You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘television’ tag.

Sadly, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, died on Friday, April 9, 2021, exactly two months short of his 100th birthday:

The Queen has lost her best friend. My deepest sympathies to her for the unimaginable loss of her long-time husband and daily confidant. My condolences also go to the Royal Family in their grief.

Young love

The couple first met in 1934, and began corresponding when the Prince was 18 and a cadet in the Royal Navy. Princess Elizabeth was 13 at the time.

She was smitten with him from the start.

Prince Philip served with distinction during the Second World War in the Mediterranean and Pacific fleets.

After the war ended, he could have had a stellar career in the Royal Navy. His superiors praised his clear leadership skills.

However, love intervened and the rest was history.

Born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, he renounced his foreign titles and took British citizenship before he and Princess Elizabeth were engaged. He took the surname of his maternal grandparents: Mountbatten.

He and Princess Elizabeth were engaged in July 1947. They married on November 20 that year. Shortly before the wedding, George VI gave him the titles of Duke of Edinburgh (created for him), Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich.

Prince Philip remained in the Royal Navy until July 1951. He retired with the rank of Commander.

Royal succession — and surname

In January 1952, he and the Queen began a tour of the Commonwealth countries. They were in Kenya when news reached them that the Queen’s father, George VI, died on February 6 that year.

Although she became Queen immediately upon her father’s death, her coronation took place in 1953, as it had to be planned meticulously.

On Coronation Day, he knelt before her, clasped her hands and swore an oath of allegiance to her:

He also had to touch her crown and kiss her on the cheek.

He never had a constitutional role, nor was he ever formally given the title of Royal Consort. The courtiers did not like him, nor did they trust him. They believed his personality to be brash and unbecoming of the Royal household. They shut him out of as much decision making as possible.

When Elizabeth became Queen, the question about her family name arose. Prince Philip suggested that the Royal Family be known as the House of Edinburgh. Upon discovering that suggestion, Queen Mary, Elizabeth’s grandmother, wrote to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who advised the young monarch to issue a royal proclamation saying that the Royal Family would continue to be known as the House of Windsor.

In his inimitable style, Prince Philip complained privately:

I am nothing but a bloody amoeba. I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children. [57]

The Queen did nothing until eight years later, in 1960, 11 days before she gave birth to Prince Andrew. She issued an Order in Council declaring that the surname of her and her husband’s male-line descendants who are not styled as Royal Highness or titled as prince or princess would be Mountbatten-Windsor.

Pater familias

Prince Philip had to carve a role out for himself. He became the pater familias and, through the years, his role expanded to cover not only his four children but his grandchildren. He listened to their concerns, shared their joys and gave them advice. He knew everything that went on in their lives.

Although the public knew him for speaking as he saw — rather bluntly, on occasion — behind closed doors Prince Philip was known to be a warm, loving man.

He also favoured a more transparent Royal Family. According to the BBC, it was he who encouraged the Queen to make a multi-episode documentary on their daily lives, including those of their four children. It was broadcast in the late 1960s. I remember seeing it in the United States.

When Princess Diana died on August 31, 1997, Prince Philip was the one who kept an eye on the public mood that fateful week. He, the Queen and Princes William and Harry were at Balmoral in Scotland for their summer holiday. When the young princes wanted to attend church, their grandparents took them to the Sunday service on the day of their mother’s death. Later in the week, it was Prince Philip who encouraged the boys to walk behind the funeral procession the following Saturday. He said:

If you don’t walk, I think you’ll regret it later. If I walk, will you walk with me? [93]

One cannot imagine what he thought of Prince Harry’s departure for the United States to live a life separate from his closely knit family. I did read that the Royal Family shielded information about the Oprah interview from him.

John F Kennedy’s funeral

Prince Philip was in Washington for John F Kennedy’s funeral in 1963.

He had a friendly encounter with John Jr, who was still a toddler and known as John-John at the time. The child wondered where his father was, as he had no one with whom to play. The Prince stepped in to fill that gap. In 1965, the British government gave an acre of land at Runnymede to the United States for use as a memorial to JFK:

Funeral arrangements

Prince Philip was self-effacing and did not like a fuss to be made over him.

Therefore, the funeral arrangements will respect his wishes, which is rather convenient, as coronavirus restrictions are still in place. Up to 30 people will be allowed at his funeral, in line with legislation across the nation:

The funeral is scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 17:

It is interesting that Prince Harry will be able to attend when we have a 10-day quarantine in place for arrivals into the UK under coronavirus regulations.

The Sunday Mirror reported on Prince Harry’s return to the UK:

He could also be released from quarantine if he gets a negative private test on day five, under the Test to Release scheme.

Given his status as a member of the Royal Family travelling to support the Queen, Harry might be considered exempt from travel restrictions.

Wow. It’s nice to know we have a two-tiered quarantine system in place /sarc.

A championship boxer remembers the Prince

Former WBC Heavyweight Champion Frank Bruno MBE posted his memories of meeting Prince Philip. He is at the top left in the following photo:

An Anglican priest remembers the Prince

The Revd Peter Mullen, an Anglican priest, recalled his encounters with Prince Philip for Conservative Woman on April 10 in ‘A personal recollection’.

He first met the Prince during his schooldays:

The first time I met the Prince was in connection with his Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme which gave a leg up to youngsters from what would now be called the less privileged parts of the country. He paid a visit to the Leeds branch of the Church Lads’ Brigade of which, aged fourteen, I was a member. We were in the church hall making things. My task was to make a table lamp. I was hopeless at it.

The Duke got hold of my half-finished creation, held it up to one eye and said, ‘I suppose this hole is where the flex goes?’

‘I think so, Sir.’

‘You think so? I was never any good at this sort of thing either!’

And he was off . . . 

As an adult, Mullen met him on more than one occasion thanks to the Honourable Company of Air Pilots. The Prince was its Grand Master. Mullen served as chaplain.

He recalls:

The Company gave a lunch for him to mark his 80th birthday and I recall how jovial he was, making light of his years: ‘I believe I have lasted so long because you people are always toasting my good health, but I don’t want to live to be a hundred. Things are dropping off already!’

At another luncheon one of our Liverymen who had his own port wine business presented the prince with Bottle Number One, the first fruits, so to speak. As he left, the duke handed the bottle to me: ‘You have this, Peter. Our house floats on the bloody stuff.’

‘Well, Sir, now I don’t know whether to drink it or frame it.’

‘Gerrit down ya neck!’

Prince Philip on MPs

Guido Fawkes came up with a good quote from one of the Prince’s trips to Ghana. It concerns MPs. His Ghanaian hosts told him the country had 200 MPs. Prince Philip replied:

That’s about the right number. We have 650 and most of them are a complete bloody waste of time.

Incidentally, Parliament will be recalled one day early from Easter recess. On Monday, April 12, MPs and Lords paid tribute to the Prince in their respective Houses:

That afternoon, the House of Commons reconvened to pay their tribute — from 2:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. (good grief).

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle spoke first:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had this to say:

Boris Johnson, who was invited to the funeral but declined so that another member of the Royal Family can attend, said that he would forego a pint when pub gardens reopen on April 12, out of respect for the Prince. Guido Fawkes, however, thinks that the Duke of Edinburgh would have wanted us to toast his memory, especially at a pub that bears his title in Brixton, south London:

Guido had a second tweet on the subject with another quote from the Prince:

Agreed.

Prince Philip on Australia

This is too funny. For those who are unaware, Australia was established as a place where Britain could send convicts. That was a long time ago, but the nation’s original purpose was to serve as a prison:

https://image.vuukle.com/afdabdfb-de55-452b-b000-43e4d45f1094-dd97fb07-388d-4ddb-91b8-ccf8a88d5905

Prince Philip on civil liberties

On a serious note, the 12-minute interview below from 1984 is well worth watching, especially in the coronavirus era.

Prince Philip firmly supported the rights of the individual and believed that the state should serve the individual, not, as in our times, the other way around.

This is from a Thames Television programme originally broadcast on ITV:

I have posted the video below in case the tweets are deleted:

The Prince also said that certain subjects are out of bounds, such as the media and the NHS.

He said that the media are incapable of taking a joke about themselves and, as for the NHS, well, one cannot say anything against it. He didn’t necessarily dislike the NHS but thought it was held in too high a regard. Nothing is perfect in this world.

We have been travelling a long road towards the point where we are at present: ruled by the media (they clamoured for coronavirus restrictions) and worship of the NHS. This is how Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and SAGE have been able to rule our lives. It’s been at least 40 years in the making.

BBC coverage on Friday

I was watching BBC Parliament early Friday afternoon, around 1:15, when the programme was interrupted by a broadcast from the BBC News Channel.

I checked the schedule an hour later, which said that the programme would last until 4 p.m. It was still going when I was preparing dinner at 5 p.m.

The final of MasterChef was to have been broadcast that night on BBC1. This was a clip from Thursday’s programme:

Pictured are the hosts and judges, chef/restaurateur John Torode on the left and former greengrocer, now television presenter, Gregg Wallace on the right:

BUT:

The BBC News channel was simulcast all afternoon and all night long, not only on BBC Parliament but also on BBC1, to the dismay of MasterChef fans (myself included), and BBC2. BBC4 was suspended for the evening.

I read on social media that the BBC also broadcast continuous coverage of Prince Philip on their radio stations, including Radio 2, knocking out Steve Wright’s drive-time show on Friday afternoon.

A friend of mine said that most of the BBC’s employees were probably rubbing their hands with glee because it meant an early weekend for them. It’s a cynical perspective that could well turn out to be true. We’ll find out when someone writes his or her memoirs.

Everyone with a television set receives the BBC News channel. It comes into our homes at no extra charge. There was no need for the BBC to take over every channel for hours on end. By the way, if one had watched two hours of the Prince Philip coverage, as I did, one would have seen and heard everything in its entirety.

The BBC braced themselves for a plethora of complaints; they took the relevant page down on Sunday. Good. I am sure Prince Philip would have objected, too.

As much as I love the Queen, I hope they do not try this when her day comes. God willing, may it be long into the future.

Record-beating prince

Prince Philip established two records as consort to the Queen. He was the longest-serving royal consort in British history. He was also the longest-lived male member of the British royal family.

May he rest in eternal peace with his Maker.

May our gracious Lord grant the Queen, Defender of the Faith, His infinite peace and comfort in the months ahead. May He also bless the Royal Family during this difficult time.

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.

The coronavirus lockdown has certainly contributed to the rising ratings for BBC Parliament and parliamentlive.tv.

More people are tuning in and the BBC have restyled the chyron on their screen to make it more user friendly. We now know what the debate topic is as soon as we tune in.

However, ratings for televised coverage of Parliament began climbing in 2015, when David Cameron was Prime Minister.

On February 12, 2016, Total Politics reported (emphases mine, apart from the italics):

BBC Parliament has reported a record high of an average of two million viewers a month for the first time ever in 2015.

This is an increase of 150,000 viewers each month on the 2014 figures – and it marks the first time the BBC’s dedicated parliamentary channel has broken the two million viewers per month threshold.

The channel has more live coverage than ever before and covers proceedings from Westminster, the European parliament, the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies and the Scottish Parliament.

BBC Parliament controller Peter Knowles told TP:

“Providing more live coverage of the key political debates and discussions has meant that during 2015, a dramatic year in politics, we’ve seen a surge in people using BBC Parliament to follow proceedings.

New camera positions are also giving our coverage a fresh feel as this parliamentary term is now in full flow.”

Apparently the new camera angles, brought in last year, represent the first such change since 1989. According to a BBC spokesman, the new camera angles “bring audiences closer to the key exchanges, debates and votes”.

So much for the public being turned off by politicians

In 2020, in a review of the 2017-2019 Parliament under Theresa May’s premiership and with John Bercow as egotistical Speaker of the House, The Institute for Government stated:

Members of the public can now view parliamentary proceedings on a variety of platforms. Run by the parliamentary Digital Service, parliamentlive.tv is the most comprehensive source of parliamentary video and audio, publishing recordings of all events – including meetings of select committees – taking place in public.[24] The site allows members of the public to watch events live, access video on demand and search archive footage going back to December 2007. It is also possible to download clips from parliamentlive.tv – with nearly one thousand clips downloaded on average each week between 5 March 2018 and 30 December 2019. These clips are often shared by MPs, interest groups and political parties on social media. BBC Parliament also carries live coverage of key parliamentary activity.

Parliamentary tensions over Brexit were a massive driver of viewers for Parliamentlive.tv

Average daily viewer numbers increased over 150% from 6,552 per day in 2017 to 16,607 per day in 2019. BBC Parliament also saw record viewing figures – the only BBC TV channel experiencing an increase in viewers. An average of one million adults tuned into the channel for at least three minutes each week during 2019, with viewing figures exceeding two million in several key weeks. One commentator described the channel as “the ratings hit that’s Big Brother meets 24 – with added Bercow”.[25]

Controversial and compelling Brexit debates continued when Boris Johnson became Prime Minister.

On Wednesday, September 4, 2019, the Radio Times reported:

BBC Parliament hit an all-time ratings high on Tuesday as Boris Johnson suffered his first defeat as Prime Minister, with MPs voting to take control of the House of Commons in order to force a vote on a bill that will prevent a no deal Brexit.

Some 1.5m viewers tuned in across the course of the day, marking the biggest 24 hours for the channel on record.

The drama in Westminster continues into Wednesday, as opposition parties and Tory rebels lead a debate on Labour politician Hilary Benn’s bill to block a no deal Brexit …

The channel is providing live coverage from the House of Commons throughout the ongoing Brexit crisis, and it is captivating the nation – even drawing viewers away from the beloved Great British Bake Off, which aired its latest episode on Channel 4.

The Radio Times article included two tweets, the first of which is from British television’s most famous money pundit, Martin Lewis:

Last year:

Even on less contentious days, the debates can be absorbing, such as a recent closing debate about the threat to driving tests in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, not far from London. I watched it while preparing dinner when it aired, and it was compelling. Mail on Sunday columnist Dan Hodges, who is actress/former MP Glenda Jackson’s son, tweeted:

Once one starts watching Parliament in action, it is difficult to stop. We get to know the MPs and predict what they will say. With coronavirus, we have the added bonus of seeing what the interiors of their houses look like.

The day’s order papers are on the PARLY and House of Commons Twitter feeds:

The most recent development in broadcasting from the Houses of Parliament is a new fit-for-purpose gallery, which Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle visited on Tuesday, March 2, 2021:

In a further development, Chancellor for the Exchequer Rishi Sunak will be giving the first-ever press conference about the budget on national television following his statement in Parliament on March 3. Guido Fawkes has more:

After presenting his budget in the House of Commons on Wednesday, the Chancellor will scarper over to No. 10 to take questions on it from the public and journalists from 5pm. The televised event will be the first of its kind on Budget Day …

More on that and the budget tomorrow.

Those of us who read about former President Trump’s impeachment trial hope that his lawyer Michael van der Veen is having better days.

I’ll recap later in this post.

He did a great job for his client and had a gimlet eye on the facts.

He had to correct Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) for misquoting Trump:

His closing argument was excellent.

In one of these clips, he says that House impeachment managers sent him evidence on the first day of the trial, rather than before. Proceedings had already started by the time they sent van der Veen the email with the evidence.

Trump’s accusers did not make reference to any laws or the US Constitution:

Van der Veen spoke about the six months of civil unrest that preceded what took place at the Capitol on Wednesday, January 6. Last year’s unrest was actually encouraged by a number of Democrats:

He rightly condemned all the unrest, from last year to January 6, but asked how the United States could find itself in such a position:

He concluded that President Trump said nothing that could have incited a riot on January 6:

In fact, the mêlée had already started before Trump encouraged his rally goers to walk to the Capitol. With so many people in the nation’s capital that day, it would have taken about a half hour to walk to the Capitol building from the Ellipse, where Trump was speaking.

In any event, Trump was acquitted.

That was partly because someone on the impeachment managers’ team doctored the evidence. Two pieces of tampering that emerged in the news were 1) a tweet which was doctored so that 2020 read 2021 and 2) a blue tick mark added to a Twitter user’s account.

Van der Veen said there was more falsified evidence.

A CBS News interviewer, Lana Zak, was mystified that van der Veen would find falsified Twitter evidence egregious and unethical.

He was clearly displeased with her reaction and told her so (start at 2 minutes in):

Howie Carr made some excellent observations about this on Monday, February 15 (emphases mine):

What set van der Veen off was when this anchor cupcake by the name of Lana Zak (never heard of her before, how about you?) tried to pooh-pooh the falsification of evidence by the so-called House managers.

In case you missed it, and you probably did, they put blue check marks on Twitter accounts that didn’t have them (to somehow add credibility to meaningless, stupid comments). They also changed the dates on various postings, and they doctored video.

In other words, the Democrats falsified evidence, just as the FBI did on Carter Page in the application for search warrants in the secret FISA court.

And the Democrats (including of course See BS News) act like it’s no big deal, to try to frame somebody. I get it, it wasn’t a criminal trial so technically you don’t have to worry about niceties like due process, hearsay, Sixth Amendment rights to confront accusers etc. But still, is it proper to falsify evidence, and then, when you get busted red-handed, shrug it off because you were only doing it to a Republican?

Whatever happened to the American Civil Liberties Union?

Unfortunately, things were hotting up at the van der Veen residence that same day.

How horrible:

Fox News asked the lawyer about it during a post-acquittal interview that Saturday. He said that he didn’t want to talk about it. His office was also ‘under siege’, as he put it. The Gateway Pundit has more on the story, along with the video from Fox News.

I hope things have calmed down for him and his family.

What an appalling state of affairs.

The Left, including the media, should be ashamed of themselves. ‘Shame’, however, is a word and a concept unknown to them.

This is the final instalment in my series about minority MPs from today’s modern Conservative Party.

Previous posts can be found here: parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

This post looks at the new intake of MPs in the December 12, 2019 election during Boris Johnson’s premiership.

Saqib Bhatti (Meriden)

Saqib Bhatti represents Meriden in the West Midlands.

The ancient town of Meriden — known as Alspath in the Domesday Book — was historically considered to be the ‘centre of England’, until the 20th century, when an Ordnance Survey proved that claim to be incorrect.

Before he entered Parliament, Bhatti was well known in the West Midlands for being president of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, a position he resigned upon becoming an MP. His philosophy is that business is a force for good. For his efforts, he received an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2020 New Year Honours.

Bhatti was born in the West Midlands town of Walsall to Pakistani parents. His father founded a firm of chartered accountants, Younis Bhatti & Co. Saqib Bhatti serves on its board of directors.

Bhatti read Law at the London School of Economics, graduating with an LLB (Hons). He began working for Deloitte in 2007 as a chartered accountant and financial auditor. In 2010, he left to work for his father’s firm.

He is married and lives in the affluent village of Dorridge in the West Midlands.

Bhatti says that his father is his greatest inspiration (emphases mine below):

The biggest influence on me is my father who moved to the UK in the 60s in pursuit of the ‘Great British Dream’, he taught me the values of hard work, integrity and determination which have driven my life so far. [6]

Bhatti’s predecessor in Parliament was the redoubtable Dame Caroline Spelman, who had been Meriden’s MP since 1997.

He paid tribute to her in his maiden speech, delivered on Wednesday, February 26, 2020:

He said:

My predecessor, Dame Caroline Spelman, was a mightily impressive colleague and friend to many in the House. During her 22-year career, she held a number of important positions, such as party chairperson, several shadow Cabinet positions, Second Church Estates Commissioner and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. She did all of these with distinction, while demonstrating an unrelenting dedication to her constituents—a dedication that I hope to emulate. I am sure the whole House will join me in congratulating her son David, who last month rowed across the Atlantic with a friend as part of the Talisker challenge and broke the world record.

He spoke of Meriden, which he still considers to be the centre of England:

My constituency takes its name from the village of Meriden, known as Alspath in the Domesday Book. It originally made up part of Lady Godiva’s estate and, as many Members of this House will know, Lady Godiva rode through the streets of Coventry naked in protest against her husband’s tax rises. Mr Deputy Speaker, I have a lot in common with Lady Godiva—[Laughter.] I do not know why they are all laughing: I love horses and, like Lady Godiva, I am a big advocate of low taxation. However, I am going to wait for the Budget this time, before I decide to what degree and how I protest any new taxes.

In the Domesday Book, Meriden was known as the true centre of England. That was until the early 2000s, when an over-zealous team at the Ordnance Survey decided that the centre of England was in fact in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Bosworth (Dr Evans), but since I am not a bitter man and I do not hold a grudge, Mr Deputy Speaker, let me tell you why Meriden is still the beating heart of this country

Meriden is unique and picturesque. It has more than 300 listed buildings and is steeped in history. It contains idyllic villages such as Hampton in Arden, Knowle, Dorridge, Catherine-de-Barnes, and Balsall Common, to name just a few. They capture the true character of the great British countryside like nowhere else, despite what my hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Dr Spencer) earlier tried to tell the House. Meriden is home to Birmingham airport and the National Exhibition Centre. It has rail links to every part of the country, and will soon be home to a certain high-speed rail link and interchange station. It has a Jaguar Land Rover plant, the prestigious Blythe Valley business park, and Birmingham business park, which houses names such as Oracle, Arup, and Rolls-Royce, as well as new market disrupters such as Gymshark.

Saqib Bhatti ended his speech with a call for unity as MPs debated leaving Europe for the last time that year:

There is no “leave” or “remain”, Mr Deputy Speaker; there is only our great global Britainthe Britain that says it does not matter where somebody was born, where they come from, what they believe, who they love, or what anyone else says they are capable of achieving. Instead, as long as they share our values of respect, hard work, and they stand up for what is right, they can achieve anything. We live and serve in the best country in the world. Unwavering in our commitment to our values, we have remained faithful to our vision for a better world, and we have always stood tall and firm in the face of adversity.

We must now hold that vision more closely and dearly than ever before. As we embark on the final leg of our journey to new-found independence, it is now that we must remember our old friends and seek out new ones. It is now that we must speak up and act for those facing persecution and oppression across the world, and we must take seriously the threats to our environment and society. We must remember everything that we have in common, and everything that unites us. We must dare to believe.

Claire Coutinho (East Surrey)

Claire Coutinho was born and bred in London.

She represents East Surrey, a constituency just south of the capital.

Her parents are Christians who emigrated from Goa in the late 1970s. Her father Winston is a retired anaesthetist. Her mother Maria is a GP.

Coutinho attended the oldest independent school for girls in Greater London, James Allen’s Girls’ School, in Dulwich.

Afterwards, she read mathematics and philosophy at Exeter College, Oxford.

Upon graduation, she worked for four years at Merrill Lynch in the emerging markets equity team.

She took a two-year break in 2012 to devote herself to food. She started a literary-themed supper club, the Novel Diner, then appeared on the British version of The Taste in 2014. Nigella Lawson chose Coutinho for her team; unfortunately, the future MP was the second to be eliminated.

Coutinho worked for a conservative think tank, the Centre for Social Justice, and an industry group, the Housing and Finance Institute. She then returned to the corporate world, taking a position as Corporate Responsibility Manager with KPMG.

By then, the prospect of a Brexit referendum beckoned. David Cameron promised one in 2015, and it took place on June 23, 2016. Coutinho, passionate about leaving the EU, took a position as a special adviser to the Government so that she could help to deliver Brexit ‘from the inside’. She worked first for Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury Julian Smith and then for Rishi Sunak when he was Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

East Surrey has been a safe Conservative seat since 1918. Coutinho’s predecessor was Sam Gyimah, who was a strong Remainer. He had the Conservative whip removed for his anti-Brexit votes in 2019 and subsequently became a Liberal Democrat. (Gyimah is now working once again at Goldman Sachs, his first employer.) Coutinho was selected to be the Conservative candidate on November 11, 2019, one month before the election. She won with a comfortable majority of 24,040 (40.3%).

Coutinho gave her maiden speech in Parliament on Wednesday, January 15, 2020:

She paid tribute to her predecessor, as is customary:

I am proud to be here representing the beautiful constituency of East Surrey. I begin by paying tribute to my predecessor, Sam Gyimah. We have more in common than representing East Surrey: we are both the children of immigrant doctors, and I, too, am 5 feet 4½ inches. Although we may have slightly different views on Brexit, I know he is passionate about the prosperity of this country, which both our families now call home. I am sure the House will agree that he made many important contributions in this place as Childcare Minister, as Prisons Minister and as Universities Minister.

She spoke about her constituency, which is mandatory:

East Surrey is known for its local beauty. There are four local nature reserves, eight sites of special scientific interest and over a third of the constituency is in an area of outstanding natural beauty or of great landscape value. Those who walk through the North Downs or the High Weald are met with chalk downs, rolling hillsides, lowland meadows and woodlands

She talked about her time working for Rishi Sunak, who, at the time, was just a few weeks away from becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer:

I had the considerable pleasure of working with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Rishi Sunak), on the 2019 spending review, which saw record investment in schools, in the police and in the NHS. Now I am on the other side of the table, I wholeheartedly and unreservedly welcome the increased funding, particularly where those funds might land in East Surrey. I will be working hard to make sure that the initial groundwork of that national announcement makes a meaningful difference to classrooms, GP surgeries and police officers on the ground.

Coutinho closed with a tribute to her grandmother, who was her role model and inspiration:

I would like to mention my grandmother, who may be the single greatest emblem of Conservative values I know. She was a teacher in India who, in my memory, took her fashion lead firmly from the Queen. She raised seven children with little in terms of resources, but with a strong sense that you can achieve the impossible with hard work and determination. Her children were doctors, teachers and grade 8 musicians who are now scattered all across the globe. If she could see me here today, in “the noblest government in the world,” I am sure she would tell me to work hard, to be determined and to achieve the impossible.

Hear, hear!

Darren Henry (Broxtowe)

Darren Henry is the MP for Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire.

Born in Bedford, he is the first Conservative MP of West Indian origin. His father Harry is from Jamaica and his mother Gloria is from Trinidad.

He and his wife are the parents of twins.

His predecessor for Broxtowe was Anna Soubry, who like the aforementioned Sam Gyimah, had the Conservative whip removed for not supporting Brexit in 2019. It is unclear what she is doing at the moment.

Henry had a long career in the Royal Air Force, which he discussed in his maiden speech of Thursday, June 25, 2020. I saw it on the day. It was excellent:

He gave his speech during not only Armed Forces Week but also Windrush Week, marking the 72nd anniversary of the arrival of the ship, the Empire Windrush.

Excerpts follow:

I would like to pay tribute to my predecessor as the Member for Broxtowe, Anna Soubry. I may not have agreed with all that she said in this place, but I wish to set on record my acknowledgement of the good work she did for Broxtowe and for her constituents. I wish to thank her for her efforts on improving access at Beeston railway station. I admire her strong will and her determination to do what she felt was best for Broxtowe and for this country, and I wish her the best of British.

This week is the 72nd anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush. The people of the Windrush generation came to Britain to help rebuild our great country, and my parents were among them. Dad, Harry, is from Jamaica, and Mum, Gloria, from Trinidad. Like many of that too long ignored generation, they worked hard to make a good life here. Dad worked double shifts, and Mum worked all day in a factory. They saved; they bought a house. They were ambitious, and they prospered. We were a traditional British working-class family: hard working, loyal, fiercely patriotic—and Conservative.

Opposition Members claim Windrush as their own, as if it is obvious that immigrants are somehow obliged morally and practically to be Labour supporters. Well, my family were not, and I am not. I stand here as evidence of what immigrants and their children can achieve in what my parents called the land of opportunity. I am proud to be the first Conservative MP of West Indian heritage—black, British with all my heart, immensely proud of my West Indian heritage and Conservative to my fingertips.

Before coming to this place, I spent 26 years in the Royal Air Force. Like others here, I knew that service to my country was the right and dutiful career for me. On my first day in the RAF, I had a splendid Afro hairstyle, and now, because of weeks of lockdown, I am delighted —my Afro is coming back!

The armed forces are known for getting things done, and that is what I will do for the people of Broxtowe. At Chilwell station, also known as Chetwynd barracks, we have seen service personnel assisting efforts to tackle the covid-19 pandemic as part of Op Rescript. As it is Armed Forces Week and Veterans Day today, I hope that this message is heard loud and clear by my fellow veterans: “If you are driven by public service, as I am, stand up and serve your community again.”

His special personal interests are the NHS and mental health:

During my election campaign, I pledged to support investment in our local hospitals as part of my six-point plan for Broxtowe. This is a cause that is close to my heart. My wife Caroline spent 25 weeks out of her 34-week pregnancy in hospital. It is to Caroline and the NHS staff at Nottingham City Hospital that I say thank you for the blessing that is my twin children

Parents do their best for their children. As the father of two children with autism, I recognise that those in Broxtowe who are on the autistic spectrum or suffer with mental health conditions have found it particularly difficult being cooped up during lockdown. In normal times, getting mental health support is a struggle. I am convinced that it does not have to be this way. The Government’s planned reform of the Mental Health Act 1983 must ensure that people subject to the Act receive better care and have a much greater say in that care. I will continue to fight to secure the needs of vulnerable people in Broxtowe. They will not be forgotten.

He also praised the various corporations in his constituency, such as Boots the Chemists and Fred Hallam, the grocers.

He ended by saying:

… Broxtowe will have a thriving future.

I will work to make that vision a reality for the people of Broxtowe—my constituency; my people. To paraphrase D. H. Lawrence, a local lad made good, I will be still when I have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves me, I will say, and say it hot.

Outstanding.

Imran Ahmad Khan (Wakefield)

Imran Ahmad Khan represents the constituency of Wakefield in West Yorkshire, which includes his home town, the Cathedral city of Wakefield.

He was born there in Pinderfields Hospital, where both his parents worked. His father, who emigrated from modern-day Pakistan, was a consultant dermatologist. His mother, who is English, was a State Registered Nurse and midwife. Her mother worked at the hospital as a staff sister. Her husband was a miner.

Khan attended the independent Silcoates School. Afterwards, he studied the Russian language at the Pushkin Institute in Moscow before earning a bachelor’s degree in war studies from King’s College London.

He worked for the United Nations as a special assistant for political affairs in Mogadishu and became a counter-terrorism expert. His brother, Karim Ahmad Khan QC, is an assistant secretary-general of the United Nations.

His other brother, Khalid Ahmad Khan, is a lawyer based in Oman, won the Middle East General Counsel of the Year Award in 2017 and was named one of the most influential lawyers in the Middle East in Legal 500’s GC Powerlist 2019.[27][28][29]

Imran Ahmad Khan gave his maiden speech on Monday, January 13, 2020:

Excerpts follow.

Khan’s predecessor was the well known Labour MP Mary Creagh. He won in 2019 largely because of his strong pro-Brexit stance:

As an Ahmadi Muslim belonging to a peace-loving minority community that suffers vicious persecution, discrimination and oppression in many parts of the world, I see perhaps more clearly than most the deep and enduring importance of core British values such as compassion, tolerance and fairness, especially at a time when those values are perceived as under threat in many parts of our world. We must continue to be a beacon of thoughtful, respected and innovative thinking born of years of accumulated learning and practice.

Before I launch into the rich history of Wakefield, one with which my own family story is intertwined, I want to pay tribute to my predecessor. In 2005 Mary Creagh became the first woman elected to represent Wakefield, a tenure that was to last for 14 years. I am not sure if the House is aware, but before Mary and I first met, she propelled me to new heights—approximately 13,000 feet. On a bright November morning last year, after reading Mary’s comments in The Yorkshire Post about her incoming Tory opponent being parachuted in, I put the protestations of my friends and family aside and performed a parachute jump. This had not been on any bucket list of mine, but it definitely got the adrenalin flowing, so thank you, Mary.

Later that day, with my feet firmly on the ground, I met Mary for the first time. We were both appearing on a BBC Radio Leeds drivetime debate, and I turned up still resplendent in my true blue jumpsuit. Mary accepted it with good grace, and during this first encounter set out her stall as a calm, concise and experienced advocate.

That first meeting was in one of Wakefield’s many good schools: Queen Elizabeth Grammar School. It was QEGS where my eldest brother went to school, and it is the arch rival of my own alma mater, Silcoates. QEGS is an independent school that has actively championed and supported its local state sector rivals, including the outstanding Pontefract College, and was a willing participant in the assisted places scheme. As the radio programme came to an end, the pupils in the audience immediately gravitated towards Mary. This was an example of the interest and affection that many constituents in Wakefield have for her.

I, like Mary, contend with a hearing impairment, something she referenced in her own maiden speech. Wakefield has within its dynamic business community a company that is currently accessing research funding to investigate tinnitus, a hearing condition for which there are more than a million GP referrals each year. This project has multiple international partners, including industry, government and academia.

I would also like to pay special tribute to Mary’s time and contribution while working on overseas aid and development. This resonates with me a lot owing to my previous work at the United Nations and elsewhere abroad. Our overseas aid and development is testament to British compassion, and it can be leveraged as a powerful agent for, and a real measure of, Britain’s reach and influence around the world. Mary was a public servant, and I hope she is able to continue her work in other places. Wakefield is fortunate to have had such a worthy Member of Parliament.

He discussed Wakefield’s ancient history:

Edward the Confessor had an estate in Wakefield, hundreds of years after it was first settled by the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. In J. S. Fletcher’s “Nooks & Corners of Yorkshire”—a very good read—he describes Wakefield as the principal town along the banks of the Calder, and it has figured in history to no small extent. Indeed, it is just over 560 years ago to the day, on 30 December 1460, that Richard Neville, Duke of York, and his son Thomas met their deaths at the battle of Wakefield. The Lancastrians, led by Lord Clifford, defeated the Yorkists, only to suffer a major reverse months later in Britain’s bloodiest battle, at Towton, a site just down the road. Wakefield became yet another battlefield almost 200 years later, during the English civil war, when the parliamentarian forces fought an engagement with the royalists. Although I now find myself a parliamentarian, Madam Deputy Speaker, I confess to you to always having sympathised, in the round, with Cavaliers.

According to an old English ballad, Wakefield can claim fame as the location for some of Robin Hood’s shenanigans. It was at Stanley, later part of Wakefield’s deep historical roots in the coalmining industry, that Robin and his band of freebooters had their infamous encounter with the pinder of Wakefield. The pinder was a nominated townsman of Wakefield who went toe to toe with Robin and his merry men after they goaded him by trespassing with stray animals on Wakefield land. Robin was so impressed by the pinder’s nerve and prowess that he invited him to join his outlaw band. This may be a legend, Madam Deputy Speaker, but it aptly captures some of the characteristics of the proud, honest and plain-speaking constituents of Wakefield, and their continued willingness to fight for their rights. I humbly submit that when you come to visit our city, Madam Deputy Speaker, you keep your flock of geese under control—or perhaps even consider leaving them at home.

He praised the innovative companies in Wakefield, paying tribute to the aforementioned one investigating tinnitus:

… my constituency and the wider business community has within it other companies involved heavily in fields that may surprise some Members. There is a company working on supercomputer-generated models for predicting adverse weather patternsThere are also companies that are pioneering and improving new methods of high-tech manufacturing and recycling harmful plastics. I want to see these companies thrive, not only with their spirit of innovation but by employing skilled young people born and educated in the local area. Throughout my campaign, I heard the voices of hard-working parents who want the best for the most important thing in their lives: their children. I want to help to carry the torch, already lit by the individuals and organisations in my constituency, to foster confidence, aspiration and achievement.

He concluded:

Madam Deputy Speaker, I thank you and Members present for listening to this maiden speech of mine. I owe my sincere thanks to the people of Wakefield, whom I am proud to serve. I seek a purposeful and confident future for our United Kingdom wherein people’s hopes and aspirations are realised and great achievements recorded—a future as brilliant as our past is glorious.

I last heard Imran Ahmad Khan speak earlier this week. He is always worth listening to, not only for his eloquence but also for his instructive speeches.

Gagan Mohindra (South West Hertfordshire)

Gagan Mohindra is the MP for the affluent constituency of South West Hertfordshire, within an easy commuting distance to London.

Mohindra’s predecessor was David Gauke, who, like Anna Soubry and Sam Gyimah, had the Conservative whip removed for voting against Brexit in 2019. Gauke ran as an Independent against Mohindra. He has returned to working at Macfarlanes, a large law firm, where he is their head of policy.

Mohindra was born in England in 1978 to parents who emigrated from Punjab, India. He was raised as a Hindu.

He read mathematics at King’s College London and worked in finance upon graduation. He later founded the Chromex Group, where he worked until 2015.

He then entered local and county politics in Essex and is the president of the Essex Conservatives.

In Parliament, he is a member of the Public Accounts Committee.

His wife is a privacy lawyer.

Unfortunately, I could not find a video of Mohindra’s maiden speech on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

Excerpts follow:

I would like to start by paying tribute to my predecessor, the right hon. David Gauke. During his 14 and a half years of public service, David was a dedicated Member of Parliament, and he was highly respected by his constituents and colleagues alike. He was fiercely intelligent and famously cool under pressure. However, during the 2019 general election, the public got to know another side of David: his wicked sense of humour, which was already well known to his friends in this House. As I fought the election, I found I had to overcome the appeal of not one Gauke, but two, as Gauke senior, Jim, went viral in David’s videos. David ran one of the most engaging campaigns to be found during the general election, and I commend his enthusiasm and passion. Despite the difficult circumstances of his fighting against his former party, it was a civilised battle and I thank him for that.

As to David’s political career, he was a heavyweight of the Conservative Government over the last decade. He held many senior roles, including Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and, finally, Secretary of State for Justice. As I have said before, in different times we may well have been colleagues, and I would have been proud to work alongside him. I thank David for his commitment to the residents of South West Hertfordshire, and wish him, Rachel and the rest of his family well in their future endeavours …

He spoke of his constituency and his constituents:

My constituency offers an embarrassment of riches, from its historical market towns, such as Tring, to the Chiltern hills, which are rightly classed as areas of outstanding natural beauty. Further south lies the Colne Valley Regional Park, which is known as the first taste of countryside west of London and comprises some 60 lakes, among woodland, canals and farmland. You can pass many a peaceful afternoon walking here, or visiting the famous aquadrome, where you can water-ski, canoe or sail to your heart’s content.

Behind the thriving Berkhamsted High Street are found the ruins of Berkhamsted castle. It was in Berkhamsted that William the Conqueror received the surrender of the Crown of England in 1066. The castle was then built to assert control over the key supply route through the Chiltern hills from London to the Midlands. It is a constituency heaped with history, some of which cannot be retold, like the activities of Northwood HQ. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our armed services for continuing to keep us safe.

The visual beauty of my constituency is only outdone by the warmth and good nature of my constituents. Nowhere in the country better represents the open-minded, tolerant, progressive nature of the United Kingdom than South West Hertfordshire, and I am so grateful that I have been so warmly welcomed. Of course, there are also a number of local concerns and issues to which I will devote my energies. For our commuters, the issues of unreliable rail and underground transport are a repeated source of frustration. There is a lack of access to affordable housing, a concern that has to be balanced against the desire to protect the green belt and character of the area. There are pockets of poverty in a mostly affluent area, resulting in associated social issues, including crime. Of course, we also have many excellent schools in my constituency, including Merchant Taylors’ School and Berkhamsted School, but we need to ensure that good education is accessible for all, not only the affluent.

He fully supports the Government’s manifesto policy of ‘levelling up’:

I am dyslexic, so I understand the frustrations posed by learning difficulties, but I must acknowledge that I have also had the benefit of many advantages. I understand that, like many of us in this place, I have been blessed with the good fortune to have self-belief and ambition nurtured in me, both in the home and in the wider environment, from my earliest days. Many in our society are not afforded this most essential of luxuries, and the impact, compounded of course, by other inequalities, is far-reaching. I am passionate about our commitments, as a Government, to do our part to ensure that aspiration and self-belief are not luxury items. That, to me, is the true meaning of levelling up. I look forward to seeing more and more faces in this House who represent our great country in all its guises.

Conclusion

It is always a delight — and an education — to hear the perspectives from our new Conservative MPs on BBC Parliament.

Long may they prosper in serving their constituents — and the United Kingdom.

End of series.

The Queen’s Christmas message this year was particularly relevant to a year filled with the coronavirus crisis.

Whatever our thoughts might be, Her Majesty provided a religious message from the outset, referencing the Light of Christ in these dark times, interspersed with short clips of the many acts of generous giving throughout the first lockdown. I could be mistaken, but it seems as if she had re-examined John 1 in preparation for her address. This was one of the Queen’s best Christmas addresses. Don’t miss the end, which features the exquisite Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir, offering splendid Christmas carols at the end.

I’m offering two formats so that you can share one or both with friends and family:

The photo on her desk is of Prince Philip. That was the only photo. In past years, there have been several, as you will see below.

Sixty-three years ago, in 1957, the first of the Queen’s televised Christmas messages deplored the discarding of old values, including those of the Church, for ideas that were new and trendy at the time. Two colonies had declared independence that year, signalling a further break up of the Empire but also the growth of the Commonwealth. That year, she and Prince Philip had visited several countries, among them the United States and Canada. She had opened the Canadian Parliament’s new session. The Queen ended with a reading from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Although she was a young wife and mother, she was already full of wisdom. She understood that people felt she was a distant head of state and she expressed her wishes that, for a few brief minutes, Britons would feel welcome into the ‘peace’ of her home via the broadcast. She said that she was their public representative, and indeed she is as our head of state. This, too, is a splendid video:

I wonder if she wears the same pearls for each year’s broadcast. One can see that in the 1957 one, photos of Anne and Charles are on her desk.

The Queen is our British treasure — and our Defender of the Faith. Long may she remain so.

Forbidden Bible Verses will return next Sunday.

The 2020 Republican National Convention is the best television I’ve ever watched outside of certain food show competitions.

I have so many tweets to share that I have linked to several in addition to posting them below.

Changes had to be made to the format because of coronavirus restrictions. At the weekend, I had doubts as to how interesting it would be. I am pleased to say that I was wrong.

There were no comperes (MCs) introducing each speaker at the Andrew W Mellon Auditorium, just speakers walking out in a dignified manner on the stage and addressing Americans at home with powerful messages, some of which were very personal.

There were no music acts outside of the outstanding renditions of The Star-Spangled Banner on Days 1 and 3 as well as a closing act on Day 4. Good.

I thought I’d miss the crowd of delegates and other attendees, but it was enough to see the former at the roll call on Day 1.

The Andrew W Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC, is magnificent. I’d not seen it before, but it made the perfect setting for the dozens of speakers who told their personal stories.

And the flags that served as the backdrop in the auditorium were beautiful, made from the finest fabric. They added greatly to an already spectacular atmosphere.

I watched proceedings on C-SPAN, which has a video for each day. Below that are lists of individual speakers and their videos. This enables the viewer to watch either in full or in part. There are also tabs at the top of the page for each individual day’s videos.

Because of the time difference, I haven’t been able to watch Day 4 in its entirety but have covered it here for the sake of completion.

Highlights follow.

That said, every speech was excellent.

Background

The Democratic National Convention was held last week in Joe Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, as well as other locations, because of coronavirus restrictions.

BBC Parliament broadcast the last day of the convention on Sunday, August 23. I watched it while doing other things.

Wow. I have never seen a more boring and a more stilted political convention. It sounded as if everything had been scripted at the last minute and no one had time to rehearse their lines. Even a Teleprompter could not help. Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus of Seinfeld fame presented. Her scripted jokes fell flat and her delivery was dreadful. Mike Bloomberg’s speech also had jokes in it; his delivery was equally dire.

The theme, as one would expect from Democrats, was, once again, Change. I thought that eight years of Obama was supposed to be the ‘change Americans can believe in’. Apparently not. Democrats say that President Trump built on his predecessor’s success. Okay. In that case, we don’t need further change, right?

Not exactly.

Joe Biden said in his acceptance speech that he wants to ‘change’ America ‘for decades to come’. Hmm. Interesting.

He wants to raise taxes of all Americans to the tune of $3 trillion. That’s a lot of change right there.

He wants every American to wear a mask until October ‘at least’ to curb coronavirus. Imagine if this guy gets in. What a disaster. I have a lot of Biden material to share with you. That will come in the latter stages of the presidential campaign, all being well.

Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, said that the ongoing protests, which have been running for nearly 100 days now, ‘are not going to stop, nor should they’. What? Even if she and Biden win the election? She must know they will lose in November:

This is what the protesters want. As I said in 2016, they want a revolution. They’re Bolsheviks:

Hillary says that Joe Biden should not concede the election, even if he loses. She, too, must think he doesn’t have a chance, even though it’s only August.

Note Hillary’s appearance. It seems to change. Weird. I’ve included a tweet with other photos of her:

Joe Biden did not get the usual post-convention bounce in the polls, which is telling:

Day 1 — Monday, August 24

Every day opened with a convocation prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, including the words ‘under God’, which the Democrats omitted last week.

This is the only day where there is a morning session. It was held in Charlotte, North Carolina. Only delegates and party officials were in attendance. Ronna Romney McDaniel (Mitt’s niece) presided, as Chair of the Republican National Committee. She did an excellent job.

It was a sea change from the 2016 convention, which was riven on the morning of the first day by never-Trumpers who did not want him nominated.

This year, every state’s delegates unanimously voted for President Trump’s renomination.

Ronna McDaniel proceeded with the roll call, as voted for by the delegates, but stopped after Minnesota, concluding with remarks from former governor Scott Walker for Wisconsin. She formally announced the nomination of President Trump, who then gave a speech:

He spoke for 52 minutes, during which time he expressed his deep concern about postal votes. He is right to be concerned. It has produced fraudulent results in the past. There is no reason to think it won’t happen again this year.

He is also mostly right in saying that this is the most important election in American history. I might just modify that to ‘since 1860’, when coincidentally, the first Republican — Abraham Lincoln — was elected:

That evening, speeches began from the unbelievably stately Andrew W Mellon Auditorium in Washington.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan delivered his opening prayer from New York City with the Statue of Liberty in the background:

Cancer survivor Natalie Harp talked about the film It’s a Wonderful Life where James Stewart’s character George Bailey did so much good by saving Bedford Falls from becoming Pottersville. She said Pottersville would have been what would have happened to the US under Hillary. There are similarities between George Bailey and Donald Trump. I have often thought about that over the past four years and was delighted that she brought it up:

Maximo Alvarez, the founder and president of Sunshine Gasoline Distributors in Florida, warned that Americans must not allow their country to move towards communism. He said that his father emigrated from Spain to Cuba, then from Cuba to the United States. His father told him that America was the last possible refuge for people who love freedom. If America is destroyed, there is no other place to go:

Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina closed the evening with a measured speech on race relations and the current protests. He said that he was elected to represent a majority-white district where, he said, paraphrasing Dr Martin Luther King, voters judged him on his character, not the colour of his skin. He eloquently dismantled all the Democrats’ radical arguments:

The Federalist‘s Sean Davis, a Trump supporter, tweeted:

Democrats rang C-SPAN afterwards to give their views.

Rick from Lorain, Ohio, said he was switching from the Democrats to Republicans, because the Republicans focussed on God whereas the Democrats left God out of their convention:

More Democrats rang in during the subsequent days to say they had switched parties.

C-SPAN’s ratings for the RNC were much higher than for the DNC. The New York Post has more on the story.

Day 2 — Tuesday, August 25

The theme of Day 2 was Land of Opportunity.

The Revd Norma Urrabazo gave a stirring opening prayer:

Myron Lizer, Navajo Nation Vice President, was the first to speak. He spoke from Shiprock, New Mexico. He said that President Trump has done more than previous administrations to listen to and act on the needs of Native Americans:

Next was the story of the president’s pardon of Jon Ponder, who founded an organisation, Hope for Prisoners, with rehabilitation programmes for former prisoners:

It’s an amazing story. Ponder, a committed Christian, is best friends with the FBI agent who arrested him.

Cris Peterson, a dairy farmer from Wisconsin, explained how fewer government regulations and more help to farmers enabled her family’s Four Cubs Farm to purchase state of the art milking equipment. Fascinating video:

The Democrat mayor of Eveleth, Minnesota, said he is supporting President Trump this year. He says that the Democrats have become too radical and that their ecological policies would ruin the prosperity of his town:

Nick Sandmann, who was accosted in 2019 at the Lincoln Memorial, spoke of that day and how he refuses to be cancelled. His lawyer Lin Wood won a huge payout for him against the Washington Post. Nick plans to go on to law school after finishing university:

Some of the stories came from President Lincoln’s boyhood home in Spencer County, Indiana. Mike Pence narrated this sequence:

There was a naturalisation ceremony, filmed earlier, which President Trump attended:

There were many more outstanding speeches, including those from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Eric Trump and Tiffany Trump.

The evening ended with a long speech at the White House from Melania Trump, who was dressed in quasi-military designer attire:

These are the YouTube ratings for Day 2:

Day 3 — Wednesday, August 26

The theme of Day 3 was Land of Heroes and included people from various walks of life, from the military to first responders to lorry drivers keeping goods on the move during the coronavirus pandemic.

This rabbi’s prayer was perfect, as was his delivery:

A disabled veteran movingly recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Governor Kristi Noem from South Dakota was the first to speak. She spoke of her state’s success during the pandemic — no lockdown and very low case/death figures:

Noem rightly criticised the unchecked lawlessness going on in Democrat-run American cities:

MSNBC was none too happy, but it’s the truth:

President Trump’s newish press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, a young wife and mother, told her moving story of breast cancer and subsequent breast reconstruction. She also spoke of the admiration she has for Trump’s pro-life stance:

Madison Cawthorne is a disabled man (injured in a car accident) who is running for US Congress in North Carolina. He gave a spirited speech about America’s Founding Fathers, especially James Madison:

When he finished his speech, two friends came on stage to help him stand up. At 6’3″, he said he misses being able to stand up and see over the crowd.

A PBS journalist was unimpressed by his standing up. WHY? Look at the idiotic reasoning:

My favourite speech of the week came from Sister Deirdre Byrne, MD, of the Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts, a medically-oriented religious order for women.

Sister Deirdre entered the order in 2002. Prior to that, she had a career as a physician and is a retired US Army Colonel!

She spoke of her admiration of President Trump’s love of the unborn. She said that a Biden presidency would put an end to the safeguards of the unborn. The Biden-Harris ticket approves of abortion at the point of birth, essentially, infanticide:

Lara Trump, Eric’s wife, spoke.

Eric passed make-up brushes to her as she was getting ready:

In her speech, she said that one mustn’t believe all one reads in the media and that this applied very much to the Trump family. She wasn’t sure what her future in-laws would be like when Eric first introduced them to her. She said that she was given a very warm welcome from the start. She says she admires their values of hard work and determination, with which she was also raised:

Clarence Henderson told about his experiences as a young man growing up in the segregated South. He recited the pro-voting and pro-civil rights amendments, all of which Republicans were responsible for passing, not Democrats. Well worth a listen. This man knows of what he speaks:

Former Acting Director of Intelligence Richard Grenell spoke. I hope his words lead to something big:

President Trump watched from the sidelines:

Mike Pence rounded off the evening with a long speech from Fort McHenry in Baltimore. The Star-Spangled Banner tells the story of the battle between America and the British in 1814 which took place there:

Well said:

Afterwards, ex-Democrat Helen from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, rang C-SPAN to say that she had switched parties and that she loved Melania Trump’s speech. She also deeply admires President Trump and will be voting for him this year:

Carol from Charleston, South Carolina, called to say that she finds Melania Trump ‘classy’ and ‘so intelligent’. Carol said she was a Hillary voter four years ago but has been surprised by what President Trump has accomplished since his election. She says she will ‘trust’ Melania and will vote for Trump:

Here are the ratings:

Day 4 — Thursday, August 27

Earlier in the day, NASA announced that the first black, female astronaut is scheduled to be on next year’s mission to the International Space Station:

C-SPAN posted their Day 4 video on YouTube:

The theme was A Land of Greatness.

The final night is, of course, the biggest one of the convention. Although President Trump spoke at length on Day 1 after receiving a unanimous vote from the delegates, Day 4 was when he gave what is considered his formal — and second (final) — acceptance speech.

These proceedings are about an hour longer than those from the previous days.

The Revd Franklin Graham (Billy’s son) gave a heartfelt prayer, asking for help for those affected by tropical storm Laura, for healing with regard to the protests, for protection of the Trumps and the Pences as well as continued guidance:

A young brother and sister from a military family recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Beautiful.

Ja’Ron Smith, Deputy Assistant to the President, spoke of his working class upbringing, his parents’ American values and of President Trump. He said that, growing up, he believed all the anti-Republican clichés. As he got to know more Republicans, he changed his mind. He never dreamt that he would be working for a president. He says that no one has done more for black interests than President Trump:

The people interviewed below head up their respective housing associations in New York City. They do not like Mayor Bill de Blasio’s policy of putting illegal immigrants into public housing before native New Yorkers, some of whom have been on waiting lists for ten years. They greatly appreciate what Dr Ben Carson has been doing as head of HUD (Housing and Urban Development), which has helped identify and fix anomalies in public housing:

Alice Johnson spoke of her gratitude for President Trump’s First Step Act from 2018, which has to do with prison reform. That year, Trump commuted Johnson’s life sentence for a first-time, non-violent drugs offence and granted her a full pardon today (Friday):

Ivanka Trump spoke of her father’s commitment to the American people:

President Trump spoke of the greatness of America and her people …

… while emphasising that the United States has clear internal enemies:

I fully agree with this:

The programme of events ended with a magnificent fireworks display, which was much better than the Democrats’ in Wilmington the Thursday before:

Unfortunately, as the guests left the White House, protesters awaited them:

Congressman Brian Mast, below, who is black, even got harassed by protesters. He politely answered their questions. They did not like his answers about pursuing ‘due process’ where necessary:

I can’t help but admire a husband who carries his wife’s shoes!

On the downside, when that couple reached their hotel, The Willard, the doors were locked. Even an employee outside couldn’t help them. They had to walk all the way around to the parking garage entrance and get in from there. All the while, they were harassed by protesters, who addressed the man as ‘Mr Anger’. The couple remained resolute and silent, with neutral expressions on their faces. I bet those were two of the longest minutes in their lives.

But that was nothing compared to the treatment that Brandon Straka, the ex-Democrat who founded the #WalkAway movement, received. Terrible.

Remember, the group attacking him is for gay rights. Maybe that doesn’t matter when a gay supports President Trump:

At least the police were nearby for Senator Rand Paul (Ron’s son) and his wife:

This morning (Friday), Rand Paul told Fox News what a traumatic several minutes that was for him and his wife, even with the police. He said the mob kept on growing. He also said that they had picked the wrong man, because he was one of the senators who supported the abolition of no-knock police raids, one of which was responsible for the death of Brionna Taylor. He said ‘the irony of that was lost’ on the protesters:

Meanwhile, this is what Joe Biden thought of the president’s speech:

I am not sure what planet Joe is on to say that, but it might not matter too much because he’s collapsed in the polls:

If you hear the media once again say that the Republicans’ message was ‘dark’, as they did in 2016, don’t believe them for a moment.

This was the finest convention I’ve ever seen, even better than 2016’s.

Kudos to everyone who organised it and who spoke. A lot of hard work went into those four days, spread across four locations as well as some people’s homes.

I’ve never seen such a professional production with so much sincerity and hope.

In 2016, President Trump made promises. From his election to now, he has fulfilled those promises. Promises made. Promises kept.

Onwards and upwards! MAGA 2020!

On the back of the highly successful televised daily coronavirus briefings, No. 10 Downing Street has taken the decision to broadcast weekday afternoon press briefings in October 2020.

At least 2 million people viewed the daily coronavirus briefings every day. Anyone who watched them regularly, as my far better half and I did, knew exactly what the latest on coronavirus was.

I used to tune into the BBC afterwards to get their ‘spin’ on the briefings. I felt as if I were living in a parallel universe, because the self-proclaimed ‘nation’s most trusted’ broadcaster twisted all the main messages.

Therefore, it is no wonder that press briefings are sure to be a ratings winner. Britons at home will be able to see and hear the government’s messages first hand without the spin.

Not surprisingly, the media do not want these briefings televised.

ITV’s political editor Robert Peston is opposed:

Oh, having questions from the public would be great. They worked well on the coronavirus briefings.

Peston really loathes the idea of televised briefings:

Sky’s Beth Rigby also made her opposition clear:

The Press Gazette does not seem to like the plans, either. On July 3, they posted an article, ‘Televised press conference to permanently replace afternoon Downing Street press briefing’.

Excerpts follow, emphases mine:

The briefings will commence in October, be hosted by a political appointee who expected to be an experienced broadcaster, and will take place in a room at Number 9 Downing Street to be converted into a media suite

Boris Johnson confirmed the news on LBC, saying people had liked hearing directly from the Government during the Covid-19 press briefings.

“People have liked a more direct, detailed information from the Government about what is going on – and I think that they’ve actually particularly liked our brilliant scientific and medical advisers, possibly more than the politicians to be frank,” he said.

“We do think that people want direct engagement and want stuff from us, and so we’re going to have a go at that.”

The Daily Mirror’s Pippa Crerar, chair of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, and the Mail’s Jason Groves, chair of the Lobby, said in a joint statement to Press Gazette that they hoped the changes weren’t being made to reduce transparency and Lobby journalists’ access to ministers

See, they care only about themselves. They do not care about the general public.

There was more negativity:

Their comments were echoed by Huffpost’s executive editor for politics Paul Waugh who said on Twitter that the success of the briefings would “depend on whether they lead to genuine scrutiny or propaganda/grandstanding”.

The Society of Editors shared a similar warning that the Government must not make the briefings too “stage-managed” or pick and choose who is allowed to take part.

Executive director Ian Murray said: “If the aim of the televised briefings is to enable greater transparency then it will be important that they are of sufficient length and inclusive in nature to ensure a broad cross section of the media is able to question the government.

“It is vital that the government gives assurances that journalists or media providers out of favour with the administration will not be barred from such briefings and will also be given the opportunity to pose questions.

“Briefings that are too stage-managed and favour the few will not be in the best interests of the public as a whole.”

Yeah, right.

The coronavirus briefings worked really well, so there is no reason to think these will be any different:

The daily Covid-19 press conferences often saw millions tune in to find out updates and see journalists from a wide range of publications grill ministers and scientists.

Guido Fawkes (Paul Staines) was the only one who championed the briefings. He is the UK’s foremost political blogger. As early as January 9, he wrote ‘Live Stream the “People’s Briefings” from Downing Street’. He and his team used to report the highlights from the lobby briefings but perhaps coronavirus put an end to their attendance. In any event, this is what Guido said (red emphases in the original):

In a digital world where news happens in realtime, not to inky deadlines, it is time to just put the briefings out live, streamed to everyone on all platforms. During the election Boris livestreamed his “People’s PMQs” on Facebook, demonstrating there is no technological reason why the briefings can’t be broadcast via a free digital feed to everyone. Hacks will still get to ask the questions, they just won’t be able to spin off-camera, privately delivered answers as they do now. 

The reality is that it isn’t in the interests of hacks to open up the Lobby system or insist more often that quotes are on the public record. Intermediating allows them to more easily introduce their opinions into their new reports. Transparency will devalue their role because information scarcity makes their possession of a spokesman’s phone number so much more valuable. A start to improving and opening up the system would be to put the people’s briefings into the open, in realtime as it happens…

I couldn’t agree more.

On July 2, Guido declared victory when No. 10 announced the news:

He wrote (red emphases in the original):

Guido has won a big victory against the Lobby today, breaking open the Lobby’s preferred closed-style of briefings from Downing Street …

Boris Johnson has clearly listened to the argument for “a culture of transparency and openness’’ in Westminster by backing the broadcasting of the afternoon press briefings and reducing the number of spin doctors across Whitehall. After the success of the televised Covid briefings, Lee Cain plans to continue the on-camera afternoon government briefings. The role will be filled by a political appointee…

Expect an experienced broadcaster to get the job. No 9 Downing Street – where off-camera press briefings are currently held – will be turned into a modern media studio for briefings. A Downing Street source says: “For too long we’ve been running an analogue system in a digital age. People want to hear directly what the government is doing and to see it being held to account…”

Get this next bit, though. Who knew we had 4,000 communications people employed by the government?

The whole of government communications is being overhauled by Alex Aiken, the Executive Director for Government Communications – it will see departments ordered to reduce the 4,000 spin doctors employed by the government. Aiken and Cain believe the changes will lead to smaller, more agile communications operation. Officials have also been told of plans to plans to drastically reduce the government’s communications operation and the number of press officers across Whitehall. Guido’s happy that a decade-long campaign for government briefings unfiltered by Lobby journalists has finally been won…

Me, too.

Veteran broadcaster and journalist Alastair Stewart wrote a good article on this for The Spectator: ‘Boris’s TV briefings could end the lobby pantomime’.

The term ‘lobby’ in this particular context refers to the media.

Pantomime — ‘panto’ — in Britain refers to a Christmas play based on popular old fairy tales, e.g. Puss in Boots. They are fun, noisy performances, often featuring famous television actors in crazy costumes.

One thing we learned from the coronavirus briefings is that the top journalists often ask the same question in an attempt to trap the government. From Monday through Thursday, these journalists were often Laura Kuenssberg (BBC), Robert Peston and Beth Rigby.

I used to watch Laura Kuenssberg afterwards for her spin, which always put an unfavourable light on the government, even when they had something positive to report.

Alastair Stewart says:

Political correspondents often asked the same questions, most seeking a ‘gotcha’ moment in relation to something that should have been done sooner, or better. On occasion they would also use the event to ask questions about non-coronavirus matters.

True, very true.

I was delighted when the government opened up briefing questions to the public. Normally, they had one short video and one written question every day. The public asked useful questions.

The regional press journalists also asked pertinent questions.

Both the public and the regional press were streets ahead of Kuenssberg, Peston and Rigby.

Alastair Stewart thinks so, too:

While the local and regional press were often better still at asking specific, trickier questions which people actually wanted to know the answer to. Most interesting of all perhaps were the members of the public, allowed into the secret society in the closing phase of this farce which inevitably always included some hapless person struggling with the ‘mute’ button.

He is right about referring to the lobby as a secret society:

I am not, and never have been, a member of ‘the lobby’ but it is a sort of Masonic gathering of the political hacks with the Downing Street spokesperson. It is almost as ritualistic: steeped in secrecy, they use the language of ‘sources’, ‘unattributable’ or ‘off-the-record’ and other linguistic mysteries of the game. And, like a St James Club, only members are allowed in.

And, yes, there is ‘a line’ that these guys and gals want to pursue for their anti-government narrative of the day:

When I was a member of the lowly Industrial Correspondents’ lobby, we would gather after a briefing to discuss what ‘the line’ was. I understand a similar game is often played by the political corps, post the Number Ten gatherings. Johnson wants to bust this wide open by putting his man or woman in front of the camera, fielding questions from hacks who will doubtless be ready for their close-ups too.

I disagree with Stewart on the follow-up questions. They became irritating, because the most prominent reporters were grandstanding. He, however, sees it differently:

One precedent that surely will endure from the Covid-19 events will be the supplementary question. It was an error for Johnson to drop these when he was the host. Others, like [health secretary] Matt Hancock, often used them to great effect. What’s more, they added to the public cut and thrust of an exchange between a reporter and a minister. It could be enlightening and, at times, entertaining.

As we do not know yet who will front these briefings on most days, Robert Peston has a suggestion:

Of course, occasionally, a government minister or Boris himself will be at the podium.

Stewart reminds us that past press secretaries had been journalists during their careers:

Churchill had his Brendan Bracken, an FT man. Wilson, Joe Haines, a Mirror man to his finger tips. Thatcher’s Bernard Ingham served the Yorkshire Post and, ironically, the Guardian with distinction. TV has less of a role of honour today but the former Sky News man, the excellent Joey Jones, had a spell in May’s Downing Street.

Who knows what effect this will have on today’s journalism. It is likely to step up a notch. One hopes so, anyway.

In any event:

There is more merit in having a free and frank exchange between press and politicians, in the full glare of the TV lights, than in continuing with the semi-secretive pantomime of the lobby.

The public has a right to know what is really going on in government, without the filter of agenda-driven journalists who by definition oppose conservatives and Conservatives.

It’s great that, post-coronavirus, Boris has resurrected the notion of the ‘People’s Government’.

My word, has this year been bizarre. You couldn’t make it up: Brexit, absurd attacks on Trump, followed by coronavirus and protests.

Now we have a British journalist’s attack on the platform known as Twitter.

Except that Tim Stanley calls Twitter a ‘website’. Never mind. He objects to ordinary people using it.

One cannot help but agree that another media behemoth — the BBC — is a huge problem here:

As to referring to Twitter as a ‘website’ (so last century):

Tim Stanley writes for The Telegraph. No complaint against him personally, but:

True enough.

Within the next few months, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government will be televising daily press briefings to the public, as the United States has been doing for several years.

The British daily coronavirus briefings were a big draw, with at least 2 million Britons viewing per day. As such, it makes sense to televise what are called ‘Lobby’ (media) briefings.

To be fair, only the afternoon sessions from No. 9 Downing Street will be televised, not the morning ones. Nonetheless, opposition is already mounting. Cheers to Guido Fawkes for getting the ball rolling earlier this year:

Then someone posted the following. British readers will recognise the blast from the past (second tweet), Chris Morris’s Brass Eye, which ran during 1997 and once more in 2001:

At the time, British television had a number of hard-hitting documentaries, all of which Chris Morris and his capable team of actors satirised.

In many ways, they also foresaw today’s 24-hour news in Britain, which ranges between sensational and psychotic.

Even more important, Morris and Co. managed to get actual public figures to take part in their series. Who knows how they did it, but in the ‘Crime’ episode below, they interviewed the late Conservative MP Rhodes Boyson (no fool he), the gangster ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser and the then-newspaper owner David Sullivan.

It’s unbelievable that they took it all seriously.

My apologies if this full episode is geo-localised. It really is a triumph of its time:

My point is that showing us the daily press briefings from Downing Street will show us what a scam the media truly are.

More to come once the briefings begin.

Meanwhile, I do miss Brass Eye. Long may it be remembered.

Thank you, Chris Morris. Even watching this episode of ‘Crime’ that I’d seen when it first premiered, I nearly ruined a keyboard while laughing.

You made news imitate art.

This is why the Downing Street press briefings will be greatly anticipated in our household.

Thank you, Boris Johnson. Thank you, Dominic Cummings. I can hardly wait.

On Saturday, May 16, I tuned into France’s news channel BFMTV to see how the nation’s partial reopening went.

President Emmanuel Macron got an earful from medical professionals at La Pitié-Salpêtrière, the Paris hospital he visited on Friday, May 15. Late last week, he announced that, at this year’s Bastille Day ceremonies, health professionals and first responders would be honoured with medals commemorating their work during the coronavirus crisis. On Friday, as Macron was leaving, a health professional told him that he didn’t want any medal. Macron snapped back:

If you don’t want it, don’t take it.

It was a rough visit. A group of nurses listened to what he had to say, then one spoke up, bluntly demanding more pay and more recognition. Macron said that he was giving them a bonus for their work over the past two months, but she retorted that was not enough. She demanded a pay rise for all nurses, which is fair enough. They are on relatively low pay, not far from minimum wage.

Going back a few years when the erstwhile Conservative prime minister François Fillon (serving under Nicolas Sarkozy from 2007-2012) visited a care home during his tenure, he was able to hold a calm, considered conversation with the workers there, who were all CGT union members:

Allow me a small digression from Macron. François Fillon should have been France’s president after François Hollande. Unfortunately, the media put the boot into him for corruption, just as he was at a massive height in the popularity polls in January 2017, the year Macron was elected president.

In March 2020, Fillon was sentenced to two years in prison, with an additional three years suspended sentence. His wife was given a suspended three-year prison term and a fine of €375,000. (Source: Le Point.) Trumped up (no pun intended) or what? Something stinks there. The Fillons are a dignified couple who have kept to themselves over the years. They are low-profile people and devout Catholics.

This was François Fillon’s agenda for France in 2017: ending bureaucracy, sorting out France’s problems and restoring the pride in being French. In short: make France great again. Does that sound familiar?

How sad that it didn’t happen and might never happen. Who will accomplish this now?

I agree with the tweet below that the framing of François Fillon is truly a shame for France.

The video is from 2017:

These replies say that Fillon’s three-year plan, summarised above, was simply swept — balayé– under the carpet (by left-wing media, which started with one outlet and spread rapidly to the others):

Returning to the present day, a Parisian MP from France Insoumise (Unbowed France) says that it is urgent for Macron to say how soon the pay increase will be delivered and how much it will be. The second tweet includes one from health minister Olivier Véran, commenting on the ‘passionate’ feedback from the nurses:

Macron has been the latest French president to further shrink the nation’s health system, following Nicolas Sarkozy (Conservative) and François Hollande (Socialist), both in terms of hospital beds and other measures. Hospital masks were in short supply during the height of the coronavirus crisis. French housewives banded together from their homes to sew fabric masks for nurses. While those were technically useless, nonetheless, nurses were grateful for any protection whilst awaiting proper face coverings.

Early Saturday afternoon, BFMTV reported on the mask shortage, discovered in January 2020. However, it was too late, even with Macron’s government’s requisitioning every surgical mask in France. They were the wrong type of masks, but they would have to do. Hospital and care workers were desperate.

One physician working on the front line in Lyon died because he did not have the right type of mask. He caught coronavirus and, despite treatment in Marseille, never recovered. His widow and two daughters are suing the hospital where he worked. I can’t see how that will work, because every hospital experienced the same mask shortage.

Currently, there are enough masks for people living in France, who have been strongly encouraged to wear one outdoors. These are not proper coronavirus masks, but they will have to do.

It appears that Macron now has to get on with his promised reform — improvement — of a beleaguered health system. Here’s an inside look at his control room:

The replies to this tweet featuring an LREM MP are interesting. The MP says that a centralised health system doesn’t work, but the replies say that the system has been sclerotic for some time, Macron has ignored calls for improvement and there are too many hospital administrators and/or politicians involved rather than medical professionals. The response I’ve included below says that Germany spends far less money than France and has better performing hospitals, with four times more intensive care beds:

However, another BFMTV journalist reported that Macron is facing a crisis in other aspects of French society, including the gilets jaunes (yellow jackets). They are still protesting in some cities on Saturdays, although not in as great a number as before the coronavirus crisis:

Making matters worse, Macron’s political party, LREM, no longer has an absolute majority in parliament:

Ten of his MPs have left to form their own party with ten other MPs — Ecologie, démocratie, solidarité:

It is unclear whether that will have any impact on the second round of local elections, rescheduled for June 28:

However, one commentator said that Macron’s success as president will largely depend on how he and his government handle the coronavirus crisis this year. He has a few years left in his first term, which ends in 2022.

Meanwhile, during the first weekend of partial reopening, BFMTV reminded viewers that they are not allowed to travel further than 100km from home. They also cannot not leave the house to visit anyone, including relatives, unless they are going to drop something off. Visiting second homes is also forbidden. The French are allowed to travel to work, to school, to a child minder, for a funeral, for a medical appointment, for recreational purposes (limited at this point) or to shops that are open:

Late last week, some beaches in France opened so that people could have a new way of exercising. For now, reopening beaches is up to individual mayors. As the virus is still active, the beaches are ‘dynamic’, meaning that sitting or sunning oneself is strictly forbidden. Fishing is also forbidden. Beachgoers can walk, swim and surf. A one-way system is in place with an entrance and an exit:

The second tweet says, ‘This increasing surveillance is seriously getting on my nerves’:

Interior minister Christophe Castaner visited a beach in Normandy that was preparing to reopen. He said that everyone visiting beaches had to respect the rules in place, otherwise they will be closed. He hopes that beaches will reopen fully during the summer:

For those who miss culture, small museums, with hygiene restrictions in place, may reopen:

Driving schools can also open. There is no social distancing in the car, so the car windows must be open at all times during the lesson. Those taking virtual instruction are socially distanced. Driving tests can begin in June, provided there is no second wave of coronavirus:

Those worried about the impact of more drivers on the environment need not be too concerned. During lockdown, there was only a 7% decrease in particulates. That is surprising:

At 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, Lourdes reopened, even if there are no dine-in restaurants. It will attract locals until travel restrictions are lifted:

Speaking of health and healing, coronavirus testing continues. In Brittany, a new cluster of infections was discovered at an abattoir:

Elsewhere in France, new infections were found in schools that reopened last week. Those schools are now closed:

One Frenchman might have a future solution to school closures. He is developing a fabric that kills coronavirus. This video shows his chair and desk covers:

Where schools remained open, this is what the scene looked like outdoors. Recess must have been fun (not). This is so SAD, beyond belief:

France’s medical agency has found that 500 medications are harmful in treating coronavirus. Incredibly, hydroxychloroquine is among them. This has to be the establishment’s figurative poke in the eye at Prof Didier Raoult, Marseille’s champion in treating patients with the drug combined with azithromycin:

The article says, in part:

Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) represents the majority of adverse cardiac reactions, in 141 out of 159 cases. Cardiac reactions comprise 69% of those reported, versus 44% where Kaletra (an antiretroviral combining lopinavir and ritonavir) is used …

The number of deaths linked to hydroxychloroquine in hospital remains at four. In view of these risks, the health agency advises that these drugs, when used against Covid-19, must be used as a priority only in the context of ongoing clinical trials.

In general, provided there is no sizeable second wave of infections, more businesses will be able to open at the beginning of June.

Philippe Etchebest, who is a chef, restaurateur, television celebrity and MOF (maître ouvrier de France), says that restaurants must reopen as soon as possible, because the government cannot afford to keep them closed. The subsidies are ‘colossal’:

Last month, Etchebest said that partial reopening will not work. Social distancing — e.g. halving the number of tables — will not bring in enough revenue. Perhaps he will be employing one of these social distancing methods:

Recently, the loathsome globalist Jacques Attali said that restaurateurs must change their business model.

Etchebest took strong objection to that, saying that he is neither a grocer nor a wine merchant. Those replying to this tweet also criticised Attali, saying he should shut up for once or retire to a nursing home. The quote from Attali on the internet is interesting:

The internet represents a danger to those in the know and those who decide things, because it gives access to information outside of received knowledge.

Bravo, Philippe:

Attali was one of Emmanuel Macron’s early mentors. Go figure.

No wonder the French are angry.

© Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist, 2009-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? If you wish to borrow, 1) please use the link from the post, 2) give credit to Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist, 3) copy only selected paragraphs from the post — not all of it.
PLAGIARISERS will be named and shamed.
First case: June 2-3, 2011 — resolved

Creative Commons License
Churchmouse Campanologist by Churchmouse is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://churchmousec.wordpress.com/.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,514 other followers

Archive

Calendar of posts

April 2021
S M T W T F S
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  

http://martinscriblerus.com/

Bloglisting.net - The internets fastest growing blog directory
Powered by WebRing.
This site is a member of WebRing.
To browse visit Here.

Blog Stats

  • 1,645,506 hits