Tag Archives: pandemic

Will ‘Breathtaking’ do for the NHS what ‘Mr Bates’ did for sub-postmasters?

Fresh from the success of Mr Bates vs the Post Office, ITV is about to screen another drama based on real-life political developments.

Breathtaking is based on the diary of Dr Rachel Clarke – @doctor_oxford on ‘X’ – and aims to show the facts about what was happening in the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic, contrasted with the Tory gaslighting of the public that was taking place at the same time.

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Peter Stefanovic has already seen it:

Here’s the trailer:

The BAFTA advance screening of the series was introduced by Michael Rosen, whose life was saved by NHS care after he contracted the virus – and it gave rise to an extraordinary coincidence:

Clearly, emotions are already running high around this new series.

As for Dr Clarke – her campaigning for an NHS that is able to do its job, free of the political interference that has restricted its abilities for more than a decade, continues. And she continues to inform us as the Tory government’s mismanagement steadily worsens the service we receive.

Here’s what she told us earlier this week:

Perhaps Breathtaking will remind us all of what we had to endure while the Tories were partying in Downing Street and giving away billions of pounds of public money to their friends for so-called “protective equipment” that simply wasn’t up to scratch.

In an election year, I’d say that makes it well worth watching.


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Tories can’t prove £259 BILLION of public procurement was spent ‘wisely’

This is your money – squandered mostly on Covid-related contracts, from the look of it.

Here’s some detail:

The findings follow heavy criticism of government procurement particularly during the Covid pandemic, including the use of a VIP lane for potential suppliers of personal protective equipment who had links to politicians or government officials. A court ruled last year that the priority lane set up to collate PPE bids was unlawful because it failed to comply with public contract regulations.

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About those Covid contracts…


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Covid inquiry: Rishi Sunak thought it was all right to let people die

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak: the Toxic Twins of the UK’s Covid-19 pandemic response.

The man who is now prime minister wanted to “let people die”, according to the Tory government’s chief scientific advisor during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Should the homicidal Rishi Sunak be allowed to continue in office, considering the evidence that he ignored the fundamental duty of every government minister – to safeguard the health and well-being of every single citizen of the United Kingdom?

According to the BBC,

Scientists were not aware of Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme until it was announced, Sir Patrick Vallance has said.

Sir Patrick said: “We didn’t see it before it was announced and I think others in the Cabinet Office also said they didn’t see it before it was formulated as policy. So we weren’t involved in the run-up to it.”

He added: “I think it would have been very obvious to anyone that this inevitably would cause an increase in transmission risk, and I think that would have been known by ministers.”

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Asked about Mr Sunak’s understanding of the risks, Sir Patrick said: “If he was in the meetings, I can’t recall which meetings he was in.

“But I’d be very surprised if any minister didn’t understand that these openings carried risk.”

A diary entry mentioned that at one economics-based meeting Mr Sunak had said “it’s all about handling the scientists, not handling the virus”, without realising that Sir Chris Whitty was in the room.

Mr Johnson’s special adviser, Dominic Cummings, had said: “[Then Chancellor] Rishi [Sunak] thinks just let people die and that’s OK”, according to Sir Patrick’s diary.

Sir Patrick’s diary also said prime minister Boris Johnson was “clearly bamboozled” by the science, as picked up by members of the public:

The verdict is clear – and was delivered by TV scientist Brian Cox:

“The more I hear from the Covid enquiry, the more I think that the PM and the majority of ministers did not have the intellectual tools necessary to understand scientific advice and therefore to be able to weigh it successfully alongside economics, social science etc.

“In my view this can be traced to educational failure – they weren’t taught or didn’t learn the basics of science alongside their chosen disciplines. This also applies the other way round to scientists of course.

“Breadth of knowledge is key, as well as specialisation / expertise, and I don’t think our system delivered that in the 80s and 90s when I (and they) went to University – whether it does that today is an open question. I think we need to be producing more polymaths.”

Well, that’s not going to happen.

We have a government that wants people to be less able to challenge its stupidity – not better-equipped.


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Pensioners take note: evidence shows Boris Johnson wanted Covid-19 to get rid of you

Get the message? You never saw Boris Johnson actually sitting over a dying pensioner making rude gestures at them (and the rest of us), but he might as well have done it. At the time, This Site wrote: “Until pensioners realise that his policies on Covid-19 add up to the same, he’ll carry on – aided by the papers and TV channels that keep the over-60s tranquillised – easy prey for the cull.” How true that was.

Those pensioners who have supported the Conservatives with their votes may be forced to think again after the Covid-19 inquiry heard that former Tory prime minister Boris Johnson not only thought the disease was “nature’s way of dealing with old people” – but was agreeing with other Tory MPs in doing so.

It’s a staggering act of contempt for a sector of society that has propped up one Conservative government after another – and that comprises the vast majority of the Tory Party’s membership.

The BBC tells us:

The allegation comes from diary entries from former chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

In August 2020, Sir Patrick wrote that Mr Johnson was “obsessed with older people accepting their fate and letting the young get on with life and the economy going”.

“Quite bonkers set of exchanges,” he said, referring to messages exchanged between Mr Johnson and others in a WhatsApp group.

In later notes from December 2020, Sir Patrick wrote that Mr Johnson said his party “thinks the whole thing is pathetic and Covid is just nature’s way of dealing with old people – and I am not entirely sure I disagree with them”.

Another note from December says Mr Johnson agreed with the Conservative Party’s chief whip when he said “we should let the old people get it and protect others”.

This message – that the government should leave senior citizens to die rather than try to protect the population as a whole – will come particularly hard to the families of the 30,000 people who died in care homes for the elderly after then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s “protective ring” around them turned out to be nonexistent.

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The BBC quotes Brenda Doherty, spokesperson for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK, who said reading Mr Johnson’s messages felt like being “punched in the stomach”.

“During the first and second waves of the pandemic the UK had one of the highest death tolls per person in the world from Covid-19 and it’s clear just how personally responsible for that he was,” Ms Doherty said.

Also providing testimony was former Prime Ministerial advisor and Barnard Castle visitor Dominic Cummings, who said there was no plan to protect vulnerable people, such as the victims of domestic abuse, in a national lockdown.

“I would say that entire question was appallingly neglected,” Mr Cummings said.

Boris Johnson – and more importantly, now that he has replaced Johnson as prime minister, Rishi Sunak – will face the inquiry later in the year, which is more than can be said for some of the key figures in the handling of the pandemic.

Cabinet Office Secretary Simon Case decided he was “too poorly” to testify:

And Hancock refused to appear unless he had immunity from the law – implying that his actions during the pandemic may have criminal consequences:

One element that is no surprise is the behaviour of Boris Johnson. Former Downing Street Communications Director Lee Cain, giving his evidence today (October 31, 2023), said

the pandemic was the “wrong crisis” for Mr Johnson and he was a “challenging character to work with” because he kept changing his mind.

This should come as no surprise because we already have plenty of evidence that Johnson was completely incapable of leading during the crisis and needed to be led through every step of the way by aides who feared that he would depart from logic (and indeed sanity) at any moment:

This is a man who was presented to the nation as the best possible choice to lead the UK in the 2019 general election!

I wonder how many people, presented with the evidence to this inquiry, would prefer Jeremy Corbyn in hindsight.

In any case, the Covid Inquiry is heating up – but will any political heads roll as a result of the fatal errors that are being discovered on a daily basis?


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Families bereaved in Covid-19 crisis are being put off the inquiry into it by Tory-linked PR firm

Conflict of interest: why would companies that helped run the government’s publicity campaign about Covid-19 ever want to contact people who lost loved ones because of failures in that campaign?

People who lost loved ones while the Covid-19 pandemic raged through the UK are being put off contributing to the inquiry into what happened – because a PR firm that was hired to manage the government’s response to the crisis has been hired to help run it.

23Red, which worked on government messaging including hand hygiene advice and the “Stay at home” slogan, has been sub-contracted by the Tories’ favourite advertising firm, M&C Saatchi, to run part of the Covid inquiry’s “listening exercise”.

Apparently its role will be to “help the inquiry reach those most affected by the pandemic, so that they can share their experiences”.

The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group has pointed out the flaw in that argument: because 23Red worked for the government in its efforts to control Covid-19, the group says, it will either screen out people with the most harmful stories to tell, or those who were most affected will be put off participating.

In the Guardian report (link above), group spokesperson Susie Flintham is quoted as saying:

The fact is ‘many of those worst affected’ will question 23red’s motivations and integrity, and won’t feel comfortable engaging with a process they’re involved in.

“The fact that these PR companies have rebranded the listening exercise ‘every story matters’, suggests they don’t have a clue on how to reach those ‘most affected’.”

“Why is the inquiry paying a hefty sum of taxpayers money, during a cost of living crisis, to a company whose involvement will put people off participating in it? It feels self defeating and like a clear waste of resources.

“If the inquiry is serious about listening to those worst affected by the pandemic then it must give them a meaningful voice, which at the very least means allowing them to speak at each day of the hearings.”

The group’s concerns were raised at the inquiry by their counsel, Pete Weatherby KC, after reporting on the matter by the website Open Democracy:

The correct response to these concerns is to remove the companies from any involvement in the inquiry.

That has not happened.

Instead, the team carrying out the inquiry has said that no conflict of interest will arise because “M&C Saatchi and 23red do not have a decision making role with the inquiry, and they have no direct access to the inquiry’s legal team or the wider work of the inquiry.

“Additionally, M&C Saatchi and 23red will not be carrying out any of the listening or have any access to the experiences shared with the inquiry’s listening exercise. Their role is only to help the inquiry reach those most affected by the pandemic, so that they can share their experiences.”

I’m not convinced. You should not be convinced either.

In an inquiry that exists to collect the strongest evidence of the worst effects of the government’s response (or lack of it) to the Covid-19 pandemic, efforts to seek out the most important stories are paramount.

Yet the inquiry team has hired companies that were intimately linked with the government’s public relations campaign during that time – Boris Johnson’s efforts to play down the seriousness of the situation and to pretend that Tory policies were succeeding when they weren’t.

More than 200,000 people have died of Covid-19 – and most of those deaths could have been avoided if Johnson, Matt Hancock and their cronies had acted more quickly and in a more responsible way (rather than diverting vast amounts of money to hastily-set-up companies run by their friends, for equipment that did not work, for example).

And the number of deaths is still increasing, as I understand it.

It is not in the interests of these companies to seek out the most damning stories of government failures when they were responsible for even part of the government’s publicity campaigning.

I fear the Covid-19 inquiry is just another Tory sham.


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Will Boris Johnson hand over all his WhatsApp messages to Covid inquiry?

Delete, delete… too late: Boris Johnson’s messages to a 10 Downing Street WhatsApp group are being demanded by the Inquiry into Covid-19.

Let’s hope the Covid inquiry has more luck than Lord Geidt; he only found out that Boris Johnson had lied to him about the infamous Downing Street refurbishment after WhatsApp messages Johnson had kept from him became public knowledge.

Johnson claimed he had changed his phone altogether in order to avoid responsibility for failing to pass on WhatsApp messages about the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat.

Unluckily for him, messages sent using services such as WhatsApp are stored on a cloud server – not the recipient’s device(s) – and may be recovered by the authorities under circumstances including a legal investigation.

And who can forget the time Johnson, as ultimate arbiter of whether anybody has broken the Ministerial Code, used WhatsApp to urge Tory MPs to “form a square around the Prittster” when Priti Patel was accused of bullying civil servants?

On the other hand, will we finally receive confirmation that, in March 2020, Johnson wrote a WhatsApp message saying then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock was “totally f***ing hopeless”?

Will we finally find out whether Johnson inadvertently threatened the life of the then-Queen (Elizabeth II) by trying to visit her at the height of the Covid-19 crisis?

He had already mentioned on WhatsApp that he was unwilling to go back into lockdown in autumn 2020 because he considered Covid-19 only to be fatal to people aged over 80 – who have therefore lived longer than national life expectancy.

“So get COVID and live longer,” was the typically-insensitive Johnson remark.

This did not deter him from wanting to go and see the Queen for their weekly meeting, until he was reminded that she was over 80 and therefore entirely likely to die if he passed the disease on to her.

Will we see the actual messages – rather than Dominic Cummings’s screenshots – that show Johnson used WhatsApp to make decisions on the procurement of ventilators and on Covid-19 testing in care homes?

Or will Johnson have already used auto-delete software to remove evidence of the decision-making carried out on WhatsApp, after judges at the High Court said it was not illegal to do so?

I refer of course to the Covid-19 Inquiry’s request for posts to a 10 Downing Street WhatsApp group to be submitted to it as formal evidence.

Module 2 of the Inquiry will examine political decision-making in Westminster during the pandemic.

Given Johnson’s apparent reluctance to provide the damning details, it’s probably just as well that a further preliminary hearing for the module will take place in early 2023, with public hearings starting in the summer.

Perhaps by then, the required WhatsApp messages will have been provided…

Or maybe the Inquiry will have raided the cloud on which they’re stored.

Source: Covid inquiry demands to see Boris Johnson’s WhatsApp messages

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Devastated parents of disabled kids were abandoned by Tories during Covid

Did you think you were hard-hit by the pandemic? Unless you’re a parent of a disabled child, think again!

Families with disabled children suffered astonishing levels of deprivation during the Covid-19 crisis (so far) as the Conservative government abandoned them to whatever fate befell them.

Read this information from a survey by Contact, the charity for families with disabled children – and weep. It found that, among almost 3,000 families:

  • Nearly two-thirds (61%) say that caring responsibilities mean they or their partner has given up paid work, on average losing £21,270 from their family income.
  • In the last 12 months, almost a third of parent carers have gone without heating (30%) and food for themselves (37%). Half have gone without toys, presents and computer equipment for their children.
  • 55% of respondents were shielding during lockdown. As a consequence of shielding, 30% report they got into debt or borrowed money, 15% got behind with mortgage payments, 10% used a foodbank for the first time and 7% lost their job.
  • Nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents claim Universal Credit and 40% of those said they are worse off since claiming, despite assurances from government that no one would be worse off.
  • 92% of parent carers say going without affects their own health and a third (34%) saying it affects the health of their child.
  • Almost one in five say they have increased care commitments due to the pandemic that will impact their ability to earn money in the future.

So it seems the Tories have used the pandemic to hammer the people who needed help the most – while pretending they were ensuring that everybody would be helped.

Some might describe such behaviour as lower than verminous.

Sadly, it is on the very same verminous government that these families must rely for help now.

Contact is running a campaign for action, with steps including:

• An increase in Carer’s Allowance and child disability payments under Universal Credit.
• Energy companies to introduce a special tariff for households with sick and disabled children due to the rising bills facing families this winter.
• The government to invest in specialist independent advice services, to help families with disabled children claim what they are entitled to.

The first act you can take in the campaign is simple: write to your MP. Contact has set up a template email to make speaking out quick and easy.

You can find it here: Families with disabled children left financially devastated by pandemic, new study reveals | Contact

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Did Boris Johnson try to kill off the Queen with Covid-19?

Boris Johnson and the Queen: he wanted to continue meeting her every week after the Covid-19 pandemic broke out – and would certainly have passed Covid-19 on to her if he had done so.

That’s a bold suggestion in the headline – but it seems to be supported by the evidence.

WhatsApp messages supplied by Dominic bloody Cummings say that Johnson was unwilling to go back into lockdown in autumn 2020 because he considered Covid-19 only to be fatal to people aged over 80 – who have therefore lived longer than national life expectancy.

“So get COVID and live longer,” is the typically-insensitive Johnson remark.

Now, I was going to point out that Johnson was effectively sentencing his own father to death:

But then I saw the hammer-stroke:

Cummings also told the BBC that Johnson had been determined to go to see the Queen in person, despite people in Number 10 already ill with Covid in March 2020.

“I said, what are you doing, and he said, I’m going to see the Queen and I said, what on earth are you talking about, of course you can’t go and see the Queen. He said, ah, that’s what I do every Wednesday, sod this, I’m gonna go and see her,” Cummings said.

Cummings said he eventually convinced Johnson not to take the risk. “I said to him, there’s people in this office who are isolating, you might have coronavirus, I might have coronavirus, you can’t go and see the Queen. What if you go and see her and give the Queen coronavirus?

“You obviously can’t go … I just said if you, if you give her coronavirus and she dies what, what are you gonna, you can’t do that, you can’t risk that, that’s completely insane. And he said, he basically just hadn’t thought it through, he said, yeah, ‘holy s**t, I can’t go.’”

Downing Street has denied the account – which is hardly surprising as it suggests that Johnson was, at the very least, reckless with regard to the safety of the Queen.

The UK Establishment may be happy to tolerate the many harms he has inflicted on the population at large, but endangering Her Majesty (who was 93 at the time and therefore well within the extreme-danger zone) is a different matter entirely.

Did Johnson mean to endanger her life by exposing her to the virus?

In all honesty, it’s doubtful. He is a very stupid, selfish man and in March 2020, when Cummings says he had to be stopped from visiting her personally, he was saying he did not think Covid-19 was going to affect the UK seriously.

He didn’t even know whether he had the disease himself (he did contract it and spent time in hospital with it).

He certainly would have passed the disease to the Queen if those meetings had indeed continued.

Now: all this information comes from Dominic Cummings, and he has a grudge against Johnson; this is one of a series of attacks he has launched against his former boss.

But of course, he is not the only source of information and questions are being asked about why reporters for the mainstream media haven’t bothered to find it out for themselves. I have my own view about that:

Well?

All you national TV and newspaper reporters – what are you waiting for?

Get out there and rake the muck until you can provide evidence to prove whether Johnson was planning meetings that would have endangered the life of the Queen.

Or is that beyond your meagre skill set?

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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The people want a windfall tax on big firms’ pandemic profits. Why is Keir Starmer getting in the way?

Keir Starmer: yet another own goal.

I bet certain commentators will be doing their best to muddy this issue so let’s make it clear:

There are moves to increase Corporation Tax, forcing companies to pay more when they could be investing that money in (for example) employment of people who desperately need a regular paycheque. This is a bad idea.

There are also moves to levy a windfall tax on firms and individuals who have profited from the Covid-19 pandemic – such as Amazon and all those Tory cronies who won huge Covid-related contracts. This is a good idea and is supported by 70 per cent of the population, according to a Survation poll.

Keir Starmer and his Zombie Labour party oppose any increase in taxation for businesses.

There will be voters who are shocked that anybody claiming to be a Labour Party representative should plead against taxing corporations, and while there are good reasons for leaving Corporation Tax low at the moment, although it is likely that firms will need further incentives to keep them on the straight and narrow, there is no reason at all to back away from a windfall tax.

This decision is spitting in the faces of the voters – at a time when Starmer desperately needs to get them on-side.

Labour is falling increasingly further behind, at a time when – we were told – the party should be at least 20 points ahead of anybody else, having dumped Jeremy Corbyn.

Is it time his supporters’ club admitted that this wasn’t true and Starmer is a non-starter?

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Wealth tax plan to help pay for Covid crisis could be ignored if you don’t have your say

Cash: The richest people in the UK can afford to lose one per cent of theirs much more easily than you can afford to lose nine per cent of yours. But the Tory government listens to them, not you. What are you going to do about it?

The UK’s wealthiest households should pay a special tax to help cover the enormous cost of the Covid-19 crisis, according to an independent team of experts.

The Wealth Tax Commission said it would be better to pay part of the £394 billion in Treasury borrowing, incurred this year, with a tax on those who have profited during the crisis than by causing more hurt to those whose lives have already been seriously disrupted by the pandemic.

The Commission said a rate of just one per cent per year on households with more than £1 million would raise £260 billion over five years.

The Conservatives are, of course, biased against a wealth tax, with Rishi Sunak saying in July that he could see no reason to impose one.

But times change, and huge increases in taxes on the poor – income tax would have to rise by 9p per pound to produce the same effect; that’s nine times as much as the proposed wealth tax – would seriously harm Tory electability in the future.

That being said, critics have justifiably questioned why the proposed tax is being touted only as a way of paying off a national debt.

They say it would be better to invest the money in projects that will raise more revenue for the UK in the future, helping to reduce the wider national debt which the Tories have more than doubled to over £2 trillion in the 10 years since they took office in 2010.

The message for ordinary people is simple: If you don’t want to end up with an almost 50 per cent increase in income tax – or a 6p rise in VAT, which is the other alternative – get on to your MP at once and lobby for the wealth tax.

The richest people in the UK won’t want it, even though the loss of £10,000 harms them less than the loss of £260 (the equivalent from the so-called average pay packet) harms an ordinary working person.

Better still, how about forming groups to lobby your MP? Large numbers of people working together seem to impress the authorities more than individuals, who they can dismiss as lone voices.

The alternative may be a very expensive, poverty-ridden future.

Source: COVID-19: Experts make case for one-off £260bn tax raid on wealthy | Business News | Sky News

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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Health Warning: Government! is now available
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