Government Apologises to Julia Hartley-Brewer Over “Vaccine Sceptic” Report

The Cabinet Office has offered Julia Hartley-Brewer a public apology after mandarins unlawfully described her as a “known vaccine sceptic” in official government documents. The apology follows legal action which revealed the government’s “Rapid Response Unit” had spread the misinformation in a report on “vaccine hesitancy”. Hartley-Brewer’s ““No. No. No. NO!!!!” tweet in response to a Telegraph story on childhood Covid vaccinations was deemed sufficient evidence of her supposed scepticism. Despite being vaccinated herself… 

Brewer released a statement last night:

“I am shocked that the British government spent time during a pandemic monitoring, attempting to censor and smearing a journalist who was simply trying to do her job by asking the right questions and challenging the prevailing orthodoxy. I was not a “known vaccine sceptic”, as my on air and online comments clearly prove.

“A government unit that was supposed to challenge foreign governments disseminating lies online was used against British journalists and MPs expressing reasonable concerns about Covid policies. And now we have proof that this same unit was actually responsible for lying about me.

“I am particularly concerned by the fact that the British government shared this false information about me with a US government counter-terrorism unit set up to tackle Russian, Chinese and Iranian propaganda. This is very sinister.”

The Cabinet Office’s not-so secret report was shared with at least 64 UK Whitehall officials, as well as US counter-terror staff. An apology two years later is the least Julia could expect…

mdi-timer 27 October 2023 @ 17:00 27 Oct 2023 @ 17:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Shapps Claims Covid Responsible for Lack of Transport Investment

Grant Shapps was asked why he had changed his mind on transport investment on GMB this morning and said: “One word – Coronavirus”. He claimed that the number of passengers “hasn’t come back again” since the pandemic, despite the fact that passenger numbers reached 103% of pre-covid levels in February. Is the government blaming HS2’s cancellation on Covid? 

mdi-timer 4 October 2023 @ 10:34 4 Oct 2023 @ 10:34 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Lockdown Files Highlight Matt Hancock’s Pandemic Failures

SW1 has spiralled into a frenzy overnight, as details from The Telegraph’s Lockdown Files continue to emerge. The investigation paints a poor picture of Matt Hancock’s pandemic handling, and was based on thousands of his WhatsApp messages, leaked to The Telegraph by Isabel Oakeshott. The headline finding is that in April 2020, Matt Hancock ignored the advice of Chris Witty to test all people entering care homes – saying it “muddies the waters”. It hardly seems like a “protective ring” around care homes…

The files also paint the picture of a Health Secretary more focussed on meeting his flagship testing target than securing the best outcomes. To quote the man himself, “I WANT TO MEET MY TARGET”. In addition to fudging the definition of tests, so that 28,000 extra could be counted before they were even delivered, Matt was focussed on securing publicity to boost demand. Naturally, this meant giving an exclusive to his mate and former boss in exchange for a front-page splash.

Matt and George’s chummy mutual media back-scratching didn’t end there. Matt initially had a go at George for a media round in which he criticised the government’s response to testing – which Osborne defended on the basis he was trying to “spread responsibility”.

The files also reveal that Hancock and Jacob Rees-Mogg enlisted Special Advisers to get a test couriered to Jacob’s child – at a time of national shortages. Matt’s positive outlook was also on show as he went further than minister Helen Whately, who said her 100-mile round trip for a test showed the system worked for some, by saying it was working “for MOST!”. The British public will no doubt be pleased to see their Health Ministers were focussing on the important things during a global health crisis. Such important issues as “ridiculous” Kay Burley “asking the same nonsensical Q again and again”…

Of course, Hancock’s camp isn’t happy with the revelations. They told Politico’s Playbook:

“Having not been approached in advance by the Telegraph, we have reviewed the messages overnight. The Telegraph intentionally excluded reference to a meeting with the testing team from the WhatsApp. This is critical, because Matt was supportive of Chris Whitty’s advice, held a meeting on its deliverability, told it wasn’t deliverable, and insisted on testing all those who came from hospitals. The Telegraph have been informed that their headline is wrong”.

Sources close to him add Oakeshott broke an NDA and Matt is “considering all options”…

mdi-timer 1 March 2023 @ 08:45 1 Mar 2023 @ 08:45 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
The British Politicians Who Loved China’s Zero Covid Strategy

The scenes coming out of China are shocking. Last night’s arrest and beating of a BBC journalist covering the protests against the Beijing Communist regime’s Zero Covid strategy have finally brought the plight of the Chinese into Britain’s political discourse. In light of this, Guido thought it worth going back a couple of years and remembering all the hardline Covid loons who spent much of the pandemic calling for the same Zero Covid strategy here in Britain.

In February 2021, 47 MPs signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) calling on the UK Government to “urgently to adopt a Zero Covid plan that seeks the maximum suppression of the virus”. The EDM cited New Zealand and Vietnam as specific examples. Vietnam eventually reported the world’s 13th-highest death toll…

Supporters of the EDM included the usual hard Left figures, such as Richard Burgon, Diane Abbott, Zarah Sultana, Claudia Webbe, John McDonnell, Apsana Begum and Rebecca Long-Bailey. It also saw a whopping number of SNP MPs back it, unsurprising given Nicola Sturgeon spent much of the first half of the pandemic giving lip service to a Zero Covid strategy, egged on by her top advisor Devi Sridhar.

It wasn’t just left-wing figures, of course. Jeremy Hunt lauded the strategy and recounted with barely suppressed admiration his sister’s experience of flying into Beijing during the pandemic. She was, he said, escorted from the airport by government officials and physically sealed in her home to remain under surveillance from Communist police.

Attacking Zero Covid strategies is not a luxury of those of us now blessed with hindsight. They were roundly attacked at the time – even discredited – and yet authoritarians still proselytised for them. This week’s scenes in China perhaps show why the hard Left loved the idea – it was less to do with virus control, more about controlling the citizenry…

Read the full list of EDM signatories here

mdi-timer 28 November 2022 @ 12:54 28 Nov 2022 @ 12:54 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Rishi on Lockdown: “I Wasn’t Allowed to Talk About the Trade-Off”

Rishi Sunak has finally managed to grab the agenda during the leadership race, and finally not for a u-turn or a strategic cock up.  Interviewed in The Spectator Sunak argues SAGE made bad predictions based on botched modelling and No. 10 never allowed a debate to be had on the cost-benefit of lockdown measures – particularly on closing schools. A culture of fear was decided on by the top of government and their scientific advisors, which was then set in stone. “Dissenting voices were filtered out and a see-no-evil policy was applied.”

While lockdown was known to be “by necessity, a gamble”, Rishi, echoing Steve Baker, says cost-benefit analyses were never made:

“I wasn’t allowed to talk about the trade-off,’ says Sunak. ‘The script was not to ever acknowledge them. The script was: oh, there’s no trade-off, because doing this for our health is good for the economy.”

The main problem, he appears to diagnose, was in elevating SAGE to “a committee that had the power to decide whether the country would lock down or not.” The problem was even more concentrated than the entire SAGE committee, however. Rishi observes that, whoever wrote their meetings’ minutes – deciding what discussions and facts to include – was essentially setting the nation’s entire public health policy.

“For a year, UK government policy – and the fate of millions –was being decided by half-explained graphs cooked up by outside academics.”

Rishi concludes “This is the problem… If you empower all these independent people, you’re screwed… We shouldn’t have empowered the scientists in the way we did.” He concludes had we not done so, and had we acknowledged trade-offs from the beginning “we could be in a very different place… it could have been shorter. Different.  Quicker.”

He doesn’t name names when accusing fellow cabinet colleagues of not speaking out, which is probably why those in the know aren’t calling him out for rose-tinted hindsight. Guido asked a source close to discussions happening around the first lockdown, who said the above is indeed what Sunak was saying internally at the time.  The source also agreed with the problem of giving unelected officials so much power in deciding what ministers saw and what options they were given:

“There were often times the officials would do a “pre-meeting”, decide what they wanted to push through, then ram it through in the main meeting with the PM/ministers”

This process wasn’t helped when, on occasion, ministers would go into the key Covid meeting and be handed a set of 100 papers by officials, with no chance of being able to ingest them before a decision was taken. Guido can barely wait for tonight’s Julia Hartley-Brewer-hosted husting in East Anglia…

Read the full account on the Spectator here.

mdi-timer 25 August 2022 @ 09:08 25 Aug 2022 @ 09:08 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Van Tam: I No Longer Wear a Face Mask

In a sign, if we ever really needed one, that Covid is well and truly over, Jonathan Van Tam has declared he no longer wears a face mask.

“I don’t wear a face covering, no I don’t wear a face covering, but if there were circumstances where I felt it was a really closed environment with very high crowding and very intense social interaction then those are the situations where I might think ‘should I or shouldn’t I’.”

This’ll properly wind up the performative Covid virtue signallers on Twitter…

mdi-timer 24 June 2022 @ 10:34 24 Jun 2022 @ 10:34 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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