Sunday 19 April 2020

End times

Big splash in the Sunday Times. Get Boris.

A scoop! A day by day; hour by hour diary of the government’s failures and gross mishandling of the pandemic. Boris’s selfish, narcissistic, stubborn deafness! His cavalier behaviour! Hundreds, nay, thousands of unnecessary deaths! Boris’s negligence! The government’s ineptitude!

The keyboard warriors had already been busy, piling in below the line by about 6:30 am! Get Boris!

The whole www blogosphere is full of people (like me) opining on stuff we know very little about. (But how could we? We know only what we’re told.)

“So whom” did no-one anywhere suggest “would have handled the crisis better?” Jeremy Corbyn? Decisive and presidential? He’d still have been ‘having a conversation’.

Andrew Marr, on behalf of the Labour Party, massaged Anneliese Dodds gently through her sermon.

Michael Gove had just been con-fronted by Sophy Ridge with the narrow-eyed stare that makes her look intense.

Marr’s fixers put him in the last slot where the imminent danger of ‘running out of time’ usually adds an extra frisson of suspense. No-one could have been surprised by the tedious predictability of the questioning - the likelihood of Marr getting a sudden surge of inspiration and imagination is next to nil.

“Did he or did he not miss five cobra meetings?” squeaked Marr, the air of triumph amplified by his extra-reedy tone of voice.

So pleased was he with this question that the moment Gove began his answer, Marr had already begun a series of ‘interruption’ noises. Nevertheless, Gove battled through the distraction with stoicism and forbearance.

“Did we not send billions of tons of our PPE to China?” continued Marr. But he had already stopped listening and concerned himself with the Marr Show’s rapidly approaching end time.


  1. It seems to me there are a number of strands here.

    The BBC and most of the MSM are using the crisis to weaken the Government. Many in the anti-Boris camp still nurse the hope of reversing Brexit by means now of an extended transition and eventual re-entry of the UK. Politics never stops in a crisis, not even one so costly in lives.

    While it's true that the BBC would continue sniping, snarking and snipping even if the Government had performed immaculately, there is no denying even the Government's natural supporters are unimpressed.

    I've read the Sunday Telegraph today. People feel the Government was unprepared for this crisis, but also has been very reactive, rather than proactive. I couldn't agree more. There was no effective pandemic plan in place. Even though the Government had pretty much two months' notice of the approaching pandemic, no effective plan was put in place.

    The Government's constantly reiterated advice about Covid symptoms (dry cough and temperature) meant millions went into work with the disease, because they had other symptoms (there are a range of Covid symptoms, something the Government's medical advisors now seem to have taken on board, but it was obvious all along).

    As for PPE equipment why wasn't the Government requiisitioning the chemicals for making the plastic from which to fashion gowns, suits, visors, gloves, goggle and all the rest? Why didn't it put in place an agency to direct the manufacture of these items?
    They have all these emergency powers and their main focus seems to be to stop people sunbathing alone in parks. Pathetic.

    The Government's natural supporters as evidenced in the Sunday Telegraph are also deeply unimpressed with the Government's attitude to continuing the Lockdown and offering no clear exit strategy. This is truly pathetic. We have the sight of Belgium reopening its DIY stores while it's still recording double the number of our deaths, adjusted for population. This government appears "frit" to do the necessary.

    Whether Boris can continue long-term as PM is open to question now. He's clearly still not well and, frankly, has completely ballsed this up from all angles. It is hideously unfair that he was hit with this crisis at the opening of his Commons-majority Premiership but the gods are unfair. This is exactly the sort of crisis he is temperamentally unsuited to. He's failed to get a grip and succumbed to the pandemic himself.

    As a long time Boris supporter I hope he recovers in all senses but it has to be said he brought a lot of this on himself.

  2. The planning for a pandemic is surely a job for 'our NHS', exactly the same NHS run by the same people that would have been in the job under Corbyn and the EU and with the same budget.

    It ought to be obvious to everyone that 'our NHS' isn't fit for purpose but our 'gotcha' media have made it impossible for any but the most determined politician to do anything about it.

    Exactly the same line has been played over defence matters, the 'front line' is all. By that logic our army would be equiped with penknives, they would live off the land and manufacture bows and arrows from convenient saplings. The modern reality is that the 'front line' of nearly every activity is a very small part in the organisation and it is the quality of the 'staff officers' and their preparation that determines if battles can be won. The same applies to health.

    1. I'd say it was a joint responsibility of Government, local authorities and the NHS. The NHS should have its own specific plan for sure and probably does - but it was clearly inadequate.

    2. The adequacy of NHS managements' plans is down to each NHS Trust. The Government does not run the NHS... it provides money and guidelines, and the Care Quality Commission quango checks that the NHS follows the guidelines and does its duty of care.

      Blaming the Government is puerile and misdirected. Overpaid and useless management of the NHS is responsible for NHS failings. Every time a trust gets slated by the CQC, nothing much changes other than the Trust CEO moves on with a huge payoff, only to resurface in another quango to mess that up later. Whistleblowers are fired, inadequacies hidden, and admin staff have to supply their own paperclips and pens because central purchasing bulk buys and forgets to re-order when stocks are low. You couldn't make it up... just ask anyone who actually works in an hospital where incompetence and bureaucracy reigns and compare with a private hospital where things happen properly because incompetence gets you the sack, not promotion or move sideways.

  3. This is the response from the Department of Health.

    1. The government seems to have taken leave of its senses....

      "This is an unprecedented global pandemic".

      Er - no it's not. There have been several of equal or greater intensity over the last 100 odd years.

      "The Prime Minister has been at the helm of the response to this"

      FFS - he nearly died with it. He was totally incapacitated for at least a week.

      "The risk level was set to “Low” because at the time our scientific advice was that the risk level to the UK public at that point was low. "

      If that's how the Government goes about risk assessment, then there is something very wrong! You assess risks for both the likelihood of them happening and for the severity of their impact should they happen. That's how business does it and how anyone sensible would do it.

      You don't assess a risk as "low" simply because it hasn't happened yet!

      "The WHO did not formally declare that coronavirus was a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) until 30 January, and only characterised it as a global pandemic more than a month later, on 11 March."

      So the Government is admitting it was led by by the nose by the Chinese Communist controlled WHO! Brilliant!!

      I skim-read the rest of their depressing response. Seems clear that absolutely nothing was done to trigger a massive PPE manufacturing effort within the UK? Why?? Sounds like they went to the normal suppliers who source from abroad.


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