Tag Archives: COVID-19

Truss would divert NHS funds to social care as hospitals stop routine Covid tests. Foolhardy?

Truss: open mouth, insert foot.

Tory leader candidate Liz Truss would divert £13 billion earmarked for the NHS to social care, to catch up on delayed Covid treatment there.

Is that a good idea? It’s certainly populist. But isn’t diverting funds away from the NHS when routine asymptomatic Covid testing is about to end – and the disease has this summer caused almost twice as many deaths as last summer – extremely foolhardy?

Nobody expects the ending of tests to last because a surge of new Covid cases is expected in the autumn. But the decision to end asymptomatic testing has alarmed health experts who have cautioned against dismantling the surveillance of Covid while cases remain high.

As it is, the chief executive of health think tank the King’s Fund has said handing the money to social care is “robbing Peter to pay Paul”.

Richard Murray said it was “not a sustainable solution to the health and care crisis”.

In any case, it is unlikely that the money will actually materialise.

It is supposed to come from increased National Insurance contributions announced under Boris Johnson last year – but Truss wants to scrap the rise and find the cash from the general tax take (which is a contradiction in terms; public funding and taxation doesn’t work like that).

So as the NHS faces its worst winter crisis yet, the front-runner to be the new prime minister wants to take the imaginary money that was going to help it, and let it do its nonexistent good in social care. LUNACY!

Source: Liz Truss plan to divert NHS funds to social care is ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’

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Should Jacob Rees-Mogg be investigated by his own governmental fraud squad?

Rees-Mogg: he’s a cartoon character carrying out a cartoon job – nobody who has taken big money from the Tory government will be prosecuted, because they ARE Tories.

Jacob Rees-Mogg has launched a new organisation to investigate fraud that takes public money away from the UK government:

Never mind Covid-19 – should that “missing taxpayers’* cash” not include the kind of money that certain businesspeople have avoided paying as tax? Businesspeople like… Jacob Rees-Mogg, for example?

Sadly, the Rees-Moggs of this world never seem to have their collars felt.

*Taxpayers’ money doesn’t actually exist. Governments create the money they pump into the economy; they take money from taxpayers to prevent the system falling into an inflationary spiral due to too much cash remaining in the system.

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Partygate: Met Police Acting Commissioner pathetically tries to whitewash Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson: the prime minister is pictured participating in a party to mark the departure of Lee Cain from his Downing Street communications job – but according to Acting Met Police Commissioner Sir Stephen House, there is “no clear evidence” that he took part in the rampant Covid-19 rule-breaking there.

A police officer who witnessed “a large number of people” at a “crowded and noisy” party, where “some members of staff drank excessively” did not immediately take action over Covid-19 rule breaches because he was there for security and not to “police what goes on inside the building”, according to Met Police Acting Commissioner Sir Stephen House.

Have you ever read such nonsense? Police officers are sworn to uphold the law at all times, no matter what their stated duties are said to be. Would he have turned a blind eye to burglary, or rape, because he was assigned to “security”?

Apparently the same officer did not feel that a large number of drunken people in a crowded and noisy room breached Covid-19 regulations that strictly prohibited such social gatherings.

It’s no wonder this “acting” Commissioner’s other comments are also shockingly inadequate in the light of this.

House told the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee there was “no clear evidence” that Johnson had breached Covid-19 rules many times in Downing Street, despite the very clear photographic evidence of him participating in a party to mark the departure of Lee Cain from Downing Street on November 13, 2020.

This was not a “works gathering”. Far too many people were present and they were socialising and drinking alcohol – as was the prime minister, who gave a speech. The amount of time he spent there was immaterial because the rules in place at the time prohibited all such social events from taking place at all.

At least one attendee was fined for being at this event but there was “no clear evidence” that Boris Johnson was there or took part, according to House.

House also suggested that it was difficult for his officers to work out which gatherings were work-related and which were not. How daft! If alcoholic drinks were visible in the room, then they weren’t work-related. And in any case, if the room was packed with people, meaning they were not at least 2m away from each other in accordance with social distancing rules, they were breaking the law.

House said he was personally involved in the decision-making and was confident in the outcome of the police investigation. That should be enough for us to demand that he surrender his badge.

Is he selling us down the river so he can gain the favour of the top Tories?

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Covid HAS harmed online politics – but so have social media platforms that suppress alternatives

The Covid-19 pandemic and its lockdowns that forced so many of us online for our social interactions has polarised and poisoned political debate, according to some arguments.

But is it really the people reading and responding who are fouling the well, or the organisations dictating what they see and influencing how they respond?

This Writer’s experience is that people turned away from politics – hugely – during the lockdowns, and are now only slowly returning.

Vox Political had its highest-ever readership in March 2020 – nearly one million hits, and I think that was because I was reporting the failures of Boris Johnson’s leadership on Covid in an unbiased way.

Readership remained high during April and May, but then it suddenly and sharply dropped off during June.

It is certainly possible that some of this decline was due to the debate about Covid-19. In his article on the BBC News website, Richard Morris puts forward views that Dominic Cummings’s visit to Barnard Castle polarised the public, as did the debate on mask-wearing and the lockdowns themselves. I would add the debate on vaccination, also.

But who fuelled those debates? Suddenly the social media were full of “experts” we’d never heard of before, all screaming that their view was right and we were fools if we didn’t accept it.

Who promoted those views? Who gave them the space? Wasn’t it right-wing media outlets with an agenda to get people back out of their homes, never minding that they were in danger of death from the disease, and into work making money for rich industrialists again?

How many Tory MPs spent the whole of the crisis ranting about the economy when they should have been concerned with their constituents’ health?

And how many right-wing social media organisations minimised rational debate by using algorithms that push links to sites like mine down users’ notifications in order to starve us of followers and views?

I’m thinking of Facebook under Nick Clegg, and of Twitter, because those are main outlets of mine. Vox Political‘s following on FB has been static at 42,500 for years because of this mistreatment.

It’s a recordable phenomenon. I have lost count of the number of old readers who have contacted me to say they were amazed Vox Political was still going because they had not seen a link for (insert long time period here), despite having asked to be alerted when notifications are posted.

And sites like mine lose out on shares because people are afraid they will be criticised for supporting points of view that don’t conform with those of their more loudly-opinionated right-wing acquaintances who have only gained a platform because they have received preferential treatment.

None of this is properly addressed in the Morris article.

Instead we see information that five per cent of UK internet users are in a “left-wing echo chamber” and two per cent of them are in a similar position on the right.

We see an opinion that “it’s ‘only human’ for journalists, politicians and those in media to see extreme negative reactions to their posts online and for this to ‘colour your perception of the whole world the same way’, with no discussion of who is posting those reactions and why.

Do you remember the government’s Nudge Unit, which is now at least partly in private hands? It was a shady organisation David Cameron used to push the public into supporting his policies by subtly guiding us into decisions we would not have taken otherwise.

So, for example, people may have found themselves supporting the benefit policies that have killed thousands of good people for no reason, because they were “nudged” into believing that benefit claimants were all scroungers who were perfectly capable of work but were defrauding the system (tell that to the diabetes sufferer who could not keep his insulin at the right temperature because he could not afford to power his fridge – oh, but you can’t: he’s dead).

The article concludes by saying it may “take years to find out the lasting impact on society of what took place in the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021” – but I think it’s worse than that.

I think after those years have passed, we’ll be presented with a conclusion about what happened that suits the people in power now – because they will have used all the levers at their disposal, including manipulation of the social media by “nudging”, to make you believe them.

Call me paranoid if you like, but what did you think of mask-wearing and social distancing, of the lockdowns, of vaccinations before somebody told you they were wrong? How did that affect you? And how many people do you know who were swayed by these dangerous whispers?

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50 more fines for Downing Street partying reveal the scale of the lawbreaking

Christmas party: the fines announced today were for an event Boris Johnson was said not to have attended. Here’s an image of him from one he did.

The Metropolitan Police have fined 50 Downing Street employees for taking part in an illegal Christmas party there in 2020.

Prime minister Boris Johnson is not among those being fined this time, as it is understood he did not attend – but the new fines illustrate the scale of lawbreaking in Whitehall while the rest of us were being forced to observe strict social distancing rules that kept us from our loved ones while they were dying – and afterwards.

It is now clear that staff at Downing Street and Whitehall enjoyed a culture of lawbreaking that lasted for months on end – possibly more than a year – under the noses of Boris Johnson and his senior government ministers.

Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have already been served with fines, and with the prime minister believed to have attended at least three of the 12 gatherings under Met Police investigation. Also fined was Johnson’s wife Carrie, who had no reason to be anywhere near Downing Street employees under any circumstances at the time.

The announcement of the new fines must be like a noose tightening around Johnson’s throat; the police investigation is not close to being over – and a second, more detailed report from Cabinet Office civil servant Sue Gray, set to follow once the last fine has been served, threatens to be more damning than all of the penalty notices put together.

Johnson says he will have “plenty to say” about the scale of the lawbreaking “when the thing’s finished”.

But why won’t he say anything about it now?

He knows what happened and whether he took part in it.

But he has refused to provide any information himself, leaving it to investigators to discover the damning evidence – such as that which led to his first fine. If you are a UK citizen, your prime minister is a criminal.

And the decision to force others to drag out the incriminating information simply makes him look worse. We know he is a habitual liar so his determination to hide the facts should be no surprise – but if he is found to have lied to Parliament, he will have broken the Ministerial Code, and the refusal to apologise for doing so, plus the failure to admit his crimes, will make any such offence worse.

So it seems to This Writer that, at the end of the day, Boris Johnson won’t need to say “plenty”. His only option will be summed up in two words: “I resign.”

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Will Boris Johnson be tackled for ‘misleading’ House of Commons after Covid in care homes ruling?

Here’s something that happened after the end of the last Parliamentary session, but that should be raised in the new one.

More than 20,000 people died in care homes because of decisions made by Boris Johnson’s ministers (notably then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock).

Johnson made a statement in Parliament that ministers were not aware of asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 at the time they were ordering that care home residents in hospital should be sent back. The evidence shows it was false.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting claimed this was not true, highlighting a point of order raised by Labour’s Thangam Debbonaire, the shadow leader of the House of Commons.

Speaking to MPs on Thursday, Ms Debbonaire claimed the government was provided with evidence at the beginning of 2020 that pointed to that asymptomatic transmission of the Covid virus.

“On 28 January 2020, advice from Sage on asymptomatic transmission included that ‘early indications imply some is occurring,’” she said. On 24 February, the Lancet published a paper finding that infected individuals can be infectious before they become symptomatic.

“On 13 March, Patrick Vallance told the Today programme that ‘it’s quite likely that there is some degree of asymptomatic transmission’. Yet it wasn’t until 15 April that the government’s guidance was changed to require patients were tested before being discharged to care homes.”

Ms Debbonaire said Johnson might have “inadvertently” misled the House of Commons, but This Writer disagrees.

Either he was briefed on asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19, or he deliberately chose to miss the briefings at one or several of the COBRA meetings that he skipped (due to laziness?) in early 2020. In any case, the responsibility to know the facts fell on Johnson.

Therefore, if he told the Commons that ministers didn’t know about asymptomatic transmission, he was deliberately choosing to mislead MPs. He should be challenged and he should resign.

Source: Boris Johnson accused of ‘misleading’ House of Commons after Covid in care homes ruling

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Keir Starmer’s offer to quit if he’s fined for breach of lockdown: overconfidence?

Keir Starmer: he has absolutely no intention of quitting as Labour Party leader – but that’s exactly what he has promised to do if the police find him to have broken lockdown rules. What if his bluff is called?

It’s a big show of bravado but it could backfire badly for the most right-wing leader Labour has ever had.

Keir Starmer has said he will stand down as Labour Party leader if the police find him guilty of breaching Covid-19 lockdown rules in April 2021.

This Site has discussed the circumstances and the various claims here and here.

Culture Minister Chris Philp has accused the Labour leader trying to “pressure the police into clearing him”, which he called “deeply inappropriate”.

But that is not Starmer’s problem.

He has painted himself into a corner.

What are voters going to do if the police don’t clear him – and he decides not to quit after all?

You can be sure that he has absolutely no intention of going, no matter what happens.

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After the elections: should both Boris Johnson AND Keir Starmer lose their jobs?

All in it together: neither Boris Johnson nor Keir Starmer fared well in the local government elections, and both may have broken Covid-19 lockdown laws. So it may be appropriate for both their jobs to be in danger.

There’s no doubt about it: the local elections have been a disaster for the Conservatives – and far from a victory for the Labour Party.

The Tories have lost 490 council seats in England, Wales and Scotland, with blame being placed squarely on the shoulders of Boris Johnson for his Partygate scandal and his failure to keep the cost of living within reasonable levels.

Conservative MPs are certain to be discussing whether Johnson has a future as prime minister over the next few days, before starting to make decisions about it after the new Parliamentary session begins.

They will also discuss the policy direction of Johnson’s government, with Yeovil MP Marcus Fysh quoted by the BBC as saying, “I do think radical change in the policy is required and, if it doesn’t happen, there really isn’t an electoral future for the party, because I think it will get crucified at the next election having bombed the economy.

“And if the team [running the government] is not able to adapt to reality, then the team needs to make way for someone else.”

But Labour – or at least Keir Starmer’s side of it – is in an equally precarious situation after voters gave a lukewarm response to his offer.

His party made some gains in London – and crowed about taking over Westminster, Wandsworth and Barnet councils from the Tories – but lost Harrow council to the Tories, while the mayoralties of Croydon and Tower Hamlets also went to a Tory and to Lutfur Rahman and his Aspire organisation respectively.

Labour gains outside London were hardly worth mentioning. It took the new Cumberland unitary authority, and Southampton – but failed to take authorities where it had been expected to make gains, including Hartlepool, Peterborough, Redditch and Ipswich.

While the Tories have lost support in the south of England, Labour lost more in the north. It seems to have drained from both parties to the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party.

Of all Labour’s net gains – 137 seats, 65 of them were in Wales where the party is led by “continuity Corbyn” First Minister Mark Drakeford. The contrast is made more clear if we compare Labour’s gains with those of the Greens.

In England, Labour gained 52 seats while the Greens gained 60.

In Scotland, Labour won 20 seats with the Greens close behind on 16.

But in Wales, Labour was boosted by 65 seats, while the Greens could only muster up an extra eight.

The message is clear: the voting public doesn’t want Starmer’s tepid Tory policies; we want a genuine alternative to the Conservative nightmare that has engulfed the UK for more than 12 years, and we won’t be told his party of empty suits is the only alternative.

Indeed, as Skwawkbox quoted a left-winger in Harrow: “Despite expelling their best activists, despite purging all the left who wanted to stand despite disenfranchising in a most brutal persistent fashion, [Labour has] shown a talent for catastrophe with all [its] handpicked candidates.”

But you won’t hear that from Starmer himself! He’s living in a fantasy England where Labour is on the crest of a wave: “From the depths in 2019 we are back on track now for the general election, showing what the change that we’ve done, the hard change that we’ve done in the last two years, what a difference it has made.”

He actually claimed the results marked a “massive turning-point for the Labour Party”.

So perhaps it is just as well that he is about to have his attention occupied by a police investigation into whether he broke the law by having a beer in a Labour MP’s office during Covid-19 lockdown.

Durham Police had said it would not re-open an investigation into the incident in April last year, when Starmer was taking part in an online event ahead of a by-election in neighbouring Hartlepool.

But immediately after the local elections took place, the service changed its story, saying it had received “significant new information” but had delayed an announcement until after the vote.

If the finding is that the Labour leader did break the law, he will face calls from Tory MPs demanding that he resign. Sauce for the goose; he has demanded Boris Johnson’s resignation after the prime minister was fined for the same offence, after all. And if Starmer is fined, both leaders will be said to have lied about it.

But there is a significant difference between them: Johnson drew up the rules by which he demanded the rest of us should live, and it was on his behalf that police forces across the UK enforced those rules. He then deliberately broke those rules. And then he lied about having broken them to Parliament, which is an offence for which an MP may be expelled.

Starmer may have merely broken the rules while believing he was following them.

Ultimately, the difference may be irrelevant; Starmer has failed to win convincingly in a midterm election and is therefore unlikely to win a general election, so his party’s “grey suits” may use the so-called “BeerGate” affair as an excuse to remove him.

Either way, it seems clear that neither the Tory nor Labour leader should feel secure in their jobs.

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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Tory government caused tens of thousands of Covid-19 care home deaths unlawfully

Dr Cathy Gardner: she was one of those who took the government to the High Court, after the care home death of her father, Michael Gibson.

Watch (and/or listen to) this:

“The thing that we didn’t know in particular was that Covid could be transmitted asymptomatically,” said Boris Johnson.

Not true.

In their judgment, Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Garnham found that the government failed to take into account the risk to elderly and vulnerable residents from non-symptomatic transmission, which had been highlighted by Sir Patrick Vallance in a radio interview as early as March 13, 2020:

“Those drafting the March Discharge Policy and the April Admissions Guidance simply failed to take into account the highly relevant consideration of the risk to elderly and vulnerable residents from asymptomatic transmission.”

The government stopped testing for Covid-19 on March 12 that year, due to a lack of capacity, and care home residents weren’t regularly tested until April 15, by which time the virus was rampant.

The Commons’ own Science and Technology Committee pointed out in May that year that, despite having been warned about asymptomatic transmission, and despite evidence suggesting a “high proportion” of people with Covid-19 – possibly as high as 80 per cent – have no symptoms at all, the government’s approach to dealing with asymptomatic carriers was still unclear.

And more than 20,000 people died.

This Writer hopes the judgment opens the way for the families of the deceased to claim compensation from the government – although, sadly, any such payments are likely to be paid from the public purse, rather than directly by the Tory Cabinet ministers responsible, such as Boris Johnson and then-health secretary Matt Hancock.

The deaths of this multitude of people are their responsibility. It’s no wonder that bereaved families have demanded Johnson’s resignation.

He has ignored the demands, as usual. He doesn’t care that thousands of people died. Remember – he’s alleged to have said “let the bodies pile high in their thousands” at a later date.

But there will be an inquiry into the lessons to be learned from the Covid-19 pandemic next year.

Perhaps it will recommend that those responsible be brought to justice for the deaths they have caused (but I doubt it).

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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NHS experts say Covid-19 is crippling the health service; Downing St doesn’t want to know

The message from Downing Street: who do you believe? NHS experts, or this dozy windbag?

You remember NHS experts saying the surge in Covid-19 infections is threatening the service, with serious delays and falls in the quality of care?

Downing Street couldn’t care less.

The NHS Confederation has now joined the Society for Acute Medicine in warning that the government should reintroduce greater mask-wearing and encourage mixing outdoors – as the health service is already suffering a “major impact”.

This is the response:

Downing Street rejected the proposals but said that it was “alive to the pressures” that the NHS is facing.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: “There is no change to our guidance and our living with Covid plan still stands.

“Thanks to a combination of vaccination and treatment and our better understanding of the virus we are now able to manage it as we do with other respiratory infections, so that remains the case with our approach.

“But obviously we continue to monitor any changes in the behaviour of the virus.”

How incredibly ignorant.

NHS Confederation chief exec Matthew Taylor is right, isn’t he?

He said: “The brutal reality for staff and patients is that this Easter in the NHS is as bad as any winter.

“We have a Government that seems to want to wash its hands of responsibility for what is occurring in plain sight in local services up and down the country.

No 10 has seemingly abandoned any interest in Covid whatsoever.

“NHS leaders and their teams feel abandoned by the Government and they deserve better.”

Source: Downing Street rejects NHS leaders’ plea for more Covid-19 curbs | The Independent

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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