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Let us avoid enthusing over a possible vaccine.

The coronavirus lockdown is a joke. All it does is suppress the ‘infection rate’ — number of positive tests.

England’s second national lockdown — from November 5 to December 2 — ends in a three-tier system.

Most of the nation fared worse after lockdown was lifted. Only Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight are in Tier 1.

The rest of the country ended up in Tiers 2 or 3. The south west — largely clear of the virus — ended up in Tier 2. They had been in Tier 1 and had no appreciable increase in ‘infection’ rates.

Leicester has been in some state of local, regional or national lockdown for months, which continues today.

London is in Tier 2, even though some of the capital’s boroughs have very few positive test results.

The people of Manchester believe they were politically penalised because their politicians argued with the government. They are in Tier 3.

As the lockdown came to an end yesterday, MPs had to vote on confirming the tier system on Tuesday, December 1.

I watched the afternoon debate that day. Many more MPs spoke out against not only lockdown but also the wide-ranging tier system, which makes no allowance for local or regional differences. Kent’s number of positive tests are high in the area of the county nearest London, however, the further one goes out into the countryside, the lower the positives. Nonetheless, the whole county is in Tier 2.

I was heartened to hear a number of Conservative MPs speak out against their own government and was also happy to hear from Labour and DUP MPs who opposed the tier system.

What follows is a summary of proceedings:

With 650 MPs, and excluding the SNP MPs who did not vote on the legislation, there were a lot of abstentions. I only wish those abstaining had actually voted NO. During the debate, a few MPs asked why a policy of common sense (e.g. the Swedish model) couldn’t be adopted. That would make much more sense.

As Sammy Wilson, a DUP (Northern Ireland) MP, said during the debate, whatever happens in England follows in Northern Ireland. That is why they voted against:

In any event, the number of rebel MPs is increasing. As more people started paying attention to Brexit last year in Parliament, more have been watching how their MPs vote. Someone from Devon is rightly unhappy with his MP:

One MP voted Aye and No, signalling an abstention:

Wow. The deputy chief whip (Conservative) had to cast proxy votes against the Government. Not every MP can show up in the House of Commons. Some are looking after vulnerable family members or have health issues themselves:

Because the national lockdown ending on Wednesday, December 2 cannot be extended, the Government needed legislation for the tier system, to be reviewed in a fortnight’s time.

As the new legislation was necessary, the House of Lords needed to approve it, too. Like the House of Commons, they also had a division — a vote:

This is the detail of the regret motion, which passed:

The Lords approved the new tier system:

In the House of Commons debate, a few MPs chided the allegation that these lockdowns and tier systems were a conspiracy. The MPs said that the Government is too inept to do such a thing. Hmm.

However, the public, whether in the UK or the US, can’t really be criticised for noticing that a two- to three-week lockdown ended up in three-quarters of the year under government authority. Yes, the situation was worse in other Western countries, like Australia:

The article discussed coronavirus vaccines as well as digital payments (emphases mine):

The review said the commonwealth should set up agreements between governments and banks so contact tracers could request details of people who had made a payment at a hotspot venue. This method was used to find passengers of a Sydney taxi driver who caught the virus.

Governments are also making plans for distributing vaccines once they become available.

Any COVID-19 vaccine will be free for all Australians or Medicare-eligible visa holders. It will not be mandatory.

“There may, however, be circumstances where the Australian government and other governments may introduce border entry or re-entry requirements that are conditional on proof of vaccination,” the Australian COVID-19 Vaccination Policy said.

Hmm.

Returning to Britain, a few MPs criticised members of the public, some of whom contacted them, who were sceptical of the recently announced vaccine.

The Government has measures to deal with such people — members of the British Army who were deployed earlier this year to combat lockdown scepticism. Pictured below is Piers Corbyn, MP Jeremy’s brother, who was fined £10,000 a few months ago for protesting against lockdown:

It’s no wonder people wonder what in the heck is going on.

ZeroHedge reported on the vaccine situation and included this photo, also from an anti-lockdown protest in London last weekend. An American tweeted:

The ZeroHedge article covered one in The Sunday Times (emphases in the original):

As anti-lockdown protests continue to rage in London, resulting in the arrests of over 150 this past weekend, The Sunday Times is out with a hugely alarming report that almost has to be seen to be believed given how open and brazen an example it is of the state using every means possible to crush free speech and independent thought.

Britain will literally use military intelligence to seek out and stamp out what The Times calls “anti-vaccine militants” and related “propaganda content” in cyberspace.

Of course, it’s entirely open to state authorities’ interpretation as to what this even means, and will likely morph into cracking down on any speech that’s even remotely critical or questioning as to the potential harmful side effects of the new rapidly developed COVID-19 vaccines.

This as the UK has agreed to buy more than 350 million doses of vaccines from at least seven global producers, and hopes to start vaccinating as fast as possible as confirmed cases continue to rise into the winter months.

The Times writes that a secretive elite unit will be used as part of information warfare combating anti-vaccine content online:

The army has mobilized an elite “information warfare” unit renowned for assisting operations against al-Qaeda and the Taliban to counter online propaganda against vaccines, as Britain prepares to deliver its first injections within days.

The defence cultural specialist unit was launched in Afghanistan in 2010 and belongs to the army’s 77th Brigade. The secretive unit has often worked side-by-side with psychological operations teams.

If this doesn’t sum up the British state’s self-understanding of its own immense power and control over citizens in the year 2020 then nothing else will: the military will use psyops on UK citizens to enforce vaccine group think.

Here’s another tweet included in the article:

I wrote about police ganging up on protesters a few months ago, but it seems to be getting worse. Wow.

One of our Government ministers is in charge of a vaccine roll-out. The other day he said that taking the vaccine would be mandatory, which the Government denied. Before he entered politics, Nadhim Zahawi, co-founded polling company YouGov:

This vaccine is like none other. Apparently, it uses an mRNA technology, which has never been used before in a vaccine. Is it a vaccine or is it gene therapy?

Is China using this vaccine? Are they dispensing any coronavirus vaccine? This was the scene back in August:

These days, you don’t even need to be an anti-vaxxer to get your collar felt. Pity poor Luke, a law student in England. The police made a mistake but wouldn’t readily admit it:

How can you ‘go to bed’ after something like that? Luke did a good job. He’ll make a great lawyer. His mum should be pleased:

Looking back to March, why would any Western nation impose a two- to three-week lockdown on its people then extend it for the rest of the year?

By New Year’s Day 2021, we will have been in some form of restriction for over nine months:

Even worse, some people cannot open their businesses because of government diktat. On the one hand, in England, at least, are wet pubs (taverns). On the other are wedding organisers and venues; there can only be up to 15 people max at weddings. Meanwhile, conferences here with a few hundred people can go ahead in person.

Uhh, correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t we fight wars against totalitarianism and tyranny?

There’s probably a really simple preventive solution to COVID-19: vitamin D, sunlight during the summer months and a nutritious hot meal once a day throughout the year:

Instead, we have to go for nearly a year of social deprivation, awaiting a vaccine and a cashless society. The Western world has been turned on its head.

C S Lewis had a point:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

We could be approaching that time.

The next tweet is from the US — a reply from an investigative journalist to a commercial litigation lawyer about our new relationship with government:

I’ll close with this strangely prescient video from April 2019:

But, hey, we’re looking forward to Christmas, right?

These next items are probably made in China:

How they must be laughing at us.

Just remember:

And we thought that voting in a Conservative government with an 80 seat majority nearly a year ago was a guarantee against things like this! Ha!

Last week proved to be another emotive and passionate one in the House of Commons with regard to coronavirus and Brexit.

This post concerns coronavirus.

On Monday, September 14, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Rule of Six, which he announced on September 9, came into effect. It sounds rather Chinese.

It means that people living in England cannot meet in groups of greater than six, indoors or outdoors. If we do, according to him, we ‘will be breaking the law’.

He also introduced a new platoon to keep us in line: COVID marshals, to remind us of existing coronavirus rules in England — ‘hands, face, space’.

Recall that Boris said after the December 2019 election that we now have the People’s Government. Hmm.

The UK government is copying a Belgian idea. The Rule of Six reduced their second spike.

Increasingly, Britons have been looking back at Sweden, which refused to lock down. Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. Chris Whitty is our Chief Medical Officer; in May, he said that coronavirus was harmless for most people and most of us would never get it:

Michael Gove MP, a Cabinet minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, made matters worse when he confirmed that under-12s were part of the Rule of Six, unlike in Scotland and Wales, where under-12s are not. With life getting back to normal as school has started again, this came as a blow to many families:

The Telegraph reported that the Cabinet was split on the proposals (emphases mine):

… one senior Tory source said that “half the Cabinet” had doubts about the so-called ‘rule of six’, and it was “pretty hard to find a Conservative member of Parliament who agrees with all of this”.

The COVID marshals are also a problem for police and local councils:

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson’s plan for coronavirus marshals to help enforce the six-person rule was unraveling as police derided them as “Covid Wombles” and councils said they were a “gimmick”.

Downing Street admitted councils would not be given any money to pay for the marshals, suggesting volunteers could do the job, and said it would be up to individual local authorities to decide whether they actually wanted them.

It got worse, as curfews were mooted:

The Government has discussed going even further with new lockdown restrictions, and has drawn up “a well-developed proposal” for a nationwide curfew which was discussed at ministerial level.

My head spun.

Then the ministerial snitch crowd appeared on weekend news programmes to say that people must tell on their neighbours if they are seen to be violating the Rule of Six:

Political journalist Isabel Oakeshott rightly responded:

I couldn’t agree more. This is supposed to be the People’s Government, isn’t it?

History will not look kindly on 2020 with regard to the measures taken to combat the virus:

I was wrong.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said that people should not even talk when they see friends in the street, even at a distance (audio here, thanks to Guido Fawkes, and there’s video, too):

Yebbut, if you DO report what appears to be criminal activity, allegedly, the police do not want to know. Here is a printscreen of a set of comments on a Guido Fawkes thread. I call your attention to the last two. Police would rather pick on mums and their children. Ironically, that was posted on the anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Go figure.

A mild-mannered man from Buckingham called talkRADIO to say he would not comply with the Rule of Six because the Government had gone too far.

So did a lady from Brighton, saying that the Rule of Six was about:

control. They’re trying to see how much they can get away with.

Another talkRADIO host, Julia Hartley-Brewer, had a go at Roy Lilley, former NHS Trust chairman. She said:

We are being scared into thinking we have to give up our civil liberties when that won’t save lives. Being sensible will save lives.

The Telegraph‘s Salley Vickers wrote of the restrictions on her and her loved ones:

I would rather risk dying and have the joy of their company than lose that vital contribution to my own happiness.

With the festive season only several weeks away, the Daily Mail‘s Peter Hitchens told talkRADIO’s Mike Graham that the Rule of Six has:

made Christmas an arrestable offence.

Another Daily Mail journalist, Bel Mooney, wrote an editorial for Conservative Woman saying that she was surprised at the amount of resistance she received when she wrote that she would be defying the Rule of Six at Christmas:

in response to Matt Hancock’s sudden, arbitrary and illogical ‘rule of six’ diktat, I wrote a strong opinion piece (at the request of my newspaper) headlined ‘NO, NO, NO! I’m having Christmas for 14 – and no puffed-up Covid marshal will stop me’.

As you might expect, there was a huge response. I never look online, and am not on Twitter (I expect there was a lot of poison swilling around out there). I am talking about emails to me and the newspaper. What interested me was the fact that, if I am to be honest, the antis outnumbered the prosI didn’t expect that from Mail readers.

You can never tell with Mail readers, though. They’re a tricky lot.

Oxford University’s Professor Carl Heneghan and honorary research fellow Tom Jefferson wrote an article for The Spectator against the Rule of Six, saying that Boris must bin it:

At Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, we have spent years trawling through the scientific evidence on the effects of measures such as distancing on respiratory viral spread. We are not aware of any study pointing to the number six. If it’s made up, why not five or seven?

Northern Ireland has taken a more measured approach and not announced any changes to how many people can meet. These disagreements in policy reveal how decisions are being made without evidence. It seems that somebody in government sat in a cabinet office room and said six is a good idea and nobody disagreed

The problems with policy stem from the current cabinet’s vast inexperience: the Health Secretary has been in post for just over two years now; the PM and the Chief Medical Officer a year. The Joint Biosecurity Centre is overseen by a senior spy who monitors the spread of coronavirus and suppresses new outbreaks. Add to this mix the new chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, who similarly has little or no background in healthcare. Our leaders amount to little more than a Dad’s Army of highly paid individuals with little or no experience of the job at hand.

This inexperience leads to rash decisions and arbitrary policies.

One example is that entire areas can be locked down if they have 50 cases per 100,000 people. Yet the recognised alert threshold for ‘regular’ acute respiratory infections is 400 cases per 100,000.

Lord Sumption, who has been speaking out against lockdown this year, said that the Rule of Six will be unenforceable. I hope he is right:

Tom Tugendhat (Tunbridge and Malling, Con) expressed his concerns about the new rule and rightly wanted MPs to vote on it and similar measures:

It’s unlikely that the House of Lords can help, either. They already have a full schedule. We should thank Lord Lamont for raising the issue of consulting the public, however. ‘SI’ means ‘statutory instrument’:

Monday, September 14

Behind the scenes and well outside of Parliament, an email emerged dated May 23, wherein Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance stated he had pushed the most for March’s lockdown:

Guido Fawkes has the full text of the email. I am not sure how Sir Patrick thinks that a vaccine will achieve herd immunity, though.

In the first of the debates on the Brexit-related Internal Market Bill, Charles Walker MP (Broxbourne, Con) prefaced his comments by expressing his dismay about the Rule of Six, the lack of consultation with Parliament and the fining of Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers at the anti-lockdown rally on Saturday, September 12.

Thank you, Charles Walker:

This is short and well worth watching:

Tuesday, September 15

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock poled up to make a statement to MPs about the Rule of Six and testing.

Excerpts follow:

There are signs that the number of cases in care homes and the number of hospitalisations is starting to rise again, so last week we acted quickly, putting in place new measures—the rule of six, which came into force yesterday. We do not do this lightly, but the cost of doing nothing is much greater.

Testing also has a vital part to play. Everyone in this House knows that we are doing more testing per head of population than almost any other major nation, and I can tell the House that we have now carried out over 20 million tests for coronavirus in this country. As we expand capacity further, we are working round the clock to make sure that everyone who needs a test can get a test. The vast majority of people who use our testing service get a test that is close to home, and the average distance travelled to a test site is now just 5.8 miles —down from 6.4 miles last week; but the whole House knows that there are operational challenges, and we are working hard to fix them.

We have seen a sharp rise in people coming forward for a test, including those who are not eligible.

Jonathan Ashworth (Leicester South, Lab/Co-op), speaking for the opposition, said:

I am grateful for advance sight of the Secretary of State’s answer. That was decent of him.

Yesterday LBC revealed that there were no tests available in covid hotspots, including Rochdale, Pendle and Bradford. Over the weekend in Bolton, where infections are the highest in the country, a mobile testing centre failed to turn up. Meanwhile, in Bury hundreds queued for five hours for a test. In Walsall, a father with his sick child travelled 76 miles to an appointment in Wales, only to find on arrival that tests had run out. Increasing numbers of teachers and pupils are not in school. In hospitals, operations are cancelled while NHS staff are stuck in limbo, waiting for tests.

The Secretary of State blames increased demand, but when tracing consistently fails to reach 80% of contacts, when less than 20% of those with symptoms self-isolate properly and there is a lack of financial security, infections rise. When schools reopen and people return to workplaces and social distancing becomes harder, infections rise. Extra demand on the system was inevitable. Why did he not use the summer to significantly expand NHS lab capacity and fix contact tracing?

Just as demand is increasing, the ability to process tests is diminishing. Post-graduate students working in the Lighthouse labs are returning to university, so why did the Secretary of State not plan for the inevitable staff shortages in the Lighthouse labs? Those commercial pillar 2 labs, The Sunday Times revealed at the weekend, have a huge backlog of 185,000 tests. Thursday’s data revealed that 65,709 test results were not returned by the end of the week. Care home residents now wait an average of 83 hours for their result. The Prime Minister promised us a 24-hour turnaround for results, so what is going on? What is the current backlog and what is the timeframe for clearing it?

We were promised a world-beating system, so why are we sending tests to Germany and Italy for processing? But, most importantly, people want to know when they will get a test and when this mess will be fixed. Today there will be thousands of ill people trying to book a test, only to be told none is available. When will people be able to book a test online again, or has the online booking system been deliberately disabled? When will ill people no longer have to travel hundreds of miles for a test that should be available on their doorstep? When will pupils and teachers out of school get access to testing, so they can get back to school? When will NHS staff have access to regular testing, so they can focus on their patients and not be sitting at home?

We are at a perilous moment. Imperial College estimates the virus is doubling every seven to eight days. We all want to avoid further restrictions or another national lockdown, but when testing and contact tracing break down, the growth of the virus cannot be tracked. The Prime Minister promised us whack-a-mole, but instead his mallet is broken. The Secretary of State is losing control of the virus; he needs to fix testing now.

Many MPs — from both Opposition and Conservative benches — said that their constituents could not get tests.

Even the Speaker of the House tweeted that his constituents were having similar problems:

The testing situation is shocking — as Terry-Thomas used to say in the Boulting Brothers films: ‘An absolute shower!’

On the upside, the British coronavirus jobs situation is improving, thank goodness (more from Guido here):

Wednesday, September 16

Deputy Labour Leader Angela Rayner (Ashton-under-Lyne) stood at the Opposition despatch box for Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), as Sir Keir Starmer was self-isolating:

She did a good job.

She began by saying:

Many people in the Chamber will think that the battle of Britain is today, but actually we marked the 80th anniversary of those veterans yesterday, and I want to put on record our thanks to all those who fought for our country in the past.

I want to start by reading to the Prime Minister a message that I have received from a man called Keir. Keir was not able to go to work today and his children could not go to school because his family had to wait for their coronavirus test results, despite the Prime Minister’s promise of results within 24 hours. Keir was able to do the right thing and self-isolate and work from home, but other people are not in this position, and many of them are the very people who were getting us through this crisis, such as the care workers, who I used to work alongside before I was elected to this House. The Prime Minister once earned £2,300 an hour; can he tell us the average hourly rate of a care worker in this country?

Boris was singularly unimpressed, although he had a neutral expression on his face, even when discussing Starmer:

I congratulate the hon. Lady on her elevation. She speaks of the constituent Keir, and I can tell her that—allegedly, apparently—he has had a negative test, and I do not know quite why he is not here. But 89% of those who have in-person tests get them the next day, and we are working very fast to turn around all the test requests that we get. I think that most people looking at the record of this country in delivering tests across the nation will see that that compares extremely well with any other European country. We have conducted more testing than any other European country, and that is why we are able to deliver tests and results in 80% of cases where we know the contacts.

The hon. Lady asks about care homes, and I can tell the House that today we are launching the winter care home action plan. She is right to raise the issue of care homes, and we are concerned about infection rates in care homes, but we will do everything we can to ensure that care homes and their workers are protected.

On the hon. Lady’s final point, I am proud that it is this Government who have instituted the national living wage to ensure that every worker in this country, including care home workers, is paid substantially more, thanks to the care and the work of the people of this country.

Boris listened attentively and responded sensitively to all the points that Angela Rayner raised until this point, which came several minutes in, when she said:

Infections are rising. The testing system is collapsing. When you are the Prime Minister, you cannot keep trying to blame other people for your own incompetence. We have the highest death toll in Europe, and we are on course for one of the worst recessions in the developed world. This winter, we are staring down the barrel of a second wave, with no plan for the looming crisis. People cannot say goodbye to their loved ones. Grandparents cannot see their grandchildren. Frontline staff cannot get the tests that they need. And what was the top priority for the covid war Cabinet this weekend? Restoring grouse shooting.

I suppose that is good news for people like the Prime Minister’s friend who paid for a luxury Christmas getaway to a Caribbean island and funded his leadership campaign, and just so happens to own two grouse moor estates. So Prime Minister, is this really your top priority?

The Prime Minister answered:

While the Labour Opposition have been consistently carping from the sidelines throughout this crisis and raising, frankly, issues that are tangential, if not scare stories about what is going on, we are getting on with delivering for the British public. We are not only massively ramping up. She has not contested any of my statistics today about the extent to which this country is now testing more than any other European country.

She has not disputed the massive acceleration in our programme. [Interruption.] I will answer the substance of her question, thank you very much. We are getting on with delivering on the priorities of the British people: getting us through this covid crisis; delivering on making our country safer, bringing forward measures to stop the early release of dangerous sexual and violent offenders, which I hope she will support; strengthening our Union, which in principle Opposition Front Benchers should support; and building more homes across this country and more affordable homes across this country, which she should support. That is in addition to recruiting more doctors and more nurses, and building more hospitals.

I do not think anybody is in any doubt that this Government are facing some of the most difficult dilemmas that any modern Government have had to face, but every day we are helping to solve them, thanks to the massive common sense of the British people, who are getting on with delivering our programme and our fight against coronavirus. It is with the common sense of the British people that we will succeed, and build back better and stronger than ever before.

If only.

That day, news of an upcoming curfew in London emerged.

Apparently, the British people don’t have much common sense, after all.

Currently, London has some of the fewest new coronavirus cases (i.e. positive tests, little hospitalisation):

Guido rightly wrote (emphases in the original here):

If this afternoon’s splash from the Evening Standard is true, it is a step too far. The London director of Public Health England (yes, the organisation is still limping on for now, despite the Health Secretary announcing its abolition back in August) has issued a “curfew alert” to the capital through the newspaper, saying residents could face a mandatory curfew if Covid cases continue to rise. A ridiculous suggestion that should be forcefully opposed.

Shutting pubs, bars, restaurants, and just about everything else at an arbitrary hour will obviously do nothing to stop the spread of coronavirus. If anything, the move will be counter-productive – compressing the same number of customers into a shorter time and making social distancing harder still. Or pushing social gatherings into homes not bars, which are thought to be more likely to spread the virus. This no doubt ineffective PHE [Public Health England] nannying should have been dumped when the organisation was. The government need to remember there is a limit to people’s compliance. This might just hit it.

As I write early on Tuesday, September 22, Boris is planning to bring in an England-wide curfew for pubs and restaurants on Thursday. As if the virus will know the difference between a 10 p.m. closing time versus the usual one of 11 p.m. The mind boggles.

Thursday, September 17

Matt Hancock appeared again with another update on coronavirus.

This time, it was about measures taken on lockdown in the North East of England. This includes strict adherence to household bubbles, table service only in hospitality venues and a curfew between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.:

Once again, he was straining every sinew, an expression he has been using since March:

The battle against coronavirus is not over, and while we strain every sinew to spring free of its clutches, with winter on the horizon we must prepare, bolster our defences and come together once again against this common foe.

Then he announced upcoming plans to make everyone using A&E (Accident and Emergency) departments to make a booking! Good grief:

… we are working to get patients the right care in the right place, by expanding the role of NHS 111. During the peak of this pandemic, we saw millions of people using NHS 111, on the phone or online, to get the best possible advice on coronavirus, helping them to stay safe and, where possible, to stay out of hospital, where they could have unknowingly spread the virus. It is crucial that, ahead of winter, we use this window of opportunity to seek out what worked and build on it, so we provide a better service for patients and protect the NHS. Of course, no one will ever be turned away from our emergency departments in the most serious of cases; however, we have worked with the royal colleges, the NHS and others to develop a better, quicker and more clinically appropriate service for patients by using NHS 111 first.

This is how it works. We will invest £24 million to increase call-handling capacity and to make sure there are more clinicians on hand to provide expert advice and guidance, and we will build on our trials to make NHS 111 a gateway to the emergency care system, providing a first port of call for patients. In future, rather than having to queue in an emergency ward, we are testing that people should call NHS 111 first to book an appointment with whoever can give them the most appropriate care, whether it is a GP, a specialist consultant, a pharmacist, a nurse or community services. Of course if they need to go to the emergency department, NHS 111 will be able to book them into an appropriate time slot. We want to see this approach lead to shorter waiting times and better availability of appointments for patients. We will consult on how its performance is best measured, and, with successful pilots, we will roll out NHS 111 First to all trusts from December.

This is the bit that galled me the most:

The purpose of 111 First is to improve access, including in terms of inequalities in the NHS, by ensuring that people get the right treatment in the right place and easier access if they do need to go to an emergency department, because the emergency department will know that they are coming. It is commonplace now in almost every part of our life to let people know that we are coming. If we are going to do something as important as visit an emergency department, it will help both the patient seeking treatment and the NHS to let them know that they are coming first. That is the principle behind 111 First. It sits alongside 999, which anybody should call in a serious incident.

‘People’s government’, my eye.

Nor is the NHS the people’s health service.

If you have a serious injury, you or your loved ones could be losing life- or limb-saving time by calling 111 or 999.

Based on what I read during the March lockdown, calling 111 was life-threatening. Children calling on behalf of elderly parents were told, ‘If your relative is not turning blue, do the best you can.’

Calling the ambulance service on 999 generally produced this result: ‘We’re overloaded. If you can take your relative to hospital yourself, please do so.’

Over the past few months, I have heard NHS senior executives give testimony to Select Committees. They do not want patients coming in to a hospital, to a GP surgery — anywhere on NHS property.

An absolute shower!

Speaking of absolute showers, Baroness Harding — Dido Harding, a former jockey and failed business consultant/corporate director — gave testimony to a Select Committee, the Commons Science and Technology Committee, led by Greg Clark MP (Tunbridge Wells, Con).

Wow. It was car-crash television on BBC Parliament.

Baroness Harding is, inexplicably, the director of NHS Test and Trace programme.

Greg Clark is no slouch. He pressed and pressed the same question. Did she not anticipate the increase of demand for tests after lockdown lifted?

Finally, she gave the answer.

The Independent reported:

Demand for coronavirus tests is three to four times the number available, the director of NHS test and trace has admitted.

Baroness Dido Harding, who told MPs there was capacity to carry out 242,817 tests a day, said the “sizeable” rise in demand had been unexpected.

Boris Johnson has pledged to raise capacity to 500,000 by next month – but Baroness Harding’s estimates suggest that even that figure would not be enough to satisfy demand.

Even then:

despite images of queues outside Covid-19 drive-in centres, the testing tsar said: “I strongly refute that the system is failing.”

She put the blame on SAGE …

Baroness Harding insisted current capacity had been based on modelling provided by the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and suggested that around a quarter of those seeking tests did not have symptoms.

… and the testing laboratories:

Quizzed by the committee chair and former Tory minister Greg Clark on the current issues in the system, she said that the “constraint” in the testing was in processing and laboratories.

On Friday, Sir Jeremy Farrar, a SAGE member and director of the Wellcome Trust, hit back.

The Telegraph reported:

Sir Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust, who sits on the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said the body had given “clear advice” that a fully functioning test, track and trace system should be in place

Responding to her comments on social media, Sir Jeremy said he had personally warned that a growing testing crisis was looming.

“Interesting to be blaming Sage,” he wrote on Twitter. “Has been clear, and in the advice, that the UK faced an inevitable increase in community transmission and cases after the summer and needed a fully functional and trusted test, track and trace in place.”

Sir Jeremy posted his comments from a BBC interview with Andrew Marr in June, in which he warned of a “nasty rebound” if steps were not taken to improve testing. He also re-posted an article from May in which he warned that lifting restrictions was difficult even with a fully working testing programme in operation.

The testing crisis deepened on Friday when it emerged that children at four out of five schools are staying at home because they cannot get a test

This coronavirus business will only get worse. Watch and wait.

Part 2 concerns the Brexit-related Internal Market Bill.

In case anyone missed them, here are Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 of this series about the British public’s suspicion over the continuing coronavirus lockdown.

The June protests vexed Britons who were trying to do the right thing: staying at home and social distancing when outdoors.

All of a sudden, that flew out the window. Protesters had pride of place, yet, the rest of us still had to obey the social distancing guidelines.

That rankled, especially as we had been told we were selfish because we wanted to hug our loved ones who didn’t live with us. Think of grandparents and grandchildren.

What about people who just needed to get outdoors in the fresh air by themselves?

What about children who longed to see their friends? This former barrister and co-editor of Conservative Woman nails it:

And what about the people who freaked out over a very limited reopening of schools on Monday, June 1?

What about the average law-abiding person?

Yes, those people are ‘the problem’. We are made to feel guilty through no fault of our own.

The frustrating hypocrisy of it all:

Then we had Piers Morgan taking issue with Boris’s top adviser for trying to care for his little boy and with Labour MP Barry Gardiner for attending the demonstrations. Yet, Piers applauded his own son for taking part in the protests:

But I digress.

There was no social distancing during the protests. In fact, some police officers in London were assaulted.

However, even though Health Secretary Matt Hancock advised that the rules be kept in place over the weekend of June 6 and 7:

… the lack of social distancing was acceptable:

It was for a cause.

Health ‘experts’ said so — 1,200 of them, in fact:

Tucker Carlson had an excellent editorial on this on Friday, June 5. Anyone complaining about social distancing and protests is ‘the problem’, not the protesters and rioters. Well worth a watch. You could not make this up:

But what about the people told to leave London parks because they were sunbathing by themselves? What about Piers Corbyn who was arrested twice for advocating against lockdown? Where were the Metropolitan Police during the protests? On hand, but either taking a knee or standing by doing nothing:

Boris didn’t do anything, either. We have a Home Secretary. He could have got in touch with her.

This is what he issued on Saturday, June 6, the day of yet another protest in London over an American who died on home soil in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

‘The evils of fascism’. Don’t make me laugh, Prime Minister.

Things were no better in Northern Ireland …

… or Scotland, where thousands were expected to attend a protest on Glasgow Green:

The Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, was a bit slow on the riots. Didn’t he know that American cities were being destroyed and shops across the country looted? President Trump never stopped peaceful assembly:

Anyway, there is some good news in all of this. More people in the public eye have noticed that continuing lockdown in the UK is a bad idea:

Unfortunately, a number of ‘senior figures’ from the NHS do not see it that way, primarily because of the close proximity of protesters in early June. That is not the fault of the British public and is likely to make them even angrier. They were not among the protesters. They are eager to get back to work.

In fact, said ‘senior figures’ will probably make the British public all the more suspicious about the protests. Were they timed to prevent lifting of lockdown? We’ll never know.

In any event, this concludes this series with a few key points to keep in mind:

It’s going to be a long, hot, tense summer here in the UK.

See Part 1 in this series about the anger in Britain over lockdown.

One or two tweets below might have salty language. The rest do not.

There is much anger by a proportion of the population at the government:

MPs, except for one, are largely silent on the subject. Luckily, John Redwood has been an MP for decades. He might be our only hope:

Most are like Conservative MP Nadine Dorries, however. She was one of the first MPs to get coronavirus. Her aged mother, who also had it, helped her recover. I was sorry to see her tweet this:

Yesterday, I left off on masks. On Thursday, June 4, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said they would be mandatory on all public transport in England. Health Secretary Matt Hancock repeated the order the following day:

Someone in the know saw this coming in April (never mind the reply):

This is so irrational. Earlier this year, the WHO advised against it:

Exactly.

I’m looking forward to the first lawsuit when someone is unable to breathe on public transport:

The above advice applies to England.

Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland are on their own track.

However, Scotland is no better:

This is what they are doing in Singapore. Simon Dolan, incidentally, is suing the British government over lockdown. Good man:

It seems masks are only the beginning. In the UK, we haven’t fully got off the ground with the track-and-trace app.

More from Simon Dolan about Singapore:

Track-and-trace is also getting up people’s noses:

Then there’s the R rate that SAGE and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty discuss daily on the coronavirus briefings:

But that’s nothing compared to the wacky modelling from Imperial College’s Prof Neil Ferguson which brought about lockdown:

Yet, at least one London hospital is ignoring masks and social distancing:

Shouldn’t only the vulnerable be sheltered?

Picking up on the railway platform, here’s the latest on international transport …

… and the latest on public conveniences:

Why doesn’t any of this make sense?

Similar madness holds true for local buses:

Meanwhile, unlike protestors around the world complaining during coronavirus about the death of an American ex-convict thousands of miles away, when you’re Piers Corbyn (pictured with the policewoman in a mask), an eccentric weather forecaster as well as the brother of the last Labour leader, and say that climate change is caused by the sun’s activity and you’re protesting lockdown with like-minded people, you can be arrested twice at Hyde Park in London:

The sheer hypocrisy of it all is mind boggling.

More tomorrow.

On Saturday, May 16, 2020, a fractious protest against Britain’s coronavirus lockdown in Hyde Park ended with arrests.

Piers Corbyn, brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, was one of the speakers:

Corbyn is well known in the UK for his subscription-only weather forecasts. He also believes that changes in the sun are responsible for climate change, not mankind.

He makes a convincing argument for it, too.

It seems he also makes a convincing argument for the rather odd 5G-coronavirus theory, because after he appeared in protest in Glastonbury recently, that town’s council voted down 5G. David Kurten is a Brexit Party councillor serving on the Greater London Assembly:

However, although Piers Corbyn supports Brexit — as does his brother, allegedly — he is not a conservative.

This is what he thinks about coronavirus:

A Press Association reporter filmed what happened on Saturday, May 16, near Speaker’s Corner:

The police were out in force (pun intended). Isn’t there any crime fighting to do?

This was the scene from the centre of operations:

They social distanced by holding on to each other’s vests.

Shoulder to shoulder distance was less clear:

The Guardian reported (emphases mine):

The brother of the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was one of 19 protesters arrested on Saturday, as small demonstrations against the coronavirus lockdown took place across the country.

Protesters gathered on green spaces across the UK holding placards describing the lockdown rules as unlawful and claiming that the government measures were suppressing civil rights.

In Hyde Park, London, about 50 people defied social distancing guidelines to gather close together at Speakers’ Corner holding placards with slogans including “anti-vax deserves a voice” and “freedom over fear”.

Dozens of police officers, including some on horseback, patrolled the protest, issuing 10 on-the-spot fines and making 19 arrests.

Corbyn’s brother, Piers, was taken away after using a megaphone to declare that 5G and the coronavirus pandemic were linked and branding the pandemic as a “pack of lies to brainwash you and keep you in order”.

He also said “vaccination is not necessary” and that “5G towers will be installed everywhere”, adding: “5G enhances anyone who’s got illness from Covid, so they work together.”

The article gave the reason for Piers Corbyn’s and others’ arrests:

Corbyn was taken away after declining to leave when asked by a police officer and refusing to give his details when asked.

A flyer advertising the protest called for “no to mandatory vaccines, no to the new normal, and no to the unlawful lockdown” …

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: “With the easing of restrictions we fully expected open spaces to be busy this weekend.

“It was disappointing that a relatively small group in Hyde Park came together to protest the regulations in clear breach of the guidance, putting themselves and others at risk of infection.

“Officers once again took a measured approach and tried to engage the group to disperse.

“They clearly had no intention of doing so, and so it did result in 19 people being arrested, and a further 10 being issued with a fixed-penalty notice.”

The protest attracted a mixed social group:

David Samson, 50, a finance worker, who attended the protests told the Press Association news agency: “I never thought I’d see in my generation the suppressing of civil rights [over a] fake virus. This is nothing compared to what’s coming.”

There was a large round of boos whenever protesters were arrested, and repeated shouts of “jail Bill Gates”.

Another demonstrator, 62-year-old Catharine Harvey, said she was defying the rules to highlight the “devastation this lockdown has caused”.

The shop owner said: “Developing countries will have no trade, no tourism. I have had to close my shop on Columbia Road flower market. The effects of the lockdown are far, far worse than the virus – mental health, domestic violence, shops are closed, theatres, cinemas, restaurants. It’s unnecessary.”

Protests also took place on the southern coast of England in Southampton:

A separate protest in Southampton saw about a dozen protesters gather on Southampton Common, holding placards saying “Stop the Lies”, “Say no to tyranny” and “Fight 4 Freedom”.

One protester, Dee, who did not wish to give her surname, said her job in the hair and beauty industry had been hit by the crisis. She said: “I am here because I am worried about civil liberties being taken away.

“Reading the Coronavirus Act that has gone through parliament, it seems there are changes being made which infringe our freedom. And I am worried the media has run away with the Covid-19 thing and blown it all out of proportion.”

And in Belfast, where police monitored:

a crowd of about 20 people who had gathered in Ormeau Park to denounce the lockdown measures. Officers warned participants to socially distance and they complied. The gathering dispersed without incident after an hour.

Another took place in Glasgow:

… on Glasgow Green in Scotland, with estimates of about 40 to 50 people taking part. People at the event reportedly chanted “experts lie – people die”, “don’t listen to the media, listen to the people”, “Nicola Sturgeon is a traitor” and “we are not livestock”.

However, Britain was not the only European nation to see protests. They took place in other countries, too:

Demonstrations also took place across Europe. In Germany the death toll from the virus has been lower than most of its European neighbours with some lockdown measures already relaxed.

However, protests against the measures that Chancellor Angela Merkel insists are needed to slow down the outbreak have grown with demonstrations held for a second weekend.

I certainly hope that this is not the ‘new normal’.

Personally, I think it is a bit late to protest lockdown. We’re coming out of it now.

However, as it has often been said, attributed to Voltaire but probably more accurately to in Evelyn Beatrice Hall (pseud. S. G. Tallentyre) in the biography The Friends of Voltaire (1906):

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

By now, surely, with all the freedom of ‘lifestyle’ we currently have, we can still assemble to speak our minds when necessary?

Perhaps not, in the ‘new normal’. Heaven forfend.

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