Author: Stella Perrott

Superforecasting: essential for good government or the latest fad?

Stella Perrott

The government’s management of coronavirus is an example of where a superforecaster would insist on not just one review at some time in the future when the final death toll after a second or third wave may be known, but ongoing reviews as the figures and new information emerge over the course of the pandemic.

Civil service – reform or destruction?

Stella Perrott

On 28 June Michael Gove, cabinet office minister, delivered the Ditchley Foundation’s annual lecture entitled the “privilege of public service”. It generated considerably more interest than would normally be expected for a speech on civil service reform to a rather obscure think tank, as it followed accounts of Dominic Cummings’ determination to come down on […]

Defunding the police

Stella Perrott

What are the police for? In 1842, Lancashire magistrates, voted by 81 to 55 votes to abolish the police force. In the same year a number of townships petitioned county magistrates to defund the police. Durham Quarter Sessions received 172 (out of a possible 240) petitions, with over 6,000 ratepayers (property-owning males) signatures. Although the […]

Asylum seekers struggling with lockdown

Stella Perrott

The impact of coronavirus on people in the UK has been very uneven. We know that men, people who are black, Asian or minority ethnic, and those with underlying health problems or who are older, are at risk of severe illness and death. People living in the most deprived communities have been hit hardest. The […]

Why the UK does not have Jacinda Ardern as its prime minister

Stella Perrott

Measured by the number of Covid-19 infections and deaths, countries led by women have done better than other comparable countries led by men. In the advanced economies Jacinda Ardern (New Zealand), Tsai Ing-wen (Taiwan), Sanna Marin (Finland), Mette Frederiksen (Denmark) and Angela Merkel (Germany) have been praised for their management of the crisis. The US, […]

An exhausted government, an exhausted civil service

Stella Perrott

As the government lumbers heavily towards its third ‘no-deal’ Brexit deadline, it has strongly asserted that there will be no extension to the transition period. Stella Perrott considers the government’s capacity to deliver a managed Brexit over the coming weeks in the light of the findings of the recent publication of the Institute for Government […]

The Cygnus Report on pandemic flu preparation – ignoring the advice

Stella Perrott

Following publication of the number of care home deaths due to coronavirus, much media attention has focused on the government’s response to concerns raised in 2017 in the Exercise Cygnus report(published by the Guardian on 7 May 2020). The report highlighted potential difficulties for the care home sector in a flu pandemic. Stella Perrott considers […]

Refugees at the mercy of Covid-19

Stella Perrott

Stella Perrott considers the plight of refugees in the coronavirus outbreak and the need for an internationally agreed approach to the disease. During a crisis our concentric circles of attention and empathy shrink, first to family and friends, and then to our local communities as we struggle to make sense of what is happening and […]

Peers call for a public inquiry into the handling of the COVID-19 crisis

Stella Perrott

Fifteen senior peers, including Chris Patten, Bob Kerslake and Helena Kennedy have written a letter to the Financial Times calling for a full public inquiry into the UK’s handing of the coronavirus crisis. They argue that the public but particularly “health and care professions, the medical science community and those who have lost loved ones […]

Brexit negotiations during a pandemic lockdown

Stella Perrott

Stella Perrott considers the impact coronavirus is already having on the UK and EU’s attempt to forge a Brexit deal and the implications for the future. David Frost the UK’s Brexit negotiator reassures us by tweet, almost on a daily basis, that the Brexit negotiations are progressing well. This is in spite of Michael Barnier […]

The Bubonic Plague – lessons for the modern age

Stella Perrott

In 1347, the bubonic plague swept through Europe arriving on the UK’s shores in 1348; possibly caused by marmot fleas which transferred to rats as it moved from Central Asia to Crimea in about 1343. A secondary strain, pneumonic plague was transmitted from human to human through infected droplets, much like the COVID-19 virus today. […]

Scientific authority, whose data counts?

Stella Perrott

The scream of the motos struggling up the hill taking their owners to work suddenly stopped and even the dogs were instantly silenced, with no passers-by to bark at as the Spanish lockdown was introduced. It was immediate, and immediately enforced with loud hailers touring the streets telling people to stay inside. Police patrolled the […]