Tag Archives: England

Tories finally tell PRIMARY schools in LONDON to stay closed. Union calls for rest of England to do the same

Wearing the dunce’s cap again: for Gavin Williamson, the reopening of schools at the height of the Covid crisis isn’t a hard decision – he does what he’s told to do by Boris Johnson. That’s why he has made a fool of himself – and why he is deliberately endangering your children and (if you are a parent) you.

Could anything better illustrate the weakness of Boris Johnson and his Conservative government?

They want to keep the UK’s economy going, despite having done everything possible to let Covid-19 rampage through the population while pretending to restrict it.

So they need to keep schools open, so parents don’t have an excuse to stay at home.

That’s why none of their restrictions/lockdowns since September have included schools.

They seemed ready to keep up this farcical charade into the New Year – even though Covid-19 infection rates have soared and schools are the most common vector – right up until January 1, days before the new school term was due to begin.

Then – at the very last minute once again, meaning parents’ plans have been thrown into chaos for no good reason – Education Secretary Gavin Williamson u-turned, signing off on a plan for all primary schools to remain closed for the time being…

In London.

For clarity, you need to be aware that secondary schools and colleges were already set to be closed to most pupils for the first two weeks of term, while primaries in 50 local authorities in London and southern England were also told to remain closed until January 18.

It was only after council leaders in 10 other London boroughs, where Covid transmission rates are high but schools were told to remain open, said they would defy the government and support closures that Williamson agreed to close them all.

He had been backed into a corner. Whatever he did would have led to humiliation so he chose the option that would not result in open defiance.

But his decision only covers those 60 local authority areas in London and the south, prompting education unions – most prominently the National Education Union – to ask:

Why are are children and parents in the rest of England being left vulnerable to Covid?

The National Education Union’s joint general secretary, Mary Bousted, has called on the government to close schools across that country (remember: education is a devolved responsibility so the governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland choose whether their schools will open or not).

According to the BBC,

In Wales, there will be “flexibility” at the beginning of term, with teaching due to start in most places from 4 January. Schools are expected to offer face-to-face learning for most pupils by 11 January, with a full return by 18 January.

In Northern Ireland, primary school pupils will be taught online until 11 January. In secondary schools, years 8 to 11 will be taught online throughout January. Years 12 to 14 will return to school after the first week of January.

In Scotland, the Christmas holidays have been extended to 11 January, and the following week will be online learning only. A full return to face-to-face learning is planned for 18 January.

Dr Bousted pointed out that it is impossible to stop children from mixing with each other in large numbers and if just one has the virus, then they all may catch it and transmit it to their families – and out into the community:

She added, on Andrew Castle’s LBC radio talk show, that teachers have a legal right to refuse to work if they think opening schools will create a health risk:

For Gavin Williamson, the situation has now become extremely precarious:

Will Williamson cave in again, or will he stand accused of condemning thousands to catch the virus when the NHS cannot take the strain and fatalities are rising?

And what will happen to Boris Johnson’s precious economy if this irrational stubbornness over schools creates knock-on havoc in business and industry?

Whatever happens, responsibility for the result will lie entirely with Johnson and his Conservative government. But we, the people, will pay the price.

Source: All primary schools in London to remain closed after U-turn | Schools | The Guardian

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BBC’s Munchetty calls out Williamson for forcing BAME English children to sit exams. Gammons are furious

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was put on the back foot over his plan to force disadvantaged black and minority ethnic children in England to sit exams, despite the disruption of Covid-19 – and racists across the UK supported him.

Interviewed by the BBC’s Naga Munchetty, he gave an incoherent performance in which he tried to say that disadvantaged children always fare better in exams than when their results depend on teacher assessments.

Was he basing his claim on the fiasco that he himself caused last summer – when a Tory government-created computer algorithm automatically assigned higher grades to pupils at public schools and artificially lowered those of pupils considered to be disadvantaged, without any reference to the grades that had been predicted for them, if they had been able to take exams as normal?

I think he was.

Look at this:

” Children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds and children from Black and ethnic minorities communities are given the best advantage by sitting examinations and having that test.”

Because it means they won’t fall foul of Williamson’s brutally biased algorithm?

Munchetty interrupted, setting him up for a fall: “I understand from that point then that those disadvantaged children in Wales and Scotland are going to be more disadvantaged because they’re not having exams.”

This should put an obvious further question in viewers’ minds: What if, when it happens, they’re not? What if the Welsh and Scottish systems provide accurate assessments of these pupils’ abilities?

Won’t Williamson – and the government he represents – then appear to be attacking children who are trying to work their way out of the disadvantages that their social positions have forced on them, simply because he can?

Sadly, our thickie Education Secretary didn’t even realise he was walking into a trap, and carried on blithely: “Every study that has been carried out that’s looked at this has shown that predicted grades most disadvantage children from the poorest backgrounds.

“Predicted grades and teacher assessments disadvantage children from Black and ethnic minorities so we do believe exam assessment is the best form.”

His predicted grades, maybe. Teacher assessments were overridden by his predictions, as the huge scandal over school exams last summer made clear.

This Writer thinks we’re going to see a shocking contrast between exam scores for disadvantaged and BAME children in England and those in the rest of the UK next summer.

The kids in England – whether they sit exams or not – or likely to fall far behind those in the other countries, where their abilities will be assessed using a fair system that has nothing to do with Tory algorithms that falsely weight results in favour of kids who are already absurdly privileged.

And Williamson – along with his corrupt Tory pals – will be exposed again.

Of course the gammons in the BBC Breakfast News audience were incensed at Munchetty for daring to hint that their Tory minister might possibly discriminate against people of minority racial backgrounds and the poor (as they have throughout history):

If you check the critics’ bios, you’ll see that most of them are anonymous, with few followers – classic signs of trolls or paid bots.

And it seems they flooded Twitter after the interview in the hope that they could fool you into thinking Munchetty was in the wrong.

She wasn’t. I trust Vox Political readers can think for themselves, rather than be guided by people who are paid to lie to you.

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Should anyone be surprised that Brexit will cost more than Covid – in the long term?

This Writer’s initial reaction to Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey’s claim that a no-deal Brexit will cost more than Covid was:

Is that because most of the cost of Covid was due to short-term profiteering by Tory crony companies?

The cost to the UK of this nonsense is short-term, though; when the pandemic is finally under control, the profiteers won’t have an opportunity to screw any more cash out of the Treasury.

But the loss of the free trade deals the UK enjoyed as a member of the European Union will have long-term effects that may last many years:

LSE modelling estimates a reduction in GDP worth 8% over a decade compared with remaining in the EU.

Asked about the research, Bailey said economic models suggested there would be long-term consequences, as it could take a long time for the UK to adjust to a new trading relationship. “It takes a much longer period of time for the real side of the economy to adjust to the change in openness and change in the profile of trade,” he said.

Bailey was talking about the effects of a “no-deal” Brexit but be warned that even a deal will place the UK at a disadvantage.

Source: No-deal Brexit to cost more than Covid, Bank of England governor says | Politics | The Guardian

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Schools are still open in #Lockdown2 but Johnson’s government is offering only lessons in confusion

“Perfectly safe”: this photo was taken on a school staircase after Boris Johnson ruled that it was “perfectly safe” for children to go back there in September – no social distancing, no PPE… not safe at all. Now it seems the Tories don’t even know what to do with the youngsters they have sent back there. Was it only so they could catch Covid-19 and pass it on to their parents?

Here’s a terrifying statistic:

(Let’s not have any comments from twits who don’t know term started in September and school have just come back from half-term week.)

In the last week, the figures look like this:

I sympathise with the sentiments expressed in the tweet, too.

Official figures also show 23,287 new cases recorded in the UK on Friday (November 7).

Many of these new cases – and deaths – may be attributable to the decision to reopen schools in September; children are “super-spreaders” because, by and large, they don’t take as much care not to spread germs as adults.

The fact that schools aren’t being closed is considered by many – including This Writer – to be an indication that the Tories don’t want their new English lockdown to succeed.

And it isn’t even as if Boris Johnson’s government knows what to do with all the kids who are back at school:

After the Times Educational Supplement revealed that the government hasn’t even bothered to plan the school year in advance, taking into account the possibility of Covid-19 interference in next year’s exams, it turns out that staff are working flat-out to accommodate contradictory demands from the Department for Education, some being changed within hours:

Michael Rosen is right – it is “dictatorship through incompetence”.

Where is the electorate’s power of removal? Boris Johnson has already caused a national disaster and four more years of him could finish us all off completely.

AFTERTHOUGHT: It would be well worth the Labour Party putting forward a Bill for the electorate to be able to call another election in the event of serious government incompetence.

It would be blocked – but the Tories could not do so without admitting – at least tacitly – not only that they are incompetent, but that they know they are.

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Why is this Liverpool hospital being penalised for a political decision by NHS England?

Overwhelmed: across the northwest more than 2,660 patients are in hospital with Covid-19, including more than 200 patients on a ventilator.

You might think it is fair for the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to take possibly punitive action against the Liverpool University Hospitals Trust.

Trust medical director Tristan Cope had, in fairness, warned that the hospital had been overwhelmed by coronavirus and standards of care could no longer be maintained.

But would it be fair if, as he also claims, NHS England has been blocking the hospital from enacting plans that would redeem the situation – in the name of politics?

Here’s The Independent:

In the WhatsApp message to doctors, shared with The Independent by multiple sources, Dr Cope, a consultant in anaesthesia and critical care, said: “LUH is now essentially overwhelmed by the demand. We cannot maintain patient flow and usual standards of care. We have put forward a proposal to further reduce elective [planned] activity, but maintaining capacity for the most urgent cases that would suffer from a two-four week delay.

“It is a very sound plan that our divisional teams have worked up. However, NHS England are prevaricating and delaying with the usual request for more detail, more data, etc. It is clear to me that the politics is outweighing the patient safety issues of the acute crisis.

“There has been no meaningful support from the acute cell or NHS England. In fact, they are blocking us from acting in a rational way that would help us to manage the acute pressures.”

He added: “I am utterly demoralised by the catastrophic leadership failure at a national and regional level. I feel I have done everything I can in terms of escalation and lobbying for some courageous and meaningful action, but apparently to no avail, at least so far. Not sure what else I can do.”

Liverpool has been hit hard by the escalation of Covid-19 in recent weeks, as more and more people have succumbed to the virus as a result of Tory government policies that have allowed it to spread.

The Independent article’s comment from an NHS England spokesperson avoids the substantive issue already – merely commenting that the service is treating more people now than at the height of the first wave.

The statement also says more “clinical support” has been brought in from elsewhere in the region, but this must be balanced with the fact that it has demanded asymptomatic staff testing.

And who is going to be providing the facilities to test every single person in Liverpool, as often as necessary, as the government has claimed?

It seems clear that – yet again – the Tory “make do and mend” approach to medicine is heading for disaster. Perhaps Boris Johnson would treat the matter seriously – if only he were affected by it personally.

Source: NHS bosses accused of ‘putting politics before patient safety’ as leading hospital struggles to cope with second wave | The Independent

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#Lockdown2 highlights the Tory way: lie in haste – deny at leisure

Robert Jenrick: every time he turns up he’s telling a different story.

The Johnson government’s promises about its November lockdown in England – and the effect it will have on the other UK countries – are falling apart. Quelle surprise.

It should be clear to even the most casual spectator that it is now the Tory way to make wild promises alongside a major announcement of this kind, in order to put people off their guard.

They then renege on those promises in the days following the announcement – if they aren’t called out on the falsehoods first.

So here we see Boris Johnson telling the House of Commons that there will be funding to keep employees in furlough – across the UK, even in countries where lockdown does not coincide exactly with that in England…

… and Robert Jenrick, not 24 hours later, confirming that it won’t.

Kay Burley’s response to Jenrick is well worth preserving here:

“Don’t worry about repeating yourself, it’s very important to the people of Scotland. It might make the difference between being able to feed their families and not.”

That also applies to Wales; it applies to Northern Ireland.

Water off a duck’s back to Jenrick, though. He genuinely couldn’t care less if your kids starve.

The lie was told by Boris Johnson to the leader of the Scottish Tories, Douglas Ross – but people all over Scotland will be harmed because of it:

Perhaps less critically-important is the ability to play tennis and golf.

Michael Gove said on Sunday that tennis courts and golf courses would be open during the lockdown. Jenrick then merrily told BBC Breakfast News that they wouldn’t:

Worst of it all is that we can’t trust a word that Jenrick said – and I’m not referring to the fact that, in terms of corruption, he’s as bent as a nine-pound note.

Consider the knot into which he tied himself when talking about the new plan to test everybody in Liverpool for Covid-19:

Oh, really?

So how many tests are available to Liverpool, then?

He didn’t know.

It’s another test, track and trace disaster-in-the-making – and another Tory lie.

I don’t think any UK country will get furlough cash after December 2; Johnson just said that to keep us all quiet.

I don’t particularly care about tennis courts and golf courses but I’m sure those who do will be upset that they must close. In fact, all sporting facilities, including local gyms (for example) perform a vital function for not just physical but also mental health, and there is a strong argument for keeping them open that the Johnson government won’t hear, because it isn’t actually interested in our health at all.

And I certainly don’t think a Labour city like Liverpool is going to get the benefit of a decent Covid-19 testing system when the Tories haven’t managed it anywhere else in the UK!

The tactic is clear: say what people want to hear – because the line can always be changed tomorrow.

Next week the Tories and their Twitter trolls will be denying that they ever misled us – and that will be another lie to add to the list.

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There’s a good reason we shouldn’t all take vaccines that have Tony Blair’s support!

Tony Blair: He might look tight-lipped in this image but when he opens his mouth, he’s dangerous.

New Labour has-been and alleged war criminal Tony Blair has been trying to be relevant again.

His fan club has been singing his praises after he announced an outline plan of what Boris Johnson’s government should be doing during it’s four-week November lockdown in England.

And fair play to him – at least he has a plan. Johnson’s will be to give even more of your money to private-enterprise ‘test, track and trace’ snake-oil charlatans who won’t deliver anything and wait for herd immunity to kick in, no matter how many people die before it does.

Here’s Blair’s plan:

What a shame it falls down in the details!

You see, the vaccines he wants to deploy have not been proven safe – or even particularly effective – yet, and look at the kind of people supporting him on it:

(Tom Harwood writes for the odious Guido Fawkes Tory-support blog. If he’s supporting Tony Blair, what does that make Blair?)

This is Blair’s perennial problem. He comes out with these grand overarching schemes, but the minutiae let him down.

For instance, do you remember when he said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs)?

In fact, Iraq destroyed its chemical weapons stockpile and halted its biological and nuclear weapon programs in 1991, more than a decade before Blair made the speech quoted above.

But the UK still went to war in Iraq – and that’s why many of us want to see Blair tried in The Hague for war crimes.

Looking at it objectively, would you put your health in the hands of this reckless cowboy?

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Welsh Tory MP voted to starve English children while Welsh Labour feeds those in her constituency

I raise this to point out the hypocrisy of Conservative MPs.

Last December, people in This Writer’s constituency – Brecon and Radnorshire, in Wales – voted Conservative Fay Jones into Parliament as their MP.

The Welsh government – run by the Labour Party – has already legislated to ensure that children who have been flung into poverty by UK-wide Tory policies and/or by the Covid-19 crisis will enjoy free school meals to ensure they do not grow hungry.

Last week, Jones was among the 322 MPs who voted to ensure that English children – afflicted in the same way by Tory policies – starve.

What utter hypocrisy.

The worst part of it is that people here will probably vote for her again, in the mistaken impression that she had something to do with the decision to provide free meals for children here in Wales.

I note that Ms Jones has been in Parliament for less than a year but has already incurred expenses claims totalling £25,717.57 – equivalent to the average wage in the UK – on top of her MP salary of around £82,000. She seems far more a waste of money than English children – the feeding of whom I would consider to be more an investment.

It is notable that she has also received a supporting donation from the bottled water company Radnor Hills, totalling £10,000.

Considering that fellow Tory MP Selaine Saxby has said she hopes firms providing food to starving English children should not seek government support, it seems appropriate that this firm (that would receive any such support from the Labour-run Welsh government, rather than Westminster) should be deprived of public support in return for backing Jones.

Don’t you agree?

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Tory heretic Baker says Church of England could lose official status for criticising Brexit

Steve Baker: what’s the line I’m looking for? “Before he demands the bishops remove the mote from their eye, he should remove the plank from his own”?

Perhaps Steve Baker should be excommunicated? His true religion appears to be Brexit, anyway.

After Church of England bishops spoke out in the House of Lords against Boris Johnson’s ridiculous ‘Australia-style’ (read: ‘no deal’) Brexit, the oily Baker slithered straight to The Times with his ridiculous suggestion.

The Times is behind a paywall, which limits the damage. I certainly won’t pay Rupert Murdoch any money just to see what he said… but then I don’t have to. Here’s what he said:

I don’t know why Tories say stupid things like this, though. It only lays them wide open to mockery and ridicule, viz.:

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Brexit will ruin the Garden of England; Brits respond in typical style

Farage’s legacy: it may not look like much now, but when it’s finished, this huge segment of the Garden of England will be a lorry park for 1,700 vehicles – the Farage Garage. The Jacob Rees-Bogs haven’t been installed yet.

This has been cracking me up since I first heard of it this morning (October 16) and I’m only sorry I had to wait until now to write an article about it.

It seems the practical upshot of Brexit is that Kent – also known as the Garden of England – is being bulldozed, in order to turn it into an enormous lorry park.

This is all being carried out by a political organisation that describes itself by the misnomer of “Conservatives”. What are they conserving, exactly?

British people, knowing that this is a result of the nation leaving the European Union, have dubbed the first such lorry park – set to hold 1,700 vehicles – the ‘Farage Garage.

Apparently the on-site toilets have been designated the ‘Jacob Rees-Bogs’.

Twitter has been gridlocked with it. See for yourself:

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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