Tuesday 24 March 2020


I want to share information and views from four more Skwarkbox posts that have been published in the last 24 hours:

 Hancock and co point finger at public for going out when they say outdoors is healthier - and for packing trains their cuts have forced people onto

Confusion and blame - Tory trademarks?

True to form, the Tory government has been blaming the public for going out to parks and for crowding public transport.

But the public has stayed off public transport - London tube numbers are down by 81% - but the Tories have slashed train numbers and closed 40 tube stations, so the remaining people, many of whom probably have to
travel for essential jobs, have to crowd into fewer stations before being packed onto a reduced number of carriages.
And just last night, deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries told the nation that going outdoors is good, as long as you're not suffering long-term health problems - and in fact is healthier than staying indoors:
Meanwhile, the Chinese government has increased the number of trains in its Beijing underground system - so the people who do have to travel can stay further apart and reduce the risk of any transmission.

We saw TV pictures of commuters on crowded Underground trains yesterday evening - and the public were blamed for not heeding government advice - but it's the government who are responsible for reducing the number of trains running. Madness!

How typical of the Tories to give conflicting advice, make it impossible to follow - and then use it as a stick to beat us all with when we inevitably 'fail'.

Johnson's piece-to-camera avoids scrutiny and is full of gaps

Add your own caption, please

Boris Johnson has announced a 'lock-down' of the UK because of the coronavirus pandemic, to include:
  • the closure of all shops selling non-essential goods, including clothing and electronics retailers
  • a ban on public gatherings of more than two people who are not from the same household
  • closure of libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship
  • limiting individuals to a single form of outdoor exercise per day
  • a ban on travel except for work, shopping or medical reasons (for self or others) - and grocery shopping should be done online if possible
  • a ban on weddings and baptisms - but not funerals
  • police powers to penalise infringements
  • an option to relax the restrictions in three weeks 'if the evidence allows'
But Johnson's announcement has raised all kinds of questions with no information to answer them. People are already asking:
  • what about foodbanks and other essential charities - will volunteers be allowed to travel to those as work?
  • how will police enforce when their numbers have been cut so drastically in the past decade of Tory government?
  • how will police enforce what they can't check, eg. if someone claims to be out for shopping or exercise?
  • if people are allowed to go to the park but not to gather, how far apart must they be to avoid being a 'gathering'?
  • if weddings are banned, will the inevitable costs of cancellation and of guests' travel/accommodation be repaid by the government?
  • if clothing shops are not considered essential and the lockdown continues for long, how will people replace worn out clothes, shoes etc?
  • how can people shop for groceries online when many retailers are so overloaded their sites can't cope and delivery slots are almost impossible to obtain?
  • given the virus has an incubation period of 14 days, causes few or no symptoms in some of those infected and the government is still barely testing suspected sufferers, what evidence will be considered grounds for relaxing them in 3 weeks?
  • what changed between last night and tonight for these measures to become necessary if they weren't yesterday?
  • why are testing kits only now on order when the government has known for weeks that this was coming?
Johnson has been slow to respond and unable to lead - and even after so much time to prepare for this lockdown, he has announced it in a way that has caused confusion and failed to inspire confidence.

Sunak dismisses simple step that would ensure nobody falls through cracks of government's partial income guarantee - while massively reducing admin and delays. He is putting us all at risk

A national basic income - just as the Labour Party was planning before the  Covid 19 pandemic - is a step too far for the Tories - at least for the time being - next week, perhaps?

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak told MPs today how complicated it would be to provide basic income to the UK's millions of self-employed people and zero hours contract workers who are struggling because of the coronavirus crisis.
Moments later, he dismissed out of hand a measure that would ensure no one is left in hardship - and would massively reduce the administrative burden of providing benefits at the same time:
A 'universal basic income' - a basic, guaranteed 'livable' payment - would ensure that nobody starves or is left homeless during the coronavirus lockdown and that huge numbers of small businesses and workers in service industries are in a position to resume services to the nation as soon as it is lifted.
And it would do so with minimal admin or delay.
The government promised that it would not allow anyone to suffer hardship because of this crisis. But Sunak's response to the most straightforward emergency solution?
"We're not in favour of it".
Such dismissiveness will force desperate people to ignore the lockdown and social distancing measures and put us all at risk.
And finally, the scientific and medical wisdom of Dr Kailash Chand, OBE, an honorary Vice President of the British Medical Association (BMA) - the Tories are claiming their actions are based on the best scientific and medical advice; no way! 
Locking down without a rigorous test and trace programme as recommended by the WHO will not get us where we need to be

Dr Kailash Chand, OBE - an honorary Vice-President of the BMA 

'Coronavirus is the only show on the planet. Each and every one of us is a potential victim of this virus. Is the NHS prepared? The virus could infect 60% or more of the UK population if unchecked .....
Doctors are worried that the NHS is already stretched and under heavy pressure - and especially that it has too few intensive care beds and that GP surgeries are struggling to meet patient demand.
A&E waiting times were already the worst on record before this crisis. Intensive care units are at capacity and are struggling to admit patients who are critically unwell or awaiting cancer surgery.
Boris Johnson's Covid-19 strategy dangerously leaves too many questions unanswered. Relying on Herd immunity was total madness. Not testing populations is negligent; keeping the NHS staff without PPE is criminal.
Johnson's failure to include these basic provisions in his 'strategy' will ensure that the virus spreads and will cause more infections and more deaths in the near term.
Without rigorous testing, tracing of contacts and proper equipment, we are fighting a purely defensive battle - and doing so with at least one hand tied behind our backs. You can't win a football or a cricket game by only defending - you have to attack as well.
To win, we need to attack the virus with aggressive and targeted tactics.
We need to follow tested policies – as practiced by China, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and India - to suppress the epidemic. And we need to hope that a vaccine and reliable treatment becomes available quickly.
We need to act now and act fast. Every day of delay will mean more people become infected or die.'