Tag Archives: government

Damning: Parliament reports on Johnson government’s Covid-19 response – and pulls no punches

 

Boris Johnson’s government has failed to address the Covid-19 crisis in any reasonable way, according to a new report by his fellow MPs.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus published its interim report today and it is scathing in its criticism of Johnson and his cronies.

At 91 pages’ length, there is far too much material for me to publish an in-depth analysis so soon – but I don’t have to. The introductory conclusions are damning enough. Here are some highlights:

The UK government’s approach to tackling the coronavirus pandemic has been based on the
false choice between saving lives or saving jobs and the economy.

The centralised and outsourced Test and Trace system operating in England is not working. It
has consistently failed to meet the required target of 80% of contacts traced to be effective.

The UK government has prioritised arbitrary testing targets over a coordinated testing
strategy.

The UK government’s outsourced tracing service has consistently traced only 60% of contacts,
well below the required 80% target. Local contact tracing services have been much more
successful, regularly tracing 90% of the contacts.

Without adequate financial support and general assistance to isolate, the requirement to
isolate is not being complied with by a significant proportion of cases. As a result, the chains
of transmission are not being broken, and cases continue to rise.

Lockdowns have become the UK Government’s only solution to bringing down the incidence
of Covid-19 in England, because it does not have a locally led Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and
Support system in place throughout the country.

The inability for local authorities to access the precise real-time data has significantly impaired their ability to work effectively at a local level to contain outbreaks.

Centralised identification of, and communication with, those shielding has not been
consistent or clear.

Councils need clarification on the resumption of the policy of ‘everyone in’ (ensuring
accommodation for all homeless people).

UK government advice and guidance on shielding and on visiting those in residential care has
been inconsistent and unclear.

UK government public health messaging has been inconsistent and unclear.

Testing

Access to testing for frontline NHS and social care staff has been unsatisfactory, resulting in
staff being absent from their role while they or their family members wait for test results. This
impacts on the ability of the NHS and social care sector to provide care.

The international standard for the turnaround time of tests is 24 hours. The APPG
recommends that the UK government improves turnaround time for tests, such that all
results are accessible within 24 hours.

The APPG finds that there has been inadequate coordination between Pillar 1 (NHS) and Pillar
2 (commercial) laboratories, which has detrimentally affected testing capacity, information
flows and management decisions.

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the capacity deficiencies in the UK’s public health
laboratory capability: existing public health laboratories did not have the capacity to meet
the surge in demand posed by Covid-19.

The recently announced proposals for testing at airports are not sufficient.

Personal Protection Equipment

There was an insufficient supply of PPE for those in the social care sector
and NHS.

Public Health England

The reorganisation of Public Health England would be detrimental to UK’s ability to respond
to the coronavirus pandemic.

Support for the NHS

Before the coronavirus pandemic, NHS England had around 106,000 FTE vacancies including
nearly 44,000 nurses and more than 9,000 doctors.

Support for the Social Care sector

The social care sector did not receive sufficient support in terms of PPE, guidance, testing or
quarantining provisions for those coming from the NHS into social care settings.

At the outbreak of the pandemic, there was a shortage of 100,000 social care staff.

Oversight of the social care sector was stopped in March 2020 due to a lack of testing
availability for Care Quality Commission inspectors.

Isolation is having a devastating impact on those in social care. All people living in care or
supported living need to be safely reconnected with their support networks for the crucial
emotional and practical support that friends and families provide.

Inequalities

NHS staff, and in particular those from BAME backgrounds, have experienced bullying and discrimination in the workplace when raising questions of workplace safety and lack of PPE.

The impact [of the Covid-19 crisis] has been particularly detrimental on those living in areas of high deprivation, on people from BAME communities, on older people, men, those with a learning disability and others with protected characteristics.

Long Covid

As a medical condition, Long Covid has not yet received full recognition, sufficient research
funding or adequate rehabilitation support.

There are insufficient guidelines for employers and GPs on recognising and managing Long
Covid.

The UK government is not counting the number of individuals who are left with long-lasting
effects of Covid-19 as a measure of the severity and impact of the pandemic.

Mental Health

Covid-19 has had severe impact on the mental health of a significant proportion of society. This may be because of isolation, loss of income, or loss of daily routine.

There has been an increase in demand for mental health support services, with many individuals seeking help for the first time. The APPG also finds that those suffering from mental health issues, including addictions, have seen their condition worsen over the course of the pandemic.

International Comparisons

The UK government has failed to look to or learn from other countries in their handling of the
pandemic. The APPG notes the experience of Norway and Finland, who built up their Find,
Test, Trace, Isolate and Support systems over the Summer, as well as those countries who
instigated testing and quarantine measures at airports early on, such as South Korea,
Singapore, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

That last comment is particularly telling – that the UK has failed in comparison with other countries – on the day that Gavin Williamson was telling radio audiences that Britain is best. What a bad joke.

You can see that this report pulls no punches. This Writer only regrets the fact that the parts quoted above fail to mention the number of fatalities.

I will try to go into depth in the near future.

In the meantime, I look forward to hearing Boris Johnson attempt to justify his inactions in the face of this substantial criticism.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg thinks UK citizens are subjects of the Tory government. Not since 1948, baby!

Rees-Mogg: this cartoon makes him look like a fictional character. If he was, he still wouldn’t be acceptable.

The Leader of the House of Commons – Jacob Rees-Mogg – thinks that the rest of the UK’s population are his subjects.

The revelation in a tweet today (November 28), says much about this Tory’s twisted ideology.

And people are right to be angry about it:

The difference is very important because a subject is a person who is under the power of another; Rees-Mogg thinks you are under his power.

A citizen – which is what you actually are – is a member of a mass of free people who, collectively, possess sovereignty. We choose who represents us in Parliament, therefore we are the masters.

Many people believe that UK citizens are subjects – that we must all look up to a master – because it has been said that we are subjects of our monarchy. But this was changed by the 1948 British Nationality Act, which altered our status from “British Subjects” to “Citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies”. The definition was further changed in 1981.

Perhaps Rees-Mogg thinks he is above us because we pay tax and he doesn’t – or at least, he hasn’t so far – on the profits of his firm.

His 15 per cent holding of Somerset Capital Management – an investment firm that is working on profiteering on the Covid crisis by buying devalued shares in firms that have struggled as a result of the pandemic but are expected to recover – may have earned him £15 million over the last five years.

But This Writer is told it doesn’t pay Corporation Tax because it is a partnership, meaning the partners (including Rees-Mogg) directly benefit from the profits, and bear the losses. The firm is based in the tax haven of Singapore, however, meaning it has not been required to provide information on its profits to HM Revenue and Customs in the past.

That has changed recently; changes in EU tax law that have been adopted into UK law mean Singapore is now providing that information to HMRC, which will have to decide whether to demand tax from those firms in the future.

But for the time being, Rees-Mogg has been making a killing.

Most of us are not in a position to hold shares in a partnership based in a tax haven, so it seems reasonable to suggest that this is where Rees-Mogg vests his belief in his own superiority.

There, and in his own boneheaded ignorance.

Are you sure you want somebody as vile as this to have any say in your life?

*For clarity, I should make it clear that I know UK citizens have never been subjects of their government. The 1948 Act seemed a handy hook on which to hang Rees-Mogg’s mistake.

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Cummings is out of Downing Street – but what does it actually mean?

Cummings and Boris Johnson: I never really bothered to do another image of him and now I’m glad I didn’t; he’s gone. But how far has he gone?

Many will be saying Boris Johnson will have to take responsibility for his own cock-ups from now on – but will he?

Johnson has had the benefit of a lot of media belief that he’s the monkey to Dominic Cummings’s organ grinder, ever since he moved into Downing Street in July 2019.

Now, with Cummings moving out of Downing Street “to clear the air”, he won’t have that excuse – even if it is still applicable.

You see, Cummings may have left his official role but this just means we don’t know what he will be doing, who he’ll be doing it with, or how much influence he may continue to wield.

And it is entirely possible, of course, that the whole story about Cummings being the secret mastermind was just a blind, and the Johnson government will continue self-combusting, as it has been ever since that fateful July 2019 day.

Time will tell.

But it seems clear that the future under Johnson’s Tories holds just two possibilities:

  • Life in the UK will stay as bad as it is now.
  • Life in the UK will get much, much worse.

For now I think it is okay to sympathise with all those who are celebrating with a few choruses of “The witch is dead”…

But I think we have to temper that sympathy with a clear understanding that the UK is not out of the woods yet – by a very long way.

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Businesswoman rationed daughter’s food after falling through cracks in government help

Closed: while lockdowns bit into small traders’ funds, government help has been restricted only to those that meet arbitrary criteria – meaning many are going hungry, along with their children.

This is the reality of Covid-19 for millions of self-employed people across the UK.

The government trumpeted huge amounts of funding for scheme to keep businesses open – but failed to mention the small print that means some businesses don’t qualify.

It’s as though the pandemic was being used for political reasons – to clamp down on small enterprises and their owners. Isn’t it?

Jo Hill, of Cardiff, was denied any support because her business had only two years of profit on its books.

She had to rely on food banks and borrowed money to survive.

The money I have earned I have had to use for food for myself and my daughter. She’s growing like a bean pole, I couldn’t afford to buy her shoes over lockdown. At times we were so skint food was rationed, I’ve had to be really careful.

When the Chancellor announced [support for self-employed businesses] I breathed a massive sigh of relief. I was applying and it would say I’m not entitled, I was quite bewildered. The money should have gone to everybody.

“I’m too scared to spend any money at all since I don’t know what will happen in the future and how long that money will last. There have been times I couldn’t afford a food shop, I don’t know if my budget is going to last two weeks, three weeks.

The Welsh government has announced business support worth £1.7 billion to firms across the country.

And a fat lot of good it will do to single traders like Ms Hill if they don’t qualify because of arcane eligibility standards.

Source: Mum-of-two forced to ration 12-year-old daughter’s food after support cut off – Mirror Online

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Kate Bingham: ‘vaccines tsar’ resigns amid ‘dodgy cronyism’ claims – and Johnson THANKS her for her work

Kate Bingham: you probably don’t know her but she’s a venture capitalist who was appointed to lead Boris Johnson’s vaccines taskforce – something about which she knew nothing – because her husband is a minister in Boris Johnson’s government. She then spent £670,000 on public relations, using a firm linked to Dominic Cummings’s father-in-law. And there’s a claim that she showed private government documents to US financiers at a $200-a-head conference.

This tweet has aged badly – and at the time of writing it’s not 24 hours since it was written:

He was referring to Kate Bingham. If you haven’t heard of her, it’s not surprising. She’s another unqualified crony of Boris Johnson and his Tories, given a role as head of Johnson’s “vaccines taskforce” because she knows him (she is married to a Tory minister, Jesse Norman).

She knew nothing about vaccines when she was appointed; she’s a venture capitalist. And now she has announced she is retiring at the end of the year.

Her announcement came after some embarrassing revelations became public:

Worse was to come:

The Mirror story claims that in addition to spaffing £670,000 on a public relations firm, Bingham showed US financiers private government documents at a $200-a-head conference.

Oh, and that £670K PR firm? Linked to Dominic Cummings’s father-in-law, apparently:

The stink of corrupt cronyism is ripe here.

But Death Secretary Matt Hancock insisted to the Mirror that Bingham’s retirement is nothing to do with the revelations. It was always a six-month job, set to end at the year, he said.

So why announce it? And why make the announcement right after these embarrassing revelations?

Could it be that Johnson, Hancock, the Tory government and its remaining cronies were hoping to avoid further examination of their decisions in appointing unqualified friends to vital Covid-19 related jobs, rather than people who knew what they were doing?

If so, it seems they were set to be disappointed…

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It’s November 5 – and ‘V for Vendetta Day’ has never been more relevant

Talk about life imitating art!

It is November 5, 2020 – and This Writer half expects to hear of a man in a Guy Fawkes mask setting off an explosion that destroys Parliament later this evening.

That is what happens in the movie version of V for Vendetta, Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s seminal graphic novel. And there are more similarities…

In the movie, Britain is under the control of a ruthless fascist dictatorship that offers security but not freedom. Does this seem familiar to you?

This administration has used a viral pandemic to seize power and keep the people of Britain under control. Does this remind you of a situation in the real world?

(Just to hammer the point home, the first dialogue in the first episode of the graphic novel includes these words: “The Brixton and Streatham areas are quarantine zones as of today. It is suggested that these areas be avoided for reasons of health and safety.” The locations may be different but that’s not too far from what’s happening today.)

The country is kept under curfew, enforced by a brutal police force known as “Fingermen”. As England goes into lockdown for a second time, do you remember Boris Johnson’s plan to give special enforcement powers to a select few people, to ensure that we all follow his rules?

It seems plenty of people do:

The situation in the real world – now – demonstrates the point the film – and the original graphic novel that was originally serialised from 1982 onwards – made:

This Writer was among the first people to read V for VendettaI was 12 years old at the time, and an avid consumer of Alan Moore’s stories.

The thought of living in a country like that, frankly, terrified me. But I could see its roots spreading, in the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher and the so-called “surveillance society” she created.

So could Moore. In the introduction to the 1988 serialisation of V, he wrote: “The new riot police wear black visors, as do their horses, and their vans have rotating video cameras mounted on top… one can only speculate as to which minority will be the next legislated against.

“Goodnight England. Goodnight Home Service and V for Victory.

“Hello the Voice of Fate and V for Vendetta.”

All very grim.

But the story ends on a hopeful note, and so will this article – because the message that has resonated with the public today is this:

“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” I hope Boris Johnson hears those words today.

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Why is ROBERT #PESTON announcing the new #BorisJohnson #lockdown2 restrictions?

 Robert Peston: how come he’s announcing new government Covid-19 restrictions in advance?

I thought Peston’s erstwhile sidekick Allegra Stratton was the one who quit to become the Tory government’s full-time spokes-goon.

What’s Peston himself doing, announcing new policies before Boris Johnson?

And didn’t Johnson fall foul of the relevant authorities for announcing policies via his media stooges before giving Parliament a chance to look at them?

Yes he did.

Some people never learn – or perhaps Johnson’s just thumbing his nose at everybody else and Peston is simply the empty vessel he’s using to do it.

Here’s what the ITV political editor has claimed will be announced at 5pm today (October 31). Let’s compare it with what Johnson says:

Schools and universities to remain open?

This won’t make much of a dent in the spread of the virus, then.

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Dyer does it again: EastEnders star calls for end of Eton boys running the UK

Danny Dyer: he’s holding a photo of “that melt” Oswald Mosley and his bunch of “fascist slags” the Black Shirts, during a brief documentary clip about the Battle of Cable Street.

It is time for working-class people to take over from Eton alumni – who have made it perfectly clear that they cannot run the UK properly.

That’s the opinion of Danny Dyer, the EastEnders actor and game show host who is himself descended from royalty, let’s remember.

On BBC Breakfast today (October 28), he said:

Dyer has form when it comes to criticising old Eton boys. Today he was commenting on Boris Johnson but he was particularly scathing about Johnson’s former Eton classmate David Cameron – a previous prime minister – not so long ago:

He makes a good point.

This Writer has long said that the inverse ratio between the quality of Eton’s reputation and that of its former pupils; I am glad to see this viewpoint being put to the wider audience that Dyer can command.

Sadly we will continue to be saddled with dimwitted toffs like Cameron and Johnson, as long as the UK Establishment continues to adhere to out-of-date, out-of-touch beliefs that more than 60 million people should have the courses of their lives dictated by an elite few who have absolutely no understand at all of the realities of life here.

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Is this the last word on the ‘Fatima’ re-skilling advert that the Tories had to withdraw?


Remember this?

I’ve already produced one article about it but this was too good to omit.

It speaks for itself, I think:

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Brexit: Your Tory MPs have betrayed UK agriculture after promising not to

Chicken: if this one was of the US chlorine-washed variety, do you think Boris Johnson would be soiling his hands with it?

We knew that Tory promises were no good, didn’t we? So we did 14 million people vote for them last December?

I’ve never found an answer for that one.

The usual old chestnut that “the other side were worse” is plainly wrong. Labour’s offer – and leader – was a vast improvement on Johnson and his rabble, as anybody can see.

They can certainly see it now, anyway.

Today’s scandal is that Brexit will now cause a flood of cheap food imports into the UK that will destroy our farming industry and poison our people.

Tories: you voted for this. Brexiters: you voted for this. Indeed, many farmers voted for this.

Here’s what they promised:

But (as Si Anderson puts it in earthy terms above), yesterday evening’s (October 12) vote in Parliament ensures that the Tories will be able to compromise those protections, just to get a deal with the United States:

Farmers and food campaigners were defeated on Monday night in their attempts to enshrine high food safety and animal welfare practices in British law.

Several prominent backbench Tory MPs rebelled against the government to vote for amendments to the agriculture bill that would have given legal status to the standards, but the rebels were too few to overcome the government’s 80-seat majority and the key amendment fell by 332 votes to 279 after an often impassioned debate.

The government argued that giving current standards legal status was unnecessary as ministers had already committed to ensuring that UK food standards would be kept in any post-Brexit trade agreements.

However, critics fear that the lack of a legally binding commitment in the agriculture bill will allow future imports of sub-standard food that will undercut British produce and expose consumers to risk.

Be honest; given Johnson’s record of u-turning on his promises, this means chlorinated chicken for dinner. It will be cheap at the shop, but it will cost us our entire agriculture industry.

And that is what Boris Johnson intended from the start – before the 2016 referendum, even – it seems.

Here’s what we’ll be getting:

Boris Johnson and his cronies won’t be getting chlorine-washed chicken, of course – they’ll be able to afford the higher-quality meats. But you will be in danger.

Opponents of Brexit have taken the opportunity to remind us all of Boris Johnson’s words in 2016 – so we can remind him at the appropriate time…

… not that it will make a difference. He does what he likes. You voted for that, Tories. You voted for it, Brexiters.

Here’s how it’s panning out:

Just to rub salt into the wound, it seems support for remaining in the EU is rocketing, with 57 per cent of the nation now in favour of it.

What a shame. After three years of fighting over it (up to the election in 2019), that debate is over. The Brexiters got what they wanted and you have been shafted. Nobody currently in power will do anything to reverse the decision.

Still, there remain a few optimists who think there will be recourse to law if harm can be shown as a result of this decision:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Tory ministers are above the law.

The police and CPS actively avoid investigating any allegations of crime or wrongdoing by our elected government.

And Dominic Cummings could go on a murder spree in Barnard Castle and he would still walk free at the end of it.

But you can bet that a lot more people will suffer because of last night’s decision by Parliament to poison our farming industry, and our people.

Source: MPs reject calls by campaigners to enshrine food safety in UK law | Politics | The Guardian

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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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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