Saturday 4 July 2020


I was delighted to see that recently Steven Walker of SKWAWKBOX became a follower of my blogposts - thank you, Steven. 

SKWAWKBOX and I share a similar political vision. Let me share with them and you the news that my latest literary venture is now well under way. It's called 'Dying to Know' and follows a path established by Pepys in the 17th century, Defoe in the 18th century, and Marquez in the 20th century - a journey through pandemic times. 

I will be rejigging my Jago Mailchimp newsletter so that it can serve as a pathway for news about this new book in the making, as well as providing updates about sales and reviews of the biography of Jago Stone. If you are interested in reading the first draft of my first chapter, leave a comment expressing an interest on the bottom of this blogpost. I will send you the taster. 

Publication is scheduled shortly after the vaccine becomes available - DV (Deo volente - God willing). There are times when my O-level Latin still comes in useful.      

Here's a medley of some of SKWAWKBOX's posts from the last week or two:

Prevalence of England deaths is far higher than relative populations of UK's constituent nations, damning Johnson's handling of crisis
(Saturday 27 June, 2020)

A NHS nurse mourning

The government's decision to abandon its daily coronavirus press briefings - while deaths and infections are still significant - has allowed it to escape even the feeble scrutiny of the corporate media over its handling of the crisis.
But it is still forced to publish statistics - and those for the last four days, since the briefings ended - are damning of Boris Johnson's and Matt Hancock's recklessness. Those four days have seen England
suffer 95% of coronavirus deaths - far higher than its 85% of the UK population should see.
The figures for individual days are no less damning - and suggest England's disaster is worsening:
23 June
England 161 (94%)
Scotland 4
Wales 5
Northern Ireland 1
24 June
England 141 (92%)
Scotland 4
Wales 8
Northern Ireland 1
25 June
England 141 (95%)
Scotland 2
Wales 6
Northern Ireland 0
26 June
England 183 (98%)
Scotland 0
Wales 2
Northern Ireland 1
Of the total of 660 deaths in those four days, England has suffered 626 - or 94.85%, Scotland 1.52% (vs 8% of UK population), Wales 3.18% (vs 4.8% of population), Northern Ireland 0.45% (vs 2.9% of population).
Boris Johnson has been accused of causing three-quarters of England's coronavirus deaths by his arrogance, mishandling and delayed lockdown. England's statistics compared to the UK's other nations continue to suggest that he is fuelling a huge toll of needless deaths - and his haste to lift the lockdown is set to turbocharge it.
But none of this will now be seen by the public in the televised briefings.

(Wednesday 24 June, 2020)

Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has tweeted the latest regional 'R'-rate table showing how fast the coronavirus is spreading across England's twelve regions - and the news is bad in all of them but one.
As Burnham pointed out, the 'R' has risen in every region except the south-east - and is at or above one in almost half, meaning the pool of infection was either increasing or not reducing. The latest table shows data as of 10 June and so would not reflect the acceleration effect of Johnson's more recent relaxations of England's lockdown.
The increases mean that, across the whole of England, the 'R' rate is no longer below one - yet Johnson ploughs ahead with a reduction in social distancing and the re-opening of retail and hospitality, in spite of sharp rises in the R rate of nations even with a low incidence of the virus, such as Germany and the cautious examples of Australia, New Zealand and others who have kept cases and deaths very low.

Health Secretary admits infections in pupils contributed to Leicester virus hotspot - a massive, though of course oblique, admission of failure. On the same morning, Starmer's Shadow Chancellor was on TV saying government had done "remotely enough" to re-open schools
(Tuesday 30 June, 2020) 

Two of a kind?

Matt Hancock was forced to admit this morning that sending children back to school has been a contributing factor in the massive coronavirus infection spike that has forced Leicester back into full lockdown. Of course, being a Tory, he didn't admit he and Boris Johnson shouldn't have done it, but the facts were clear in his comments during a BBC interview.
As a result of the Tories' blunder, people will die needlessly in Leicester.
At more or less the same time, Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds was appearing on ITV's Good Morning Britain - saying that the Tories hadn't done enough to get children back into the classroom - and that Starmer's Labour had been "urging" the government to start the process of getting children and teachers back into the classroom from the day after schools closed:
No wonder Starmer used a pretext last week to remove Rebecca Long-Bailey from the post of Shadow Education Secretary. Long-Bailey had sided with the unions in their insistence that it was not yet safe to force pupils and staff back into school with incidence of the virus still too high and no adequate test-and-trace programme in place.
Long-Bailey and the unions were right. Starmer and co were wrong. The Leicester lockdown shows it and Matt Hancock couldn't quite weasel out of it.

'Pillar 2' data being withheld for local areas
(Wednesday 1 July, 2020)

Covid-19 test

The government is withholding data for the number of coronavirus infections at a local level, releasing only the number of positive tests carried out in hospitals. This means that around 90% of positive cases being detected - itself a fraction of the real number of infections, as many people suffer few or no symptoms - are not being made available at a local level.
People enquiring on the government website about the level of virus in their area are being misled:

For many weeks now, the Tories have also been withholding data on the number of people they are testing, as opposed to the number of tests issued. What started as an attempt to pretend that promises by Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock on testing had been met has now become yet another gross deception of the people.

Channel 4 investigation revealed at least 85 million pieces of protective equipment were inadequate - and worse. In spite of Tory promise only 49 pieces had been tested out of millions and many were an active health hazard
(Thursday 2 June, 2020)

PPE - protecting a frontline worker from infection - or not.

Channel 4 News has revealed that an astonishing 85 million pieces of expired personal protective equipment (PPE) - which the Tories had repeatedly promised had all been tested and were safe - was not only inadequate protection, but in many cases actively dangerous to the health of those who wore them.
Only 49 of millions had been tested.
Much of the stock of masks and respirators was eventually withdrawn and destroyed - but unknown quantities were used by front-line health workers, putting their and their families' health at risk and in all likelihood costing lives:
Johnson and Hancock have consistently spouted dangerous nonsense during the coronavirus crisis, from their 'herd immunity' plan, to their insistence they did not need to shut down schools or major gatherings, to their testing fiasco.
Now yet another Tory claim proven to be not just utter manure but lethal to the wellbeing of those the government is supposed to support and protect - and all to hide their complete arrogance, bankruptcy and guilt.'

All this still has the power to shock. 

Do remember to leave a note, if you are interested in my new literary venture. 

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