Tag Archives: strategy

Did Matt Hancock axe Fat Boris’s national anti-obesity fight after just one month?

Matt Hancock: the eyes are open but the brain is dead.

Apparently so.

Boris Johnson launched a new strategy to tackle obesity in the UK – claiming it was crucial in the fight against Covid-19 – only for Matt Hancock to close the organisation running it.

It was unlikely ever to come to anything, because the scheme was being run by Tories and they are ideologically opposed to changing the systemic poverty that forces people to buy unhealthy (but cheap) food.

But nobody expected Health Secretary Hancock to axe the organisation that was running it – Public Health England – while Johnson was on his holibobs in Scotland.

He has made no directions on how the initiative will proceed.

Hancock’s failure to realise that PHE has work other than the fight against Covid-19 signifies disastrous incompetence in a minister of the Crown.

And failure to acknowledge this and deliver an appropriate punishment – in this case, the removal of Hancock from ministerial duties – would signify disastrous incompetence in a Prime Minister.

Boris Johnson is back from his holibobs now.

What’s he going to do?

Source: UK anti-obesity fight ‘at risk’ after Matt Hancock closes health agency | Obesity | The Guardian

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Tories want to hire a new ‘head of pandemic preparedness’ – after they axed the old systems for doing that

Head of Pandemic Un-preparedness: Boris Johnson’s reaction to Covid-19 was so poor that he actually caught the disease himself and then sent us all letters, claiming to provide advice on how not to do the same.

The Tories have been accused of closing the barn door after the horse has bolted, after they advertised for a new ‘head of pandemic preparedness’ six months into the Covid crisis.

But the facts are actually worse than that.

The idea is to pay someone £61,000 a year to “learn the lessons” (how many times have we heard that?) from the crisis and ensure the UK is properly prepared for any similar situation in the future.

And yes, it is too late for all that.

But the reason it’s too late is that the Tories spent the last 10 years dismantling the UK’s system of preparation for any pandemic disease.

I wrote about this back in March so perhaps people have forgotten. Here’s the gist:

The UK government has strategies for dealing with events like this. The Cabinet Office keeps a National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies which it must keep up-to-date – and every single copy of this document ever made lists “pandemic flu” as the most probable and devastating threat to the UK.

This means the government has devised strategies to deal with such a threat. The problem is, they are all out of date.

Oldest of them all is the guide to dealing with the fatalities of the pandemic,  last published in 2008. This has never been updated since the Conservatives took over responsibility for it.

The last strategy written specifically to deal with pandemic flu was published in 2011 – the same year David Cameron’s Conservative-led Coalition government closed the dedicated government Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Team based in the Department of Health, which was tasked with tackling this type of crisis.

It may explain much that the government’s UK Pandemic Influenza Communications Strategy, the crucial document for getting the right messages across to the public, was written in 2012 and is now wildly inaccurate in its assumptions about how and where people get their information.

In October 2016, David Cameron’s now wholly-Conservative government carried out an exercise to estimate the impact of a hypothetical influenza pandemic on the United Kingdom. Exercise Cygnus showed that such a pandemic would cause the country’s health system to collapse, due to a lack of resources.

The Chief Medical Officer of the time said that a lack of medical ventilators was a serious problem that should be rectified, but in 2017 this advice was ignored by the Department of Health under Jeremy Hunt – because it would cost too much. The government was committed to austerity policies, remember.

So you see, we used to have whole teams dedicated to ensuring that the UK could weather a pandemic without serious harm to the population.

And the Tories got rid of the lot.

And now they want to replace them with a single person.

So let’s float a wild theory.

Is it possible that the Tories knew a pandemic like Covid-19 could cause huge numbers of unnecessary deaths, and decided to allow it to happen?

I’ll answer that for you: we know it is because it is exactly what Boris Johnson advocated on live television in early March.

Is it possible that all their decisions since then have been dedicated to this end, rather than towards saving people’s lives, and this is why every single strategy they have started has been a dismal failure?

And, in line with this thinking…

Is it possible that this position will be nothing more than a “figurehead” role, to be quietly dissolved after a few years so we can all fall victim to the next viral disaster?

Source: Government to hire ‘Head of Pandemic Preparedness’ six months into Covid-19 crisis – Mirror Online

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Coronavirus: Higher death rate in poorer areas – because that’s what the Tories want

Well, what do you know? The useless Tory compensation schemes mean poorer people are going hungry, and there’s a higher death rate in poorer areas.

Coincidence? Don’t kid yourself.

People living in more deprived areas of England and Wales are more likely to die with coronavirus than those in more affluent places, new figures suggest.

Office for National Statistics analysis shows there were 55 deaths for every 100,000 people in the poorest parts of England, compared with 25 in the wealthiest areas.

Mortality rates are normally higher in poorer areas. But the ONS said coronavirus appeared to be adding to the problem.

It isn’t just the coronavirus adding to the problem.

It is clear that the Tories have arranged affairs – via their inadequate compensation schemes for working people – so the coronavirus can be the excuse when a disproportionate number of poor people die.

But I suppose it’s unpatriotic to point that out while Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and the others are busy eliminating my friends and yours?

Source: Coronavirus: Higher death rate in poorer areas, ONS figures suggest – BBC News

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Families are going hungry because of Conservatism, not the coronavirus

Tories harm children: the coronavirus is just the latest excuse they’re using.

Why should we be surprised? The Tories have a history of lying when they say we’re all in it together.

It seems our caring government has engineered the coronavirus crisis to ensure that the number of households with children going hungry has doubled since lockdown began.

Millions of people are struggling to afford basic food items as parents lose income and both the school meal voucher scheme and food banks are overwhelmed:

New data … has revealed that almost a fifth of households with children have been unable to access enough food in the past five weeks, with meals being skipped and children not getting enough to eat as already vulnerable families battle isolation and a loss of income.

The strain on larger families, single parent homes and those with disabled children has been immense. A reported 30 per cent of lone parents and 46 per cent of parents with a disabled child are facing food insecurity and finding it difficult to manage basic nutritional needs at home.

With schools no longer providing a reprieve for children reliant on free breakfast clubs and school lunches, poorer families are at crisis point.

A government scheme to give pupils food vouchers worth £15 a week until schools reopen has been beset with problems, with many parents unable to download the vouchers or redeem them in supermarkets.

According to the Food Foundation, of the 621,000 children who were accessing free breakfast clubs before the pandemic, only 136,000 are being provided with an alternative. However, 31% of children entitled to free school meals are still not getting any substitute, leaving more than 500,000 children going without.

Food banks have been overwhelmed with demand during the lockdown. Last Friday, the Trussell Trust reported an 81 per cent increase in people needing support from its food banks at the end of March compared with the same period last year.

Demand from children for food-bank services had also increased by 121 per cent. The Independent Food Network reported a similar surge, with a 59 per cent increase in demand for emergency food support between February and March.

This is not an accident. The Conservatives are deliberately using the pandemic to punish the most vulnerable in society yet again – and to bring those who had been more secure down to the same level.

It’s ironic. Many of these families are likely to have voted Conservative in December, thinking they were bringing stability and security to the country.

Instead their votes have doomed their families – and themselves.

No doubt they’ll convince themselves that starvation is the price they’re paying to be free of the virus.

But Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock look very well-fed to me.

There is no need for anybody in the UK to go hungry. There hasn’t been any reason for hunger here since the 1950s.

The coronavirus isn’t causing it.

The Conservatives are.

Source: Exclusive: almost a fifth of UK homes with children go hungry in lockdown | Society | The Guardian

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Bid to blame Tory coronavirus strategy on Cummings is baloney. The buck stops with Boris

The blame game: attempts have been made to divert blame for the UK’s coronavirus policy disaster onto Dominic Cummings – but the buck stops with Boris Johnson.

It seems someone is trying to divert the blame for the Tory government’s original laissez-faire plan on coronavirus from Boris Johnson onto  Dominic Cummings.

Sunday Times article claimed that Cummings had outlined the government’s strategy at the time as “herd immunity, protect the economy, and if that means some pensioners die, too bad.”

Number 10 has denied it but it simply doesn’t matter…

Because the buck stops with Boris Johnson.

He was the one who broadcast to the nation with a message that many of us were going to die – unnecessarily – because his government wasn’t prepared to fight the virus.

Remember it? He said: “It is going to spread further and I must level with you, I must level with the British public: many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.”

At the time, none of the “social distancing” restrictions had been brought in. Schools were expected to stay open, as were pubs, clubs and other leisure facilities, and public events.

In fact, he had announced that testing for coronavirus was to be stopped.

And his scientific advisor was about to suggest that the UK would aim for “herd immunity” by the never-before-achieved method of infecting us all (the normal method is by vaccination, but there isn’t a vaccine for Covid-19).

So nobody cares about Cummings (although he should be kicked out too). It is Johnson who has to carry the can – as evidenced by these responses on Twitter:

Source: No 10 denies claim Dominic Cummings argued to ‘let old people die’ | Dominic Cummings | The Guardian

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‘Shock doctrine’ plan to sell Tory Brexit denied by Downing Street

Well, they would, wouldn’t they?

And, as the Cabinet meeting on November 6 has apparently produced no decisions at all – let alone about Brexit – it seems either the leaked communications plan that “everyone’s talking about” (according to Paul Waugh of the Huffington Post) really is the nonsense Downing Street claims… or someone has been forced to make major changes very quickly.

It outlines a “shock doctrine” campaign to push an as-yet-unannounced Brexit deal on MPs and the British public, demanding that we believe there is no alternative, that the Tories have reached “a moment of decisive progress”, that Theresa May has “delivered the referendum”, the deal “brings the country back together”, and “now is the time… to unite behind it for the good of all our futures”.

Keep a careful eye on future Brexit-related government announcements; if they contain any of these phrases, we’ll know the leak was accurate.

Of particular interest should be the alleged plan for November 20 when, according to the leak, the Cabinet Office publishes an explanation of the deal and what it means for the public. The document says this would compare it with No Deal, “but not to our current deal”. Why not? Perhaps because it won’t do all the things listed in bold, above?

The leaked document is reproduced in full, below. Keep it handy, to check against what the Tories do over the next few weeks.

From what I’ve seen today, the scenario doesn’t seem possible:

Without that, there won’t be a Brexit deal.

Keep your eyes and ears open – and don’t let any of the following nonsense pass unchallenged.

Brexit Communications Grid Summary

Cabinet reviews the deal this Tuesday, the 6th November. They expect all the details to then leak.

“A moment of decisive progress” will be announced this Thursday. Raab to announce.

The narrative is going to be measured success, that this is good for everyone, but won’t be all champagne corks popping.

Then there’s recess until 12th.

After the announcement of decisive progress there follows the 10 days of Sherpa meetings with EU 27 and then daily themed announcements.

19th November – “We have delivered on the referendum” PM speaks at the CBI conference.

Saying this deal brings the country back together, now is the time for us all to unite behind it for the good of all our futures etc. She will also hold a business reception.

This is the day both the Withdrawal Agreement and Future Framework will be put to Parliament by way of a statement from Raab who will also do media. Junior ministers are doing regional media all day. Government lining up 25 top business voices including Carolyn Fairburn and lots of world leaders eg Japanese PM to tweet support for the deal.

20th – Theme is Delivering for the Whole of the UK – PM to visit the north and or Scotland and the Commons will debate in business motions the date of the Meaningful Vote.

PM will be back in the house to vote. The Cabinet Office publishes its explainer of the deal and what it means for the public, comparing it to No Deal, but not to our current deal.

Other business leaders to come out and back it eg Adam Marshall from Chambers of Commerce and supportive voices in devolved regions like Andy Street and Andy Burnham. Also hoping to get 3rd Sector voices out supporting it.

21st – Theme is Economy, Jobs, Customs. Philip Hammond to open debate in Commons and Raab to close it. Institute of Directors to speak out.

Hoping for Stephen Martin, Martin McTeague etc

22nd – Theme is immigration – take back control of our borders. Home Sec doing media and visits. Raab on QT in the West mids.

Hope Mike Hawes of SMMT will speak out in favour along with influential voices from the rest of the world saying how great this is for the flow of global talent.

23rd – Theme is money – NHS funding and structural funds. Matt Hancock hospital visit. David Everett to welcome the deal alongside Tech for UK.

24th Theme is Northern Ireland and The Union – no hard border in the UK and the integrity of the Union is protected. PM visits border communities and business in NI and maybe also to Wales to visit agri and export businesses. Karen Bradley doing media.

Trying to get Varadker to support and Anand Menon and Henry Newman too.

25th – Theme is global Britain. We can strike trade deals with RoW (rest of world) security in this one too.

Speech from Liam Fox. Jeremy Hunt on Marr. Hope Miles Celic to come out in support (City UK).

Lining up lots of former foreign secs to come out in support and Mark Littlewood of the IEA.

26th – theme is taking back control of our laws, Raab doing media. PM interview with Dimbleby.

27th – morning theme is agri and fisheries. Gove doing a visit and media.

Evening is the vote. HISTORIC MOMENT, PUT YOUR OWN INTERESTS ASIDE, PUT THE COUNTRY’S INTERESTS FIRST AND BACK THIS DEAL.

AFTERTHOUGHT: Downing Street’s denial has attracted debate. Here are just a few comments:

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1059890103915503616

What do you think?

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Rudd runs away as reporters ask what she’ll cut to fund her ‘Serious Violence Strategy’

Home Secretary Amber Rudd remains in a political quagmire of her own making after Jeremy Corbyn savaged her for failing to read her own government department’s report on the link between police cuts and the rise in violent crime.

Worse still, she has announced £40 million of funds for a new strategy to counter serious violent crime – but ran away when asked what else she would cut in order to come up with the cash.

According to The Guardian:

Jeremy Corbyn has said Amber Rudd has been “completely undermined” by leaked Home Office documents suggesting government cuts are linked to the rise in violent crime, and demanded the home secretary explain herself to parliament.

“We always said cuts have consequences and now the Home Office’s own officials agree with us,” he said. “Today’s leaked documents make a nonsense of the Tories’ repeated claims that their cuts to police numbers have had no effect.”

Ms Rudd had to go ahead and release her ‘Serious Violence Strategy’ – but the damage had been done. She had intended to put the battle against knife crime in the spotlight, but instead it fell on the government’s own cuts:

https://twitter.com/liamyoung/status/983305019658264576

And when she was asked what cuts would be required to fund her new initiative – well, see for yourself:

Meanwhile, we learn that violent crime is on the increase in other UK cities:

James O’Brien had a lot more to say about this issue. Here he is, demonstrating very clearly that Tories including Boris Johnson, Ms Rudd and current prime minister Theresa May have all claimed, against any logic, that reducing provision will improve protection. All have been proved wrong. And what do they have for those who call them out on it? Contempt:

Here’s an easy summary for you:

Fortunately, there are alternative points of view. Here’s Louise Haigh, Labour’s shadow policing minister:

She, at least, is in tune with the Police Federation:

So what’s the solution to the current rise in violent crime?

Simple.

Remove the incompetent and arrogant Conservatives from office and put Labour ministers in place to get the job done properly.


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If ‘dangerously incompetent’ Amber Rudd didn’t see leaked report on police cuts and violent crime, her plan to tackle it won’t work

“Dangerously incompetent”: Amber Rudd.

The Tories are trying to cover their embarrassment over this latest blunder, but it is already too late.

Amber Rudd is on record as saying police cuts have not contributed to the rise in serious violent crime on the UK’s streets – in direct contradiction of a Home Office Report that has been leaked to the press:

Government cuts to the police “may have encouraged” violent offenders and have “likely contributed” to a rise in serious violent crime, leaked Home Office documents have revealed.

The documents cast doubt on claims by the home secretary, Amber Rudd, on Sunday that cuts to the police were not to blame for rising violence.

The Home Office said it would not comment on leaked documents.

Rudd will on Monday launch a strategy aimed at tackling serious violent crime, which officials and ministers have been working on for months.

Any such strategy will be flawed if it does not take into account the harm caused by the Tory policy of cutting police numbers. And how can it, if the Home Secretary is determined that she hasn’t seen the report?

One person who has seen the report is Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who commented on the situation in his speech launching the party’s London local elections campaign:

We always said cuts have consequences and now the Home Office’s own officials agree with us.

Todays leaked documents make a nonsense of the Tories’ repeated claims that their cuts to police numbers have had no effect.

You cannot protect local communities when you cut funding to local councils to such an extent they are unable to provide the essential youth service support that stops many young people being drawn into violent crime.

The Tory record on policing and crime is one of reckless failure. Plain and simple – you can’t have security on the cheap and cuts have consequences. Too many communities are living with those consequences.

But Ms Rudd has moved on. It seems she is now blaming local Police and Crime Commissioners:

In fact, it seems senior police officers and the London Police Commissioner had warned Ms Rudd about the logical result of her cuts:

What are we to conclude?

That Amber Rudd is, as she has been described, dangerously incompetent. Her claim that she has not seen a report that contradicts her position on police cuts is, as LabourList claims, “either incompetence or dishonest” – and neither is acceptable in a Minister of the Crown.

That Jeremy Corbyn has a much firmer grip on the situation than Ms Rudd.

That voters in London can indicate their dissatisfaction with the situation by voting Labour – and giving Ms Rudd and her Tory blunderers the kicking they deserve for placing the citizens of our capital city in danger.


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It turns out US business bosses have better morals than religious leaders

Donald Trump reacts to the press.

Donald Trump has closed two US business councils after bosses quit over his handling of the violence in Charlottesville at the weekend.

Interestingly, not a single member of his Evangelical Council – representing religious organisations – felt the need to protest in the same way.

The heads of 3M, Campbell Soup, Johnson & Johnson and United Technologies announced their resignations on Wednesday, after Trump backtracked on his condemnation of neo-Nazi racism and blamed protesters against it as well, in a press conference on Tuesday.

The BBC reported that “JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, a member of the Strategy and Policy Forum, released a separate statement on Wednesday saying he strongly disagreed with Mr Trump’s recent statements, adding that ‘fanning divisiveness is not the answer. Constructive economic and regulatory policies are not enough and will not matter if we do not address the divisions in our country. It is a leader’s role, in business or government, to bring people together, not tear them apart’.

“Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup Co said she could not continue to participate in the advisory panel after Mr Trump’s comments. Activists had called on Campbell Soup, among other firms, to take action.”

At first, Trump had been defiant, claiming that the exodus involved “grandstanders”:

But he soon changed his tune:

Some have suggested that the CEOs left because they believed supporting Trump would harm them:

This shows a significant wind-change from previous tangles with Trump, in which Boeing and General Motors both saw their stock prices fall. Commenters like George Takei took the opportunity to make it personal:

But the really interesting aspect of this is the fact that not one representative of organised religion in the US has resigned from Trump’s Evangelical Council, despite the threat represented by the rise of the neo-Nazis.

Some have seen this as another echo of 1930s Germany:

Others have concentrated on the possibility of institutionalised racism:

Either way, President Trump has raised serious questions about his own appropriateness to remain President.

Leading figures of the US entertainment world have called for his impeachment.

Can the politicians be far behind?


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The Tories’ lack of a Brexit plan will harm the UK more than anything in last 50 years

Sir Michael Leigh.


This is hugely damaging for the UK’s reputation, let alone the country’s future.

Sir Michael Leigh is saying that David Davis has no authority as the UK’s lead negotiator, because there is division in the minority Tory government’s cabinet and no firm direction from the prime minister because she has lost power as a result of the general election she called for the sake of her own vanity.

Nobody believes that the Tories have prepared for Brexit negotiations in any serious way.

Nobody believes that a new free trade agreement will be in place in less than two years.

And nobody believes the UK will be able to pick and choose the conditions of EU membership it will be able to retain during any transitional period.

The EU has the upper hand – as does the strongest party in any negotiation. Theresa May should consider this carefully before launching any free trade negotiations with Donald Trump’s United States – but she probably won’t because she simply isn’t intelligent enough.

The decisions taken by Prime Minister Theresa May and her predecessor David Cameron over the UK’s relationship with Europe will be as harmful to Britain’s interests as any decision the government has taken for over 50 years, a former EU negotiator has told Business Insider.

“The decisions taken by the former prime minister David Cameron, exacerbated by the decisions taken by his successor, are the most harmful decisions that have been taken by a British government for decades,” Sir Michael Leigh, who was a European Commission Director-General from 2006 to 2011, [said].

“You have to go back to the Suez crisis in 1956 or to Munich in 1938 to find decisions taken by a British government that will turn out in time to have had such negative consequences for the United Kingdom.

“It’s clear that the Commission has used the full period since the notification under Article 50 to prepare detailed position papers.

“The general impression is that Britain has not used the time since notification to prepare detailed negotiating positions. The main reason for that is division among Cabinet ministers as to the approach to be taken and of course, that’s exacerbated now by the loss of the government’s majority and therefore the loss of authority for the prime minister.

“Michel Barnier [chief EU Brexit negotiator] may notionally have David Davis in front of him as his negotiating partner, but if senior Cabinet ministers go on record almost every day with divergent positions on key issues like the single market and transitional arrangements, then it’s a fact that the person opposite Barnier does not have the authority to take a clear and sustainable negotiation position.

Read more: Former EU Official: Conservative Brexit strategy the most harmful government policy for over 50 years


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