A Tory Said What: January 2021

'As a nation, we have significant plans for things like a pandemic flu outbreak.’

Theresa Coffey (MP for Suffolk Coastal and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions), 25th January 

Theresa Coffey insisted the UK was well prepared for a pandemic during the BBC Breakfast interview with Dan Walker. That is false. The Government conducted a ‘mock pandemic’ in what was called Operation Cygnus in 2016. It was a disaster concluding that the UK which concluded, ‘The UK’s preparedness and response, in terms of its plans, policies and capability, is currently not sufficient to cope with the extreme demands of a severe pandemic that will have a nationwide impact across all sectors’. Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer at the time told the World Innovation Summit for Health, ‘We’ve just had in the UK a three-day exercise on flu, on a pandemic that killed a lot of people. It became clear that we could not cope with the excess bodies’. 

The best way to tackle this virus is to avoid contracting it in the first place

Theresa Coffey (MP for Suffolk Coastal and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions), 25th January 

I mean seriously, no s*** Sherlock. Theresa Coffey was in her interview with Good Morning Britain when she made this comment. Of course, the best way to tackle the pandemic is for people to avoid getting it. It is one of those comments that is so blindingly obvious it doesn’t really need saying. It is easier said than done for some people who are key workers or have been forced into working in such conditions as revealed surrounding the DVLA office in Swansea other the weekend, even more so after a member of staff was reported to have died three days later

'As broadcasters/@GMB know, I was due to speak to several programmes this morning about Kickstart #PlanforJobs. I was ready to be on air at 815 as pre-agreed with producer; when start time was delayed by GMB, I reminded producer I had to leave before 830(to do the @bbcrtoday)'

Theresa Coffey (MP for Suffolk Coastal and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions), 25th January

This was Theresa Coffey’s explanation on Twitter over the farcical ending to her interview with Good Morning Britain in which she ended it early by turning off her webcam

At this stage of the interview, they were discussing why it was that the UK had suffered the worst death rate in the world. The Minister appeared to suggest that it was because the UK has an ageing population and also had an obesity problem. When Piers Morgan paraphrased that, she got all defensive and accusing Morgan of being ‘insulting’, almost as if he had called her fat (which he did not). At this point, she brought up that she was running late and would need to go elsewhere for another interview

Picking up on what the Minister said though, could it be down to obesity and an ageing population? From the most recent data available from Our World in Data, 13% of the world’s adult population were classified as being obese; having a BMI of over 30. In this data set, countries that have handled the pandemic well such as New Zealand and Australia have a higher rate of obesity than the UK so it cannot be defined as the deciding factor. As for ageing population, the UK in 2020 had a median age of 40.6 but that is nowhere near the highest (Monaco 55.4) and there numerous countries with a higher median age of population that is below the UK in the Covid death rates such as Germany, France, Italy and Japan so it cannot be just that either. 

The above explanation may go some way to explaining what happened but for the viewing public, it did not appear as such. Did she say on camera at the start of the interview that she may have it cut it short to meet her other media commitments? No, she did not. So, for someone watching this in real-time, the only conclusion they are led to believe is that the Minister did not like that what she said was being quoted back at her, prompting her into a tantrum and terminating the interview. 

As commented immediately after by Lorraine Kelly, she spent so much time trying to explain why she was disconnecting she may well as answered the question…

We're looking at the data as it comes in, we're looking at the rates of infection, as you know the JCVI groups 1 to 4 are going to be vaccinated by February 15, but before then we'll be looking at the potential of relaxing some measures.'

Boris Johnson (MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip and Prime Minister), 25th January

Just a few days after saying that it would be too early to consider easing lockdown, but under pressure from some of his own MPs, the mask may well have slipped by Boris Johnson here. He made the comments in an interview with Sky News at a vaccination centre set up at Barnet Football Club. 

The comments created some confusion as to whether the Prime Minister would try to ease some restrictions before the next review date on 15th February. Upon hearing it, I couldn’t help feel a case of de ja vue. Surely, they have learnt there lessons from last year not to try and open too much too quickly? Time will tell but I can’t help but feel it is an endless cycle of restrictions and then the Prime Minister bowing to pressure to ease them prematurely. 

well done @theresacoffey. Piers Morgan keep syou waiting when you had agreed a pre-arranged time slot, he tries to prevent you from going on BBC Today, then talks all over you as does with other guests. Male chauvinist bully boy

Michael Fabricant (MP for Lichfield), 25th January

Support unreservedly ability of British media to scrutinise government ministers over any aspect of their conduct. This however stops at the putrid self aggrandisement of @piersmorgan who takes debate to lowest possible gutter of no consequence

Daniel Kawczynski (MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham) 25th January

In the wake of the Theresa Coffey interview on Good Morning Britain, several Conservative MPs leapt to her defence and attacking Piers Morgan in particular. That is why these Tweets from Michael Fabricant and Daniel Kawczynski are paired together and both of them received typically Piers Morgan style responses…

In response to Mr Kawczynski, Piers Morgan told him he had no authority on what was ‘putrid’ and ‘gutter’ when he is reported to have told a beggar in a wheelchair outside of Westminster to ‘get a job’. I don’t think the MP for Shrewsbury did not like that as even though he does not let people reply to his posts unless they are tagged, he deleted the tweet anyway.

To his credit, at least Michael Fabricant had a conversation of sorts with Morgan after his claims that Morgan was bulling Theresa Coffey. It is clear from the footage that he merely paraphrased what she had just said. As someone who has been bullied in the past, that is not bullying. It is not said in a taunting manner so no, it is not bulling. He reiterated the claims and while he praised Morgan and Good Morning Britain for giving more time to an interview with a Holocaust survivor. Morgan upped the ante by bringing in some of his antics, such as threatening to punch a female journalist amongst other actions. 

‘On the new variants we have identified and put in place whats called enhanced contact tracing which means for each one of those people identified of having a new variant vaccine we are worried about from abroad, there is a special focus form the contact tracing…because it is so important we get those new variants from abroad under control

Matt Hancock (MP for West Suffolk and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care), 25th January

The Health Secretary was undertaking the Downing Street briefing when he made this eye-catching comment. Matt Hancock was perhaps trying to reassure the nation that they are doing everything they can to protect us from the new variants but as pointed out by Dr Anthony Costello, the comment raises a very important question. 

With new variants and question marks surrounding whether the vaccines will work against it, it is a big concern but shouldn’t every case have required this ‘enhanced contact tracing’? If test, trace and isolate had actually worked in the UK, not conducted by private companies and sufficient financial support to help people isolate to counter the I need to work for money narrative, then the country would not have been in the situation where we have been in January, seeing a high of over 80,000 new cases on January 9th. It just beggars belief. 

'I will say it again: there is no Government plan to reduce workers’ rights.'

Kwasi Kwarteng (MP for Spelthorne and Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), 25th January

This comes from the Business Secretary in the Labour motion in the House of Commons to maintain workers rights such as the 48-hour time directive, sick pay and holiday pay. Mr Kwarteng insisted there were no plans to reduce workers rights several times during that session despite at this point, it being public knowledge that the government was conducting a review. The motion passed but all Conservatives abstained. While he confirmed the review was scrapped two days later on ITV’s Peston by abstaining, the overview of his and his Conservative colleagues voting records will show they voted against protecting workers rights.

What Jonathan Van Tam has quite rightly written about is that he and the JCVI have seen data that is not in the public domain from Pzifer/BioNtech that they can’t, not publishing that make them feel very confident that the 12 week gap in dosage actually does work and does deliver that boost that continues to give you that continued protection when you get that second jab

Nadhim Zahawi (MP for Stratford-on-Avon and Vaccines Minister), 26th January

First off, I want to offer my condolences to the Vaccine Minister who shared that his uncle had recently died of Covid before he could be given a vaccine dose. That must be truly heartbreaking for him. It is something that too many families have experienced in the past year and many more continue to do as well. 

However, I want to pick up on his comment here as he sought to explain why the UK was stretching the gap between doses to 12 weeks. The British Medical Association had called for it to be cut 6 weeks and the WHO recommended a gap of four weeks but 6 in only exceptional circumstances. Given that, why is the UK going it alone in this different approach?

The Vaccines Minister suggested that there was data that Pzifer/BioNtech have shared with the UK government that gives the chief medical officers and the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’ them confidence in. Professor Anthony Harpden, deputy chair of JCVI had hinted as such on the Sophy Ridge Show two days prior that there was data supporting it as well. So, maybe there is the data. However, Mr Zahawi’s comment prompted Susana Reid to ask a critical question; if the Government have the data then why is that data not in the public domain? 

Shouldn’t that data be in the public domain to help reassure the concerns of members of the public who have concerns when the BMA and the WHO also have concerns? Should we also be concerned that whatever is in this data may not have been shared with the WTO, and if it has, they don’t support it? The final question is which vaccine does this data apply to as Pfizer disclosed none existed at the start of the month

My honourable friend is absolutely right and we owe mums everywhere an enormous debt of thanks for doing the enormously difficult job of juggling childcare and work at this tricky time.'

Rishi Sunak (Richmond-Yorks and Chancellor of the Exchequer), 26th January

This quote from the Chancellor did the rounds on social media after the Chancellor faced questions in the Commons. The question asked by Jo Morrissey (MP for Beaconsfield) was ‘Many female business owners have found themselves working full-time jobs at home while bearing full-time responsibility for childcare and home schooling all at the same time. May I thank my right honourable friend for all the steps he is taking to alleviate the difficulties experienced by mothers who just want to work and contribute to the economy with their children safely back in school’. 

I was in two minds to include the quote as it felt a bit harsh on Mr Sunak. He answered the question and stayed within the terms of the question, something politicians rarely do. The counter-argument being that he could have expanded on it and mention male parents who have done the same, especially where they are also a lone parent. I think this whole episode (if you want to call it that) is perhaps more symptomatic of a general mindset of men being the breadwinners and women bringing up the children etc.

'We must reject protectionism, narrow nationalism & disinformation that can divide us & hinder our response to this common threat. Great to talk to @ChathamHouse about the future of global health

Matt Hancock (MP for West Suffolk and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care), 26th January 

The Health Secretary uploaded this Tweet accompanied with a short clip of his discussion with International Affairs think tank Chatham House. When I saw this, I was thinking: who are you and what have you done with Matt Hancock?

I mean, when you look at what Matt Hancock has done in the past 12 months is stoke up nationalism. There was his insistence last April that British people would be vaccinated first from any UK made jab. In his praise for the NHS vaccination efforts, he shares graphics comparing the numbers with other European countries and just two days prior made a petty comparison boasting that the Uk had vaccinated more in three days than France. To top it all off, he is saying this with a huge image of the Queen in the background and a British flag.

It s a shame really that his actions do not match the rhetoric of this post because on this, for the world to get out of the pandemic, to save as many people globally we cannot afford the narrow nationalism that he criticises but so often subscribes to.

we did everything we could to minimise suffering and loss of life in this pandemic and I’m deeply sorry for every life lost

Boris Johnson (MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip and Prime Minister), 26th January

January 26th saw the UK surpass the grim milestone of 100,000 deaths related to Covid-19 and Boris Johnson made a surprise Downing Street briefing. The Prime Minister made similar comments in his address to this effect and was questioned on it three times by the press; Laura Kuenssberg, Paul Brand and Sam Cates in that order. The quote above comes in response to Sam Coates question as he grilled the Prime Minister as to whether he ‘truly’ did all he could.

The statement itself that they did everything they could to save lives is false. Using such absolute language, ‘everything‘ means I only have to find one example where they did not do enough. Unfortunately for the Prime Minister, there is a long rap sheet….

At the start of the crisis, Boris Johnson failed to attend five COBRA meetings as the situation worsened. He talked of ‘taking it on the chin’ and being a beacon of trade instead of taking a strategy of elimination. He failed to lockdown early enough to save lives in March as research shows thousands could have been saved if he had locked down two weeks earlier; right when we were seeing the horrific initial images from Italy. Instead, he was still suggesting to people to shake hands. As Prime Minister, it was his government that oversaw the PPE scandal and the policy that saw patients being discharged to care homes regardless of if they were Covid positive and penetrating the protective wall around care homes with tragic results. 

During the first lockdown, he put his full weight behind Dominic Cummings travelling to County Durham and his Barnard Castle excursion. That broke the lockdown spirit and made it a lot more difficult to police. Perhaps related to that, he started to unwind the lockdown and reopen the economy too fast. There was the ‘Eat out to help out’ scheme which he backed which drove up the level of infections. He did not listen to SAGE advice for a two-week circuit breaker in September, waiting seven weeks to introduce one in November which lasted the whole month. With numbers high, he brought the country out of lockdown and into Tiers which were not enough.

Last month alone, he suggested people have a merry little Christmas and wit the data that the new variant was 50-70% more transmissible, failed to lock the country down until January 4th; 17 days after receiving said advice, all while insisting schools were safe which he allowed to return for one day before imposing a fresh lockdown. Even then, he has not mandated testing at the airports and enforcing a strict quarantine regime which is easily weaker than most other countries.

To emphasis the point further, I will bring in some of the Prime Ministers own words. ‘And because we now have to do everything we possibly can to stop the spread of the disease, primary schools, secondary schools and colleges across England must move to remote provision from tomorrow’. This is the sentence he ordered Schools to close when announcing the third national lockdown on January 4th. By definition of him saying ‘now we have to do everything we possibly can’, it is implied that before then, he was not doing everything possible to ‘minimise sufferring and loss of life’ as he claimed. 

Perhaps you should stop trying to gaslight the nation Prime Minister is trying to say you did everything you could and perhaps start taking some responsibility. That 100,000 deaths that have happened on your watch, is more than the civilian death toll from both the first and second world war combined and yet you insist you did everything you really could.

‘…we took the decisions that we could at the time based on the information that we was available to us and we did everything we could to protect peoples lives and to help to weather the storm…there is no text book as to how to respond to a pandemic like this but we do believe we took the right decisions at the right time…’.

‘…have we made the right decisions in every respect, well, I suspect with the benefit of hindsight the answer in some cases will be no’.

Robert Jenrick (MP for Newark and Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government), 27th January 

Following the Prime Minister’s extraordinary claim, there was no doubt what question would be on most journalists mind the next morning and, the whole country, did Boris Johnson really do everything he could? Unfortunate for Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, that that duty fell to him in the media round. 

He made this claim in his interviews with Sky News and Good Morning Britain. In the instance of Sky News, interviewer Niall Paterson was not impressed telling him any government on the planet would say they acted as they did based on the advice they were given but the fact at that stage the UK had the most deaths per capita, 5th in the world for cases and deaths, it did not point to a government doing everything they can. There are so many countries that have done better in those numbers. 

While the Communities Secretary kept to the line that the Government made the right decisions based on the evidence they had at the time, he made an important admission on Good Morning Britain (the second quote). However, when asked by Piers Morgan to name something he feels they got wrong he was unwilling to name any insisting that it should be said ‘at a greater distance’.

nobody has worked harder than the Prime Minister

Robert Jenrick (MP for Newark and Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government), 27th January

Now we know Robert Jenrick is a sycophant. While I don’t doubt the Prime Minister has had a difficult job and not to mention battling Covid-19 himself. However, we should not forget that the Prime Minister missed five COBRA meetings right at the start of this crisis, around the same time that Dominic Cummings instructing aides to keep memos to two sides of A4 paper otherwise he might not read them and has so often delayed making so many of the key decisions….

‘Let him and the House be in no doubt that I and the Government take full responsibility for all the actions that we have taken during this pandemic to fight this disease. Yes, there will indeed be a time when we must learn the lessons of what has happened, reflect on them and prepare. I do not think that moment is now, when we are in the throes of fighting this wave of the new variant, when 37,000 people are struggling with covid in our hospitals.

Boris Johnson (MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip and Prime Minister), 27th January

PMQs for Boris Johnson was a relatively tame affair even though we had surpassed the grim milestone of 100,000 deaths. He was asked why he thought the UK had the highest death toll in Europe. He did not answer the question directly but insisted that he and his government take full responsibility. That is a big claim indeed and hopefully, he will whenever we have a public inquiry into this pandemic. 

The timing of such an inquiry is a very difficult question to answer (when should it be?) though the Prime Minister insists is not now. His reasoning is fair enough when we still have thousands in hospitals. However, one cannot help but ask why we did not have one in the summer when case numbers were low and we had experienced the first lockdown so that we had learnt the lessons. Half of those deaths came from November so maybe, if we had a mini-inquiry of sorts then we could have learned some lessons and maybe not so many would have died. 

The Prime Minister made a promise of an ‘independent inquriy’ in the summer but refused to commit to a time, it would be some time ‘in the future’. So, that leads to the next question; will it actually happen or is it bluster? I think it will, if not then accountability in our democracy dies. 

Disgraceful that on such a sensitive subject the @bbc uses someone so clearly partisan and fails to inform viewers’.

Dr Liam Fox (MP for North Somerset), 27th January

Who is it that Dr Liam Fox felt was so clearly partisan that BBC should have informed viewers? The person in question is Professor Christina Pagel, Professor of Operational research at University College of London. He was sharing a hatched job by right-wing blog Guido Fawkes supposedly outing the Professor as a ‘Boris hating, Brexit bashing, remain campaigning, hardline centrist’.  

The gist of their post is that she was introduced by her job title and not by her political beliefs when we are discussing a pandemic. She is a bloody professor for Pete sake! Being a Professor means she is recognised by her peers as one of THE experts of her field. She is a highly respected scientist and it is in a professional capacity she has been invited to talk onto the BBC. Why should the BBC inform the viewers of her political stances if it is not relevant to what they are discussing?

Why he posted this I cannot say but if you cannot believe that someone can discuss their professional views in their professional capacity independently of political views then perhaps it is your mindset that needs reviewing. Also, if this is not an attempt to discredit experts then I don’t know what is.

'I believe in the power of doing things together. Going on and on about another referendum - we don't actually know what that referendum would set out to achieve. We don't know what the point of it would be - what happens to the army? What happens to the Crown? What happens to the pound? What happens to the Foreign Office? What happens to the security services?'

Boris Johnson (MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip and Prime Minister), 28th January

The Prime Minister made a trip to Scotland to visit a laboratory in Livingston despite the high publicity surrounding it regarding whether it was an ‘essential journey’. It is something he defended as Prime Minister of the whole country. That said, I can’t help but imagine a zoom call might have sufficed. No, seriously, there are merits to the arguments made by the SNP regarding this trip as Nicola Sturgeon argued politicians should be setting examples, pointing out she has not gone to sites in Aberdeen because it is not essential. It does seem like one rule for us and another for the Tories…

Anyway, back to quote and yes this is Boris Johnson saying he believes in the ‘power of doing things together’. Is this the same Boris Johnson that pulled the UK out of the EU; a union of doing things together because he felt we could do better? That highlights the issue for Boris Johnson trying to make the argument for the union. He cannot argue we do things better together on one hand having argued with the other hand to take us out of another union because we can do things better. 

Did anyone spot the irony as well? I hope Scotland does not leave the Union but I cannot say I would blame the Scots for wanting out as even I can see the double standards here. One of his arguments is centred around the constitutional nature of what a second independence referendum be and what would an independent Scotland look like. That was not the case for Brexit referendum. We had a nationwide vote on something in 2016 that had no consideration of what a leave vote would look like. Vote Leave famously did not have a plan and assumed Downing Street did and it took us four and a half years to settle. The Prime Minister does have no sense of irony, does he?

Perhaps someone should have advised the Prime Minister against playing such a key role in this debate. Research suggests each time he visits Scotland, support for Independence in the polls only increases…

'We are here in a Covid-compliant setting … of course, a national requirement is to stay at home. I’m obviously out here working, our police officers are out here working day in day out, as I am as well as part of that national coronavirus effort.'

Priti Patel (MP for Witham and Home Secretary), 28th January

In another case of one rule for us and another for Tories, the Home Secretary left London to walk around Bishop’s Stratford in Hertfordshire with MP Julie Marson. Like the Prime Minister travelling to Scotland, it is questionable whether this trip was essential. Could she have held a meeting over Zoom for example? She is reported to have also remarked that the streets were busy but I cannot think how in any way this is part of the Home Secretary doing her job other than a photo opportunity.

‘…Disinformation is on the rise, yet @HuffPost are looking to sow distrust by making up claims I refused to take part in a video campaign…(which I suggested and promoted!) Even when Labour and Tory MPs work together, some in the media will still look for conflict. And the main reason I didn’t appear in the video? Because I’m taking part in and promoting vaccine trials. Given the worst disinformation is that the virus is being “tested first” on black people, I thought it better to avoid mixed messages about volunteering to be tested…

Kemi Badenoch (MP for Saffron Walden and Minister for Equalities), 28th January

Ms Badenoch, the Equalities Minister launched into an unexpected Twitter offensive against journalist Nadine White and the Huffington Post. She accused them of looking to ‘sow distrust’ for the sake of clickbait (I thought that was the job of The Sun and The Daily Mail).

The Minister had been sent an email by Ms White regarding a video aiming to increase vaccine confidence in the BAME community. She was enquiring about why the Minister was not in the video itself as she had sources claiming she refused to do so. Asking a Minister for clarification on a matter before print usually a standard, good journalistic practice before going to print on any story. This was supported by editor-in-chief Jess Brammer, ‘correct and standard practice for journalists to check facts and approach people in public office for comment’. However, the Minister saw fit to publicly name the journalist and share the email. It reads…

Dear Kemi Badenoch’s office, A number of Black, cross-party MPs took part in a video encouraging vaccine take-up across Black communities. This iniative has been well received and praised as a positive move. I understand that Ms Badenock, as equalities minister, refused to participate in the video. May I have a statement detailing the reason/s why please. We’re currently working towards a deadline of 5pm’.

There was a second email six hours later after the 5 pm deadline asking for a response by 10 am the next day. 

The Minister’s reaction is bizarre here. It was needless and prompted a large amount of abuse directed towards Ms White that she was forced to put her Twitter account to private. It is shameful from the Minister and it is another example of a Conservative politician taking a line of questioning to be insulting and trying to deflect by intimidating the journalist in public. As Brammer added, ‘Young, female, black journalists receive some of the worst abuse on Twitter, and to behave in this way is extremely disappointing – even before you consider that the person involved is the minister for equalities’. 

Ms White was simply doing her job, to a deadline and Ms Badenoch’s actions were unnecessary. Hidden within the Tweets was her explanation, ‘Because I’m taking part in and promoting vaccine trials.’ Now, that is a potential good news story that she has missed out on by taking the line of questioning very personal. Handled differently, we would not be talking about the Minister of Equalities ironically trying to shame a black journalist but of the Minister of Equalities who has been taking part in Vaccine trials. It is a big opportunity missed. 

The damage and destruction at Napier barracks is not only appalling but deeply offensive to the taxpayers of this country who are providing this accommodation while asylum claims are being processed…This site has previously accommodated ur brave soldiers and army personnel-it is an insult to say that it is not good enough for these individuals’.

Priti Patel (MP for Witham and Home Secretary), 29th January 

I have highlighted parts of the Home Secretaries statement in response to the incident at Napier barracks, outside of Folkestone. The barracks burst into flames and although the exact cause was unknown at the time, a disturbance ensued which resulted in the arrest of five individuals. Approximately 400 people are housed at the barracks but it has suffered a Covid outbreak with over 100 testing positive. It sounds almost like a prison set up for people who have done nothing wrong other than wanting a better life. A doctor at the Helen Bamber Foundation, which works with refugees described the situation as ‘inhumane’ and some of those there have slept outside in the middle of a bitter January. Even the local MP does not want it in use. Kolbassia Haoussou, from Freedom From Torture also said, ‘By mocking the vulnerability of asylum seekers, the Home Secretary would rather shirk responsibility and play politics with people’s lives. Many of the people trapped here suffer from severe mental health issues and low immune systems linked to the abuse they have fled.’

So, my first thought when seeing this statement was just how she is trying to stoke up division and anti-immigrant hate by suggesting they are intending to hurt our feelings as taxpayers by claiming it ‘deeply offensive’. The second I thought was she is trying to whip up nationalist feeling in comparing them to our armed forces. She is deliberately trying to make it in to us (the taxpayer) vs them (asylum seekers) situation by claiming it is an insult. Should taxpayers not be more insulted by the money spaffed up the wall on contracts that have not been fulfilled for PPE during the pandemic, a 100,000 death toll, or still paying a cabinet-level salary to a bully who should have been dismissed?

The final thought and this may be a crazy idea but hear me out…if the barracks aren’t deemed good enough by not only asylum seekers but also by human rights groups, then maybe we should be treating our armed forces better? Although, I doubt the armed forces were using the barracks during the pandemic which makes the situation worse. 

However, there are further issues to consider. The whole story turned darker when it was revealed that the Home Office deliberately avoided putting them in ‘generous’ accommodation fearing it would ‘undermine public confidence in the asylum system’. It was deliberate then and during a pandemic, keeping them there could amount to genocide (the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group-the group being asylum seekers). 

An additional alarming thing about this incident is the arrest of photographer Andy Aitchenson who documented the demonstration on suspicion of criminal damage. It is a worrying sign of censorship.

Absolutely, we have done terribly every single one of those deaths is an absolute tragedy and clearly there are things that have got wrong but in a few months time when our success with the vaccines means we are more protected than any other country in the world these statistics could look very different’.

Caroline Dinenage (MP for Gosport and Minister of State at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport), 30th January

This is truly a first! An admission by someone in Government that we have handled the pandemic terribly. I almost could not believe my ears but well done to the BBC’s Chris Mason for eventually extracting it on BBC Radio Any Questions. 

The Minister did he best to avoid it pointing to some of the usual defence lines saying they followed the advice, but when Mason retorted that it was the same for governments around the world it changed. She then hinted at the UK collecting this data differently before pointing the finger to the likes of Russia, Iran and China who perhaps are not telling us everything as what is or has been going on in their countries. That is a fair point but Mason then directed the Minister to Australia and New Zealand, comparable countries who have managed it better. 

It was only when Mason conceded that at the end might not be so bad but at present, on the metrics, we have done dreadfully that the admission came. Honestly, after screaming so much at the news for months and after the Prime Minister shamefully claimed he did everything he could it felt good hearing this. 

Liz Truss (MP for South West Norfolk and Minister for Women and Equalities, and Secretary of State for International Trade), 31st January

At this late stage of the month, with a hatful of surprising comments from her media round on The Sophy Ridge Show and Andrew Marr, there are several tweets I will leave below, to demonstrate how some of the inaccuracies Liz Truss was pushing forward. Have I really been gaslight enough I’m leaving it to Tweets of others?

First up, is Peter Stefanoc at the Communications Workers Union taking apart some of her lies…

There was her comments on Marr regarding the Services sector, trade deals with New Zealand as she denied the figures that a trade deal with New Zealand from the Government own official strategic outline that concluded, ‘A trade agreement with New Zealand could have limited effects on UK GDP in the long run, with the estimated impact on GDP being close to zero under both scenarios compared to the UK not having a trade deal with New Zealand (between 0.00 per cent and 0.01 per cent in scenario 1 and -0.01 per cent and 0.00 per cent in scenario 2)’. Which of course, she denied.

David Henig, UK director of the independent policy think tank, the European Centre For International Political Economy also rubbished her claims surrounding tariffs as she used it a possible benefit of the UK joining the CPTPP.




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