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When leaders don't


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Many here may see me as a muesli-eating, sandal wearing Guardian reader, wedded to a Marxist view of history and implacably hostile to the class-enemy, the Tory party.   All true, of course, but let me introduce you to an organ that you cannot doubt is the House Journal of that same party, the Sunday Times.      And what is the front page headline today?  Quote:  "Revealed - How the government sleepwalked into pandemic catastrophe"

And they show no mercy, no forgiveness, but lay into the Tories for their transgressions.

 I won't transcribe the whole article, just retail you some of the worst bits.

"The Government lost a crucial five weeks in the fight to tackle coronavirus"

"Complacency in the heart of genvernment in late January and February, when it should have been urgently replacing stockpiles"

"Training for pandemic had been neglected for years"

"Stockpiles of PPE were rundown and out of date"

"Ministers failed to correct shortfalls in training and equipment.and did not initiate key parts of the official pandemic plan"

"Boris Johnson did not attend any of the five virus meetings held by Cobra ...  in January and February and spent 12 days out of the public eye on a 'working holiday' "

"The government failed to make meaningful contact with the .... British PPE manufacturers".

"In late February. the government sent 266,000 items of PPE to China "

Quote Downing Street adviser, "Boris didn't chair any meetings.  He liked his country breaks. He didn't work weekends."

"The Government failed to seek help [from industry] with corona virus test untill April 1, the night before Hancock announced a target of 100,000 tests a day"

 

This can only be a summary.  The full case of indictment is expressed in ten columns of dense type on pages 6 and 7 of the newspaper.   If you don't subscribe, ask your newsagent if they still have a copy tomorrow.     I don't and they had some this evening.

In any field other than government this degree of dereliction of duty would be a sacking offence.      We will have to wait another five years, but do not forget how deeply and completely the Tories let you down.

JOhn

 

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Like you John I've been a Guardian reader for years.  For some reason, I can't rememberwhy, I also read the Sunday Times and as you say it can be best described as the House Journal of the Tory party. On reading the said article my feelings were the same as yours in respect of the dereliction of duty by the current government, in particular the lack of action by the PM at the start of the crisis. 

Pete Richards 

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The Times and the Sunday Times aren't 'the house journal of the Tory Party', they are Murdoch publications, like the Sun, and their only aim is to make money for Rupert.  Sensational headlines sell papers even if the story doesn't support the headline or seeks to sensationalise.

John, I don't know about your footwear or breakfast cereal but you make no secret of your feelings for the Tories in general and Johnson in particular.  I'm sure this article is 'music to your ears' but there is one problem.

Of course the Government can be criticised on some specific aspects of the way things have gone but It seems 'Joe Public' is a lot more understanding. 

Poling suggest that the majority (60ish%) of people in England & Wales think the Government handling of this crisis has been good.  Obviously this may change in the future.  The Tories have 'slumped' to a 19 point lead over Labour in the latest opinion poll despite all the negative coverage of Deaths, Testing, PPE, Ventilators and the dire performances of various Ministers at the daily briefings.

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3 hours ago, PeterC said:

Labour are mismanaging an almighty cock-up in Wales

https://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/18390025.mark-drakeford-announces-covid-19-testing-review-wales

The whole Assembly looks out of its depth.

Peter

I just read that article. 2 things are very worrying (nothing to do with party politics)

1. That a "new website" to be launched this week will make things better. Yea, right.

2. That some on the vulnerable list still haven't had letters. Solution: contact your GP. The issue is that unless many of these vulnerable people have somebody looking out for them, or rather fighting their corner, often having to be persistent and keep calling/pushing, then it just won't happen. 

So political soundbites. Doesn't matter what political persuasion you are, a politician will always be in charge. 

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This isn't, this time, a party matter.  My ex-colleagues are risking, and some are losing, their lives because this Government did not prepare properly in the weeks they had to do so. 

But it's more than that, it's a family matter.    Daughter and Son-in-Law are both working in hospitals, seeing Covid pts every day.   I have four grandchildren, two theirs, and if any are orphaned, I  would hold Johnson and his cronies responsible.  Not politically, personally.    This Government that keeps on saying that it is 'following the science' has diligently done the opposite, when the expert advice on  medical and disaster preparation didn't suit their partisan policies.   For instance, in 2016, Operation Cygnus was a major simulation exercise that involved national and local government in playing out a flu pandemic.     It showed clearly that the country was not prepared, in particular in resources and supply, exactly the areas that have failed now.   The Cygnus Report was never published and clearly the Tory Government, in power at that time, did not act on it.

As for public support for the Tories at this time, this is natural and normal in a crisis.   Even Johnson's hero and the statesman he mimics, Churchill, for all his wartime leadership lost the immediate post WW2 election.     But memories are short today, maybe not as long as in 1945, when the memory of Tory inadequacy in the unemployment of the 1930s was still fresh.

Whatever happens, it will be very different, after Covid.    In the NHS, I know from two directions that already, thinking has been changed by having to do so.     We may never see hospital out-patient clinics again, but talk to the doctor by videolink, and GP surgeries will combine and then stratify, some becoming minor injury units or vaccination clinics, while others become call-centres that only 'see' patients online.      A new world is coming, for those of us who survive.

John

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The vast majority of us will survive, probably 99.5% of us who are under 75 and of reasonable health. 

Yes, this could be a turning point for the way things are done. We are finding out that normalising stuff that would never usually be accepted has been. And that can be a springboard.

Memories are short. So it could go either way for parliament. Undoubtedly Boris will come out of this claiming it was handled well. There will be a few snipes, but if Keir can't land a heavy blow without making a fool of himself (not personal, but make claims and then be questioned about what Labour had in place etc) the country will probably side with the govt, forget about the problems and move on to the next bit. Any Brexit issues can be blamed on the pandemic, and it will be impossible to untangle that argument. Add to that labour have a recent history of winning when times are good, tories when times are bad. In fact I feel sorry for KS, normally a new leader of the opposition can set out policies and make an impact. Poor chap has been totally sidelined, and that could easily make him appear ineffectual. He really needs to be making bolder statements, even if it is to support what Boris's gang are doing now.

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8 hours ago, Chris W said:

but It seems 'Joe Public' is a lot more understanding. 

Poling suggest that the majority (60ish%)

Joe Public unfortunately appears to believe the tripe dished out in such comics as the Wail, Sun and Mirror, not forgetting the daily Torygraph.  Doesn't say much for their observational or critical thinking skills.  But then it seems that critical thinking skills are carefully left out of the syllabus - don't want people to pick up on the lies and spin.....

Incidently, I don't consider myself especially aligned with any of the party "tribes".  They have all proved desperately poor at looking after the interests of the wider UK population for many years now.

The current shower of self-serving morons in power seem especially inept and unpleasant though.  Fact they are tory is irrelevant  to current events.  They are doing a poor job now on top of having dropped the ball preparation-wise in the past and trying to cover their asses while they go.

As for that ripe boil de Piffle..... how anybody can possibly think he's doing a good job........ words fail me.  Mind you, if the press turn on him, which could happen...... maybe even is starting to happen......

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John, on the question of responsibility for preparation (especially in relation to kit for hospitals and staff) an interesting call over the weekend to LBC from an NHS employee stating that each hospital or Trust has highly paid procurement expert as part of the management cadre. She was very critical that in her hospital / Trust they did absolutely nothing to prepare for the pending pandemic and observed that the government are far from alone in having responsibility for this situation.

Fake new? Or thoughts given your inside track.

Miles

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9 hours ago, Chris W said:

The Times and the Sunday Times aren't 'the house journal of the Tory Party', they are Murdoch publications, like the Sun, and their only aim is to make money for Rupert.  Sensational headlines sell papers even if the story doesn't support the headline or seeks to sensationalise.

John, I don't know about your footwear or breakfast cereal but you make no secret of your feelings for the Tories in general and Johnson in particular.
 

To be fair, Chris, so do you.  Much like his friend across the pond, BoJo stared into the abyss and appears to have done precious little for six weeks, a period of time that history may look back upon and consider changed the course of human history.

9 hours ago, Chris W said:

Of course the Government can be criticised on some specific aspects of the way things have gone but It seems 'Joe Public' is a lot more understanding. 

Poling suggest that the majority (60ish%) of people in England & Wales think the Government handling of this crisis has been good.  Obviously this may change in the future.  The Tories have 'slumped' to a 19 point lead over Labour in the latest opinion poll despite all the negative coverage of Deaths, Testing, PPE, Ventilators and the dire performances of various Ministers at the daily briefings.

I would wager that Johnson's popularity is to no small degree a result of the sympathy garnered during his hospitalisation and, frankly, the Tories' lead over Labour at this stage is completely irrelevant.  What matters now is leadership, which is conspicuous by its absence in many democracies right now.  Too much of the West has chosen to elect divisive, foolish and isolationist 'leaders', who doubt science and concentrate on policies aimed at keeping their supporters loyal.

Compare and contrast to Jacinda Ardern (who probably eats a lot of muesli, granted), who acted swiftly, has ensured minimal infection rates and loss of life on her watch, has done a lot to make her policies inclusive and transparent, communicates with New Zealanders every day and currently enjoys approval ratings of 88%.

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Hello all,

it is so very easy to criticise and say that the government was slow in implementing 'expert advice'. But the real problem is that which experts do you listen to? There are, as is normal,  a variety of widely conflicting advice from medical experts who specialise in disease and contagion. Some even say that lockdown is completely the wrong thing to do. That, of course, assumes a health service capable of dealing with a much larger than normal workload.

 The government tends to use University College London (I think that is the university), the same experts indeed some of the same scientist who advised the government to cull  cattle during the 2000 or so foot and mouth, later to be shown to be completely wrong. Epidemiology, the science of numbers very much depends on accurate data, which is not available.

When you baldly look at the numbers the infection rate and mortality rate is low  for an epidemic, (admittedly accurate figures are simply not available)  which is why Covid 19 is no longer classified as a Highly contagious Infectious disease by Public Health England.

Hindsight will of course, be wonderful when this passes, but I fear that the cure we are following is going to be much worse than the disease when some sort of normality returns

Alec
 

 

 

 

 

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Alec, I believe that PHE ceased to classify covid-19 as a 'high consequence infectious disease' last month, which is a different matter.

Do you have links to the experts who advise against 'lockdown' social separation?  I'm interested to understand their explanation.

Paul

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UK government had the benefit of time - unlike China, S Korea, Iran or even Italy, it was there to seen on the horizon, approaching.  This time was squandered.  No question.

I agree that the main choices are stark and difficult, but acting in a timely fashion would have allowed others, that were already gone by the time the govt engaged.  NZ and Oz did way better -though could be argued they had more time.

Screening incoming travellers, testing and contact tracing were options lost by tardy response.

Herd immunity aka.... just let it rip..... is economically the lowest impact (not the same a no impact!), discounted when the Italian (then Spanish) figures showed just what that would look like with huge death toll among the old and infirm and complete, unholy chaos in the NHS.

Total lock-down..... Economic and social disaster with consequences to rumble on for decades.

Somewhere between the two, but where.....?

Without testing, lots of testing, from an early stage, you can neither make an informed choice, monitor progress or tune your response.  You have no idea that the virus is already running right through society.....  8th of April the govt finally asks for help - more than a month after the first official C19 death.

This is interesting

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.14.20062463v1

Sure, you can say hindsight, and of course there is some truth in that.  However, one of the purposes of good government (or used to be), is the awareness that things like this have happened before, can happen again - will happen again and to put measures in place to mitigate.  Not to waste the money and effort put into public funded studies in to just such matters by ignoring them, and worse, watering down measures already taken by sheer neglect and cash starvation.  Not to slash public services to the bone in the interests making the rich richer.  Not to waste billions of pounds of taxpayers money and untold man hours on hunting the mythical unicorn of the return of Britannia the great. 

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1 hour ago, PaulAA said:

 

Do you have links to the experts who advise against 'lockdown' social separation?  I'm interested to understand their explanation.

 

To be fair, he just said lockdown. And I can see how some people could see that as a reasonable approach. It has been discussed on here, the damage done to society through lockdown may be worse than the virus.

Saw a headline in passing, and didn't see the detail, that cancer patients were at risk of dying as they get bumped down lists, chemo is stopped and so on. A figure of 60,000 was mentioned.

However, the  approach the uk has taken of trying to keep case numbers at a level where the NHS can cope seems a fair compromise. And I can see things starting to pen up slowly in a months time.

I have been pondering the delay at the start of this, and why we didn't lockdown a few weeks earlier. My conclusion is that when the number of cases were small and deaths seemed a long way away, the UK public would not have supported a lockdown (bit like parts of the USA, Michigan?) which would have made it very difficult. So the lockdaown happens and teh pubic go along with it, and that is a great success if you ask me. At any other time in my life, being told to stay at home would have been unthinkable, but it has happened. 

Now, getting testing kits ordered etc would have been a good idea, and the reasons why it didn't happen are not yet known AFAIK. But for the foreseeable future, all countries are going to be affected by this virus. Yes, some will chase every case down, or try. But I can't imagine that to be achievable, especially in crowded cities etc. I think before long we will face up to the fact the vulnerable will have to stay at home, and the general public will just get on with life, maybe with a bit of thought etc.

I did have another thought. Controversial as anything, but interested in cold straight facts. How does the death rate amongst NHS workers compare with the general population (of similar age, say 20-65?) Is it noticeably higher or different?   Infection rates would be interesting to know as well, but as so few are tested no reliable figures are available. Not sure if they are for death rates?

 

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Interesting indeed.  But none of the UK figures are remotely reliable as far as I can see, but for confusingly disparate reasons.

As regards infection rates in comparable populations, I don't believe it is possible now (or probably ever will be) possible to compare because, in UK at least there has been so little testing and what there has been is targeted to specific groups. The very sick, in hospital settings initially (apart from the odd royal/celeb/politician), which could also include sick NHS staff,  then only later more generally to NHS staff, now extended to other "frontliners" such as police and fire brigade.  But drawing on those pools of data won't bring the comparisons you suggest, but there are no numbers for the general population.

Death rates are troublesome for different reasons.  One is that in the UK at least, anyone tested positive who has subsequently died has it on their death certificate, whereas in normal times it might have been the underlying condition (which exist in the vast majority of cases) like "advanced lung cancer" or "heart failure" or "COPD", even if it had been normal flu that actually finished them off.  So on the one hand that has pushed the count up.  On the other hand those dying untested (mostly outside hospital, but not all), are not being counted, which has pushed the count down, arguably more.

What does seem fairly clear is that dark-skinned people are disproportionately affected, which is starting to get attention in some quarters .  There are certainly a variety of reasons for this.  Some of them undoubtedly socio-economic (and being given perhaps to much weight), but most of those are not going to apply to most of the NHS staff who have died.  My feeling is that the low vit D levels combined with high exposure levels add up to a particularly lethal combination, especially with unreasonable hours and high levels of stress rolled in.

You are definitely not wrong about the non C19 effects.  Normal health care has almost stopped. SM works in primary care.  Their workload is way down.  People are not going to the GPs.  If you were scheduled for surgery, it's been cancelled.  Surgeons and specialists of other than respiratory and general medicine have little to do. Yet in these parts at least, hospitals haven't been so empty in years - if not decades.  If you have a recent cancer diagnosis....... or on-going treatment...... good luck!  But plenty of other conditions similarly affected, though I imagine there are huge variations across the country.

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I get the posts of a friend in North America, who, reulting from this, has been arguing with someone else there, because they said that "hydrogen peroxide is commonly used intravenously"!

In March, CDC (Center for Disease Control, the USA's main such agency) had to warn people not to drink bleach to prevent Covid.     And now the President ...   

Poor Americans, we only have de Pfeffle Johnson, you have the Trump!

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I was thinking about this. Donald could easily kill off a load of his supporters with this "idea" . And not wishing malice on anybody, they would deserve it if they take his ideas as gospel. 

Worse is the effect elsewhere in the world. I think parts of Africa suddenly went berserk for s malaria drug because Mr duck suggested an anti malarial drug may help with CV. I blame the Africans less as most have not had the chance of an education. Many Americans don't have that excuse. ( Nor indeed Europeans, who seem largely better balanced)

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  • 1 month later...

How about when it appears that the actual leader is an unelected psychopath. a ”special advisor”. A nasty piece of work who appears to know where all the bodies are buried and has all senior cabinet members leaping to defend his indefensible actions. Even with most of the country remarkably  united against him.

Honour, integrity, or even basic competence it seems we must do without with this government.

Arrogance, entitlement, bullshit and confusion reign.....

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1 hour ago, Nick Jones said:

How about when it appears that the actual leader is an unelected psychopath. a ”special advisor”. A nasty piece of work who appears to know where all the bodies are buried and has all senior cabinet members leaping to defend his indefensible actions. Even with most of the country remarkably  united against him.

Honour, integrity, or even basic competence it seems we must do without with this government.

Arrogance, entitlement, bullshit and confusion reign.....

its astonishing, I dont think anything surprises me about government any more. At least it is should be crystal clear to everyone who is in charge of the government and country....

I have never heard so much bullshit from a politician (Boris and Cummings), they really do think we are all idiots.... 
The best bit, apart spreading the virus all the way up the A1 to Durham,  that its now ok to go for a 30 miles drive with wife and child to check if you can see well enough to be able to drive! 

Mike

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