Monday, May 31, 2021

Russia's "Unfriendly countries" list

This month the Putin government in Russia published a list of "unfriendly countries."

It named two nations - the United States of America and the Czech Republic.

Russian governments are notoriously so difficult to read that the term "Kremlinology" is sometimes used to refer to the study of any secretive group or process.

I am having trouble making up my mind whether to be pleased, offended, or indifferent. 

That's because it is difficult to be certain whether the fact that Britain is not on this list should be read as an olive branch or a deliberate insult.

 

Music for Bank Holiday Monday: Canon in D (Pachelbel's Canon) arranged for Harp ensemble Arpabaleno

Quotes of the day 31st May 2021

"I believe everyone who held a senior position in Labour between then and now deserves some share of the blame for what happened on 12 December 2019. 

Here’s my confession: other than the occasional by-election, at no point in the decades that I spent advising Labour did we ever consider running focus groups or polling in any of the Red Wall seats. Their reliability was seen as a given – quite frankly, they were taken for granted."


(Deborah Mattinson, former Labour advisor and author, from her book "Beyond the Red Wall" (p. 12).


She also wrote, on the subject of the gulf in understanding between "Remainers" and "Leavers"

"My focus groups at the time illustrated the depth of this divide. I was taken aback by the degree of contempt that each group showed for one another’s opinions. 

"Leavers thought Remainers were ‘out of touch’, ‘politically correct’, ‘superior’ and ‘stuck up’. Leavers were angry and resentful and felt that they were being looked down on. They were not wrong.

"Remainers described Leavers as ‘misguided’ at best and would often go to some lengths to explain how easily they had been hoodwinked. This would always imply, even if not overtly stated – and it often was – that Leavers were ‘ignorant’ or ‘stupid’. 

Sometimes Remainers would go further and condemn Leavers as ‘racist’."

Mattinson refers to what Arlie Russell Hochschild described as an ‘empathy wall’ in her book, 'Strangers in Their Own Land' 

e.g.

A wall that is an obstacle to deep understanding of another person, one that can make us feel indifferent or even hostile to those who hold different beliefs.’

adding

"Brexit was a symptom, not a cause: exposure of these stark cultural and ideological differences had been a very long time coming." 

She called her first book  "Talking to a Brick Wall" because 

"I believed that Labour in government had gradually lost the knack of listening to voters,"


For the avoidance of doubt I am quoting this because I think Mattinson gives a useful warning to anyone aspiring to a leadership position in politics whatever their party and not just as a criticism of the Labour party - the mistakes made by Labour need to be avoided by everyone else too. 

The votes of electors in "Red Wall" seats like Copeland and much of the rest of Cumbria are on loan to the Conservatives and we would be just as unwise to take them for granted as Labour was.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

The Janssen vaccine - further update

On Friday the MHRA approved the single-dose Janssen vaccine for use in the UK - meaning we now have another weapon in our fight against the virus.

  • Every week Britain's vaccination programme, the biggest and most successful in our nation’s history, continues to make fantastic strides in offering us a way out of this devastating global pandemic. 
     
  • The Janssen vaccine is another boost to our programme - which looks set to hit the incredible milestone of giving 75 per cent of adults across the UK their first jab this week.
     
  • Vaccines are our best defence against the virus, and the case for getting vaccinated has never been stronger, which is why the government, the NHS, and medical professionals are all encouraging everyone ,when you get the call, to get the jab.

Congratulations to Boris Johnson and Carrie on their wedding


 

Music for Trinity Stainer: Stainer's "I Saw the Lord"

Quote of the day 30th May 2021

 "I am on one side of the culture war.

"I am opposed to people who think harpsichords are racist.

"I am opposed to people who think you might "intuit" the existence of dark matter becayse that is easier to do than work out exactly what it is. I am opposed to people who choose authors to studied on account of the colour of their skin rather than their literary worth."


(Rod Liddle, from an article in today's Sunday Times, "I don't believe maths is racist.")


Saturday, May 29, 2021

Quote of the day 29th May 2021

Vaccination update

A fourth vaccine has passed the necessary clinical trials and tests to be proven safe and effective and has been approved for use in the UK. 20 million doses have been ordered.





As of 29 May, 63,960,762 doses of approved COVID-19 vaccines have been given in the UK.



Women's Health - re-issued Call for Evidence

This week as the world marked an International Day of Action for Women's Health, the UK government called on women across England to respond to our call for evidence to help inform our landmark Women's Health Strategy.

(The reason the call was for women in England is that health policy is devolved to the respective governments of those home nations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.)

The first of its kind, the government strategy will address women's health in England over the course of their lifetimes, focusing on issues specific to women and the different ways they experience health issues. 

To ensure as many women as possible have their say before the call for evidence closes on 13 June, the government has re-issued the request for women to come forward. 

You can respond to the call for evidence here.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Vaccination update

 











NB - Anyone over 30 can now make an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccination jab.

Music to start the weekend: the "Four Phantoms Medley" with Sarah Brightman

Brendan O'Neill on the double standards of "Cancel Culture"

One of the most over-used ways to criticise someone these days is to compare their views to those of Hitler and the Nazi party.

As Brendan O'Neill points out here, that makes it all the more strange that there has not been more fuss about the recent revelations that two journalists - one working for the BBC, one for CNN - actually did post on social media that they agreed with Hitler.

The BBC is investigating the case involving one of their journalists, so perhaps we should defer judgement until due process is complete. That is of course, a principle which has wider application. 


The B1.617.2 or "India" variant

Yesterday the Health Secretary provided an update on our response to the variant of concern first identified in India, as we do everything in our power to keep the nation safe from the virus.

  • As the government set out in the roadmap, it was always expected that cases of COVID would rise as we eased restrictions which is why we must remain vigilant to the threat that this virus continues to pose.
     
  • With evidence suggesting that as much as three quarters of all new cases are now of the B1.617.2 variant, we are doing all we can to tackle this variant by utilising our huge testing capacity in areas where cases are highest, or rising, and surging vaccines for those who are eligible.
     
  • Vaccines remain our best defence against this new variant, and the case for getting vaccinated has never been stronger, which is why when you get the call, get both jabs.

Cutting Carbon emissions

The government is calling on every business in the UK to take small, practical steps to cut their carbon emissions – so they can grow, adapt and seize new opportunities as we build back greener. 

  • Small businesses are the backbone of the economy –  and as we transition to a green future, they will also be the backbone of our efforts to tackle climate change.
     
  • That is why the government is trying to find practical, affordable ways for SMEs and businesses as well as large ones to contribute to the campaign to protect our environment, and has today launched the "Together for our Planet Business Climate Leaders campaign" – a new drive to support and encourage small and micro businesses to commit to cutting their emissions in half by 2030 and to net zero by 2050 or sooner.
     
  • There are huge opportunities for all businesses to go green – not only playing their part in saving the planet but helping grow their business and ensuring it is fit for the future.

Quote of the day 28th May 2021


 

Thursday, May 27, 2021

T Levels

Today the government has announced a significant cash boost for T Levels – spreading opportunity to help young people recover from the pandemic.

  • As we look to the future and look to build back better – the Conservatives are committed to ensuring opportunity is spread across the country so that everyone has the same chances in life. 
     
  • That is why the government is investing taxpayers' money in a £1,000 cash boost for every T Level student hosted by employers – encouraging even more employers to offer placements, which provide young people with invaluable first-hand experience in the workplace. 
  • Investing in our young people's skills is investing in our country's future: this will mean opportunities for the people who are trained and a good return for the taxpayer. 
     
  • By equipping employers and young people with the tools they need to seize new opportunities we can emerge from the pandemic to build a better, fairer and more equal Britain.

Cracking down on County lines gangs

Over the last week, frontline police officers have cracked down on County Lines drugs gangs to arrest 1,100 people and seize nearly 300 weapons – protecting our communities and young people from the scourge of illegal drugs.

  • County lines drugs gangs are responsible for terrorising towns, exploiting children and facilitating the illegal drug trade – and we are committed to dismantling these criminal groups once and for all. 
     
  • That is why the government has backed our police with £65 million to dismantle County Lines over the last two years – allowing them to intensify efforts to shut down drugs gangs that terrorise our towns and resulting in 1,100 arrests, 292 weapons seized and 1,138 vulnerable people and children being safeguarded in the last week.
     
  • We must back our police to tackle drugs in our communities, whilst making clear that anyone found peddling drugs will be brought to justice – ensuring we can build back safer from the pandemic.

Protecting the NHS and saving lives

In Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, the Prime Minister set out that his focus throughout the pandemic has been on protecting the NHS and saving lives, whilst supporting jobs and livelihoods.

  • Coronavirus has been an unprecedented challenge for the country - but at each stage we have acted to save lives and support jobs and livelihoods across the UK.
     
  • The government is entirely focused on recovering from the pandemic, moving through the roadmap, distributing vaccines, and delivering on the public’s priorities.
     
  • Britain has now administered nearly 62 million jabs, with 23 million people receiving both jabs - and everyone 30 or over can now come forward to get their Covid-19 vaccine.
     
  • There will be a time to look back and learn lessons, which is why the government has committed to hold a full public inquiry into the pandemic response, which will happen in spring next year, once the roadmap is completed and the NHS has managed any winter pressures it might face.

Quote of the day 27th May 2021

 


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Vaccination update - Everyone over 30 can now book a vaccination

 











Everyone over 30 is now eligible to book a COVID-19 vaccination.



The Singh inquiry report

When I proposed successfully that Cumbria County Coucnil should adopt the IHRA definition of Anti-Semitism, I started by saying that no political party is entirely free of anti-semitism and no party can afford to be complacent about it.

I have written or said more than once since that the same applies to prejudice against Muslims.

It was right that the Conservative party commissioned an independent report and investigation into racial prejudice within the party. That report, chaired by Professor Swaran Singh, was released this week.

It does not make comfortable reading and demonstrates that we have work to do to eliminate prejudice in general and anti-Muslim prejudice in particular.

The report found:

  • From 2015 to 2020 the party's central database recorded 1,418 complaints concerning 727 incidents of alleged discrimination
  • Two-thirds of all incidents reported related to allegations of anti-Muslim discrimination
  • Three-quarters of all incidents recorded in the Conservatives' complaints database involved social media activity
  • Sanctions were issued in 231 cases with 50% resulting in a suspension and 29% an expulsion from the party
  • "No evidence" that complaints related to Islam are treated differently from those related to other forms of discrimination

The Singh report recommended that the Conservatives should, within six weeks, publish a plan laying out how it intends to tackle the failings highlighted by the investigation.

It also recommended producing a code of conduct and said at least one member of every party association should receive training on the complaints process.

The Conservative party accepted these recommendations in full and will implement them.

 This report provides, as the Guardian wrote, an opportunity to re-set our relations with Muslim communities. 

It is an opportunity which we cannot afford to lose.

The statement released by the Conservative party on the subject reads as follows.

Yesterday, Professor Swaran Singh published his independent investigation into alleged discrimination in the Conservative Party.

  • We have accepted all the recommendations set out by Swaran Singh’s independent investigation and will publish a plan to implement them in full. 
     
  • Any incident of discrimination is wrong, and we must work harder to stamp out discrimination of all kinds. We held this investigation because we are determined to right these wrongs.
     
  • The Conservative Party apologises to anyone who has been hurt by discriminatory behaviour of others or failed by our system.
     
  • The independent investigation found no evidence of anti-Muslim complaints being dealt with differently or that there is any evidence of political interference in decisions on complaints.
     
  • The Conservative Party will continue to take a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination of any kind and take immediate action to improve our handling of complaints.


Modernising Britain's railways

Today the government announced a £401 million funding boost to modernise and upgrade our railways, delivering faster, greener and more reliable services for passengers and spreading opportunity across the country as we build back better.

  • Modernising and upgrading our railways so that passengers can count on them every day is critical to levelling up every part of this country as we recover from the pandemic.
     
  • That is why the government has today announced a £401 million funding boost for our railways, including £317 million to upgrade the Transpennine main line, £69 million to increase freight capacity between the port of Southampton and the Midlands, and £15 million to build new stations in Exeter and Leeds.
     
  • This ambitious new investment will build on our Great British Railways reforms, delivering faster, greener and more reliable transport links which will unleash our economy and spread opportunity across the country we build back better.

Midweek music spot: "'The Phantom of The Opera" Theme sung by Sarah Brightman & Antonio Banderas

Quote of the day 26th May 2021

"The handling of this pandemic has been one of the most difficult things this country has had to do in a very long time. None of the decisions have been easy. We have, at every stage, tried to minimise loss of life."

(Boris Johnson at Prime Minister's question time)

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Quote of the day 25th May 2021

 


Controlling the India variant

Health experts and the government are advising people in the areas where the new Covid-19 Variant is spreading to be extra cautious - as the Prime Minister set out on Friday 14 May, before the authorities in England moved to Step 3 of the roadmap. 

  • Evidence is showing the Covid-19 variant first identified in India is spreading fastest in Bedford, Blackburn, Bolton, Burnley, Hounslow, Kirklees, Leicester and North Tyneside.
     
  • As such, the government published guidance on Friday 14 May which states that people living in these areas should meet outside rather than inside where possible, keep two metres apart from people you do not live with, and everyone should avoid travelling in and out of affected areas unless it is essential, for example for work or education. 
     
  • We are continuing to work closely with local authorities and we continue to encourage people to get tested twice a week for free and isolate if you are positive, continue to work from home if possible, and when you get the call – get the jab. 

A digital plan for Britain's borders

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary has set out her plan for a digital revolution of our borders as part of a New Plan for Immigration - another step forwards in making our country as secure as possible with borders the British people have confidence in

  • In 2019 the British people made it clear that they want us to take back control of our borders. Britain has now left the EU, so that the "free movement" rules no longer apply, and introduced a points based immigration system, but will now go further. 
     
  • The next step is to introduce a fully digital border system which will allow Britain to act quickly to deny entry to foreign criminals, make the system easier to navigate for businesses, create the ability to count people in and out of the UK, and streamline the process for coming to the UK legally. 
     
  • The government will also continue to clamp down on people smugglers and the criminal gangs behind illegal migration, making our borders secure and delivering on the people's priorities.

Warning to airliners to avoid Belarusian air space

Yesterday the UK government issued a notice to airlines to avoid flying over Belarusian airspace, ensuring the safety of passengers and putting the UK at the forefront of the international response towards Belarus.  

  • The diversion of a passenger aircraft on Sunday by the Belarusian authorities, in a further move in their ongoing war against independent journalism and opposition voices, was a shocking assault on civil aviation and international law.
     
  • That is why, to ensure the safety of air passengers, The British government has issued notice to all UK airlines to cease overflights of Belarusian airspace, and has suspended the operating permit on the Belarusian airline Belavia with immediate effect.
     
  • The UK has also called for the council of the International Civil Aviation Organisation to urgently look into this matter, and is working with international partners and allies on a shared response - including through the UN security council, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and at the G7.
     
  • The Foreign Secretary has made it clear that the UK calls for the immediate release of journalist Roman Protasevich and other political prisoners held in Belarus. 
     
  • The UK government condemns the reckless actions of the Belarusian authorities and insists that the safety of passengers must be put first.  

Monday, May 24, 2021

Music to relax on a Monday evening: "Voi che sapete" from Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro"

6 million jabs administered - further comment

Over the weekend, Britain hit yet another phenomenal achievement in our historic vaccine programme, with 60 million jabs in arms and over 4 in 10 adults fully vaccinated with two doses.  
  • Getting vaccinated is the most important step we can take to protect ourselves, our families and our communities against Covid-19.
     
  • Our trailblazing vaccination programme - the biggest and most successful in NHS history - is another great British success story and a testament to what can be achieved when all four corners of country comes together to defeat this virus.
     
  • This comes alongside new evidence from Public Health England that showed that two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at protecting people against the variant of Covid-19 first identified in India.
     
  • The vaccine is saving thousands of lives and provides invaluable protection from this virus, so when you get the offer please come forward for the jab.

HMS Queen Elizabeth's first deployment

On Saturday, Britain's new flagship aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, set off on its maiden operational deployment to demonstrate our commitment to confronting future threats alongside international partners and seize new opportunities for Global Britain.

  • As we embrace our future as a truly Global Britain, the UK government is committed to working with our friends in the international community to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.
     
  • That is why Britain's new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is leading our Carrier Strike Group across the globe, covering 26,000 nautical miles, to work hand-in-hand with our friends - demonstrating our commitment to the Indo-Pacific region, and upholding the rules-based international order.
     
  • This deployment symbolises Global Britain in action - showing that we are strong on our own, but even stronger with our allies as we work together to defend our shared values across the world.

Quote of the day 24th May 2021

 "I am not impugning the entire BBC - which has many brilliant journalists - or the NHS, which has thousands of dutiful staff, or any other of the bodies listed above. All have a comprehensive ledger of good works as well as my admiration. I am also not making a case for the rectitude of the private sector. No, the point is that we need to wake up  to why organisations devoted to public service, which attract upstanding people, incubate so many scandals with the recurring themes of obfuscation and moral self-entitlement.

You might suppose that the answer was to be found in more rules and regulations. More checks and balances. But I would argue that these are, in a sense, peripheral.

the most important thing is to stop deifying bodies such as the NHS and the other sacred cows of our culture, placing them above debate and criticism. For it is this, above all else, that leads to organisational narcissism. And this isn't just dangerous for the public. It is a tragedy for the institutions themselves.


(Matthew Syed, conclusion of a Sunday Times article yesterday about why institutions like the BBC, the NHS, charities and churches can all too easily develop patterns of behavior which are both harmful and completely contrary to tier core mission if they are placed on a pedestal and encouraged to regard themselves as above criticism. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

60 million jabs administered



















But if you are one of those who have just had a jab, don't forget:



Yet another apparent SNP breach of their own hate speech legislation

Another day, another SNP member breaking their own hate speech legislation.

If your party decides to pass a law making "hate speech" illegal, which the SNP government of Scotland has done, it is quite a good idea to make sure your own party's social media output is not full of, well, hate speech.

Since the law was passed the opponents of the SNP have had great fun reporting SNP politicians and activists for apparent breaches when they stir up hatred of Britain, England or the English. There has not been a shortage of opportunities.


The latest was this tweet by SNP councillot Rhiannon Spear following the Eurovision Song Contest.


I understand that she has now deleted the tweet and issued the usual sort of non-apology apology, but you really would think that elected representatives of a party which has just passed a law against "hate speech" ought to know better than to put out things like this, wouldn't you?



Evidence on vaccine effectiveness

As Britain's historic vaccine programme continues to move forward, new evidence from Public Health England has shown that vaccines are highly effective at protecting people against the variant of Covid-19 first identified in India.

  • Getting vaccinated is the most important step we can take to protect ourselves, our families and our communities against Covid-19.
     
  • That is why the NHS, the goernment and all reputable medical experts are urging everyone to answer the call and book their jabs when offered – recognising the brilliant work being done by the scientists who have shown that vaccines are highly effective against the Covid-19 variant first identified in India.
     
  • Britain's vaccine programme is at the forefront of our fight against Covid-19 but the work is not done yet and we urge everyone to get both their jabs as soon as they are offered.
  • A very small number of people cannot or should not take the jabs on medical grounds. If you think that you or a member of your family might be one of them, of have any other concerns, discuss it with your GP practice or another appropriately qualified medical practitioner. 

A Sunday reflection

The candle I lit this morning after the Eucharist at St James' church, Whtiehaven.

I prayed for the people of India and all those everywhere suffering from the pandemic, gave thanks for the cease-fire in Gaza and prayed that it holds.




Fan-led review of football: expert panel members announced

The government has announced the full membership of the expert panel, including the CEO of the Football Supporters Trust, whot will work alongside Chair Tracey Crouch MP to shape football for the future.

  • The government is committed to do everything practical to protect the integrity of our national game.
     
  • That is why the fan-led review of football has been accelerated, bringing together an expert panel who will use their wealth of knowledge and experience to engage with fans and clubs across the country as we review the whole ecosystem of football.
     
  • With this expert panel in place, the government can deliver on the promise to fans to carry out this review and put them in the driving seat.

Quote of the day 23rd May 2021


 


This is the exception that proves the rule - a normal rule of thumb is that any quote attributed to Einstein is likely to be misattributed.

In this case, Albert Einstein really did say something to this effect which was published as part of an interview with Einstein in the Saturday Evening Post of October 1929 by George Sylvester Viereck.

The interviewer quoted him, and wrote it down in English (Einstein would probably have made the original comment in German as I gather his command of German was far superior to his command of English). The source for the quote is the translated version in English.

The exact quotation in the original language has not been preserved. Here is the translation that was published by the interviewer, Viereck:

Viereck: "Do you look upon yourself as a German or as a Jew?"

Einstein: "It is quite possible, to be both. I look upon myself as a man. Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind."

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Second music spot: Handel's Largo from Xerxes (A.k.a Ombra mai fu - the ode to a tree.)

Saturday music spot: Bach's Concerto for two harpsichords in C major BWV 1061

Supporting the Royal Navy

The government has launched a £1.5 billion competition to build three new Fleet Solid Support ships, delivering a vital boost to our shipbuilding industry and creating high-skilled jobs across the country.

  • As we embrace our future as a truly Global Britain, we must ensure our Armed Forces have the equipment and resources they need to support their operations around the world.
     
  • That is why, as part of our £24 billion funding boost for our Armed Forces, the government is launching a £1.5 billion competition inviting shipbuilding companies to build and design these three warships; and the competition will also maximise UK social value and investment in domestic shipyards.
     
  • This will ensure our Royal Navy is equipped with the world-leading capabilities it needs, while securing high-skilled jobs  and boosting homegrown skills across the UK.

The Global Pandemic Radar

The Prime Minister has announced a new Global Pandemic Radar, that will help us identify and track new COVID variants and emerging diseases around the world, helping us stop the spread of the virus and prevent future pandemics.

  • Britain will use our G7 Presidency to lead the global fight against Covid-19, and ensure the world is better prepared for future health threats so we are never caught unawares again.
     
  • That is why the government has announced a new ‘Global Pandemic Radar’, led by the WHO and the Wellcome Trust, to identify, track and share data on new variants, monitor vaccine resistance and  spot diseases before they cause future pandemics – as well as supporting the rapid development of vaccines, treatments and tests.
     
  • By building a system of disease surveillance fit for the 21st century, we can remain vigilant to new variants and strengthen our defences against future threats.    

Quote of the day 22md May 2021

"The Neighbourhood bully just lives to survive,

He's criticised and condemned for being alive,

He's not supposed to fight back, he's supposed to have thick skin,

He's supposed to lie down and die when his door is kicked in,

He's the neighbourhood bully."


(Bob Dylan, lyrics to the 1982 song "The Neighbourhood Bully"

For anyone to whom this is not blatantly obvious, the words are heavily ironic)

Friday, May 21, 2021

Margaret Woodburn RIP

Margaret Woodburn, who was a Copeland councillor for thirty years and an Egremont Town councillor for nearly thirty, has died at the age of 86 this week.

She was mayor of Copeland in 1991.

I did not share her politics but I respected her as someone who worked very hard for her community, and she will be missed.

Rest in Peace.

The BBC and Princess Diana

The Culture Secretary has condemned the initial unacceptable conduct, and the subsequent failure to properly investigate and put matters right, confirmed by the findings of Lord Dyson’s investigation into how the BBC secured an interview with Princess Diana.

  • Lord Dyson’s report reveals damning failings.
     
  • The government must now reflect on Lord Dyson’s thorough report and consider whether further governance reforms at the BBC are needed in the mid-term Charter Review. 
     
  • I am sure that almost everyone will welcome the fact that the new leadership launched this independent inquiry, but they must take firm action to ensure that this can never happen again.

Music to start the weekend: Bach's Concerto for three harpsichords in D minor

Vaccination update

59,178,397 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have now been administered in the United Kingdom.

688,563 doses in the latest 24hr period.

37,518,614 people have received their first dose, of whom 21,659,783 have also had a second dose and are fully vaccinated.



Quote of the day 21st May 2021

"I wonder if people would be quite so eager to defend tariffs on agricultural imports if we called them a 'tax on food' (which is what they are.)"


(Economist. and IEA Economics Fellow Julian Jessop on twitter yesterday)

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Thursday music spot: Bach'sToccata & Fugue in D-minor

Next stage of the vaccination rollout reached:

 


Quote of the day 20th may 2021 - Mordaunt telling Rayner to examine the beam in her own eye

Labour's demoted and promoted again Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner, thought she would score a few points with her Labour colleagues this week by recycling allegations of "Tory Sleaze." 

So she asked a series of questions in the House of Commons, about various supposed instances of sleaze.

This started to go wrong for Rayner when she was rebuked twice by the Speaker, the Lindsey Hoyle (a former Labour MP who is neutral during his time in the chair) as two of those questions were inappropriate or broke the rules of parliament.

The minister replying, Penny Mordaunt, responded on those issues she was able to address, and then hit Labour's deputy leader with both barrels:

“If you were to take every single MP she’s made an allegation about this afternoon, and you were to look at all the political donations they have received since the pandemic started (since January 2020), if you were to add them all up; if you were to double them – no, Mr Speaker, if you were to quadruple them – you would still just about match what the hon. Lady herself has received in the same time period.”



Mordaunt added, 

“She should thank her lucky stars that we don’t play the same games that she does”.

Guido Fawkes has fact-checked Penny Mordaunt's comeback in detail here and found it to be accurate.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Vaccination update

Another major milestone reached today. Seven out of ten of all adults in the U.K. have now been protected with at least one dose of an approved vaccine, of whom 20.8 million are protected with both doses.











Don't forget that if you have just had your first vaccine that it takes two to four weeks for the protection to kick in - you are not instantly protected.




Midweek music spot: Bach's Fugue in G-minor (BWV 578)

International travel

As Britain makes the first tentative steps towards resuming international travel, the government is urging people to remain cautious, and not travel to amber or red list countries unless absolutely necessary. 

  • It is very important for people to grasp what an amber list country is - it is not somewhere where you should be going on holiday.
     
  • If people do have to go to an amber list country - for essential reasons such as work, essential services, maintaining the flow of critical goods, or for compassionate reasons - then strict quarantine and testing will apply on their return.

Building back better with more opportunities for everyone

Today the government announced a raft of new policies aimed at levelling up opportunity for people and communities across every part of the UK.

  • As the country gets back on its feet, we must renew our commitment to levelling up and tackling the issues that really matter to people.
     
  • That is why the government has today set out a range of new policies which focus on better access to high-quality education, improved infrastructure in our town centres, and more public sector jobs outside of London.
     
  • These include:

    • Delivering £830 million to 57 areas to transform high streets into vibrant places to live, work and shop.
    • Investing £10 million to improve the quality of teaching in Plymouth, Ashfield and Mansfield, South Sefton and North Liverpool and North Durham and City.
    • Moving more than 3,000 civil service jobs out of London – ensuring more policy makers reflect the communities they serve.
    • Delivering an £18 million expansion of the Opportunity Areas programme to help vulnerable young people from the most disadvantaged areas in the country.
       
  • As we recover from the impact of the pandemic, Conservatives are determined to seize the opportunity it presents to create a fairer society, improve lives and build back better once and for all.

The Skills and Post 16 education bill

This week the government tabled a new Skills and Post-16 Education Bill in Parliament, levelling up skills and opportunity for people across the country as we build back better.  

  • This Skills and Post-16 Education bill will underpin Britain's skills and training revolution - helping to create more routes into skilled employment in sectors the economy needs such as engineering, digital, clean energy and manufacturing - so more people can secure well-paid jobs in their local areas.
     
  • We must move past the outdated notion that there is only one route up the career ladder, and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to retrain or upskill.
     
  • By revolutionising the skills system, we can level up opportunity and helpcommunities to thrive as we build back better and fairer from the pandemic.

New plans for tree planting

The Environment Secretary has set out ambitious plans to restore nature, treble tree planting rates, and tackle biodiversity loss as we accelerate efforts to build back greener.

  • If we are to meet our ambitious climate change targets and deliver our commitment to safeguard our environment for future generations - we need to take action now.
     
  • That is why the government set out plans yesterday to treble tree-planting rates in England, restore at least 35,000 hectares of degraded peatlands and set a new world-leading target on species abundance for 2030, aimed at halting the decline of species.
     
  • Our wildlife and natural environment are at the heart of Britain's green recovery, boosting biodiversity and creating thousands of new jobs as we accelerate towards net zero by 2050 and build back better and greener.

Getting protected against the pandemic: why we all need to come forward

As we proceed with the next step in the cautious roadmap to freedom this week, the government and all reputable health experts are urging everyone eligible to come forward and book their vaccinations to ensure that we can protect lives.

  • Getting vaccinated is the most important step we can take to protect ourselves, our families and our communities against Covid-19.
  • Full disclosure: I'm not urging anyone anyone to do anything I have not done myself. I booked both my jabs when the process reached me, had the first one two and a half months ago and will be taking the second one in just under a fortnight.
     
  • The government, the NHS and all credible health experts are urging everyone who is eligible but has not come forward yet, including 36 and 37 year olds who became eligible yesterday, to get a vaccination as soon as possible. Vaccination will protect you and your loved ones, and help us all get out of this pandemic.
     
  • Britain has now administered more than 56 million vaccines across the UK, including over 20 million second doses - and we remain on track to offer a vaccine to all adults by the end of July.
     
  • While the British people are responding incredibly to our call to get the vaccine, the work is not done yet, and everyone to get their jab as soon as they are offered it.
  • There are a very small number of people for whom there are genuine reasons why they should not be vaccinated. If you have any reason to think you or a member of your family might be one of them, discuss it with your GP practice, or with another appropriately qualified medical professional.