entirely straightforward in his response to the allegations against him. In a statement, he said he spoke to “defend the Palestinian ambassador in the face of what I thought were deliberate misrepresentations” from people “for whom English was a first language, when it isn’t for the ambassador”. He said: “I described those pro-Israel activists as Zionists, in the accurate political sense and not as a euphemism for Jewish people – and that is made clear in the rest of my speech that day. I am now more careful with how I might use the term ‘Zionist’ because a once self-identifying political term has been increasingly hijacked by anti-Semites as code for Jews.” No equivocation there! Obfuscation is the act of making something obscure, unclear or unintelligible and, again, it does not apply as a description of Mr Corbyn’s words.
“This is low, dishonest and dangerous.” Lord Sacks’s words are low, dishonest and dangerous.
“He has legitimised the public expression of hate.” There is no evidence to support this claim.
“Where he leads, others will follow.” This is meaningless. Lord Sacks may be trying to imply that Mr Corbyn is inciting others into hatred of Jews, but without evidence of him actually doing this, all he is saying is that people will follow the leader of the Labour Party. It is accurate to that extent, but no further – and that does not help Lord Sacks’s argument.
“We know our history better than Mr Corbyn.” But do they know Palestinian history better than Mr Hassassian? Mr Corbyn was not speaking in his own defence when he made his remarks, so Lord Sacks is trying to twist the facts here.
“We have learned that the hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews. Mr Corbyn’s embrace of hate defiles our politics and demeans the country we love.” The first sentence is so wide open to interpretation that it is essentially meaningless in the current context. The second is emotive nonsense. Mr Corbyn has not embraced hate – but a very good argument could be made that Lord Sacks has.
So Lord Sacks has deliberately twisted Mr Corbyn’s words; conflated Zionism and Judaism for no reason; and made unevidenced, false allegations.
These are typical examples of the tactics used by the anti-Corbyn element that has been trying to have Jeremy Corbyn removed under false pretences since 2016. Isn’t that when Shai Masot put up £1 million of Israeli government money for that very purpose?
Fortunately, the Labour Party is having none of this nonsense.
A spokeswoman said: “This comparison with the race-baiting Enoch Powell is absurd and offensive. Jeremy Corbyn described a particular group of pro-Israel activists as Zionists, in the accurate political sense – not as a synonym or code for Jewish people. Jeremy Corbyn is determined to tackle antisemitism both within the Labour party and in wider society, and the Labour party is committed to rebuilding trust with the Jewish community.”
And the luminaries of the social media were quick to seize on the former Chief Rabbi’s words – and rejected both them and him:
.@JewishChron and @BoardofDeputies Now Rabbi Jonathan Sacks They all grossly libel Jeremy Corbyn I am ashamed of being a British Jew They do not speak for me or for decent people
They picked up on his claim to know history better than Mr Corbyn, and turned it on him:
By likening Corbyn to Enoch Powell, they forget history. 23 April, 1977. Jeremy Corbyn, then Haringey Councillor, organised a counter demo in defence of London's Jewish Community & others, against the National Front -1,000 of whom marched through Wood Green. Corbyn is anti-racist pic.twitter.com/l1EpzsapZE
They found evidence to show that he was being disingenuous in comparing Mr Corbyn with Enoch Powell; he himself sees nothing wrong with Israel’s new “nation state of the Jewish people” law that established that country as a racist, apartheid state – so he himself supports racism:
Sacks on Israel’s new nation-state law: “I’m not an expert on this. My brother is, I’m not, he’s a lawyer in Jerusalem, he tells me that there’s absolutely nothing apartheid about this, it’s just correcting a lacuna".
Remarkable this gentleman would compare Corbyn to Powell.
And then there are the actions of Lord Sacks himself.
Sacks led a far-right march through Palestinian communities where protestors shouted "Death to Arabs". The intention was to drive Palestinians out of East Jerusalem. To the @guardian, this merely shows Sacks has "robust views". Now can you see how our media treats Palestinians? pic.twitter.com/CsXYSsXgzJ
Supporters of Lord Sacks tried to bite back, but all they did was confirm the points being made against him. The following tweets, involving Aaron Bastani’s suggestion that the rabbis who signed a letter condemning Mr Corbyn several weeks ago should have been researched, make this clear.
Mr Bastani attracted criticism for making the suggestion, and for pointing out that Lord Sacks recently supported a book that is said to have praised Enoch Powell and promoted racist ideas. In response, he demonstrated the falsehood of the argument put forward by Lord Sacks’s supporters, who were saying that his revelation of the former Chief Rabbi’s support for far-right and racist ideas meant that he – Mr Bastani – must be a racist.
Doesn’t compute, does it?
First thing leader of the opposition’s office should have done was examine record of 68 Rabbis signing letter. With most it is going to be a question of agreeing to disagree. Others like Sachs, will be right wing ultra-nationalists. Labour shouldn’t concede to such voices. https://t.co/jbsYVw4H2C
My pointing out Sack’s involvement with far-right elements within Israeli politics, as well as his saying a book by Douglas Murray was one of the best of 2017 (in it Murray praises Enoch Powell and promotes racist ideas) makes me a…racist.
The Russian government is the “chief protagonist” in a campaign aimed at undermining western democracies, the head of the UK intelligence agency MI5, Andrew Parker, has said.
“The Russian state’s now well-practised doctrine of blending media manipulation, social media disinformation and distortion along with new and old forms of espionage, and high-levels of cyber-attacks, military force and criminal thuggery is what is meant these days by the term hybrid threats.”
He cited the nerve agent attack in Salisbury, describing it as reckless, putting not only the former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, at risk but numerous others in the community. The Skripals’ recovery was down to the “near miraculous” medical treatment they had received, Parker said.
Russia had offered 30 different alternative theories about the attack, which he described as criminal thuggery. “Whatever nonsense they conjure up, the case is clear,” he said.
Hang on – Russia offered 30 theories about the attack? It seemed to me that it was the British authorities who couldn’t make up their minds, and the Russian government was responding to the multitude of bizarre conspiracy theories that resulted.
And what about the story that (so far) seems to ring true – that Sergei Skripal had been involved in the creation of the dossier on Donald Trump’s links with Russia – a dossier that appears to have been faked?
What about the claim that the attack on Mr Skripal and his daughter was carried out to stop the culprits being caught?
We need a statement from the UK government on the information that has appeared over the last few days – not a flat denial, referring to “intelligence” that seems to be nonexistent; something supported by provable facts.
Something we can believe.
Until we get that, there’s nothing our Tory government can say about this that is worth our attention.
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So Motability’s “£2.4 billion cash stockpile” is in fact nothing of the sort.
The money is needed to buy cars for people with disabilities and to protect it against business risks. That seems much more realistic than the far-right rag’s claims.
There does remain the matter of chief exec Mike Betts’s £1.7 million annual salary, which does seem exorbitant.
But an organisation’s remuneration schemes are its own business, and it seems entirely unfair of the Mail to complain about one executive being paid £1.7 million when others, such as bankers, take home far more while producing far less.
In a statement issued this afternoon, Motability Operations said: ‘The Daily Mail claims there is a £2.4 bn ‘cash stockpile’ or ‘spare £2.4bn’.
‘It’s quite clear to us that the Daily Mail has totally misunderstood what this £2.4 billion of reserves represents. It is not held as cash but is used to buy cars for disabled people. This reduces the amount of borrowing required.
‘It also underpins the scheme’s financial stability, protecting it from the business risks it faces, particularly in relation to used car values. The Charity Commission has today stated “that we consider the level of operating capital held by the company in order to guarantee the scheme to be conservative”.’
Moving on to the issue of the salary paid to Mike Betts, the charity said: ‘The remuneration of Motability operations directors is decided by the Motability operations board, based on the advice of their remuneration committee.
‘Remuneration is reviewed against the market to ensure that it is both competitive over the long term, and to ensure that any rewards are related to performance especially in relation to the quality of service provided to customers.’
It added: ‘The current chief executive of Motability Operations, Mike Betts, has been in place since 2003 and has been instrumental in ensuring the company is able to operate successfully and effectively.’
According to all the reports This Writer has seen, the government’s changes to Personal Independence Payment criteria mean thousands upon thousands of people have been losing the Motability cars that allowed them their valuable freedom.
So how is it that Motability’s chief executive is supposed to be pocketing such a vast amount of money every year?
It doesn’t make sense. The organisation should be contracting.
Can anybody shine a light on the reasons for this apparent contradiction?
A company providing taxpayer-funded cars for the disabled is hoarding £2.4 billion – and paying its boss £1.7 million a year.
The cash ‘surplus’ has been run up by Motability, a charitable scheme run by chief executive Mike Betts. Thanks to bonuses, incentives and pension payments, he pocketed 11 times as much as the Prime Minister in 2017, a Daily Mail investigation reveals.
The firm offers a fleet of vehicles to wheelchair users and others in return for part of their State disability allowance.
Sir David Clementi. The government adopted the recommendations of his report, which called the BBC Trust flawed and said oversight should be handed to Ofcom [Image: David Hartley/Rex/Shutterstock].
The Guardian‘s report on the appointment of Sir David Clementi as the new chair of the BBC misses two important points: He was formerly in charge of Margaret Thatcher’s privatisation programme, and he never applied for the job.
See for yourself, here:
Don't want to worry you, but new BBC chair Sir David Clementi was behind Thatcher's privatisation programme – incl. BT, gas and electricity: pic.twitter.com/RfODMaJQiK
Now, why do you think the Conservative Government would give the BBC to their arch-privatiser, even though he didn’t ask for the job?
We’ll have to keep this one under very careful scrutiny.
Sir David Clementi, a former banker with no broadcasting experience, has been confirmed as the new chair of the BBC.
Theresa May has confirmed the appointment of Clementi, the preferred candidate put forward by culture secretary Karen Bradley, who will lead the corporation’s new unitary board that will replace the BBC Trust on 1 April.
“I am confident that Sir David will provide the strong leadership necessary for the BBC to remain the world’s best broadcaster,” said Bradley.
“Sir David will bring a wealth of experience to the role and was the strongest candidate in an extremely competitive and high-calibre field. He has extensive experience as a chairman in both the commercial and not-for-profit sector and has a strong regulatory and business background. I am confident that under his direction, the nation’s broadcaster will continue to go from strength to strength.”
Workhouse: A former bus depot in Blackburn which is set to become a workhouse for up to 10 inmates.
The finance chief at Blackburn with Darwen Council is to consider more deeply the plan to turn a former bus depot into what could be a 21st-century workhouse, it seems, after a Vox Political commenter raised concerns.
Andy Kay said he did not disagree that, although a few people could be taken off the street by the scheme, it could be setting a precedent for the government to say anyone who claims housing, unemployment or sickness benefit must work in a workhouse or be homeless, in conversation with commenter Helen Pay.
“With what the government is doing already, this idea isn’t far-fetched,” she told This Blog.
“Andy didn’t know if the homeless people were going to be paid wages – but the minimum wage for a young person he looked up and is something crazy like £4. Would many people choose to sort recycling for £4 an hour?
“He also said about accomodation being paid for at housing benefit rates. So when I asked if these homeless people could then be paid the minimum wage and be topped up by the council paying housing benefit – which would be paid to the charity – to live on a recycling site, his attitude completely changed. He hadn’t considered this.”
She told us she had also found it useful, when Mr Kay said the bottom line was to help homeless people, to quote an idea she had submitted to the Royal British Legion: “To supply accommodation to homeless people that involved zero profit being made and was purely about helping people.”
She pointed out: “The ‘charity’ website of Recycling Lives even talks about these homeless people being farmed out to other companies and those companies paying the wages they would have paid – to Recycling Lives.”
Ms Pay added: “I also mentioned personal responsibility for future events – which he seemed to take on board.
“I said I hoped that if he investigated and found Recycling Lives was taking advantage of people that I would read in a newspaper article that Andy Kay had been a whistle blower and put a halt to this scheme.”
Questions to answer: Maria Miller, the minister for evasion, cannot be expected to respond. She obstructed Parliament’s inquiry into her expenses claims and her eventual apology for her misdeeds lasted just 32 seconds.
This blog asked yesterday whether Downing Street communications chief Craig Oliver was a liar, an incompetent, or both after he denied that government officers threatened the Daily Telegraph with tougher press regulation if it published its investigation into Maria Miller’s expenses.
It turns out he was both.
The Telegraph has now published a recording of the conversation between reporter Holly Watt and Miller’s advisor Joanna Hindley, on which its allegations are based. There can be no doubt that the reporter did indeed have Leveson held over her (corruptly); there can be little doubt that this was done at the request of Miller; and there can be no doubt at all that Mr Oliver knew about it.
So – a liar. And incompetent, because he had obviously discounted the possibility that the Telegraph reporter might have recorded the exchange.
It appears that Mr Oliver still has his job, despite having become the second person to disgrace it out of only two appointed by David Cameron. We cannot comment on Joanna Hindley.
The bullying, possibly blackmailing fraudster Maria Miller – who also persecuted thousands of disabled people while she was minister for equalities, also remains part of the government.
This speaks volumes about the lack of judgement displayed by ‘comedy’ Prime Minister David Cameron.
The longer he delays removing his rotten minister, her rotten advisor and his rotten media chief, the more rotten he and his government will become – in the opinion of the public.
And for this Prime Minister, public opinion is everything.
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