The first anniversary – how many more before the end?
It wasn’t the intention to post on the exact first anniversary of the imposition of the first lock down in the UK but as I am it would be impossible to not comment on such an ‘important’ milestone. As with many anniversaries in Britain (and the country seems to be obsessed with finding an opportunity to ‘commemorate’ an event – whatever it might have been) the real issue is often brushed over, minimised or just ignored.
A case in point was the centenary of the start of the 1914-1919 World War. There was little (official) debate of why millions of working men and women were sent to aid in the slaughter of other working men and women for ‘God, King and Country’. There was even less debate about the morality of workers still being sent to kill other workers in various countries. Turn them into martyrs and you can hide the underlying causes in a cloak of sentimentality. ‘A war to end all wars’. Did anyone ever really believe that slogan? Not as long as the oppressive and exploitative system of capitalism is dominant throughout the world.
On March 23rd 2021 there was a lot made about remembering the (to date) 148,125 people who had died in the UK as a result of the pandemic (numbers which will continue to rise and which still miss out on an unknown number of ‘collateral casualties’). However, little was made about why the situation was allowed to get to such a state that the costs – in both human and economic terms – have been so great.
Many in the last year might have put down the chaotic management of the present pandemic by the Buffoon and his rich, entitled and incestuous bunch of cretins to crass ineptitude, ignorance and incompetence. Everything was too little, too late; too much, too soon; following the science, not following the science; concerned more about private business profit rather than public safety and well being; and strategy? What strategy? (There isn’t even one now – everything hanging on the success of the vaccination programme.)
Indeed the aim of this blog (under the banner ‘Journal of the Plague Years 2020-2?’) in the last year has been to present the story as it unfolded so that people could use some of the many articles referenced here to remind themselves of what a total disaster this ‘war’ against the virus has been. But all the negatives above are only part of the story.
Instead of putting all efforts of Government into finding the quickest, most efficient and (yes) cheapest manner of ‘defeating’ (or, at least, effectively managing) the virus outbreak substantial parts of government have been working on the main agenda of the Tories – all the things they wanted to do but which were never mentioned prior to the last General Election at the end of 2019.
Even though the pandemic is still raging throughout the world, although less so in the UK (at least at the moment) and the rebuilding of even a capitalist society in the next few years will be a difficult task, the Buffoon has chosen the days before the first anniversary of lock down to push forward the Tory, neo-fascist, militarist policies that are aimed at maintaining themselves in power and to prevent the development of any movements that might seek to change the moribund and already redundant capitalist system.
Internationally they are stirring up feelings against foreign ‘enemies’ who ‘threaten the British way of life’. Both Russia and China are in the strange position of being the main enemy to so called ‘liberal values’ of capitalist ‘democracies’ when they were countries which openly challenged those capitalist values (when they were dedicated to the construction of socialism) and now as countries who are challenging capitalism by the very fact that capitalism has been restored in both those countries.
For the best part of the last 30 years (the period after the end of the ‘Cold War’) the argument to maintain vast expenditure on ‘defence’ was predicated on the threat from ‘international terrorism’ and ‘rogue states’. Now that that sham argument isn’t working they have returned to the tried and tested rhetoric of the ‘Cold War’ era.
Part of the ‘defence’ review is the proposal to increase the number of nuclear missiles held by the UK armed forces. The issue of the morality of such weapons is too big to go into here but just to state that increasing their number by 40% won’t make life more secure for anyone in the UK (or the rest of the world) and the morality of their possession (in whatever numbers) and use remains obnoxious.
On the domestic front the Buffoon and the odious Patel are pushing for changes in the law to prevent any effective protest against government action or inaction. Those laws introduced in the late 1980s (under the equally odious Thatcher) aren’t enough for these ‘defenders of liberty and western values’. Making a noise will be a criminal offence and there are probably many other restrictive stipulations which are yet to be made public.
And in a two fingers up to the people of Britain the Buffoon’s government introduces such new laws when there is already emergency legislation in place (the Coronavirus Act of 25th March 2020) which has – and will become in a matter of a couple of days – more draconian as it undergoes its second, six-monthly review. Under the emergency act of last year people were prevented from peacefully protesting as this would ‘endanger public health’. As stated in this blog way back in April of last year no government which is able to pass emergency legislation in ‘extreme circumstances’ is easily convinced to rescind such laws.
What the Tories have done is to overcome that obstacle by putting their restrictions into law under a ‘normal’ piece of legislation – which it is illegal to oppose during the time of the pandemic.
And there’s still no real strategy to combat the virus – just the crossing of fingers, the touching of wood, and the occasional prayer to a non-existent supreme entity.
Vaccination programme in the UK …
UK’s ‘colour-blind’ vaccine strategy puts ethnic minorities at risk.
Why the UK’s vaccine roll out should prioritise people according to deprivation as well as age.
People who are homeless to be prioritised for vaccine.
‘The NHS at its best’: making a Covid mass vaccination centre a reality.
Covid vaccines: is it wrong to jump the queue?
The UK variant is likely deadlier, more infectious and becoming dominant but the vaccines still work well against it.
AstraZeneca vaccine: ‘No indication’ of link to blood clots.
Covid-19 vaccines are probably less effective at preventing transmission than symptoms.
… and in the rest of the world
AstraZeneca vaccine: careless talk has dented confidence and uptake in Europe.
The Political Economy of covid-19 vaccines. Within a month of the regulatory approval being granted to the first three vaccines, advanced countries, accounting for only 14% of the world’s population, had placed orders for around 85% of the estimated entire production for 2021.
Why ‘Big Pharma’ shouldn’t control covid-19 vaccines.
Netherlands joins Ireland in vaccine suspension over blood clot concerns. This decision has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the Dutch General Election is taking (this year over three days) this week. It’s not the cynicism of politicians worldwide that bothers me, its the way that most people don’t seem to see through the sham.
Europe’s caution over Oxford vaccine about more than the science.
How misapplication of the precautionary principle may undermine public trust in vaccines.
Rich states ‘block’ vaccine plans for developing nations.
Treatment of those infected with covid-19
Is coronavirus treatment fair? Not in an unequal society.
Pregnant women at increased risk of severe covid.
Summer will see cases of covid drop?
Perhaps. Perhaps not.
Pollen can raise your risk of getting covid-19, whether you have allergies or not.
Nightingale Hospitals to be closed after cost of £500 million. The whole concept of ‘fever hospitals’ and overflow facilities must be looked into at the earliest opportunity in readiness for the next pandemic. And facilities used from companies who have been getting millions in other hand-outs from the government over the last year should be a nil cost to the British population. Resources not being used for anything productive, as we have seen in the lock downs of the last year, should be requisitioned by the state.
Emergency Powers – and the reluctance of the State to give them up
London’s Metropolitan Police criticised over Clapham vigil policing.
One of the ‘solutions’ to a problem (violence against women) that stems from the development of oppressive societies over millennia is the introduction of more surveillance of the population as a whole. Presenting the sham of doing something the Buffoon proposes having a greater undercover police presence in social venues and an increase in the number of Close-circuit Television (CCTV) cameras – in a country that already has more per head of population that any other country in the world. These measures haven’t stopped assaults in the past and won’t in the future. It just legitimises more intrusion into everyone’s lives without providing any benefits.
Test, track and trace
This was, is still now and will be in the future pivotal in dealing with a virus that is now generally considered ‘won’t be going away any time soon’. However, apart from making a small number of people very wealthy this system is still not up to the task and the cavalier manner in which it is being managed will mean that it will not be ready in the face of any resurgence in the future.
NHS Test and Trace ‘no clear impact’ despite £37 billion budget.
The Government’s flagship £22 billion Test and Trace scheme ‘wins the prize for the most wasteful and inept public spending programme of all time.’
Thousands of test and trace staff to be let go with just a week’s notice.
On a slightly different tack. Here’s what happens when we test lots of people as cases are falling.
A look at the situation one year on
Two countries that got it right, and three that got it wrong.
Brazil is in crisis with a second wave – but the UK’s not much better off.
Covid-19: where does the World Health Organization go from here?
MPs’ report scathing on UK’s handling and sharing of covid data.
Ministers frustrated with Buffoon’s ‘mistakes’ ahead of covid second wave.
The inside story of the government’s battle against the virus.
Where the Government has delivered – and where it has failed – during the Covid-19 crisis. A Resolution Foundation report entitled The 12-month Stretch. There was a zoom discussion around this report that took place on 18th March and a video of this event can be watched here.
Delaying England’s winter lock down ’caused up to 27,000 extra covid deaths‘.
Six lessons the UK should have learned, one year on from its first lock down. But has it? Will it ever?
And a ‘covid free’ future?
UK faces ‘covid decade’ due to damage done by pandemic.
Britain continues to see the world as its domain
NHS recruits thousands of overseas nurses to work on understaffed wards.
In Northern Ireland – families ‘denied care home visits’ despite new policy.
After covid: why we need a change in care home culture.
Blanket ‘do not resuscitate’ orders imposed on English care homes.
The winners in the pandemic
Covid test kit supplier joked to Hancock on WhatsApp he had ‘never heard of him’.
An investigation about the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the last year by the BBC Panorama programme, broadcast on 15th March, entitled Cashing in on covid.
UK furlough scheme pays out millions to foreign states and tax exiles.
Poverty in Britain
Food bank use surged during the pandemic – but they can rarely provide all the help people need.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has produced a couple of reports on poverty in Britain. The first, ‘Seeking an anchor in an unstable world – Experiences of low-income families overtime’, looks at the issue of poverty in general. The second, ‘Staying afloat in a crisis – Families on low incomes in the pandemic’, considers the added difficulties during the pandemic.
One in seven adults worried they will become homeless due to pandemic.
New Children’s Commissioner piles pressure on the Buffoon to extend free school meals and also urged him not to “drop” the £20 uplift in Universal Credit.
A new report reveals how the introduction of Universal Credit has contributed to homelessness in Scotland – and if in Scotland there’s no reason to believe it will be different in the rest of the UK.
Nine in 10 councils in England see rise in people using food banks.
Home-grown cannabis: how covid-19 has fuelled a boom around the world.
How covid-19 became a cover to reduce refugee rights.
Hospital waiting lists in England hit new high after January’s coronavirus peak.
Covid-19 wasn’t just a disaster for humanity – new research shows nature suffered greatly too.
How living life on a screen during covid-19 affects your eyes.
The logic of what is and what is not open defies many. Hospitality bosses threaten government with court.
Services at risk unless NHS England gets £8 billion extra funding within days.
Personal Protective Equipment use in England generated ‘colossal’ amount of carbon.
Who was to blame for the disastrous ‘management’ of the pandemic in the UK
This is a review of a book which I have not yet read but thought that the introduction of some of the ideas in it would be useful to have an idea about. Failures of State by Jonathan Calvert and George Arbuthnott review – how Britain became ‘Plague Island’.
Pressure mounts on the Buffoon to launch coronavirus inquiry.
Preparing to return to normal
The idea is now becoming acceptable that no society can really function with so called ‘social distancing’ and there are plans to experiment with various combinations in what used to be mass venues. For this Liverpool has been chosen to test covid crowd safety in ‘roadmap’ pilot.
Politicians in Liverpool seem to be happy about the city being at the forefront of this change in approach however, perhaps they should remember a few things about the recent past.
The Buffoon and his government attempted to seed the virus in the Merseyside area at the very beginning of the pandemic by sending Brits who had arrived from Wuhan way back in April to a quarantine site at Arrowe Park Hospital. All these people arrived in London but they had to be bused hundreds of miles away – as if there were no places closer to Heathrow.
When that didn’t achieve the desired objective it was Liverpool who were to ‘pilot’ mass testing – potentially bringing many infected people in contact with many others when there was a partial lock down and meetings discouraged. That didn’t cause any problems – although it’s not too sure if the city really learnt anything from that pilot as they were constantly changing the parameters.
And now we are to have hundreds – possibly thousands – of people concentrated in small, enclosed areas. Third time lucky for the southerners to get at the Scousers?
Also it is hoped that this ‘pilot’ doesn’t take place in a UK bubble. Other countries have been carying out such ‘pilots’ for more than a month now – the Netherlands being at least one of the countries who have been playing with various combinations and locations. Little seems to have been shared between countries over the last year – will this latest ‘pilot’ be any different?