Ashworth Gets F in Lockdown History

Now that Nadhim Zahawi has said the government made “a mistake” in closing schools during the pandemic, the Labour frontbench is confused over how to oppose them given their own record throughout the last two years. Appearing on Sunday Morning, Ashworth was asked whether, in hindsight, he agrees with Zahawi that schools should have stayed open throughout the lockdowns:

“We were always very clear that school closures had to be absolutely the last resort. We never wanted to see schools closed… we always wanted schools to stay open where they could.”

A brief history lesson for Jon: just hours before the third January 2021 lockdown was introduced, Sir Keir told both Sky and ITV in January 2021 that while school closures “should be a last resort”, it was “inevitable” that they would and “[their] closure should be part of the national restrictions… as soon as possible”. For Sir Keir, that meant primary schools too.

Both Ashworth and Starmer claimed closures should be a last resort, yet now the dust has settled, the party doesn’t seem willing to say if they made the right call – especially during the third lockdown. Zahawi’s admitted he thinks it was a mistake. What does Starmer think?

mdi-timer 28 March 2022 @ 10:57 28 Mar 2022 @ 10:57 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Roll Call: Who Opposed Restrictions Yesterday?

Following yesterday’s three-hour Cabinet meeting that decided nothing, details are now emerging of who opposed and supported the SAGE-desired lockdown. The Times and Telegraph have the most comprehensive write-ups, reporting Rishi, Steve Barclay and Grant Shapps were those leading the sceptics’ charge. The Times reports Jacob Rees-Mogg had a prolonged argument with Vallance about their modelling, telling Boris to trust the people rather than the scientists. Truss, Kwarteng, Alister Jack, Nadhim Zahawi and Nigel Adams are all also reportedly sceptical about the threat of Omicron…

On the other side of the divide backing restrictions, according to The Telegraphare (unsurprisingly) Javid and Gove; Nadine Dorries and Chief secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke. We can only presume the PM also errs towards this group. There’s set to be one more Cabinet before Christmas day that could still decide to recall MPs before New Year. The one Cabinet meeting it could be acceptable to have wine and cheese at…

mdi-timer 21 December 2021 @ 08:57 21 Dec 2021 @ 08:57 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Cabinet Secretary’s Office Hosted Christmas Parties Last December

Earlier this week, we were told to expect the findings of the Cabinet Secretary Simon Case’s Downing Street party investigation today – that’s now been pushed back. On the media round this morning, Oliver Dowden boldly said the investigation will “vindicate” the PM. Guido questions how Simon Case can credibly be expected to conclude anything different, given according to widespread rumours, now confirmed to Guido by a source who attended them, parties were held in Case’s own 70 Whitehall office on two occasions last December. You read that correctly…

Rumours of such an event have been doing the rounds in SW1. According to the whistleblower the party on December 17th was planned and organised in advance by staff in Case’s Private Office, it featured copious booze and music. While Case wasn’t actively participating, they claim to have spotted the Cabinet Secretary sticking his head into the room to call staff out at various points during the party to talk with them. The source remembers “at least 15 people including his actual office people in the room”…

A second event last December also saw staff drinking in Case’s office before departing for drinks elsewhere. Both events took place in the days before the notorious party of December 18th in Downing Street – now under investigation– as revealed by The Mirror. If Case expands his inquiry to cover these ‘gatherings’, Guido can’t imagine it’ll take very long to gather the facts.

Guido doesn’t doubt Oliver Dowden’s forecast that Case’s investigation will “vindicate” the Prime Minister will come true. While any findings will be made public, the names of those involved and potentially sanctioned won’t be. Slaps on the wrists all round.

The press has been solemnly briefed that Civil Servants have had to comply with the investigation and hand over their phones. It should, however, be noted that they’ve only given over work phones – not private mobiles more likely to include party photos, calendar entries or WhatsApps. Guido has been told only senior Civil Servants are being asked to hand over personal phones, and they are unlikely to have been involved in the practical organisation of the parties or the sending of invites. Case’s investigation has all the hallmarks of a classic Civil Service sham inquiry, which will surely lead to calls from the opposition for the PM to hand it over to someone truly independent. Or at least to someone who wasn’t illegally hosting parties last December…

UPDATE: Rayner responds to the allegations, now also followed up by a joint Politico/Independent investigation:

“Boris Johnson as Prime Minister has set the tone for the civil service and the rest of government. 

“Which each new revelation there is growing evidence of a culture of turning a blind eye to the rules.

“Labour made it clear when the investigation was launched that the person in charge should be uncompromised and able to make a fair and independent judgement. These fresh revelations put that into question.”

mdi-timer 17 December 2021 @ 12:35 17 Dec 2021 @ 12:35 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Germany Announces Lockdown for Unvaccinated

Germany is set to introduce a full, nationwide lockdown for all unvaccinated citizens as of this afternoon, with masks also reintroduced in schools and nightclubs shut down for everyone – including the double-jabbed – in areas with the highest infection levels. Which means Germany now joins Austria and the Netherlands in pushing forward with Christmas lockdowns…

Merkel and her incoming successor Olaf Scholz have met with regional leaders to thrash out the details, with the unvaxxed to be banned from virtually all hospitality venues, including restaurants, pubs, and non-essential shops. Vaccines will also become mandatory for all from February. Meanwhile Ursula von der Leyen continues mulling EU-wide mandatory vaccinations…

mdi-timer 2 December 2021 @ 14:07 2 Dec 2021 @ 14:07 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Panicking Gloomsters Seeking Lockdowns Again

For the last week there has been increasing concern from DHSC and SAGE about rising Covid numbers following a sluggish booster jab programme and a steady rise in the number of Covid deaths. Chronically poor predictor and gloomster Neil Ferguson is already warning that the UK may need to reimpose restrictions and just yesterday the Coronavirus Act was extended for another six months without a hitch. What is the data actually saying?

According to the Spectator’s Data Tracker on October 12, Covid patients occupied just 5% of all NHS hospital beds and whilst the optimum NHS bed occupancy was around 85%, 5.5% of NHS hospital beds are not currently occupied by patients. Daily Covid hospital admissions are 80% lower than they were during the pandemic peak and it’s clear that the link between cases and hospitalisations is still largely broken. Given all this, it seems too soon to panic. 

So far the government is remaining firm in its decision not to reimpose restrictions. On this morning’s media round Kwasi reassured the public that “any talk of lockdowns is not helpful – it’s not going to happen”.

The government should stick to its guns on avoiding another lockdown, getting booster jabs into the arms of the old should have the highest priority…

mdi-timer 20 October 2021 @ 09:47 20 Oct 2021 @ 09:47 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Meet Freedom Day’s Anti-Lockdown Protesters

Thousands of anti-lockdown protesters have descended upon Parliament Square this afternoon to protest lockdown… 14 hours after all legal restrictions were lifted in the UK. Some people just can’t take yes for an answer…

Guido spoke to some of these protesters to ask what on earth they had left to protest. There were a colourful range of characters who were willing to chat including, conspiracy theorists warning of fascist technocracy, angry nutters calling for Whitty and Boris to be arrested, and your run-of-the-mill anti-vaxxers. Someone should tell the protestors that the successful vaccine programme is what has ended the much-hated lockdown…

Protesters have started throwing bottles at police and there have been a reported 11 protesters arrested for “a variety of offences”. Guido can’t understand why these protesters have chosen today of all days to protest…

mdi-timer 19 July 2021 @ 15:28 19 Jul 2021 @ 15:28 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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