Tag Archives: verdict

Hancock LIED when he said there was never a national PPE shortage. Here’s the evidence. Now demand his resignation

Yet again: the PPE used in UK hospitals at the start of the Covid crisis is pictured bottom right. The infographic was made when the UK had hardly any personal protective equipment – but now Matt Hancock is trying to save his job by claiming there was never any shortage.

The Death Health Secretary is trying to rewrite history:

Did you hear him?

One minute and 40 seconds in: “But there wasn’t a national shortage [of personal protective equipment – PPE] at any point.”

That is simply untrue.

Here he is in April last year, saying he’d love to wave a magic wand to resolve PPE shortages:

The Tory government of the day was told in 2016/17, after Operation Cygnus, that the UK’s health service would be unable to cope with a pandemic virus infection without plentiful supplies of protective equipment for health workers… and decided that such an investment was too expensive.

This led to a situation in March 2020 when an NHS procurement chief, Alan Hoskins tweeted: “What a day, no gowns NHS Supply Chain. Rang every number escalated to NHS England, just got message back — no stock, can’t help, can send you a PPE pack. Losing the will to live, god help us all.”

The tweet was subsequently deleted, possibly under duress as even then the Tory government was trying to hide the facts. As This Writer put it on April 3 last year: “it seems doctors have been warned not to make any comments about shortages on social media, as well as avoiding talking to journalists, and NHS England has taken over media operations for many hospitals and health trusts in order to ensure that they all stay “on message”.”

On April 17 I brought public attention to the plight of nurses who had been forced to wear bin bags instead of proper protection. According to Metro,

Three nurses who wore bin bags on their shifts due to a shortage in personal protective equipment (PPE) have reportedly tested positive for coronavirus.

Just weeks ago, the nurses had shared a photo of themselves with clinical waste bags on their heads and feet as they issued a plea for proper masks, gowns and gloves at Northwick Park Hospital, in Harrow.

I wrote: “One of them had said they were all “terrified” that this might happen, knowing that colleagues had caught the disease from patients, and having treated those colleagues. They had seen what the illness does… We know what the government that failed them is going to give them: Platitudes.”

How right I was.

On April 19 I quoted a Sunday Times piece on the Johnson government’s PPE failures that showed he had sent 278,800 items of protective kit to China in February – immediately before the UK had needed it:

Downing Street admitted on February 24 — just five days before NHS chiefs warned a lack of PPE left the health service facing a “nightmare” — that the UK government had supplied 1,800 pairs of goggles and 43,000 disposable gloves, 194,000 sanitising wipes, 37,500 medical gowns and 2,500 face masks to China.

Don’t worry – it seems we may be getting some of it back. It’s just that the government isn’t sure, having lost £15 billion worth of PPE, some of which it has bought (back?) from other countries including China:

The government is not sure where billions of pounds worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) is located, the head of the National Audit Office has disclosed.

Gareth Davies, the comptroller and auditor general, said outside consultants had been brought into Whitehall to find all equipment, which is stored at different sites around the country, or is in transit from abroad.

Under questioning from the public accounts committee, Davies said: “We have been working closely with the DoH. It has commissioned consultants to advise it on first of all understanding where all the PPE that has been bought actually is. It sounds like a strange question but it is a really big issue because it is not all standing neatly in an NHS store somewhere.

“We have amounts in containers, in storage around the country, there’s some on the docks and there is some en route somewhere from China.”

On April 18 last year, I quoted a Mirror report that

NHS doctors and nurses will be asked to treat patients infected with coronavirus without full-length gowns – or re-use the ones they have, it has emerged tonight.

The Government has been under fire for weeks over the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE), with some frontline staff warning that they have had to work in situations where they feel unsafe.

Public Health England guidelines currently state that full-length waterproof surgical gowns should by worn by medical workers to stop Covid-19 spreading into someone’s mouth or nose.

However, there has now been a U-turn advising staff to wear a flimsy plastic apron when gowns run out or not wear one at all

And Matt Hancock has the cheek to tell us now that there was never a shortage.

Here’s a tweet about PPE availability in one hospital on April 19:

The following day we learned a much-touted delivery of PPE from Turkey would last just three days. It had been previously reported that Boris Johnson had refused to join an EU scheme to provide PPE where it was needed (see the Peter Stefanovic tweet towards the top of this article).

On April 24 we found

The UK’s stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) for use in a pandemic…  has been outsourced to a private company, Movianto, which was sold two weeks ago for $133m (£107m) by its owner, a large US healthcare group.

Two days later the Turkish shipment of PPE arrived – and proved to be just one-twelfth of the expected amount.

Later in the Covid crisis we learned that the Tories were using the emergency procurement system which bypasses the competitive tendering process and allows the government to purchase items and services direct from chosen firms, was being abused.

Tories were giving cash to their cronies in return for equipment that simply wasn’t fit to be used.

The classic example is that of Board of Trade president (and cheese queen) Liz Truss, who spent £150 million of your money on 50 million face masks for the NHS that couldn’t be used.

She had been approached for the contract by one of her long-standing friends and advisors, Andrew Mills. Oh, and apparently it was sourced through a tax haven so this guy can keep all the money.

Mills was subsequently removed from his advisory position. But Truss didn’t go anywhere.

Tory ministers “learned the lessons” from this mistake by handing a further £180 million to their cronies for PPE.

Did we get it? Doubtful.

All the way down the line the Tories have failed us.

They gave away our PPE when we needed it.

They failed to join an international scheme to provide it where it was needed.

They failed to source it themselves.

They gave money to their friends and cronies who had no experience in providing PPE, and received trash in return.

As a result, health service professionals caught Covid-19. Many of them died.

And Matt Hancock, who is on video record from last year, saying he wished he could wave a magic wand and eliminate the PPE shortage, is now telling us he shouldn’t have to resign for breaking the law by hiding contract details – because he made sure there was never a PPE shortage.

He is a LIAR.

He should resign NOW.

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Trump acquitted in second impeachment trial – but not by the court of public opinion

Did anybody think Donald Trump would be found guilty by the Republican-dominated US Senate?

Impeached for the second time in his presidency – for inciting the Capitol riot in January that led to the deaths of five people – the evidence was considered by the 100-strong Senate, whose membership is evenly balanced between Republicans (Trump’s party) and Democrats.

For Trump to be convicted, a simple majority was not enough; the rules state that two-thirds of the Senate would have to find against him.

And here’s the result:

Final vote tally 57-43 but Senate fails to achieve two-thirds majority needed to convict former president of incitement.

Seven Republicans voted against their now-former president but it wasn’t enough. The others supported Trump.

It is suggested that they would have done so, no matter what evidence was put before them. That is a matter for their consciences.

The court of public opinion is another matter, though.

And the reaction of the people seems clear:

 

 

“The only thing easier to buy in the USA than a gun is a Republican Senator.”

Fair comment?

Source: Donald Trump acquitted in second impeachment trial | Donald Trump | The Guardian

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Jury fails to reach verdict in trial of David Duckenfield over Hillsborough

David Duckenfield.

A jury in the trial of David Duckenfield has been discharged after failing to reach a verdict on whether he was responsible for the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans in the Hillsborough disaster of 1989.

The prosecution will now be seeking a re-trial.


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Labour’s kangaroo court issues details of its finding against me – and they don’t even match the charge

Facepalm: Jeremy Corbyn probably thought he could trust senior members of the Labour Party to handle disciplinary procedures impartially. If so, he was mistaken. Now look at the mess they’ve caused.

What a farce!

Today I received a letter from the secretary of Labour’s National Constitutional Committee, giving its reasons for saying the charges of anti-Semitism against me were proved.

Of course, they are meaningless.

The letter states:

“Upon the balance of probabilities the charge was proved for reasons including:

  • It was not disputed that you were responsible for the posting the content that the NEC claimed breached Labour Party rules;
  • A reasonable person would find the posted content, that is the basis of the NEC’s charge, to have the propensity to cause offence, be regarded as abusive and make some feel discriminated against;
  • In posting the content you breached the Labour Party’s Antisemitism and other forms of racism code of conduct, Social Media Policy and Member’s Pledge in appendix 9 of the Rule Book.”

Unfortunately none of the above proves the particulars of the charge against me. In fact, all it proves is that whoever complained to the Labour Party about me in the first place – back in May 2017 – had said they were offended by it, that they felt it was abusive, and that they felt I had discriminated against them.

And there can be a huge difference between saying a thing and actually meaning it – especially considering the fact that the accusation was deliberately timed to interfere with my campaign for election onto Powys County Council.

Also, I wonder what the many tens of thousands of reasonable Vox Political readers – who have read the material in question and don’t consider it to be offensive, abusive or discriminatory – think of what the NCC panel has implied about them. Are you one such reader? How do you feel about the NCC claiming you’re not reasonable?

Let us remind ourselves of the particulars of the charge against me:

“Mr Sivier has repeatedly posted content propogating the conspiracy that secretive networks of Jews control and have undue influence over government and other societal institutions. He uses language that is dismissive of antisemitism and that denies Jews the right to self-identify as they wish. This falls fairly and squarely within the IHRA definition of antisemitism, which the Labour Party has adopted.”

During the hearing, I proved conclusively that I had not supported any nonsense about a “global Jewish conspiracy”, nor had I used language that is dismissive of anti-Semitism or that denied Jews the right to self-identify. And none of the words forming the basis of the NEC’s complaint fitted even tangentially within the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

The NCC couldn’t suggest otherwise, so instead it seems the panel came up with the tripe in the letter.

The difference between what’s said in the letter and in the charge is the same as the difference between claiming something and proving it.

I should be grateful. The letter proves two things:

I am not an anti-Semite (the letter makes no suggestion of any hatred towards Jews, simply because they are Jewish) – and Labour’s National Constitutional Committee is a laughing-stock.

Still, there is a serious side to this.

We are currently in the middle of a crisis, engineered by the Conservative government, around Brexit – and Labour is hoping to recruit more members into the Party, possibly to help fight a snap general election.

Here’s an advert from Twitter:

But why would anybody want to join an organisation whose internal procedures are prejudiced against rank-and-file members such as myself?

And why would they want to support a party into government that cannot even root out corruption in its own internal procedures?

It seems clear that Labour has a serious credibility problem, as long as it allows its disciplinary procedures to be run in the corrupt and prejudicial manner demonstrated by my own case.

Worse still, as there is no right of appeal, it seems there is no way the party can cancel its false finding against me.

Still, the difference between the charge and the rationale for the verdict puts Labour in a highly actionable position, so perhaps we will be able to sort out this mess in court.

The timing is unfortunate, as the party undoubtedly wants to gain ground with the electorate at a time of chaos within the ranks of the Conservatives, but I can’t help that.

Remember Blackstone’s ratio? “The law holds that it is better that 10 guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”? I am innocent of the charges against me, but allow me to assure you that although I may present a composed exterior, it is extremely distressing to face accusations of anti-Semitism – especially for the more-than-18-months this has been going on.

If Labour really wanted to gain credibility now, the party’s leaders should have thought very carefully before inflicting this particular injustice on this particular man.

They’d better do something about it quickly – don’t you agree?

Visit our JustGiving page to help Vox Political’s Mike Sivier fight anti-Semitism libels in court


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Torture survivors were wrongly imprisoned – but that’s no surprise with Amber Rudd

Yarls Wood immigration Removal centre in Clapham near Bedford in Bedfordshire [Image: Sean Dempsey/PA Images via Getty Images].

The Home Office does not intend to appeal against the court’s decision – but what does that mean, with Amber ‘Lock-Em-Up’ Rudd in charge?

Ms Rudd has already come under fire for failing to release an asylum-seeker who had been tortured in a Libyan prison – a valid definition of torture, even under the Home Office’s now-discredited Adults At Risk policy.

A court order was made for Ms Rudd to release that person but she ignored it. The Home Office then failed to provide written reasons for failing to comply with the order.

So – moving on to the current case – why would anybody believe the Home Office would act on a High Court ruling, even after saying it would not challenge the verdict?

Torture survivors have won a High Court challenge against the Home Office over policy which saw asylum seekers fleeing persecution wrongly locked up in immigration detention centres.

Mr Justice Ouseley ruled that the Home Office policy “lacked a rational or evidence basis” and wrongly allowed many who had been tortured overseas to be imprisoned.

The Adults at Risk policy, introduced in September 2016, had redefined torture to refer to violence carried out only by official state agents.

The charity Medical Justice and seven former immigration centre detainees argued the legal definition was too narrow.

The detainees included victims of sexual and physical abuse, trafficking, sexual exploitation, homophobic attacks, a child abused by loan sharks and a young man kidnapped and abused by the Taliban. The Home Office’s narrowed definition of torture excluded the seven from being recognised as torture victims.

The judge stated that the definition of “torture” intended for use in the policy would require medical practitioners to “reach conclusions on political issues which they cannot rationally be asked to reach”.

Source: Torture Survivors Were Wrongly Imprisoned, High Court Rules


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Leader debate leaves public divided

The leader debate in a nutshell [Image: Lizzie Harvey on Twitter.]

The leader debate in a nutshell [Image: Lizzie Harvey on Twitter.]

What did people want from the televised political leaders’ debate?

It’s a question that has troubled this writer ever since it ended and the reactions started coming in.

The spin doctors and the hacks in the right-wing press claimed victory for the parties they support – of course. That’s why the front pages of The Sun and the Daily Torygraph proclaimed victory for David Cameron. They had been prepared before the debate had even finished because those rags were always going to make that claim.

150403suntelegraph

A significant number came out in support of Nigel Farage – the UKIP party faithful and those who believed his anti-immigration, anti-Europe spiel. Of course, they might have felt differently, had they known he only plans to reduce immigration by around 28,000 a year, but it’s easy to deceive someone who doesn’t want to know the facts.

Extreme: The signed version of the debate provided this interpretation of a Nigel Farage comment.

Extreme: The signed version of the debate provided this interpretation of a Nigel Farage comment.

There seemed to be a swell of support for the three female leaders. A knee-jerk reaction might be to suggest that this was simply because they weren’t men; this writer does not subscribe to that view. It is far more likely that people warmed to Natalie Bennett, Leanne Wood and especially Nicola Sturgeon because this was their first mass exposure to the British viewing (and voting) public. They head the so-called ‘minority’ parties and are often excluded from the national conversation by reason of their size.

Not only that, but they had a message that people wanted to hear: No More Austerity. It was pleasantly surprising to see all three pounding the message home against a defensive David Cameron – and it is in this context that we should measure the public’s reaction to them. This blog has stated previously that the larger parties cannot hope to gain popular support if they are offering only what they want, rather than what the people want. Now the people have found organisations that are offering what they want. This Writer feared that they would take votes from Labour, rather than the Conservatives; now that outcome seems less likely.

Nicola Sturgeon, in particular, is to be congratulated for her performance which has eased, somewhat, This Writer’s concerns about her party gaining influence in Westminster. She came across very well and seemed to be offering an olive branch to Ed Miliband in her opening statement, which included support for at least three Labour policies. However, there remains the question of how far she may be trusted; she repeated the lie that Labour had voted to support £30 billion of Tory austerity cuts when Labour did nothing of the sort (Miliband put her straight but the accusation always receives more attention than the rebuttal). And what of the rumour that the SNP is planning a Unilateral Declaration of Independence for Scotland – whether the majority of its people want it or not – after the election?

That leaves the three ‘main’ parties. Nick Clegg was a joke. Nobody agreed with Nick this time.

David Cameron also lost traction. He did manage to crowbar into the debate the messages this blog reported yesterday but nobody seemed impressed by them; Ed Miliband debunked the claims about Labour pretty sharpish and the public wanted to believe the ladies when it came to the economy. He scraped the bottom of the barrel several times – yet again quoting Liam Byrne’s ill-advised note about there being no money in 2010 as the reason austerity cuts had to happen (in fact, the UK was never in danger of bankruptcy but Cameron likes to make that claim, even though he knows better); and once more using his late son Ivan as his ‘human shield’ against attacks about the state of the NHS. The audience didn’t groan, but the country did. Asked where the £12 billion of ‘welfare’ cuts would be made, he again refused to answer, meaning the Tories are planning something extremely unpleasant for you, if they win. And – amazingly – he thinks ‘Free’ (in fact they are exorbitantly expensive) schools are a good idea!

150403millibandnolectures

That leaves Ed Miliband. whose confident, fact-filled performance ensured he won the ‘snap’ poll conducted online immediately after the debate – if only by a whisker. He had plans; he described them. He apologised for the mistakes Labour has previously acknowledged; he didn’t apologise for the party’s current plans. He stared down Cameron when the Tory leader tried to accuse him of financial irresponsibility, and he had the country on his side when he did so, because Cameron’s party has doubled the national debt and failed to balance the books while inflicting a huge human cost on their fellow citizens. His narrow victory this week followed a narrow defeat last week, meaning his stature amongst the public is growing. People are starting to like this man. The more he mentions what he would do “if I am Prime Minister”, the easier it is for them to see him in that role.

So we return to the question at the top of this piece: What did people want from this debate?

Judging from the reactions as they developed, it seems people wanted something fresh and new-looking, that corresponded with their own desire – not just for an end to the oppression of the last five years, but for a reversal of it.

That’s all very well, but those aren’t the qualities that are needed to run a country successfully. A national leader needs a cool head and the stamina to see long-term matters to their conclusion, for the sake of the whole nation.

The evidence on display yesterday suggests that Ed Miliband has what it takes. Slow and steady may win the race after all.

But will the public be too dazzled by the others to realise this?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Jeremy Hunt takes to twitter to tout latest NHS failures

We really need a new title for a Conservative Health Secretary. He’s not responsible for the health service any more – the Health and Social Care Act 2012 put an end to that – so perhaps ‘Health Cheerleader’ would be a better title?

He has certainly been cheerleading for his new part-privatised NHS over the past few days, with a series of tweets under the banner “The NHS as you know it”. But do any of his claims stack up?

First up, on December 28, was his claim that the number of operations performed on behalf of the NHS was up by “one million”, with the number of cancelled operations stable (that means it hasn’t gone up or down). Here are the graphs:

150105hunt1

The trouble is, the number of operations clearly hasn’t increased by a million since the Coalition took power. The graph shows Q2 data only. It clearly shows that operations in that quarter stalled for three years at the same level (after a sustained period of improvement under Labour) and the number currently taking place suggests only a continuation of the trend under the previous government.

Figures for Q2 2014 are only 131,389 higher than Q2 2010. Readers are apparently being asked to assume similar or higher figures in order to make Hunt’s “one million” but with a quarterly figure of roughly 132,000 there’s still nearly half a million operations missing.

Verdict: FAIL.

Next, on January 4, Hunt claimed his NHS had 850,000 more operations every year than under Labour (we’ve already debunked that one), 13,000 more “clinical staff” and was rated “top in world”. Here’s his graph:

150105hunt3

Obviously he’s wrong to claim credit for new clinical staff, if he means doctors – all of them would have had to begin training after May 2010 when the Coalition came into office and it takes longer than four-and-a-half years to train a doctor.

Then, if you look at the small print on the graph, its sources relate to information running up to 2013, when Conservative-led changes to the health service had only just begun to be felt.

The comments include one from Labour Left’s Dr Eoin Clarke asking Hunt to explain why complaints about the NHS have increased by 70 per cent since the Tories took over, while patient satisfaction fell by a record amount (from a previous record high under Labour). No answer was forthcoming.

Verdict: FAIL.

Next, again on January 4, Hunt claimed: “Cancer tests up 51% compared to Lab & 700,000 more treated 4 cancer this parliament”. He was instantly berated by commenters for using “4” instead of “for” (this writer would take issue with “compared to” as well – it’s “compared with”). Verdict: Extra FAIL.

In terms of the information – here’s the graph:

150105hunt4

But Eoin Clarke (again) asked why waiting lists are at a six-year high and Cancer Research UK has said funding has been cut by four per cent, in real terms.

And Chris Manners pointed out, “I wasn’t aware sending lots of people for cancer tests was an end in itself.”

Next – January 4 again:

150105hunt5

This one is easily debunked – and was, by commenters on Twitter, as follows:

Thig ar Latha: “And it’s about an hour of training then registering yourself online. My staff have done it.”

This is corroborated by Millsy: “Dementia awareness? It’s an hour lecture… That’s not training.”

Ash Sohoye adds an extra layer: “Most of the dementia training you spk of paid for by charitable giving not NHS.”

Gerry suggests an ulterior motive: “And reason you incentivise GP to diagnose early dementia – to ensure patient sells whatever they own to fund their future care. Diagnosed dementia data will be available to private providers to forward plan services in areas of demand to maximise profit. As for the training – a cosmetic exercise to cover your real dementia objective – making profit from vulnerable patients.”

(Finally, there’s this comment from Ermintrude: “And how much social care funding has been pulled to support ppl with dementia which leads to longer hospital stays?” – which is on a tangent to the discussion but relevant to NHS users in Wales, where the Labour Assembly Government regularly receives flak for its choices. With funding from Westminster decreasing by 10 per cent per year, the Assembly has chosen to prioritise social care, in order to reduce the length of hospital stays. This is a long-term plan, however, meaning Tory shills have taken the opportunity to lay into Labour even further by claiming the strategy has been ineffective. Time will tell.)

Verdict: FAIL.

Next – on January 4:

150105hunt6

Yes, cancer survival rates are improving, according to a trend set by the NHS under the previous Labour government. Where is the ‘boost’ effect of support from this Cancer Drugs Fund?

Perhaps it has yet to appear. But then, Jeremy shouldn’t be mentioning it with these results, should he?

And, as Scott Wainwright points out on Twitter, isn’t Hunt [corruptly] selling off cancer treatment to organisations that donate money to the Conservative Party?

Verdict: Stupid FAIL.

Finally – also on January 4: “£2bn of additional funding for the frontline next year, backed by a strong economy.”

150105hunt7

Vox Political has already debunked this but it’s worth going over the facts, starting with the claim about this money being “backed by a strong economy”: None of this funding has anything to do with economic growth and it isn’t even new.

This blog quoted BBC correspondent Louise Stewart, who said £1.3 billion “would be found from savings in other government departments.” Not new money, then. “The remaining £700m will come from the existing Department of Health budget and will be put into front line.” Again, not new money. And none of it has been made possible by any economic growth – the same VP article points out that Income Tax receipts are only just around their pre-crash high.

Verdict: Not only a FAIL; also a LIE.

So that’s “The NHS as you know it” under Jeremy Hunt: Statistics abused, problems ignored, ulterior motives and outright lies.

Let’s end on something a little more factual. These images from the Labour Party were all supported by the line: “The NHS as you know it cannot survive five more years of David Cameron”.

150105NHS1 150105NHS2 150105NHS3 150105NHS4

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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