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After a long winter lockdown that began on the evening of Saturday, December 19, 2020, England began reopening on Monday, April 12, 2021.

This was a bit like Groundhog Day. We saw the same scenes last June and July. The only difference was the weather:

Gyms

Let’s get the serious business out of the way first, then we can have some fun.

Gyms were allowed to reopen their interiors to customers.

TalkRADIO broadcast from a pub in London on Monday morning and interviewed a gym owner from Surrey:

Barbers and hairdressers

While some rushed to the pub at midnight, others went to get their hair done:

Other customers waited until daylight:

It was the same further north:

Piers Morgan went to top-drawer stylist Daniel Galvin for his haircut:

Actor Daniel Brocklebank had a good Monday:

However, not everyone is in a rush to return for a Spring shearing. Some are enjoying the lockdown look:

Shops of the ‘non-essential’ variety

Department stores and other ‘non-essential’ shops were able to reopen.

Once again, it was a bright day for Primark. This was the scene in Birmingham’s Bullring in the city centre:

Unfortunately, for Debenhams, where financial troubles started before the coronavirus crisis, it was a bittersweet day:

I’d never thought they would close. That leaves John Lewis as the last nationwide chain of department stores. How sad.

One record shop customer had a therapeutic experience:

Charity shops were also allowed to reopen:

Thank goodness. I have a few donations to make — all wrapped up pre-COVID.

Pubs and restaurants

Pubs and restaurants were allowed to reopen outdoors.

In some places, such as London’s Soho, streets were closed to traffic in order to accommodate customers:

Pubgoers queued for a midnight opening. This was the scene in Coventry in the West Midlands:

In London, journalists from The Sun waited until their working day ended on Monday evening:

One wonders how many people used the paper’s Beer Matt as a beer mat:

Renowned historian and author Simon Sebag Montefiore enjoyed coffee in London:

At the end of the day …

London’s Evening Standard reported on Tuesday that the capital came ‘back with a bang’:

That’s great to see.

Best of luck to everyone in the retail, beauty, gym and hospitality industry! May this be the last doggone lockdown!

Last week, the United Kingdom saw three significant developments curbing freedom of expression.

This post explores the first incident.

On the morning of Monday, March 8, 2021, the nation received snippets of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex interview with Oprah Winfrey.

ITV broadcast the interview in full that evening.

ITV is also home to Good Morning Britain (GMB), the rival programme to BBC Breakfast.

Until last week, Piers Morgan was a co-host on the show with Susanna Reid. Weatherman Alex Beresford also sits down to join in the conversation.

ITV recruited Piers several years ago to help prop up the show’s sagging ratings. The strategy worked. Regardless of what one thinks of him, he is a polemicist sans pareil.

On September 25, 2019, the show welcomed then-MP Rory Stewart (Conservative) to talk about the court case against Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament and Brexit. It was a dismal time for the Government.

Piers noted that Stewart had won the award from GQ: Politician of the Year.

The Express reported (emphases mine below):

“You’ve had the old GQ curse,” Morgan added. “Because I was made GQ’s Editor of the Year and later GQ’s TV Personality of the Year, both cases I lost my job that I got it for within several months.

Rory Stewart became confused and walked off the set, by mistake. For whatever reason, he thought the interview was over.

However, although Piers Morgan’s remark was blunt, it ended up being true. Not only did Stewart not stand for re-election in December 2019, he also packed in his campaign to run for Mayor of London in 2020.

On November 18, Morgan rightly took issue with Prince Andrew’s interview with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis. The Express reported about Morgan’s tweet, which read:

“Brilliant forensic dissection by @maitlis – desperate, toe-curling bulls*** from Prince Andrew.

“Why on earth did he do this? Insane.”

Morgan is known for his continuous tweeting. One wonders how he manages to find time to do anything else.

On Friday, December 13, there was a right royal row on GMB after Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour lost in the worst drubbing since 1935. I watched this and it was magic. The Conservative pundit Iain Dale, who was part of the mostly female panel, actually walked off the set. This was pure ratings heaven, partly thanks to Piers Morgan:

The Sun has more about Morgan’s scathing views of Labour and celebrity Remainers from that day.

Here’s one of his tweets, which, like it or not, is spot on:

In 2020, just after the New Year, the Sussexes announced they would be pursuing their life together away from the Royal Family.

Morgan tweeted furiously on January 8, replying to cricketer Kevin Pietersen:

He tweeted about their announcement, his dislike of the Duchess, his disappointment in the Duke, the couple’s hypocrisy, their media rules, the shabby way they treated the Queen and his criticism of people who know nothing about the Royal Family.

The following day, Morgan wrote a column for the Daily Mail railing against the couple. The newly elected Conservative MP Jonathan Gullis was so taken aback that he invited the Duchess to his constituency of Stoke-on-Trent North to see the sights:

Guido Fawkes has more on the story.

By the middle of January 2020, the couple were living in Canada. Piers’s column for the Daily Mail on January 15 criticised the Duchess for visiting a homeless women’s shelter. He tweeted like mad that day, too.

The Mail promoted his article:

One week later, Morgan and weatherman Alex Beresford had a discussion about the backlash against the Duchess. Both points of view are understandable, but you can see Morgan’s skill as a polemicist in play, thanks to his long background as a journalist and tabloid editor:

The perspectives in that exchange resurfaced in March 2021.

On Monday, March 8, before the interview was aired, GMB had ITV’s royal correspondent Chris Ship on to discuss the snippets that had appeared so far from Oprah’s interview broadcast in the US on Sunday:

Already, there were calls for Piers to go:

Tuesday, March 9, proved to be the final straw. Here he is with Alex Beresford discussing the interview which ITV had aired the night before. Piers had enough and walked off:

He later returned to finish the show:

Remember that a big part of a polemicist’s role is to attract attention. In the case of GMB, Morgan was after ratings. He was not wrong.

Like it or not, his strategy worked:

Hours later, he and ITV agreed he should leave GMB (more here):

Here is a short version from the Daily Mirror‘s Showbiz Editor Mark Jefferies:

The next day, Chris Ship tweeted that the Duchess had complained about Morgan’s polemics:

In his farewell tweet to his colleagues, Morgan mentioned ratings. Job done!

A lot of people seriously dislike Piers Morgan. I am in complete disagreement with his support of the Government’s coronavirus damaging strategy. Americans dislike him for his views on gun control. Millions of Britons are angry with him about his views on the Sussexes.

However, there is something important for us to bear in mind, in Piers Morgan’s own words:

We have to get comfortable talking about the uncomfortable.

I fully agree. We used to be able to have civilised debates on television. Sadly, we have lost the ‘lively art of conversation’, as the late Chicago talk show host Irv Kupcinet used to say.

In closing, Piers Morgan encouraged the participation of his son in last summer’s protests and tweeted about it at the time.

So, rather than censor, let’s have the maturity to discuss and listen to all points of view, few of which are as binary as censors — official or unofficial — like to claim.

On Friday, I wrote about Hunter Biden’s laptop, the October Surprise of the 2020 US presidential election.

On Saturday, October 24, the New York Post (NYP) published a good summary of Biden corruption claims over the past several years.

An excerpt from ‘Biden corruption claims all but confirmed with Hunter emails’ follows, emphases mine.

In 2018, the NYP published a book, Secret Empires.

Since the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop surfaced, the NYP article says:

This material suggests that, despite Joe Biden’s insistence that he knew nothing about his family’s business deals, he was well aware of his son Hunter Biden’s business ventures in China, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and elsewhere.

These new troves constitute hard evidence of Biden family corruption, and confirm our reporting dating back to our 2018 book “Secret Empires.”

In 2018, when we first broke the foreign influence scandals that have now engulfed the former vice president, it seemed apparent that China and Ukraine were not paying Biden’s family members for their expertise, they were buying access to the vice president of the United States. This was never a scandal solely about Hunter or Joe’s brothers, James and Frank. It was, and has always been, a Joe Biden scandal.

For nearly three years, Biden and his surrogates have responded to the scandal with an increasingly unconvincing series of denials — including another from the former Vice President in his last debate with President Trump.

In response to “Secret Empires,” one of Joe Biden’s aides said “we aren’t going to engage on a politically motivated hit pieces …” Team Biden did not bother to respond to specific allegations that the Biden family vacuumed up millions, in the exact locales where Biden was Obama’s policy “point man.”

When the issue reemerged during the campaign, Team Biden continued to call it a “conspiracy theory” but this time, Joe Biden firmly put himself on record. “I have never discussed with my son or my brother or anyone else anything having to do with their businesses — period,” he told reporters in August 2019.

“I never talk with my son or my brother or anyone else in the distant family about their business interests, period.” He repeated similar blanket denials on numerous occasions.

These denials all proved to be untruthful. Period.

Perhaps this is why Joe Biden rarely gives a press conference.

The article goes on to summarise their research into the Bidens’ business dealings, much of which I wrote about last Friday.

Twitter locked the NYP‘s account several days ago. The ban continues:

However, even less combustible content, such as Biden’s flip-flops on fracking, also faces censorship. This has to do with YouTube:

Hmm, sounds a bit like China:

Returning to the Biden corruption story, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) posted an article on October 22, ‘Now Corruption Story Is About Joe, Not Hunter’.

It discusses how Big Media, with the exception of Newsweek, are ignoring the Hunter Biden laptop story:

The recent media blackout on the Biden family business remains largely intact. The story did get a mention in a weekly newsletter from the public editor at National Public Radio. Beginning around paragraph 16, Kelly McBride addresses a listener’s question:

Carolyn Abbott writes: Someone please explain why NPR has apparently not reported on the Joe Biden, Hunter Biden story in the last week or so that Joe did know about Hunter’s business connections in Europe that Joe had previously denied.

Ms. McBride then spends a paragraph disparaging the Post and clinging to the hope that the emails are not legitimate before acknowledging:

But the biggest reason you haven’t heard much on NPR about the Post story is that the assertions don’t amount to much.

“We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want to waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions,” NPR Managing Editor for News Terence Samuel told me. “And quite frankly, that’s where we ended up, this was … a politically driven event and we decided to treat it that way.”

The WSJ article concludes:

This column takes a back seat to no one in skepticism about the Beltway establishment. But given the documented overseas riches collected by the Biden family, it would be patently unfair to claim that the average Washingtonian is as corrupt as the former vice president.

On August 19, Town & Country explained how Joe and his educator wife Dr Jill Biden amassed their wealth. This has nothing to do with the NYP‘s reporting but only with speaking engagements and investments. How can people somehow amass so much money from politics and education? Astounding:

As recently as November 2009, Joe Biden’s net worth was less than $30,000, according to CBS, but life post-vice presidency has been quite lucrative for President Obama’s former number two. When Biden released his financial disclosures in July of 2019, they showed that he and his wife Jill had earned more than $15 million in 2017 and 2018.

More specifically, the Bidens reported an adjusted gross income of roughly $11 million in 2017 and $4.6 million in 2018. The bulk of that number comes from a multi-book deal with Flatiron Books valued at $8 million per Publishers Weekly, but the Bidens also earned a sizable income from speaking engagements.

The AP reports that Biden’s basic speaking fee was $100,000, but it ranged from $40,000 to $190,000. The New York Times also notes that Biden made additional unpaid speaking engagements during this time which are not listed on the disclosure, citing his campaign.

Additionally, the disclosures reveal that the former VP earned $540,000 as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement

His wife, Dr. Jill Biden also recently shared that she will continue to teach at community college, even if her husband is elected. “It’s important,” she said, “and I want people to value teachers and know their contributions, and lift up the profession.”

Steve Bannon has been digging around the contents of the emails on Hunter Biden’s laptop. On October 23, the Gateway Pundit reported (emphasis in the original):

The Steve Bannon War Room released an email from China’s Communist Party operative Xin Wang to Hunter Biden and Eric Schwerin from 2018 regarding a loan agreement. In the email Xin Wang offers to extend the loan agreement to December 13, 2019.

This raises several questions including was this agreement with the CCP presented to the IRS or SEC?
If not that would be unlawful.

The War Room says they have signatures.

Two days earlier, Bannon told Revolver News (emphasis in the original):

This shocking development demands that the President call in FBI Director Wray immediately to explain how that agency suppressed the information on Biden’s hard drive for almost a year. If Wray cannot explain himself, he should be summarily fired in front of the Resolute Desk. This is now a national security crisis driven by the craven behavior of the Bidens. A storm is gathering around Biden’s campaign and no gang of Silicon Valley social media oligarchs can shield them from their fate.

Earlier, on October 18, Bannon also gave an interview to Sky News Australia:

The YouTube description says, in part:

The emails revealed that Hunter Biden had planned to introduce his father – the then Vice President- to an executive at Ukrainian energy company Burisma, a company where Hunter served on the board of directors.

Joe Biden has lied about this for years, and it’s pretty stunning the information that has come off this hard drive. It’s really shocked the United States,” Mr Bannon said.

“Joe Biden has said, categorically, my family has nothing to do with, no financial relationship with China and the Chinese communist party.”

I think what we have here now, we’ve brought in a number of experts to look at this, we have a massive national security issue with Joe Biden and the people around him.

I don’t think Joe Biden today could get a security clearance, so I don’t know how in 16 days he’s going to stand and run for commander in chief of the United States.”

Speaking of Burisma, recently, former Secretary of State John Kerry explained to Biden campaigners how important it was to get rid of a prosecutor in Ukraine. What Kerry leaves unsaid is WHY the prosecutor had to go: he was going to investigate Burisma. Biden, then vice president, even said that Ukraine would not get US money until the prosecutor was fired. It’s all in this short video:

Joe Biden’s brother, James, also made money thanks to Joe’s position as vice president. President Trump brought this up at one of the two presidential debates. The information comes from a book that came out early this year: Profiles in Corruption: Abuse of Power by America’s Progressive Elite by Peter Schweizer, the president of the Government Accountability Institute.

James Biden was able to get a lucrative contract in Iraq, of all places, to build homes. Allegedly, James Biden knows nothing about building homes.

David Harris Jr’s site has an excellent summary of the contract: ‘Fact Check: Donald Trump Says Joe Biden’s Brother “Made Money in Iraq”‘.

The article’s author, Steven Ahle, explains (emphases mine):

During the debate, President Trump made the claaim that Biden’s brother James made millions of dollars in Iraq. Biden did not comment.

As it turns out, James was made executive vice president of HillStone International. Shortly thereafter Hillstone got a $1.5 billion dollar contract in Iraq to build 100,000 homes.

The thing is that neither James Biden or Hillstone had a lick of experience in building homes. How could a company with no experience get such a large contract with no experience. The same way that Hunter became a board member of Burisma. Joe.

I’ll give you three guesses who was in charge of humanitarian aid in Iraq. Joe Biden.

Ahle went on to excerpt Peter Schweizer’s book:

He detailed all of the conflicts of interest that made the Bidens rich. Kevin Justice, founder, and president of Hillstone International was summoned to the White House where he spoke to Michele Smith, a top aide to then-Vice President Joe Biden.

Smith was the liaison to “global government officials and business executives.”

And why did HillStone hire James Biden when there are tens of thousands of candidates with actual experience in building? My guess is because none of them had experience in being the brother of the vice president. You have to have your priorities.

Here’s the book excerpt (emphasis in the original):

Schweizer explained in January:

[James Biden] landed a very lucrative job in the construction business. Essentially what happened is, a guy named Kevin Justice — a longtime Biden family friend — in November of 2010, went and visited the white House and met with Joe Biden’s people in Joe Biden’s office. He started a company called HillStone International, a construction company. Three weeks after that meeting in the White House, he announced that James Biden, Joe Biden’s brother, was going to join as an executive vice president.

What stands out in this, of course, is that James Biden has no background in construction, and in a bio the company released on him, all they noted was the fact that he was comfortable in the corridors of power and his brother was vice president of the United States. A few months after he joins the firm, lo and behold, this new company lands a contract to build 100,000 homes in Iraq from the federal government. They get a bunch of other contracts, as well.

In closing, the American Thinker had an important article about Joe Biden’s alleged ties to China. Author Andrea Widburg took a deep dive with ‘Forget the Hunter Biden sex tapes. The real news is much bigger than that’. Excerpts follow, emphases mine:

GTV, a Chinese dissident billionaire’s Taiwan-based media outlet, is releasing sordid, depressing videos and photographs of a person purported to be Hunter Biden … The big news is that the same outlet claims that (a) Communist China owns Joe Biden; (b) Joe Biden sold out CIA assets in China who were then executed or imprisoned; and (c) GTV has millions of images showing other presumably influential people in comprising positions. If all this is true, we may see a complete realignment in Western politics …

What’s more interesting than the images themselves is the story behind them and the allegations included with them. Taiwan-based GTV and GNews, which published the material, are owned by Guo Wengui, a dissent Chinese billionaire.

Guo was born in mainland China and gained his wealth doing construction work. Eventually, he ran into trouble, and the Chinese government accused him of corruption. (The reality, of course, is that anyone who has become wealthy in China was corrupt.)

Guo escaped with his wealth to America. He is a fervent enemy of the Chinese Communist Party and has made it his mission to bring it down. One of his friends is Steve Bannon, with whose help he founded GTV and GNews. In June, Bannon joined with Guo to declare a “New Federal State of China” they hope will overthrow China’s communist government.

When the New York Post, on October 14, published its first report about Hunter Biden’s hard drive, that wasn’t the first time Hunter’s computer made the news. According to the Daily Beast, on September 25, a Guo-affiliated YouTube station uploaded a Chinese-language video announcing that Guo and Bannon had sent “sent three hard disks of evidence” to both the Justice Department and Nancy Pelosi.

Three days later, Himalaya Global, a movement that Guo and Bannon started, published a tweet making the same announcement, only adding that the disks created a “big money and sex scandal.” Twitter has since suspended the account, but the Daily Beast captured the contents …

The tweet (shown in the article) announces a ‘bombshell’ involving three hard disks from Hunter Biden’s laptop revealing his connections to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and says they were sent to Nancy Pelosi and the US Department of Justice. The tweet was dated September 28.

The NYP articles began appearing after that.

Emphases in the original below, the ones in purple mine:

As if that’s not shocking enough, Guo’s outlets have made a few other staggering allegations. These allegations are scattered throughout the videos and summarized in this essay at GNews (emphas[e]s mine):

This video shows only the tip of the iceberg of what is important in the Chinese Communist Party’s Blue-Gold-Yellow (BGY) program. They take advantage of all those Western politicians, celebrities, and their families who are greedy for Chinese wealth, and threaten them by getting hold of and recording their sex and drug videos, forcing them to sell out their countries and people, and even their own national security in order to cooperate with the Chinese Communist Party’s world domination.

U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden is 100% controlled by the Chinese Communist Party as one of the most successful political instances of the BGY program. He is also a target of the CCP’s 3F plan, which aims to “fall, fail, and fell,” to weaken, destroy and kill America!

The Chinese Communist Party’s use of this tactic to threaten Biden and his sons and to bribe them with large amounts of wealth is one of the major causes of the disputes over the South China Sea, US-China trade, intellectual property rights, and energy prices, etc., as well as Biden’s provision of large numbers of CIA intelligence agents in China to the Chinese Communist Party.

The Chinese Communist Party has such a BGY program in the United States and in several Western countries in Europe. We will have millions of videos and photos of government officials, corrupt people, traitors, and criminals colluding with the Communist Party to dominate the world.

Again, merely because Guo’s outlets have been accurate about some things does not mean that the above allegations are true. However, the following three allegations, if true, are earth-shaking:

First: China has long owned Biden thanks to its having compromising information about his family (and possibly about him too).

Second: Biden identified CIA assets in China. The back story is that, between 2010 and 2012, China executed or imprisoned 18 to 20 assets who had bravely worked with the CIA, destroying a critical intelligence network.

Third: Guo’s outlets have “millions of videos and photos” of people who have worked with the Chinese against their own countries. If true, this implies that Guo managed to get into China’s “blackmail” database and can release that information.

I can’t believe this is actually happening in the United States — and involving a presidential candidate, no less.

The free world better hope that Biden does not win. If he does, we are doomed.

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.

Last week, a few British polling companies took the pulse of the nation with regard to coronavirus.

But first, let’s look at an international poll from Morning Consult of G7 countries and their leaders’ popularity during the pandemic. Congratulations, Boris Johnson — far above the others in popularity!

Returning to Britain, here are the results from a YouGov/Sky News poll. Keir Starmer, incidentally, is Labour’s new leader:

This is the poll in more detail. Dr Chris Whitty is the UK’s chief medical adviser; Sir Patrick Vallance is the chief scientific adviser; Dominic Raab, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, is Boris’s deputy; Matt Hancock is Secretary of State for Health and Social Care; Sir Keir Starmer is the new leader of the Labour Party:

The next one is Survation’s poll on trusted sources of information during the coronavirus crisis. Note that the media come lowest, well below that of despised politicians and local government, regardless of the fact that most Britons get their information from broadcast and print media:

Here is a poll from YouGov for Reuters Institute and Oxford University:

Here’s one from a Twitter user. Comments follow (DM is the Daily Mail):

One radio talk show host thinks the British public are too stupid to understand media. I try not to use the word delusional, but this is delusional:

The British government are actually doing a great job in managing the coronavirus outbreak. The NHS has not been overwhelmed.

Before the crisis started, according to the Global Health Security Index, the US was rated first in the world for handling a pandemic. The UK was rated second:

Have both the US and the UK been too scrupulous in recording deaths, as — according to some graphs — both countries have the world’s highest fatalities? We shall see, once this is over.

Otherwise, sure, there have been ongoing issues with obtaining PPE, BUT is that the government’s fault? Aren’t NHS procurement managers in charge of that? Ditto care homes, which are either privately owned or council run.

Never mind that, though. Obtaining PPE has been a problem for nearly every nation during this pandemic.

Below are photos of German medics. The BBC often asks, ‘Why can’t the UK be like Germany?’

Hello, BBC. Germany has a PPE shortage, too:

Despite that and despite lockdown, the British support Boris and his team. This was as of April 21, published on April 26:

Regardless of the government’s careful managing of this crisis, the media dig deep every day to report only bad news. Largely, they are still hurting over Brexit, which will no doubt dominate media narratives once coronavirus is over. The negative coronavirus stories are an extension of anti-Brexit narratives:

The BBC is the only channel to broadcast the government’s daily coronavirus briefings. As is customary in other nations doing these daily updates, reporters from across the country are allowed to ask questions afterwards:

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, other government ministers and the medical officers have to face a lot of awful questions. Last week, the BBC’s health editor Hugh Pym asked whether the government was ‘ashamed’ of its coronavirus response:

People like Pym, who smile and smirk simultaneously, are the lowest of the low. They use their gotcha questions on early evening newscasts:

On Monday, April 27, Hancock got fed up with ITV’s political editor Robert Peston’s continuous, verbose questions. Hancock replied with a terse ‘No’:

Here’s the deal with Peston:

Here’s another example, this time from the BBC:

And another:

And another. This is BBC Newsnight‘s Emily Maitlis with Labour’s Peter Mandelson — Baron Mandelson — who held several cabinet positions under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown when they were Prime Minister:

But I digress. Back now to the daily coronavirus briefings.

On Monday, April 27, the government began taking at least one question a day from the general public:

Robert Peston does not like this:

Actually, Robert, the first question chosen and read out on April 27 was relevant to many Britons.

That day, the independent polling company the government uses to select the questions chose one from a grandmother who wanted to know how much longer she would have to wait to kiss and hug her grandchildren. Honestly, I nearly welled up. Much better than taking questions from Peston, Pym and the like.

On Tuesday, April 28, they had two enquiries from the public — one read out loud from another grandmother about childminding her grandchildren and a short video from a mother asking when her son on the coronavirus isolation list could return to school. The lad has cystic fibrosis and autism:

Unfortunately, Matt Hancock had to let all three ladies down gently. It was/is still too early to say.

Interestingly, Peston didn’t ask a question on Tuesday. Perhaps he’s miffed that Britons are getting their own very real concerns aired? As is said in the news trade: ‘Developing …’

News emerged several days ago that human testing began at Oxford University on a vaccine for COVID-19. Suppose it succeeds, which we all hope it will. Will this be the sort of questioning the government will receive? Although humorous, it’s not far off the mark. Click on image to enlarge:

Actually, something just as strange happened when the vaccine news was announced. A woman with a PhD, whom the media referred to as Doctor — implying a medic — appeared in the media. She said she would be ashamed if Oxford succeeded!

She was made to appear as if she were from the university, when, in fact, she’s at what used to be the city’s polytechnic, now called Oxford Brookes. They are two very different institutions:

It is not unusual for the BBC to interrupt any Conservative politician, whether on television or radio. On Friday, April 24, Matt Hancock appeared on Radio 4’s Today programme:

The clip below shows ITV’s Piers Morgan, co-host of Good Morning Britain, having a go at Matt Hancock, not even allowing him to finish a sentence. Breathtaking arrogance, and worth a watch:

Piers should clam up — and tone down his tweets. Good Morning Britain‘s ratings have been tanking during the coronavirus crisis (more here):

On April 16, during the daily coronavirus briefing, Channel 4’s Alex Thomson asked if the government was trying to kill the elderly. Sitting at home viewing, my far better half and I were astonished. Guido Fawkes has the story:

At the more serious end of broadcasting, Channel 4 News’ Alex Thomson last night was on a quest for culpability. His crass question at the Downing Street briefing basically accused Hancock and his advisers of choosing to kill off old people to prioritise protecting the young.

We stopped watching Channel 4 News years ago. It got too left-wing in its bias. Here’s another example from Guido’s article, involving Home Secretary Priti Patel (emphasis in the original):

Earlier in the week, Channel 4 News’ reporter repeatedly demanded from Priti Patel an apology. This type of performance isn’t holding power to account or about purely eliciting information. It is gotcha journalism and because journalists at the press conferences are asking their questions through the prism of establishing political culpability, they are getting defensive responses. It would be better to leave that to the opposition in parliament and leave the made-for-social-media infotainment to Piers. It might also arrest the dramatic drop in public confidence in the news media…

Therefore, is it any wonder that former Labour MP for Vauxhall in London tweeted:

Yes, there should be a root and branch review and reform of the alleged ‘nation’s most trusted’ broadcaster. The annual licence fee per household is £145. It is a mandatory charge. As such, some Britons call it a tax.

I have a lot more to say about the media’s handling of coronavirus. More to follow at some point.

Sooner than expected, I am writing about the Sandringham summit, held on Monday, January 13, 2020, to provide a way forward for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in their disroyalty.

Present at Sandringham were the Queen and Princes Charles, William and Harry. Contrary to earlier reports, the Duchess, in Canada, did not participate via telephone. The Daily Mail reported that aides issued a brief statement to that effect:

The Sussexes decided that it wasn’t necessary for the duchess to join.

Afterwards, the Queen issued a statement:

That would seem the most sensible solution.

No commercialisation of the Sussex titles, either. (I don’t care what arrangements are in place at present.) The Queen issues titles, and they are not the property of recipients.

The Queen’s statement reads as follows (emphases mine):

Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family.

My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.

Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives.

It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK.

These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days.

ENDS

Political pundit Guido Fawkes wrote, using a Brexit term (emphasis in the original):

Looks like an orderly transition to a Canada Plus model…

His readers, however, are sorely disappointed.

So am I.

However, the monarch is much wiser than her subjects. Her statement is probably not all it seems on the surface. She might want to take the venom out of events from the past week and let the wound begin to heal. She probably also wants to avoid a Princess Diana situation: different circumstances, granted, but the same reaction from certain quarters, which turned Prince Harry’s mother into a martyr figure.

Whilst journalist and television presenter Piers Morgan was as disappointed as I, a few of his readers think the Queen could be playing the long game:

On Monday, January 13, British GQ posted an interview with Piers Morgan:

In 2017, Morgan supported Prince Harry’s choice of future wife. He wrote an article for the Daily Mail: ‘PIERS MORGAN: Hearty congratulations, Harry, you picked a real keeper’.

Excerpts follow from the British GQ article (emphases in purple mine).

Contrary to what he thought in 2017 and 2018, Morgan believes the Duchess is a threat to the monarchy:

GQ: You have engaged in some very personal and sometimes vicious arguments over Meghan and Harry over the past few days. Did you feel passionately about this before the news about them broke or did it just get out of hand?

Piers Morgan: I’ve felt strongly about this for about 18 months, ever since I could see the way the wind was blowing. The truth about Meghan Markle is that she’s a social climbing piece of work and all the people rushing to her defence have not, I’ve noticed, had any personal dealings with her. The number of people she has used and then cut loose is long and illustrious and involves almost her entire family, most of her oldest friends, most of Harry’s best male friends and now she’s trying to extricate Harry from the royal family. I think she represents a clear and present danger to the future of the monarchy and I don’t say that lightly. If you are going to have two renegade celebrity part-time royals bestriding the globe cashing in on their royal status, I think that could accelerate an atmosphere of republicanism that can be very dangerous to the existence of the monarchy. There are very important issues here and I think it’s something people should be emotive about if they, like me, value the monarchy and the royal family.

He objects to the Sussexes wanting all the benefits of being Royals without having to put in any of the day-to-day duties:

I noticed you have focused on the Queen in these discussions.

The Queen’s a 93-year-old woman who has been on the throne for over six decades – she’s probably the most respected world leader of modern times. She’s recently had to put up with a scandal involving her middle son, whom she’s had to effectively fire; her husband is 98 and suffering serious health issues. So she’s got enough on her plate without these two upstarts deciding they’re going to rewrite the way the royal family conducts itself with their new agenda. Nobody wants a progressive royal family, nobody wants a woke royal family. This is entirely driven by Meghan Markle, who has turned Harry, I’m afraid, into a simpering doormat and the result is fairly cataclysmic. They want to leave the royal family on their terms where they get to keep all the good bits – the taxpayer-funded security and travel, the free mansion which was refurbished at our expense – but they don’t want to do the Wednesday duty at a community centre in Stoke. That’s not going to wash.

He explains why he changed his mind about the Duchess:

Do you think the mainstream media have been fair in their scrutiny of Meghan and Harry?

PM: Yes, I wrote a lot of very positive things about Meghan Markle. Then a number of stories began appearing about the way she had ghosted people. Look, I was a very minor ghosting. I thought we were good friends. She tweeted we were good friends – tweets she has now deleted. She was the one who reached out to me for media advice so I did and I thought we got on very well, but the moment she met Prince Harry, bang! And she’s done that to many people. She is a social climbing cut-and-runner. I fear what will happen to Harry.

He says that what the Sussexes are doing is not what the Royal Family is about:

How do you think the future royal relationships will pan out and could it help the royals in the long run?

You can’t be half royal and half not. You can’t take public money and flog your status off to commercial entities. I don’t see how this works. They are entitled to lead any life they want to lead, but they are not entitled to be a drain on the British taxpayer. Also, why is Meghan Markle a global star? It’s because she married into the British royal family and I think the public will take a very dim view of somebody coming into our royal family for three years and then buggering off and fleecing everything off the back of her royal status. You can’t be a part-time royal and not do the dirty work that goes with it. If they want to give up all their free stuff and pay for everything themselves then good luck to them, but even then if she makes tens of millions of dollars it won’t be because of her acting work, it will be because she married Prince Harry.

In his Daily Mail column published the same day, Morgan listed the reasons why he went off the Duchess.

However, going back further, he cites his column on the Sussexes’ wedding and reminds us of how much the British public looked forward to it (emphases mine):

From the moment Meghan Markle came on the royal scene, and it was revealed she was from a mixed-race background, she was welcomed with warm open tolerant arms by a wonderfully multi-cultural and diverse modern Britain that was thrilled to finally see a non-white member of the Royal Family.

She was showered with almost universal praise, especially when the engagement was announced.

The media, in particular, was unanimous in its verdict that this was a great thing for the country. In fact, I haven’t seen a press so united in joy for anything royal since Diana first became Charles’s girlfriend.

This extraordinary tidal wave of goodwill continued through to the big wedding in May 2018, which by common consent was a triumph.

As I wrote myself in the Daily Mail the following day, ‘it mixed the best of traditional British pomp and majesty with large dollops of Markle Sparkle and the result was a biracial, Hollywood-fused union of very different cultures that worked magnificently well.’

True! People were thrilled. Royal fans lined the streets of Windsor that day, even if they had little hope of seeing the new Royal couple.

He is criticising the Duchess — and the Duke — for the following:

… her erratic conduct – and Harry’s – since the wedding, which has been spectacularly ill-advised;

hypocritical of Meghan to have a $500,000 celebrity-fuelled baby-shower party in New York, including a lift on George Clooney‘s jet, on the same day she and Harry tweeted a plea for people to think of the poor;

… they went to such ridiculous lengths to hide basic details of their baby Archie’s birth from the public that pays for much of their lavish lives;

… appalling when Meghan’s bodyguards stopped members of the same public taking her photo at Wimbledon;

… she refused to meet President Trump during his UK state visit, despite being the only American member of the Royal Family;

… dreadfully two-faced of her and Harry to preach about the need to watch every carbon-footprint, as they jumped on Sir Elton John’s private jet every ten minutes;

she ended a tour of poverty-strewn parts of South Africa by moaning about her own ‘struggle’;

their incessant war with the media, throwing hysterical abuse-laden warnings and lawsuits out like confetti, so pathetically thin-skinned and self-defeating given how much positive press they’ve also enjoyed;

the way they’re treated the Queen so deplorable and cruel, given her age (93), the fact her 98-year-old husband Philip has been so ill, and the recent enormous stress she has suffered over having to fire her own son Andrew over the Jeffrey Epstein scandal

He concludes, in part:

The reality is that Meghan and Harry have brought this ugly situation entirely on themselves

Here is one more self-inflicted injury by the Sussexes:

The youngsters complaining about the media were too young to remember the press drubbing that the Duchess of Cambridge — Kate — received when she got engaged to Prince William. Her mother was also ridiculed for having been a former airline attendant. A few years ago, the Duchess and her mother were criticised for having young Prince George stay at the Middleton home now and then so that he could spend time with his maternal grandparents.

She got her media flak, but she rose above it. Now she can do no wrong:

As Morgan says:

That is definitely true.

Before then, there were Charles’s girlfriends from the early 1970s, all roundly sniped at in the press.

Princess Anne was similarly criticised during the same time period.

So did Princess Anne’s first husband. The media called him ‘Foggy’, not just once or twice but often. So often, in fact, that to this day, I do not remember his real name.

Before that, there was Princess Margaret — the Queen’s sister — who suffered a barrage of negative press during her adult life, from the 1950s to her death in 2002.

Conclusion: Meghan Markle is NOT the only Royal who has ever been criticised in the media. Others suffered far worse for no compelling reasons at all.

More tomorrow on other commentators’ reactions to the Sussexes.

In the meantime, for anyone compiling pub quiz stumpers, here’s one for you:

Q. What was Prince Harry’s last public engagement as a senior Royal?

A. The official draw at Buckingham Palace on January 16, 2020, for the Rugby League World Cup, which will be hosted in the UK in 2021.

Of course, that could well be subject to change in the years to come, but it’s good for the time being.

A few years ago, we all had high hopes for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Around the time of their wedding, it was thought that the Queen was going to make them Royal ‘ambassadors’ to the Commonwealth countries, which would have been splendid.

Now, their latest announcement on leaving the UK to live somewhere in North America — likely Canada — has divided admirers of the Royal Family, including the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

This looks like disloyalty — perhaps disroyalty. It is not a good look.

This move reminds many of us of Edward VIII’s abdication in 1936 in favour of the American divorcée, Wallis Simpson. Talk to any Briton who is over the age of 60 and, even if they were not alive at the time, they will tell you that abdication is a very big deal and destabilising for the Royal Family, even if only temporarily.

The former Ms Markle — real first name Rachel — is also a divorcée:

This is how the New York Post reported the story on Thursday, January 9:

Many of us hope that the Queen steps in and, along with Prince Charles, lays down the law to these two. They want to commercialise the Sussex titles. Yet, they are but temporary holders — renters — of them, not their perpetual owners. The Queen lent the Sussex titles to them. She can surely take them away.

Did the couple think this over carefully? One wonders. It will bring all sorts of issues:

Yes, things in future might not be all they seem at the moment.

The question of the public purse is also a valid one, mainly with regard to security, as they receive personal upkeep from Prince Charles (Duchy of Cornwall, 95%) and the Queen (Sovereign Grant, 5%):

The Queen had Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor estate refurbished for the Sussexes at the cost of £2.4m. She also threw a rightly lavish wedding for them, also costing millions. Now they want to split their time between the UK and Canada. This rankles:

This will be a hot topic in the months to come, even though the couple are not on the Civil List. The following is a reply to journalist and broadcaster Piers Morgan:

Then there are the family optics and dynamics involved. Views on these have been divided, especially with regard to the Queen and Prince Philip:

The Queen is our longest serving monarch and Britain’s Head of State. She is a national treasure. Does Harry owe her more allegiance than he does his own family? It is a sensitive subject with the public:

It has been reported that Prince Harry did not discuss his and the Duchess’s impending lifestyle change with the Queen, Prince Charles or Prince William. That has not gone down well with supporters of the Royal Family:

Some people say that Harry has an excuse for his behaviour because of the manner in which his mother died. However, as Piers Morgan points out, he is not the only person who lost a parent at an early age. Piers Morgan’s father died when he was a youngster, too:

People forget that Princess Diana was Prince William’s mother, too:

On now to the statement from the Sussexes, which they posted on their website and on Instagram:

January, 2020

“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family, and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment. We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages. This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity. We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge, and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.”

Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex

What about the carbon footprint??

Buckingham Palace issued this terse response:

Discussions with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.

Morgan, writing for the Daily Mail, said on Thursday, January 9 (emphases mine):

Seriously?

I’ve seen some disgraceful royal antics in my time, but for pure arrogance, entitlement, greed, and wilful disrespect, nothing has ever quite matched the behaviour of the ‘Duke and Duchess of Sussex.’

I put inverted commas around those titles because I sincerely hope they won’t exist much longer.

Indeed, if I were Her Majesty the Queen, I would unceremoniously strip Harry and Meghan of all their titles with immediate effect and despatch them back into civilian life.

These two deluded clowns announced yesterday they were quitting life as senior royals.

In a series of staggeringly pompous statements on their gleaming new Hollywood-style website, they laid down the law to the Queen and to the rest of us about exactly how things are supposedly going to work from this moment on.

To summarise, they want to stop being ‘senior royals’ with all the tedious duty that entails.

And instead, they now want to be a ‘progressive’ force within ‘the institution’.

In other words, they want to be super-woke celebrities (with all the outrageous ‘Do as we say not as we do’ hectoring hypocrisy they’ve already brought to that status) who get to keep all the trappings of royal life without any of the hard, boring bits and the right to cash in on their status however they choose.

So, they want the glitz, the glamour, the splendour and the stupendous wealth….they just don’t want to have to actually earn it.

What a pathetic joke.

He was appalled that the Sussexes took this decision independently:

It was shocking enough that Harry and Meghan didn’t even have the courtesy to tell either Prince Charles, who they sponge off, or Prince William of their grandiose plans.

But it was absolutely appalling that they failed to notify the Queen.

This woman is not just Harry’s grandmother, she’s the Monarch for god’s sake.

She has spent the past six decades on the throne and by common consent has served her people with magnificent grace, commitment, respect and skill.

Elizabeth II will go down in history as one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, monarchs.

Yet now, at the age of 93, and with her 98-year-old husband Prince Philip suffering ill health, she’s had to suffer the repulsively rude indignity of being treated like a piece of insignificant dirt by her own spoiled brat grandson and his scheming, selfish D-list actress wife.

He discussed Edward VIII’s abdication:

Of course, and very ironically, she is only Queen because her own uncle, Edward VIII, also fell under the romantic clutches of another American woman, Wallis Simpson, and felt compelled to resign as King.

That led to his brother George VI taking over, and when he died, his eldest daughter Elizabeth was crowned Queen in her mid-20s.

Now, after surviving a number of royal crises including the death of Princess Diana in 1997, Her Majesty faces another that could cause potentially irreparable damage to the Monarchy.

Yes, coupled with Prince Andrew’s fall from grace last year, this development is very bad, indeed.

Timing is everything, it is said. This is excruciatingly poor timing.

When my generation were growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, our parents and teachers were appalled at our self-centredness. If I had a $1 for every time they said to us …

Me, me, me! That’s all you ever think about: self, self, self!

… I’d be writing this from Monaco.

Yet, this is what the Sussexes are doing: thinking about self, self, self!

Piers Morgan agrees:

Unfortunately — but quite rightly — the goodwill previously accorded to them is likely to vanish quickly.

This is what they are attempting to fob us off with:

This is closer to the stark reality of the situation:

January 9 happens to be the Duchess of Cambridge’s birthday:

It’s a shame this news overshadowed what should have been a happy day for her.

Self, self, self!

British journalist and television presenter Piers Morgan effectively dismantles the snowflake generation and their parents in this two-minute video, which is subtitled:

It is amazing that some comments to that tweet ask how he would know about the snowflake generation. Uhh, the clue is in the first sentence:

Well, as a father of four kids …

Here they are, as seen on Christmas Day:

The person who tweeted the snowflake generation video received an interesting selection of comments. Half were critical and half were supportive.

I am glad to see that retired Australian cricketer Shane Warne agrees with what Piers said:

Morgan points out that there has never been a better time to be alive. We are living in peacetime, largely speaking. Our health advances are much greater than any time before. Our technological advances continue in leaps and bounds. What’s not to like?

Yet, he says, we are creating a generation of young adults who cannot accept the realities of life because we have sheltered them too much, whether at home, school or elsewhere.

Along with this comes the continued criticism of the world as it is: imperfect. Sure, we can always do a better job of things and, for the most part, we are. Yet, the criticism is vehement. Furthermore, most of it comes from the snowflake generation who expect a prize just for participating in an event.

As Morgan points out, kids are happy to place 25th in an event. He says that if one of his kids came home with 25th place, he would ask them why they didn’t do better. Absolutely! In my day — so last century — if we came second or third, our parents would ask why we didn’t come first!

This mollycoddling attitude of parents and teachers is not doing the current crop of twenty-somethings any favours. We have encouraged them to be too soft and to collapse at the drop of a hat.

I sometimes wonder whether much of this recent child psychology is a deliberate way of weakening, if not destroying, Western society. I very much doubt the Chinese or the Russians give out participation trophies to all. Nor do other non-Western countries. They make their respective younger generations toughen up from an early age. Consequently, their young adults move to Western countries for work, especially in technology. Their aptitude is better, because they had more structure in the classroom — no curved grades — and at home. Meanwhile, we have millions of children entering university who cannot do what used to be secondary school maths. Nor do they know the rules of grammar or spelling anymore. As a result, our universities offer remedial courses to bring first-year students up to speed.

It’s a parlous state of affairs. Heaven forfend if we are ever in a national crisis.

There is winning, which is easy to handle. Then there is losing, which requires a) knowing how to cope and b) learning from it when it is one’s own fault. That pertains not only to sporting events but to employment as well.

Life isn’t easy. Life has never been easy. There are lessons to be learnt at each stage of our journey, whether individually or together.

Let’s stop indulging young adults so much. And let’s watch how we raise the next generation.

We can take a lesson from nature here:

Snowflakes are for winter and the great outdoors. They should not be a personality type.

On Tuesday, November 19, 2019, ITV showed the first debate of the election campaign.

Supporters of smaller political parties criticised ITV for inviting only Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, but, in reality, only one of the two will be Britain’s next PM:

At that point, a week before Remembrance Day (hence the poppies), the Liberal Democrats’ Jo Swinson was confident she had a real chance at becoming PM:

Although Conservatives believed Boris should have been harder hitting on Labour policies, he probably pulled back because a) this was early in the campaign and b) he wanted to help convince undecided or low-information voters that Conservatives have the better policies.

Afterwards, ITV News reported on the highlights (emphases mine):

In the opening exchanges, the prime minister warned the UK faced more “dither and delay” under a Labour government.

He said a vote for the Conservatives would be a vote to finally “get Brexit done”.

“If you vote for us, we have a deal that is ready to go. Approved by every one of the 635 Conservatives candidates standing at this election,” he said.

As soon as we can get that deal through Parliament, as we can in the next few weeks, we can get on with the people’s priorities.”

But Mr Corbyn retorted that he could not deliver on what he was promising.

“That idea that the Prime Minister Boris Johnson’ deal can be dealt with and finished by the end of January is such nonsense,” he said.

“What he is proposing is a trade deal which will take at least seven years to negotiate whilst at the same time saying he will negotiate a special trade deal with the European Union.

“The two things are actually incompatible.”

Also:

Mr Corbyn’s shifted focus onto the NHS, claiming the service would be part of trade negotiations with the US.

Mr Corbyn accused the prime minister of conducting “secret meetings” with the US about the NHS and a future trade deal.

The Labour leader said: “What we know of what Mr Johnson has done is a series of secret meetings with the United States in which they were proposing to open up our NHS markets as they call them to American companies.”

To this claim, Mr Johnson replied: “I’m amazed how often this comes up.”

Mr Johnson insisted: “This is an absolute invention, it is completely untrue, there are no circumstances whatever that this Government or any Conservative Government would put the NHS on the table in any trade negotiations.”

That was the week after Prince Andrew’s disastrous interview on the BBC, which had aired the previous Saturday evening. Moderator Julie Etchingham asked the two leaders about the monarchy. I have highlighted what the PM said, because it has been often misquoted since:

Asked if the monarchy is fit for purpose, Mr Corbyn simply replied: “It needs a bit of improvement.”

Mr Johnson answered: “The institution of the monarchy is beyond reproach,”

Ms Etchingham then asked if Prince Andrew is fit for purpose.

Mr Corbyn highlighted how sympathies should be with Jeffrey Epstein’s victims, which Mr Johnson echoed.

Boris never said the monarchy was beyond reproach, meaning individual royals. He remarked on the institution itself.

Corbyn, who has been repeatedly accused of downplaying anti-Semitism in his party, which, oddly, has been rampant since he took over as leader in 2016, brought up Jeffrey Epstein. As everyone following the scandal knows, his surname is pronounced ‘Ep-steen’, but Corbyn deliberately pronounced it ‘Ep-shtein’, putting real emphasis on it.

The former editor-in-chief of The Independent, Simon Kelner, wrote an editorial about it for the i paper, ‘Conscious or not, Jeremy Corbyn’s mispronunciation of Jeffrey Epstein’s name matters to British Jews’. Too right it does:

The question, which we can be sure will never be answered, is this: did Corbyn do it, consciously or unconsciously (they’re both as bad as each other, by the way), to make Epstein sound just a little more sinister and foreign and, relevantly in the context, more Jewish? It’s hard to come up with an answer that doesn’t make the Labour leader appear either malevolent or incompetent. Given the wall-to-wall media coverage devoted to the scandal over recent days, it stretches credulity to suggest that Corbyn hadn’t heard Epstein’s name pronounced correctly multiple times.

it was a very emphatic delivery – is something else entirely, and Corbyn had to go out of his way to summon up the mittel-European pronunciation

I am more of a pedant than I am an anti-Semite hunter, but my synapses were twitching on both counts. I have a high threshold for anti-Semitism, and I have never thought that there was a prima facie case against Corbyn in this respect. In fact, I share some of his views on the politics of the Middle East. But this definitely pulled me up short. Having just watched his epically short-tempered interview with Krishnan Guru-Murthy on Channel 4, which was filmed in 2015 but went viral this week, it made me wonder whether Corbyn might just be, to borrow [the BBC’s] Eddie Mair’s epithet about Boris Johnson, a nasty piece of work.

While the mispronunciation of Epstein’s name may not be viewed by the majority of viewers as overtly anti-Semitic, it definitely had a nasty edge. No one is offended on Epstein’s behalf (that would be ludicrous), but if I found it offensive, many, many other Jewish people would have found it more so

Whether I am reading too much into a slip of the tongue is open for debate. But what is not in question is that Jeremy Corbyn should be doing all he can to persuade Jewish voters that, on anti-Semitism, he doesn’t just talk the talk. And what he did here was, apart from anything else, very bad politics.

More on this follows below.

Members of the audience were allowed to ask questions:

The debate ended with a hypothetical question from an audience member about what Christmas presents the two leaders would give each other:

Before their closing remarks, the prime ministerial hopefuls were asked what Christmas presents they would buy for each other.

Mr Corbyn said: “I know Mr Johnson likes a good read, so what I would probably leave under the tree for him would be A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and he could then understand how nasty Scrooge was.”

Responding, Mr Johnson said: “I would probably leave a copy – since you want a literary reference – a copy of my brilliant Brexit deal.”

Pressed by host Ms Etchingham to give a non-political answer, Mr Johnson said: “Mr Corbyn shares my love of plants and trees. I think maybe some damson jam,” to which Mr Corbyn said: “I love damson jam.”

At that point, Boris walked over to Corbyn and invited him to shake hands. It was a spontaneous moment, and it’s a pity that ITV did not report on it. Viewers could see Corbyn backing away from Boris with his outstretched hand. After seconds of hesitation, he extended his own for a limp handshake. Boris’s was much heartier.

What did the general public think? Interestingly, the result was similar to that for the Brexit referendum, which was 52% to 48%:

Leaders of the two main parties take part in debates like tonight’s, in part, to try to win over undecided voters.

A YouGov snap poll suggested 51% of Britons believed Mr Johnson won the debate compared to 49% for Mr Corbyn.

Those who answered “don’t know” were removed from the result, with YouGov adding the figures are so close as to be within the margin of error.

ITV’s political editor Robert Peston told news presenter Alastair Stewart that Jeremy Corbyn needed this debate to present a positive game-changer for Labour, who were trailing in the polls then and continue to do so now. Peston said that it was a draw. People who want Brexit done will vote for Boris. People who are worried about the NHS will vote for Corbyn:

Tom Harwood, who works for Guido Fawkes, said that Labour missed a trick with their claim that the Conservatives would ‘sell the NHS’ to President Trump:

Interestingly, our EU negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier, noticed another of Harwood’s tweets — and ‘liked’ it:

Dear me. Whatever next?

Well, the Labour-supporting newspaper, The Mirror, did not exactly go overboard in favour of Corbyn’s performance. Then, again, Prince Andrew was still making the headlines:

At the weekend, the polls remained static. More than one person thought this was because of the anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. They are the only other political party other than the extreme British National Party to be investigated for it. Shameful:

One week later — Tuesday, November 26 — Corbyn appeared on the BBC for an evening interview with veteran broadcaster Andrew Neil. He looked tired, ‘low energy’ (to borrow a Trumpism) and cranky. Neil took him to town on anti-Semitism, forcing him to admit nearly everyone in Britain would be poorer under Labour as well as false claims about the Conservatives wanting to sell the NHS to Trump:

It was generally agreed that, only days after Prince Andrew managed to give one of the all-time worst interviews on television, Corbyn managed to rival him:

This is how bad it was:

These were some of the newspaper headlines on Wednesday:

Andrew Neil began by asking Corbyn if he thought a particular statement about ‘Rothschild Zionists’ was anti-Semitic. Corbyn refused to say, until after the fourth time Neil repeated it:

Guido Fawkes said (emphasis in the original):

Jeremy Corbyn had to be asked four times before admitting ‘Rothchild Zionists run Israel and world governments’ is an anti-Semitic trope. This’ll undoubtedly put the minds of 80% of British Jews to rest…

Corbyn offered no apology for the anti-Semitism in sections of the Labour Party. This video is subtitled:

Andrew Neil grilled Corbyn on taxing everyone more, not just the wealthy:

Neil exposed the fact that Labour’s costings make no sense. Where’s the money coming from? The reply is not an actual Corbyn quote, by the way:

Labour supporters accused Neil of interrupting Corbyn, but:

The Sun has an excellent summary of the interview:

The next morning, ITV’s Piers Morgan picked up Corbyn’s daft comment on ISIS:

The interview got very good ratings:

With regard to the NHS, Neil scored points there, too.

Even Barry Gardiner, the erudite, effete veteran Labour MP — technically a Labour candidate, now that we are approaching the election — couldn’t defend his leader to Andrew Neil with regard to his questionable statements about the Conservatives wanting to sell the NHS to the United States. This interview took place 24 hours later:

Guido Fawkes commented:

The second excruciating Andrew Neil interview Labour has had to go through took place last night, when Shadow Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner was shown up over Jeremy Corbyn’s blatant fibs to the electorate. Labour are banking on people not being bothered to read the 451 pages they produced. Unfortunately for them, Guido has

With this and snapping at a journalist for mentioning anti-Semitism, Gardiner has not been having a good media round…

Those interested can follow Guido’s link in his first paragraph to see the documents in question.

Jeremy Corbyn is talking a lot of nonsense not only on the NHS but everything else his party proposes.

One thing is for certain: so far, he has been a gift to the Conservatives.

British journalist and television presenter Piers Morgan recently gave an interview to Ben Shapiro about the Left.

He says:

The Left have become unbearable.

This video, which is subtitled and runs just under two minutes and thirty seconds, is excellent. I am not necessarily a Piers Morgan fan but agree with everything he says here:

Being in media, he begins with comedians hosting awards shows. Because people cannot make — and take — jokes anymore, said shows lack hosts or are being cancelled.

Even it that is no big deal, Morgan takes the totalitarian measures of the Left further, calling them a type of ‘fascism’ (his word). He says that if you do not live your life in the way leftists dictate, they go after you in a number of ways, from personal abuse to making sure you lose your job.

Consequently, he says, ordinary people are rebelling by electing populist — he says ‘popularist’, possibly purposely — politicians who are willing to confront the Left. He cites President Trump and says this is happening in Europe, too. (Incidentally, Hungary’s Viktor Orban became prime minister long before Trump was elected. Orban assumed office in 2010, six years before the American president was elected. That said, western Europe has seen a continuing drift towards conservative and populist political parties.)

Here’s the interview in full:

In conclusion, it would be good if Piers Morgan and millions of other people would stop using the word ‘liberal’ to describe leftists. Liberal refers to classical liberalism: free markets and small government.

Let’s call these people what they are: leftists — the most illiberal of people.

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