The eve of yet another change in tactics – doom and gloom in the UK early December 2020

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The eve of yet another change in tactics – doom and gloom in the UK early December 2020

A new month. New ‘tactics’. More confusion. No co-ordination across the island. No real ‘exit’ strategy. More of the same.

But at least Christmas has been ‘saved’ – perhaps.

The issue of the tiers

The way the country is being divided up into ‘tiers’ from tomorrow (2nd December) is an issue that will be filling the news bulletins until the end of the pandemic. This is good for the Buffoon and his Government. Anger gets diverted to those living in the various levels, increasing divisions amongst the people and not being directed against the Government itself.

And it all becomes a game for Britain’s Parliamentary ‘Democracy’. The so-called ‘Opposition Parties’ will abstain when the matter is taken to a vote thus allowing the Tory ‘rebels’ to vent their indignation and claim the moral high ground – without having to put them really to the test and defeat their own Government in a crucial vote.

Another, scientific, view of the rate of infection and the efficacy of a tier system was discussed on Radio 4’s World at One on 26th November.

Liverpool ‘pilot’ – latest update

The pilot mass-testing scheme continues in Liverpool – but seemingly endlessly, without direction or reason. Lessons learnt aren’t being implemented elsewhere in the United kingdom as each area seems to follow it’s own trajectory, more for local credibility than in an effort to understand how to best deal with the virus.

The official Council website still states the ‘pilot’ will continue till the end of November – even on 1st December – with no indication of a end date or reasons why it might continue. Also the lists of the number of test sites resemble the movements of a yo-yo, reaching a total of 51 on 28th November (when 8 more ‘pop-up’ sites were used) but down to 21 on 1st December. By the look of it the ‘pilot’ will just fizzle out as the number of testing sites gets closer to the original six opened at midday on 6th November.

A good idea – poorly thought out and monitored.

Some recent statistics;

Liverpool testing update – 1pm 23rd November 2020

  • 98,203 Liverpool residents tested using lateral flow
  • 62,258 Liverpool residents tested using PCR
  • In addition, 22,367 people from neighbouring areas have been tested using lateral flow
  • There have been 866 positive lateral flow tests – 629 of which have been Liverpool residents

Testing period: 12 midday, 6th November 2020 – 1pm, 23rd November 2020.

Liverpool testing update – 1pm 27th November 2020

  • 111,028 Liverpool residents tested using lateral flow
  • 66,166 Liverpool residents tested using PCR
  • In addition, 26,476 people from neighbouring areas have been tested using lateral flow
  • There have been 995 positive lateral flow tests – 721 of which have been Liverpool residents

Testing period: 12 midday, 6th November 2020 – 1pm, 27th November 2020.

A break down of daily take up rates, and where, would be useful.

After the ‘we’re all in it together’ phase comes the money grabbers

Many people, in the past, have had ‘good wars’. This battle against the covid pandemic is no different.

As time goes on (and with ‘the vaccine calvary coming over the hills’ – what a cretin is the Buffoon?) more people will seek more openly legal methods to make money out of the build up of lock down frustration.

Expensive, private, tests will enable some people to cut or avoid quarantine on returning to the UK.

Bandits will also take advantage of any given opportunity. Here’s one that most of us have not thought about – or at least I didn’t. That’s the issue of food adulteration. An interview on Radio 4’s You and Yours on 27th November shed some light on this issue – the consequences of which will probably be greater in 2021 than it has so far this year.

Poverty in Britain

The stories of woe continue.

Nearly half of families forced into debt since start of pandemic.

Hungry and out of work; what life is like for young British people under covid-19 restrictions.

Here today, gone tomorrow, the November 2020 ‘Spending review’ in context, by the Resolution Foundation. Which shows how people will be worse off after this crisis than they have in previous financial crashes.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation also produced a briefing, this one entitled; Spending Review 2020; No plan to protect people in poverty.

Various charities consider the Spending Review ‘pitiful’ and ‘a missed opportunity’.

Experience of University students

How some university students, in Manchester, view their situation – and the attitude of their University – to issues surrounding teaching in the present pandemic. An interesting (and intelligent) discussion was broadcast on Radio 4’s You and Yours on 27th November.

Travel restrictions – or not

Business travellers to England could be exempt from quarantine under government plans.

How have the Nationalists fared by ploughing their own furrow?

Sturgeon defends handling of pandemic – although the infection is no closer to being under control north, as it is south, of the border.

Alcohol ban for Welsh pubs and restaurants. A new twist on ‘a pub with no beer’. It appears that Wales now has its own ‘buffoon’ in Mark Drakeford – and that’s the Welsh translation.

Mass vaccination – and potential problems

Due to the lack of strategy and leadership from the Buffoon and his equally clueless homologues in the other governments of the world there has been an increase in scepticism about vaccines which might lead to a lower take up of any programme than would be desired. Force won’t work – so what will to get the numbers up?

Should covid-19 vaccines be mandatory? Two experts discuss.

After the good (‘we have vaccines’) comes the bad – the Oxford vaccine needs ‘additional study’.

‘Vaccine passport’?

No plans for ‘vaccine passport’ – Michael Gove, 1st December. So expect the announcement for one in the not too distant future.

Test, track and trace – or not

Hundreds get wrong results due to covid test error.

Mass testing a ‘distraction’ from vaccine roll out.

Mass testing in communities to begin in Scotland.

Although it should have come out of an analysis of the Liverpool mass testing ‘pilot’ there does now seem to be a change in emphasis when it comes to non-symptomatic testing. Instead of ‘mass testing’ we should have ‘community testing’, that is testing concentrated in those areas which have been identified (through increased knowledge of the virus over the last nine months) as being of higher risk of infection or communities with a reluctance to risk having to self-isolate if testing positive – basically the poorest areas of the country and those areas with the highest population densities.

This idea was presented on Radio 4’s World at One programme on 27th November.

Covid not the only problem we have to deal with …

… and those other problems probably kill many more than covid-19 ever will.

Smog-infested Delhi slum that may prove link between pollution and covid-19 levels.

With all the focus on coronavirus, let’s not forget the other respiratory viruses.

More chores for women set back gains in equality.

Why coronavirus rules should be about more than just stopping transmission.

Scams in the last eight months

First, the good news. Benefit scams worth £1billion foiled during lock down.

Now the bad news. In May it was reported that benefit claims fraud could be £1.5 billion, that is, already lost to the exchequer.

In October it was reported that furlough fraudsters ‘may have stolen more than £3 billion’.

For decades the Department of Work and pensions (under its various guises) had hounded those claiming benefits but when it came to possibly saving an infinitely greater amount of money they just seemed to trust whatever request they received – even though it was stated at the time that fraudsters would love the system the government was putting in place.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Due to the total lack of preparation for anything approximating a pandemic the country has had to pay billions of pounds extra by purchasing PPE when it was at its most expensive.

One of the matters that should be looked at after this pandemic ceases to hold the country in its grip is the very nature of PPE – what sort is needed; how it can be rotated so that it doesn’t go past ‘sell by’ dates; where it is stored, how it is distributed – and to where based upon perceived priorities; when it is actually used (i.e., in the early stages huge amounts of PPE were being just dumped after one use as panic gripped even health professionals in March and April, thereby possibly causing a false and unnecessary shortage)

Zombie mink come back to haunt their murderers

Millions of mink in Denmark (in the Netherlands as well) pay the price for humanity’s idiocy but culled mink rise from the dead to Denmark’s horror.

Has Sweden lost the no-lock down pole position?

Is anti-lock down Switzerland becoming the new Sweden?

Switzerland halves new infections without national lock down as pubs and restaurants stay open.

The world in the dreams of the Buffoon

UK military to get biggest spending boost in 30 years.

If future British campaigns are carried out with the same efficiency as the campaign against the pandemic then the UK is in for the biggest military disaster in the history of capitalism.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

Britain staggers from one ‘lock down’ to another – but still no clear exit

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

Britain staggers from one ‘lock down’ to another – but still no clear exit

The Buffoon making another statement on a Monday afternoon (the 23rd November), preceded by speculation and false analysis. No wonder the 16-year old girl went on a killing spree in 1979 which led to the song ‘I don’t like Mondays’

Liverpool no-symptom, city wide mass testing ‘pilot’

This ‘pilot’ had picked up 700 cases with no symptoms in the first 10 days.

It was also claimed the mass-testing project in Liverpool offered hope for the whole of England.

However …

Evaluation after two weeks of the pilot

Quite a long analysis of the early stages (the first three days) of this project was published on 9th November. With that as a base what was the situation two weeks into the pilot?

(This is based upon personal experience at one location in the south of the city, with a visit on the very first day of the pilot and a second exactly two weeks later.)

The queues have disappeared. On the 6th November it took an hour and a quarter to go through the process, on the 20th just over five minutes.

There was no booking necessary at the time of the second visit. This requirement to book was dropped after about five days. There was no explanation of why.

Test results came back much quicker – about fifteen minutes the second visit. That was almost certainly down to such few numbers going through the centre rather than an increase in the efficiency of the testing process.

So what does this tell us and is all the news good?

Yes – and no.

The statistics from the Council webpage;

Liverpool mass testing update – 1pm 20th November 2020

  • 90,429 Liverpool residents tested using lateral flow
  • 59,326 Liverpool residents tested using PCR
  • In addition, 19,585 people from neighbouring areas have been tested using lateral flow
  • There have been 788 positive lateral flow tests – 580 of which have been Liverpool residents

These are bare statistics and don’t answer possible questions such as how many individuals appear twice in these numbers. But if we take the best case scenario as being 150,000, more or less, separate people that equates to roughly 30% of the population of the City.

When I visited the centre the second time, when there was only one person in front of me and no one behind, I was told it had been getting quieter day by day. That would seem to indicate that ‘first timers’ would have been few and far between and that most people attending in the second half of the programme would have been returnees. That would mean the percentage of individual people tested would not increase significantly the longer the scheme went on.

Is that considered to be a good percentage? I don’t know as no information has been given as to the hopes of those (in both local and national government).

On the 6th November there were only six centres in the whole of the city. Over the following days that increased into the teens, after a week into the twenties and the final figure of all the centres eventually opened was 37. Some of those last centres were opened just a matter of a few days before the ‘pilot’ was due to end – after 10-14 days in the original plan.

Why weren’t all the centres opened at the very beginning? Wouldn’t that, with the hype of publicity that accompanied the opening of the project have possible encouraged more people to attend as the testing would have been taking place much more locally?

After the first weekend the Council website was much more user friendly and gave a great deal of background information – as well as updating the numbers. The page with information and location of the centres also stated whether a particular testing site was busy or not. Also all the sites were open from 07.00-19.00, seven days a week. That should have been the case before the first person walked through the door.

Why was the system of booking changed to one of just turning up on spec? If it was to encourage more people to attend then that decision should have been made, again, before the first test took place. Was this is clash between national and local government – as the booking was made through the gov.uk website?

One of the problems with details having to be entered at the test centre is that those without Smartphones have to publicly give their personal details in order to register. So a potential privacy and data protection issue there.

But there are a number of the problems of this ‘pilot’ that were evident from the start. One of those was the doubt about exactly how long the pilot would last. There were conflicting messages about this. It was supposed to be for 10 to 14 days – itself vague. And even into the third week the pilot the website is only saying ‘the end of November’. But what day exactly? So a level of uncertainty and, as with the ‘leadership’ displayed at national level this lack of clarity doesn’t help instil confidence.

At the same time it was not made clear whether people should re-test or not. I personally thought the recommendation was every couple of weeks which would have been nye impossible for most people if the pilot had lasted the short time it was originally proposed. Even every five days (as suggested on the website at the moment) that would still have been pushing it for some people.

And the lack of information/propaganda is also missing. At the moment the centres are very quiet. This is a wasted opportunity. Instead of just making squadies bored stiff with having to process a handful of people each day why hasn’t there been/isn’t there now a campaign to get people who have already tested to go again? This is just a waste of capacity, a waste of resources and a potential loss of valuable information/data.

The Council could have been much more proactive in this matter, using the resources already accessible to the Council, e.g., email addresses from the paperless Council Tax procedure, as well as getting other social organisations throughout the city, e.g., housing associations, to use their database to inform and encourage as many people as possible to make use of the opportunity that has ben presented.

At the end of this pilot there will be a number of people who, when asked if they went to be tested, will reply ‘What test?’.

And will the results of the monitoring of this pilot be widely distributed? There is talk about he planning for multiple sites for a potential mass vaccination programme – surely there should be lessons from the testing pilot in Liverpool to make such an exercise as smooth as possible?

Even though Liverpool was supposed to be a ‘pilot’ the project had only been going for three days before the Buffoonette Matt Hancock announced that it would be established in other areas of England – and it seems the Welsh also wanted to get in on the idea with testing being opened up in Merthyr Tydfil, among other places, on 20th November.

What lessons, both positive and negative could have been learnt in such a short period of time (especially when the so-called ‘devolved nations’ don’t want to learn anything from what might have happened in England)?

Just from the picture at the head of the BBC article the indication is the Welsh have decided on a different approach, someone administering the test rather than it being self tested as in Liverpool. Was there a reason for this different approach – or was it just one group of politicians and scientists deciding on a method just because it wasn’t what had been used elsewhere?

More on ‘collateral damage’

NHS ‘workforce disaster’ threatens a million operations and could cost lives.

NHS patients at risk as Intensive Care Units (ICUs) routinely understaffed

Immunity?

Quarter of people may already be immune to coronavirus – even though many have never been infected.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

This is a strange one. Shops warn of Christmas stock shortages as PPE shipments clog key UK port.

Government paying £1million a day to store mountain of PPE – but NHS staff still short on supplies.

How have other parts of the world managed the pandemic?

Lessons from around the world on fighting the covid ‘second wave’.

A celebrity obsessed society

Dolly Parton ‘honoured and proud’ to help covid-19 battle. As she said when interviewed, ‘I’m sure many millions of dollars from many people went into that’ – ‘that’ being a vaccine trial. So why does she get such exposure for donating three quarters of a million dollars?

She has a reputation for donating to ‘good causes’ so isn’t a tight arse – but she still has an estimated personal fortune of around $600 million so hardly having to make visits to the local food bank.

Big Brother is definitely watching you

Experts working inside Cabinet Office to sift through data that can inform policy-making. That’s your data, mainly knowing where you have been and are at any set time, through mobile phones. I’ll never understand why people are so keen to carry around their own personal tracking devices but would baulk at any of the wild conspiracy theories suggesting such devices would be secretly implanted into their bodies via any future vaccination programme.

And why is the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) – basically a spy and listening organisation – considered to be so benign in Britain when it openly spies on its own citizens?

Test-track-trace

How the ‘world beater’ went wrong.

A covid ‘freedom pass’

It was first called a ‘passport’ now a ‘freedom pass’ – basically some form of certificate that you are covid free and therefore not a risk to anyone in order to return to some level of normality. The latest iteration is the new (i.e., not mentioned before) ‘two tests per week’ model. But, as with all these issues, it would only be available to those with a not inconsiderable amount of free cash as I can’t see such tests being provided to the mass of the population. Such perks will only be available to the rich – especially those who have made a fortune out of the lack of proper regulation and apportioning of lucrative covid related contracts.

Poverty in the United Kingdom

At the beginning of November a report was published on the extent of poverty in Wales.

60,000 Scots face poverty as result of Universal credit cuts – the figures will be much larger in the whole of the UK as Scotland only accounts for around a tenth of the total population.

Education of poorest pupils in England and Wales ‘suffers most during Covid isolation’.

The £20 weekly uplift must be extended to legacy benefits.

Disabled people left without ‘financial lifeline’ as 119,000 call for change.

2.5 million households worried about paying rent over winter, with 700,000 already in arrears and 350,000 at risk of eviction.

Anti lock down protests

One of the most disturbing things about how this present pandemic has worked out in Britain is not;

the total lack of strategy from the start (and even eight months in we are no closer to one);

the fact that the different devolved governments have, from the very start and keep on doing so to date, followed their own agenda to make a political point rather than to work in concert, to come to a consensus and help to speed the island through the problem at hand;

the fact that every thing has been ‘led by the science’ and then ‘not led by the science’ when it suits; the number of U-turns the Buffoon and his Government have made that make the rest of society dizzy;

the hypocrisy that has pervaded the whole issue from the beginning with their being ‘one rule for us and one for them’;

the level of corruption that has followed the awarding of contacts, the appointment of individuals or the loss to the public purse due to the lack of any monitoring which has allowed gangsters to feed at the trough normally reserved to the ‘elite’;

the level of fear that has been created in the country to cower people into submission;

the use of the statistics to, at first, prove one thing and then, later, to prove another;

or the fact that scientists seem to follow their own personal agenda rather than looking for a way out and hence doing perpetual damage to the reputation of what are amusingly called ‘experts’ for many years to come.

No! It’s the way that the vast majority of the British population seem to have accepted all this from a State and ‘political class’ that has proven, time and time again, to be untrustworthy, incompetent and not knowing the truth if it hit them in the face.

This unquestioning acceptance, pusillanimity and basically bovine response has permitted the ‘anti-vaxxers’, conspiracy theorists and the fascist right to dominate the anti-government reaction to the policies which restrict the free movement of people in a so-called ‘democratic state’.

Britain, in relation to it’s population, has one of the highest mortality rates in the world due to the covid virus. Lock downs (under whatever guise) and restrictions that have been introduced have not achieved their stated aim and any policies introduced are more of a knee jerk reaction to events that a considered, intelligent and reasoned approach to the problem.

The solution to the initial problem is now becoming an even greater threat to society than the pandemic itself.

The social-democratic, pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist left – as represented by the British Labour Party – has adopted the mantra of ‘too little, too late’. They want more restrictions on the workers yesterday. No wonder their being in power has often preceded fascist dictatorships – they basically prepare the ground for the more aggressive right.

Trade Unions have been no better and instead of fighting for the maintenance of jobs they aregue that billions of pounds from the people should be used to prop up failing capitalists businesses so they can continue to exploit workers.

The odious Thatcher (in the 1980s) said the government shouldn’t support ‘lame ducks’ in her attack upon nationalised industries yet organised labour seems to be hell bent on supporting any employer/company just to maintain the ‘right’ of the worker to be exploited. They are reminiscent of Crass, from the book ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist’ who thought that work was the most important thing, regardless of the pay and conditions that went with it.

In such a time of crisis as now the revolutionary left should be highlighting the issues that are a direct consequence of the capitalist system (exploitation of the world’s resources, whatever the adverse consequences; the thirst for ever greater rates of profit which involves the cutting of corners on regulation and safety; the movement of goods and people which is promoted for no other reason than to maximise those profits; the attacks on public health systems than makes them vulnerable to a crisis as they cannot adequately deal with everyday issues; or the institutions of government that are not prepared, either materially, philosophically or ideologically to respond to crises which effect the vast majority of the population) and taking the position of leadership which is not being given by the traditional ruling class.

Instead it seems to be hiding away, allowing capitalism to make a cats arse out of the situation and creating an opening for the populist, fascist right to take up the gauntlet.

Some information about protests in one city (Liverpool) in the last few weeks;

Anti-lockdown protesters clash with police as dozens arrested.

Police arrest 27 at anti-lockdown protest in Liverpool.

Thirteen arrests at Liverpool anti-lockdown demo.

There are a few points that come out of these demonstrations;

before the demonstration on 14th November the police declared tthey would be out in force and on the day the centre of the city was swamped with Police vehicles and officers – attempting to create a threatening atmosphere and climate of fear;

the police are openly saying they are using body cameras to identify, through facial recognition technology, those people out on the streets (also see GCHQ above); and

are already using Anti-Social Behaviour legislation to try to disperse the protestors (with more information of how it can be used).

Such tactics should concern those who believe in the right to protest.

Vaccines – the yellow brick road out of the chaos

The news of the last couple of weeks has been dominated by a number of potentially successful vaccine trials – that’s when there’s no speculation of how people will be able to survive Christmas in the ‘new normal’.

That has led to the NHS preparing dozens of covid mass vaccination centres around England. It is hoped that some information about the sorts of locations chosen will have been made from the experience of the Liverpool pilot mass non-symptomatic testing that took place in November. However, experience in Liverpool (see above) seems to have been replaced with hype and unless the number of sites isn’t increased hundreds of fold before the start of any mass vaccination programme it will mean that only those with their own private transport will be able to take advantage of the ‘miracle’ vaccines. Such a programme needs careful consideration before implementation but, I fear, playing to the crowd will be considered much more politically expedient.

One of the added problems is that one of the (potentially) first vaccines to be available needs to be stored in dry ice at temperatures of -75C therefore making it impractical in many scenarios – at local surgeries but more importantly in the poorer parts of the world.

Those who gain from a crisis

There’s been a lot of information coming out in recent days about the levels of corruption, toadyism and ‘old boy networks’ that have siphoned off huge sums from public finances.

Go-between paid £21m in taxpayer funds for NHS Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – and this came out due to a court case where various players were arguing that they should have been paid more. In this case the Government of the Buffoon insists ‘proper due diligence’ was followed.

Various points of view on this matter.

Watchdog urges government to ‘come clean’ over deals.

Hundreds of firms fast-tracked for lucrative covid contracts after tips from ministers and MPs.

PPE suppliers with political ties given ‘high-priority’ status

This corruption extended to the appointment of those to lead some of the top tasks used in the fight against the pandemic – this time bringing the Buffoon himself into the frame. And it wasn’t that we got the best – their track records being lamentable.

After the pandemic – what?

As there is supposedly ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ – but not yet – due to the announcements of the high success rates of (at the time of writing) three vaccines some are turning to how we should live AFTER the pandemic. Even in these early days there are attempts to change people’s behaviour based upon nothing but fear and the idea that ‘everyone’ has to protected and made invulnerable.

But it isn’t everyone.

Breathalyser-style covid tests and face masks should remain post-pandemic, says leading scientist.

Even before the first needle with a regulatory sanctioned vaccine in a phial behind it has punctured the skin of anyone (who will obviously be a citizen of the so-called ‘west’ let alone one of those billions who live in misery and poverty, mainly in the southern hemisphere) some scientist – who is either a direct employee of a major pharmaceutical company or who has, at some time in the past, received funding from such a company – comes out with the novel idea that society in the ‘rich’ northern hemisphere should accustom itself to using, on a regular basis, the expensive testing kits (whether they be effective or not) to counteract the possible consequences of covid-19 – although it will be given a much more attractive name in the post pandemic era.

Society (and homo sapiens) has lived with viruses and disease for millions of years and has suffered epidemics and pandemics innumerable times during those years. Many have died, most have survived. However, that was before the time of the monetisation of any crisis. Developing upon the fear that has been created – worldwide – by cretinous and inefficient capitalist governments to counter the pandemic pharmaceutical companies – and their tame, greedy, unprincipled ‘experts’ – are already looking to make money out of those fears and anxieties.

These proposals might be advertised as being ‘appropriate’ in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic but such ideas will be promoted well into the future – once we have returned to normality.

What a society we have allowed to exist?

This just panders to the idea, which is quite extensive in the supposed richer countries of the world, that we have the right to live forever, whatever the cost to society in general. We should, perhaps, accept that the right of some to exist forever will inevitably mean that many more will die prematurely.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?