Tag Archives: detail

Why are Tories hiding details of £37bn ‘Test and Trace’ boss’s meetings – on grounds of expense?

Useless: Tory money pit and expertise vacuum Dido Harding.

The hypocrisy is stunning. It seems clear that Dido Harding has done something embarrassing that Boris Johnson wants to hide.

That’s the only reasonable explanation for the Tory government’s decision not to honour a request for details of meetings she held with other people and organisations since taking on the job of running the ‘Test and Trace’ organisation that has cost £37bn so far.

The Tories are saying honouring the Freedom of Information request by the Good Law Project would cost more than the £600 permitted for such matters, but this is ridiculous; these details have been deliberately omitted from a schedule of all meetings held by Department of Health and Social Care officials, ministers and advisers on a quarterly basis.

We can only conclude that the government does not want us to know who Harding has been meeting, what they discussed, and how much money she spaffed away as a result.

£37 billion is an enormous amount of money. Some commentators have suggested that ‘Test and Trace’ is nothing more than a conduit through which the Tories are corruptly draining the public purse, pumping money into the hands of people who are already extremely rich, in order to make sure poor people who really need help are deprived of it.

This response from the government shows that it really has no answer to that.

One appropriate reaction might have been to refer the matter to the government’s anti-corruption champion – but that would be John Penrose MP, who happens to be her husband. People are having doubts that he’ll do his job properly, for some reason…

And they certainly aren’t accepting the Tory line on this:

Some have even gone for the nuclear option – denouncing Harding for a lack of credibility on a stellar scale:

The simple fact is that the government should have published details of Harding’s meetings and chose not to.

This has focused attention on them. People want to know who she met, what was said, whether any money changed hands (without going through the normal tendering process) and if so, how much.

The longer the Tories drag their heels, the worse it will be.

Perhaps Harding could save everybody the bother by going back through her diary and producing a list? That wouldn’t cost £600 or even 600 pennies.

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Johnson’s contempt of the courts as Covid contracts are STILL unpublished

UK prime minister Boris Johnson missed his calling in life: he belongs in the circus.

Who can doubt that Boris And His Amazing Talking Backside would be a hit with audiences across the country, if not the globe?

And let’s be honest, it would be a far more appropriate place for him to make the kind of utterances he does.

There can be little doubt that most of Johnson’s conversation comes, not from his mouth, but from the other end.

He tends to give vent to short bursts of hot air with very little real content. And such content as there is, stinks.

A prime example of this verbal flatulence is the moment he claimed that all Covid-related contracts were “on the record for everyone to see” after Matt Hancock had been found to have broken the law by failing to publish them.

And were they?

Challenged about the ruling in the House of Commons on 22 February, Mr Johnson said: “All the details are on the record.”

The prime minister added: “The contracts are there on the record for everybody to see.”

But three days later, in a written legal response to the Good Law Project, seen by the BBC, government lawyers admitted 100 contracts for suppliers and services relating to Covid-19 signed before 7 October had yet to be published.

So they weren’t. And nobody is surprised because we all know that Johnson’s words don’t come from his mouth but from somewhere much lower down.

The other Tory claim about this – that the government has been “working tirelessly” to deliver protection for health and social care staff – was disproved the moment it was uttered.

We all remember that health staff had to fight Covid with no personal protective equipment at all when the first wave of the pandemic broke over the UK.

And social care staff actually carried it between homes, infecting – and killing – 30,000 residents.

When the High Court made its judgement against Matt Hancock last month, he was ordered to publish details of his contracts and pay £85,000 towards the costs of the Good Law Project, whose members brought the case.

The government hasn’t published those contracts. Shouldn’t Hancock now suffer a stronger penalty?

Source: Covid contracts still unpublished despite Boris Johnson’s claim – BBC News

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Hancock LIED when he said there was never a national PPE shortage. Here’s the evidence. Now demand his resignation

Yet again: the PPE used in UK hospitals at the start of the Covid crisis is pictured bottom right. The infographic was made when the UK had hardly any personal protective equipment – but now Matt Hancock is trying to save his job by claiming there was never any shortage.

The Death Health Secretary is trying to rewrite history:

Did you hear him?

One minute and 40 seconds in: “But there wasn’t a national shortage [of personal protective equipment – PPE] at any point.”

That is simply untrue.

Here he is in April last year, saying he’d love to wave a magic wand to resolve PPE shortages:

The Tory government of the day was told in 2016/17, after Operation Cygnus, that the UK’s health service would be unable to cope with a pandemic virus infection without plentiful supplies of protective equipment for health workers… and decided that such an investment was too expensive.

This led to a situation in March 2020 when an NHS procurement chief, Alan Hoskins tweeted: “What a day, no gowns NHS Supply Chain. Rang every number escalated to NHS England, just got message back — no stock, can’t help, can send you a PPE pack. Losing the will to live, god help us all.”

The tweet was subsequently deleted, possibly under duress as even then the Tory government was trying to hide the facts. As This Writer put it on April 3 last year: “it seems doctors have been warned not to make any comments about shortages on social media, as well as avoiding talking to journalists, and NHS England has taken over media operations for many hospitals and health trusts in order to ensure that they all stay “on message”.”

On April 17 I brought public attention to the plight of nurses who had been forced to wear bin bags instead of proper protection. According to Metro,

Three nurses who wore bin bags on their shifts due to a shortage in personal protective equipment (PPE) have reportedly tested positive for coronavirus.

Just weeks ago, the nurses had shared a photo of themselves with clinical waste bags on their heads and feet as they issued a plea for proper masks, gowns and gloves at Northwick Park Hospital, in Harrow.

I wrote: “One of them had said they were all “terrified” that this might happen, knowing that colleagues had caught the disease from patients, and having treated those colleagues. They had seen what the illness does… We know what the government that failed them is going to give them: Platitudes.”

How right I was.

On April 19 I quoted a Sunday Times piece on the Johnson government’s PPE failures that showed he had sent 278,800 items of protective kit to China in February – immediately before the UK had needed it:

Downing Street admitted on February 24 — just five days before NHS chiefs warned a lack of PPE left the health service facing a “nightmare” — that the UK government had supplied 1,800 pairs of goggles and 43,000 disposable gloves, 194,000 sanitising wipes, 37,500 medical gowns and 2,500 face masks to China.

Don’t worry – it seems we may be getting some of it back. It’s just that the government isn’t sure, having lost £15 billion worth of PPE, some of which it has bought (back?) from other countries including China:

The government is not sure where billions of pounds worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) is located, the head of the National Audit Office has disclosed.

Gareth Davies, the comptroller and auditor general, said outside consultants had been brought into Whitehall to find all equipment, which is stored at different sites around the country, or is in transit from abroad.

Under questioning from the public accounts committee, Davies said: “We have been working closely with the DoH. It has commissioned consultants to advise it on first of all understanding where all the PPE that has been bought actually is. It sounds like a strange question but it is a really big issue because it is not all standing neatly in an NHS store somewhere.

“We have amounts in containers, in storage around the country, there’s some on the docks and there is some en route somewhere from China.”

On April 18 last year, I quoted a Mirror report that

NHS doctors and nurses will be asked to treat patients infected with coronavirus without full-length gowns – or re-use the ones they have, it has emerged tonight.

The Government has been under fire for weeks over the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE), with some frontline staff warning that they have had to work in situations where they feel unsafe.

Public Health England guidelines currently state that full-length waterproof surgical gowns should by worn by medical workers to stop Covid-19 spreading into someone’s mouth or nose.

However, there has now been a U-turn advising staff to wear a flimsy plastic apron when gowns run out or not wear one at all

And Matt Hancock has the cheek to tell us now that there was never a shortage.

Here’s a tweet about PPE availability in one hospital on April 19:

The following day we learned a much-touted delivery of PPE from Turkey would last just three days. It had been previously reported that Boris Johnson had refused to join an EU scheme to provide PPE where it was needed (see the Peter Stefanovic tweet towards the top of this article).

On April 24 we found

The UK’s stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) for use in a pandemic…  has been outsourced to a private company, Movianto, which was sold two weeks ago for $133m (£107m) by its owner, a large US healthcare group.

Two days later the Turkish shipment of PPE arrived – and proved to be just one-twelfth of the expected amount.

Later in the Covid crisis we learned that the Tories were using the emergency procurement system which bypasses the competitive tendering process and allows the government to purchase items and services direct from chosen firms, was being abused.

Tories were giving cash to their cronies in return for equipment that simply wasn’t fit to be used.

The classic example is that of Board of Trade president (and cheese queen) Liz Truss, who spent £150 million of your money on 50 million face masks for the NHS that couldn’t be used.

She had been approached for the contract by one of her long-standing friends and advisors, Andrew Mills. Oh, and apparently it was sourced through a tax haven so this guy can keep all the money.

Mills was subsequently removed from his advisory position. But Truss didn’t go anywhere.

Tory ministers “learned the lessons” from this mistake by handing a further £180 million to their cronies for PPE.

Did we get it? Doubtful.

All the way down the line the Tories have failed us.

They gave away our PPE when we needed it.

They failed to join an international scheme to provide it where it was needed.

They failed to source it themselves.

They gave money to their friends and cronies who had no experience in providing PPE, and received trash in return.

As a result, health service professionals caught Covid-19. Many of them died.

And Matt Hancock, who is on video record from last year, saying he wished he could wave a magic wand and eliminate the PPE shortage, is now telling us he shouldn’t have to resign for breaking the law by hiding contract details – because he made sure there was never a PPE shortage.

He is a LIAR.

He should resign NOW.

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BoJob booed again as the new PM fails in Wales

Farmers at last weeks Royal Welsh Show demanded answers from new prime minister Boris Johnson about the effect of a “no deal” Brexit which they fear will harm exports and bring a fall in animal welfare and environmental standards – along with a massive cut in funding. If they expected answers when he visited Wales yesterday, they were disappointed.

Mr Johnson was booed as he arrived at the Welsh Assembly for talks with First Minister Mark Drakeford. He had previously visited a chicken farm near Newport and an online retailer in Brecon.

Boris Johnson: A clown, even when he isn’t wearing the make-up.

After behind-closed-doors discussions, Mr Drakeford was disparaging about BoJob. Here’s the BBC’s report of his words:

He held talks with Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford, who said there was a “deeply concerning lack of detail” from the new prime minister.

The Welsh Labour leader said he pressed Mr Johnson to explain the path to a deal with the EU but did not get a “clear sense” from him of what the plan would be.

Mr Drakeford said he emphasised the “catastrophic effect” a no-deal Brexit would have on the Welsh economy, and said the PM provided assurances of support for manufacturing and agriculture in such a scenario.

“But asked to describe the nature of that support, I’m afraid that there is a deeply concerning lack of detail that is available to people whose livelihood is on the line”, Mr Drakeford said.

The first minister said the PM told him there would be many new opportunities for Welsh agriculture and businesses, but he had “no sense again” there was detailed thinking behind what “otherwise becomes vacuous optimism”.

Mr Johnson said: “We’re not aiming for a no-deal Brexit, we don’t think that’s where we’ll end up.”

“This is very much up to our friends and partners across the channel,” he added.

A Welsh farmer called on Mr Johnson to stop “playing Russian roulette” with the lamb industry over the threat of a no-deal Brexit.

Members of the press are starting to call Mr Johnson “Maybot Mk II” after he refused to respond to a single on-camera question.

Adrian Masters of ITV Cymru/Wales explained on Twitter:

Of course, control of the mass media is a warning sign of fascism – see this article for the rest and consider how many other conditions the Conservatives have already met, and how many more they are likely to meet as BoJob’s leadership continues.

The fledgeling PM was much-criticised for leaving his meeting with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon by the back door.

Having failed in Wales, I wonder whether he left Mr Drakeford by the same route.

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Name benefit recipients if you like – but only alongside all taxpayers’ details

130623nameandshame

I just received this as a comment from Samwise Gamgee, who is a frequent friend of this page. It’s too interesting to leave as a comment so I quote it here in full:

‘Why Osborne must publish the names of every benefits claimant – and how much we pay them: An incendiary idea to save on our £500m A DAY welfare bill’.

“It seems Mark Littlewood, Director General for the Institute of Economic Affairs, wants to name (but not shame, he assures us) everyone in receipt of state benefits, including pensioners. From the article –

‘The welfare benefits claimed by every individual – including pensions, jobseeker’s allowance, bus passes, winter fuel payments and child benefit – should be put in the public domain.

“‘They should be listed, in full, on a publicly accessible website for all of us to inspect. Taxpayers have a right to know exactly who is claiming what and how much they are getting.”

“This mad idea is needed because the welfare bill ‘is ballooning out of control’. So how would such a proposal help reduce the bill? Well Mr Littlewood is clear that this will not be about naming and shaming people, but he does say taxpayers are entitled to know where their money is going (and to whom).

“So draw your own conclusions. I certainly have!”

The logical reply to that is, if taxpayers are entitled to know where their money is going, then everyone should be entitled to know where it originated.

In other words, by all means publish names and details of benefit recipients but, before this happens, let’s see the names and details of all taxpayers, including total earnings per year (before any tax avoidance schemes get into them) and the total amount of tax they pay.

The findings should make very interesting reading.

But do you know what?

If publishing the latter list is a precondition of publishing the former, I doubt anything will happen about it.