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Weekend Covid-19 infections leap to biggest ever figure after Dido Harding’s cowboys miss 16,000

The number of – recorded – Covid-19 infections in the UK leapt up massively over the weekend after it was admitted that Dido Harding and her mob at Serco Test And Trace failed to report nearly 16,000 between September 25 and October 2.

The 15,841 cases were then added to Saturday’s (October 3) and Sunday’s (October 4) figures to give (fabricated) totals for those days of 12,872 cases and 22,961 respectively.

And we were upset when the totals leapt to 6,000!

Cynically, the government left it to Public Health England – the nationalised NHS organisation – to report the failings, presumably in the hope that it would take all the blame before it fades out of existence to be replaced by a privatised “National Institute of Health Protection” run by… Dido Harding.

The writing is on the wall, and it says, “Abandon hope, all ye who trust in these.”

Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth tried to pin the fiasco on Death Secretary Matt Hancock, who does indeed have overall responsibility: “This is shambolic and people across the country will be understandably alarmed.

“Matt Hancock should come to the House of Commons on Monday to explain what on earth has happened, what impact it has had on our ability to contain this virus and what he plans to do to fix test and trace.”

But members of the public on Twitter weren’t going to let the person most directly responsible off the hook.

Here’s how this latest Tory disaster was reported there:

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey was wheeled onto BBC Breakfast to defend the government and made a complete hash of it:

And Sky News revealed that bosses at Public Health England are not willing to accept the blame for Baroness Harding’s blunders:

They needn’t worry; we all know the score:

Yes, Tory incompetence costs lives.

But people weren’t willing to let Labour off the hook either.

After some Labour MPs finally dragged themselves into the real world by referring to the track and trace system as being run by Serco (after weeks of going along with the Tory lie that it was an NHS project), the public had this to say:

They’re not wrong.

We need better than this – from both sides of the House of Commons – or the Covid-19 disaster will be an apocalypse for the UK.

And I think that is a forlorn hope: they’re already doing the pathetic best they can.

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Tory penalty fines for missing school next term may be illegal

Evidence: Coronavirus outbreaks in English schools have risen exponentially since the Tories ordered parents to send their children back.

Typical Tory bullying: “We’ll threaten people with a fine to force them to send their kids back to school, whether they’re likely to catch Covid-19 or not.

“Then they’ll have no excuse not to go back to work, even if there’s a huge chance they’ll catch the virus there.”

Here’s a fly for their ointment:

Every parent has a legal responsibility to keep their children from harm.

No fine imposed by the Tories will overrule that responsibility; it can’t. To do such a thing would be admitting they want parents to allow the government to harm their children.

That is implied by their threat, but admitting it out loud would be electoral suicide.

Now look at the graph (above). Since the Tories forced only some children in England to go back to school, Covid-19 infections there have risen exponentially, week-on-week.

That’s pretty strong evidence to support protecting children by keeping them away.

Parents in England who do not send their children back to school in September will face fines, says the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

“Unless there’s a good reason for absence… we’d be imposing fines on families,” he said.

But head teachers said fining parents was not the “right approach” at first.

“There will be many frightened and anxious parents out there,” said Geoff Barton, leader of the ASCL head teachers’ union.

Head teachers, who decide whether absences are authorised, are more likely to want to build up parents’ trust in a safe return, said Mr Barton.

Source: Penalty fines for missing school next term – BBC News

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Coronavirus tests lost, unpaid volunteers hired to work on them – and the Tories STILL miss targets!

The UK’s Tory government has lost control of the coronavirus testing process.

First, the Tories lost thousands of tests that they had handed over to private companies. Here’s the Health Service Journal:

Data on the outcome of tens of thousands of tests carried out outside the NHS is ‘disappearing into a data black hole’, making it harder for local organisations to respond to the spread of coronavirus in their area.

An internal NHS update email seen by HSJ, which is meant to tell local organisations how many residents and staff in their areas have tested positive, states that full information is “increasingly becoming unavailable” and cannot be reported “until further notice”.

Instead the reporting is based only on NHS lab tests, which make up less than half of total tests now being carried out, a proportion which is still shrinking further.

Why would any government hand over vital work to a private firm that simply isn’t up to the job?

Oh yes – they’re Tories.

They are ideologically inclined to give work to privateers, which is why Boots – we’re told – is now recruiting volunteers to carry out this work for no pay, as The Independent reports:

An army of unpaid volunteers is being recruited to carry out coronavirus tests across the country as ministers try to hit their target of 200,000 a day.

They are being asked to sign up to work at least 32 hours a week, swabbing the noses and throats of people who may be infected, for no pay.

The high-street chemist Boots is advertising the roles across the country, with the support of ministers.

And the upshot?

The Tories haven’t hit their 100,000-a-day test target, let alone the intended 200,000-a-day by the end of May.

Worse: as the information from the tests is being lost, local areas will be handicapped in their attempts to treat people with the disease because they simply won’t know who those people are or where to concentrate their efforts.

And Tory dogma means this situation can only get worse.

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Coronavirus: thousands of people have been omitted from government ‘high risk’ list

Infection risk: If people with cancers, asthma and other conditions are having to go out for shopping, or people living with them are, then they are still under risk of infection. And they are dying.

Is this the reason people with severe health issues are missing out on shopping deliveries from supermarkets and other priority services in the coronavirus crisis?

Read for yourself:

Thousands of people have been missed off the government’s high risk list for Covid-19 despite meeting the criteria.

Among them have been transplant patients, people with asthma and some with rare lung diseases.

Many are worried it will affect their ability to access food and medical supplies as they shield from the virus, unable to leave their homes for at least 12 weeks.

Supermarkets have been using the list to give priority to vulnerable customers, meaning those not included have already missed out on opportunities for which they would have been eligible.

NHS England provides a list of people who should be “shielded” from exposure to the coronavirus. It includes:

  • Solid organ transplant recipients

People with specific cancers:

  • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
  • people with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
  • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
  • people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
  • people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
  • people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs

Other conditions:

  • People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD
  • People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell)
  • People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection
  • Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired

This Writer’s brother has had myeloma and has been ordered not to leave his home at any time, for any reason. But he hasn’t heard a dicky bird about help from supermarkets.

Mrs Mike’s best friend has four children, three of whom have asthma. They haven’t heard anything about extra help because of their conditions.

And I see online that people with asthma are dying:

Lindsay Marshall had self-isolated for one week but on March 22, she started to feel unwell and was taken to Fairfield General Hospital in Bury where she tested positive for the coronavirus.

Three days later, she was sedated and transferred to the intensive care unit at Royal Oldham Hospital, where she died on Saturday (April 4).

It seems clear that people with such conditions are in more danger but the government is increasing the risk by keeping them off the list of people deserving extra help.

Why?

Source: Coronavirus: ‘High risk’ list misses off thousands of people – BBC News

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Wrong again, Graun! People ARE avoiding the news – except major developments. And for a good reason…

Propaganda: It seems people are avoiding the mainstream news outlets because they are seen as purveyors of fake – or at least severely slanted – news.

Brexit isn’t the reason people are avoiding the news – but The Guardian only touches on the real reason, perhaps because it is too close to home.

People are turning away from mainstream news outlets because they are perceived to be pushing a particular agenda:

Britons also say they are losing trust in the news, with the authors attributing this to increased political polarisation: “Even the most trusted brands like the BBC are seen by many as pushing or suppressing agendas – especially over polarising issues like Brexit and climate change.”

Doesn’t that seem more plausible than Brexit fatigue, when

according to one BBC insider, the BBC News website attracted 28 million unique visitors in January on the day of parliament’s first meaningful vote on Theresa May’s Brexit day, while 25 million checked the website the following day when it was covering the no-confidence vote in the prime minister?

Brexit certainly hasn’t harmed This Site’s audience. Vox Political‘s highest-ever visitor total was recorded on March 23 this year, when I reported on the ‘Revoke Brexit’ e-petition that became the most-signed petition on the government’s website: 93,008 views.

It’s certainly possible that some Britons are giving up on the news in order to avoid the blanket coverage of Brexit that has made it headline news practically every day since before the EU referendum.

But when

alleged Brexit fatigue among the British public has also been used by some news programmes to justify declining audiences,

it seems far more likely that the news media are trying to find an excuse that does not mention the possibility that they are pushing their own agenda.

Doesn’t it? Or is that paranoid conspiracy-theorising?

Source: Third of Britons say they avoid news out of Brexit frustration | Media | The Guardian

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Scottish Parliament heckler provides more proof that Esther McVey really is a ‘stain’ on humanity

McVile: Esther McVey during her evidence session before the Scottish Parliament.

Congratulations to John Pring at Disability News Service for interviewing the man who heckled Esther McVey during her evidence session before the Scottish Parliament on Monday.

It turns out that ‘David’ had raised the case of Jodie Whiting, who took her own life after her Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was sanctioned away from her. This Site covered the case here.

It is disappointing that the interruption was not reported fully by the mainstream media because it highlights the cruelty of both the Department for Work and Pensions and its current boss, and illustrates why they both have to go:

Ms Whiting lost her benefit because she missed a work capability assessment appointment because she was in hospital being treated for a brain cyst.

Let’s all stop for a moment and think about that.

It is entirely reasonable for a person on a long-term sickness benefit to require hospital treatment for their health condition.

While it may legitimately require people to prove their eligibility to receive ESA, it is entirely unreasonable for the government’s benefits agency to demand that sick people miss their treatment in order to tick a box on a bureaucrat’s paperwork.

Health comes first, or it is the system that is sick.

And the Tory-run system is terminal – for users like Ms Whiting. Instead of rearranging the assessment appointment, the DWP cut her off without a penny, triggering a chain of events that led to her untimely death.

When the case was raised, Ms McVey didn’t even have the decency to apologise. Instead, ‘David’ was removed from the meeting.

Could anything be a better demonstration of the arrogance and ignorance of our current rulers?

Rather than face up to their failings, they remove anybody who mentions them. And their complicit media mouthpieces gloss over the incident.

The mother of a woman who killed herself after her disability benefits were sanctioned has praised a disabled activist who confronted work and pensions secretary Esther McVey about her daughter’s death as she gave evidence to Scottish MSPs this week.

The activist, David*, had told Joy Dove of his plans to question McVey about her daughter’s suicide as the minister was giving evidence to the Scottish parliament’s social security committee on Monday.

Jodey Whiting, a seriously-ill mother-of-nine, from Stockton, took her own life last year after having her employment and support allowance (ESA) sanctioned.

She had her ESA stopped after missing a work capability assessment because she was in hospital being treated for a brain cyst, and never opened the letter telling her about the appointment.

David, from the campaign group Class War Scotland, who was sitting in public seats behind McVey, called out (listen from 52 minutes) as she was replying to a question from an MSP about her government’s policies on social security reform and whether she should apologise to the people of Scotland.

David called out: “What about Jodey Whiting, mother of nine, who committed suicide after her ESA was stopped?

“It was stopped because she missed an appointment.”

The committee meeting was suspended and David left the hearing.

Source: Mother of ESA suicide mum-of-nine praises activist for confronting McVey


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Doctors attack ‘simplistic’ claim that missed appointments cost the NHS £1 billion in a year

Patients in a waiting room at the Royal Free hospital in Hampstead, north London [April: Robert Stainforth/Alamy].

Apparently every missed NHS hospital appointment costs an average of £125 and we should feel ashamed of the eight million missed appointments in 2016-17, because NHS digital tells us so.

This Writer begs to disagree.

Why were these appointments missed? We have no information.

How many of the people who missed these appointments couldn’t get to them – perhaps because their health condition had deteriorated too far while they were waiting for their slot?

How many couldn’t make it due to poor transport connections?

How many didn’t know they had an appointment because they had not received proper notification?

There are many possible reasons.

And, let’s face it, £125 seems a bit steep.

But those are just my thoughts. What do actual doctors think? Let’s see:

Let’s call that another Tory NHS patient-blaming myth busted.

As the NHS struggles with budget cuts, soaring demand and staff shortages, almost £1bn is being wasted annually by patients missing appointments, figures reveal.

In response, England’s chief nurse has urged patients to cancel their NHS appointments in good time if they are not able to attend, in order to free up resources for those who need them.

The money wasted could fund 1m more cataract operations or 250,000 hip replacements, said Prof Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer for England.

Data released by NHS Digital revealed that in 2016/17 almost 8m hospital outpatient appointments were missed due to patients not attending, compared with 7.5m in 2015/16.

Source: Patients missing their appointments cost the NHS £1bn last year | Society | The Guardian


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Housing minister exaggerates Tory record as building target is missed AGAIN

[Composite: Getty Images/PA].

[Composite: Getty Images/PA].

Someone should tell Gavin Barwell not to play fast and loose with the facts.

His claim that house building rates were at their lowest since the 1920s when the Tories came back into office in 2010 may be accurate, but his claim of “significant progress” since then is nonsense.

In fact, George Osborne’s first act as Chancellor was to slash housing investment by 60 per cent, resulting in a new housebuilding low, in 2012-13, of 135,500 dwellings.

So in fact, it is the Conservatives who are responsible for the lowest house building rate since the 1920s.

Barwell wasn’t lying about 2010 – he just wasn’t being honest about the situation now.

And the “significant progress”? An increase of 5,500 houses to 141,000 in 2013-14. In the calendar year 2014, another increase to 146,359, and then 156,140 in 2015.

That’s far fewer than the 219,000 that Labour managed in 2006-7, after the Barker Review of Housing Supply noted that about 250,000 homes needed to be built every year to prevent spiralling house prices and a shortage of affordable homes.

That target was dropped by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition Government.

It seems to have been revisited by David Cameron, but it is clear that the Conservatives are already missing their target by at least 30,000 a year – that’s 150,000 over the five-year period of the current Parliament.

And even that number could be subject to slippage.

Barwell should address himself to solving the problem, rather than dissembling about it.

The government is set to fail to meet its target to build one million homes by 2020, the Housing Minister has admitted.

The aim to build one million new homes by the end of this Parliament was announced by David Cameron’s government last year to meet estimates of the shortfall in the country’s housing needs.

Unveiling new measures to tackle the housing crisis, Mr Barwell told Sky News that the Government is currently building about 170,000 homes every year but added “we clearly need to do better”.

“We inherited a position in 2010 where house building rates in this country were at their lowest since the 1920s.

“We’ve seen significant progress.”

Source: Housebuilding target to be missed, says minister

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Labour and Green candidates left off postal ballot papers

Postal ballot papers for Hull East. Notice that no Labour or Green candidates are listed.

Postal ballot papers for Hull East. Notice that no Labour or Green candidates are listed.

High-profile Labour MP Karl Turner’s name has been omitted from 480 postal ballot papers in his Hull East constituency due to what the local council is calling an “inadvertent mistake”.

Yeah, right.

If that is the case, why were Mr Turner and Green candidate Sarah Walpole only missed off the papers for people who registered to vote after April 1? Doesn’t that imply that somebody removed their names deliberately?

Hull City Council had better check every single ballot paper it is preparing for election day, to prevent any further “inadvertent mistake”. Mr Turner was elected with a majority of more than 8,000, so the potential loss of 480 votes was unlikely to affect him. The loss of who-knows-how-many votes on the day might be a different matter!

Mr Turner told the BBC the mistake was “concerning” because people were “being denied the right to vote and take part in the democratic process”.

He added: “I have had calls from people in East Hull who are going on holiday this week and are angry that they are unable to vote. I have asked Hull City Council to urgently look into the matter and review their processes surrounding sending out ballot papers.”

The campaign is moving from desperation into criminality now, it seems. This Writer does not believe for one moment that those ballot papers were altered by “mistake”.

Expect further incidents like that in the last days of the campaign – and we can be sure plenty of last-minute voters will be locked out of their polling stations again, on the stroke of 10pm, just like last time. This gives Conservative candidates an edge over others because Tory voters are whipped into voting as early as possible.

In other news, it seems more than 70,000 ballot papers destined for Hastings and Rye, in East Sussex, were stolen along with the van that was transporting them there. Hastings Borough Council says it is putting measures in place to ensure that none of the stolen papers can be used, and we are being asked to believe that the loss of the papers was incidental to the theft of the van.

Yeah, right. But opportunism is a wonderful thing. Let’s see what happens there.

Both these events could lead to electoral fraud, which is a crime. Vox Political readers are urged to be alert for any possible “inadvertent mistake” in your own constituency and report anything suspicious to the Returning Officer (usually your local council’s chief executive) and to the police.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Jail the DWP fraudsters who tried to fix UK unemployment figures!

[Image from a post on Facebook]

[Image from a post on Facebook]

Iain Duncan Smith and everybody else associated with this scam should be facing charges and the possibility of imprisonment, rather than re-election next year.

Let’s be honest about this: The government hasn’t messed up by omitting Universal Credit claimants from the official unemployment benefit claimant count – the Department for Work and Pensions messed up by admitting this had happened.

It means we may be looking at a long-term attempt to defraud the electorate. The plan seems clear: When the general election finally takes place next year, Iain Duncan Smith would have claimed that his policies have been a brilliant success in creating jobs and cutting down the number of people claiming benefits.

If people are convinced that the DWP has succeeded in cutting the amount of money being paid out in benefits – the burden on the taxpayer – then they are more likely to vote for the Conservatives. Electoral victory means more money for everybody involved – what’s known as a pecuniary advantage.

But the claim has been made by deception. Obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception is the dictionary definition of criminal fraud.

There can be no doubt that the omission was deliberate. When it comes to fiddling the official figures, the DWP has ‘form’ going back for years. Look at the lies about the benefit cap pushing people into work; the way people on ESA were encouraged to say they were self-employed and claim tax credits – even though this is not permitted and they were racking up a huge overpayment.

Look at the abuses of the sanction system; look at the abuses of the IB/ESA work capability assessment; look at the number of successful appeals against the DWP that have been kept out of official figures.

The claimant count, which provides the headline unemployment figure, is the number of people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance every month – and has been for many years.

But Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship (if the ship was the Titanic) Universal Credit is up and running – on an extremely limited basis – in certain pilot areas of the country, and people without a job in those areas should be included in the claimant count.

This has not happened. It is possible that this is yet another oversight by Mr Duncan Smith, the government’s top bungler (indeed, he was recently voted favourite cabinet minister by ConservativeHome, so he must be doing something right, and the thing he does most often is make mistakes).

Mr Duncan Smith himself would disagree, however. He has claimed repeatedly and vehemently that his department does not make mistakes with statistics; that everything done on his watch has been justified and that everybody at the DWP is entirely competent.

So we must accept that there was a decision to keep Universal Credit claimants out of the claimant count, meaning that there was a decision to make it seem there are fewer people unemployed than is actually the case.

This seems to be supported by the complaint from the Office for National Statistics, which publishes unemployment figures. The wording runs as follows: “The DWP have not been able to supply ONS with this information in a way that has allowed its inclusion within the Claimant Count [italics mine], resulting in the exclusion of UC claims from this measure.”

This implies that the DWP is perfectly capable of supplying the figures in a manageable way but has deliberately done otherwise.

Further indication that DWP officials knew exactly what they were doing comes from a spokeswoman’s response to this affair, published in the Daily Mirror: “We have been fully transparent in publishing the number of people claiming Universal Credit.

“To ensure consistency the Department released these figures alongside the employment statistics. Universal Credit is both an in- and out-of-work benefit so some claimants may be working.”

In that case, the DWP cannot have been “fully transparent”, can it? Transparency would have required the department to separate UC into “in-work” and “out-of-work” claims, and we have no evidence that this has happened. Until it does, neither the ONS nor the rest of us have any way of knowing how many people are unemployed in the UK.

This has been going on for nearly a year, as Universal Credit was rolled out in its first pilot area in April last year. This means that all unemployment statistics since then have been falsified by the DWP and unemployment figures have been higher than claimed.

The Labour Party has tried to paint this as incompetence, but it is wrong to do so.

This was deliberate, premeditated disinformation.

Now the deception has been uncovered, they are unrepentant.

Perhaps someone should remind them that fraud is still a crime.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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