Section: UK

Government U-turn in track and trace fiasco?

Professor Juliet Lodge

The government seems yet again caught in trying to find its own makeshift solution for controlling the coronavirus pandemic. After abandoning the initial herd immunity strategy in favour of the World Health Organisation approach of test, trace and isolate that has seen much lower mortality wherever it was adopted, UK authorities seem on the brink […]

Our Plan to Fail: the UK Government’s Covid-19 relapse strategy

Helen Davidson

The government’s announcement of the publication of its 60-page strategy, Our Plan to Rebuild, for reopening the country, quickly turned a sensible and pragmatic approach to easing lockdown into an unnecessary scramble to rescue the government from another mess of its own making. Helen Davidson discusses how the indecent haste to implement the strategy coupled […]

Disagreement over schools reopening

Charlie McCarthy

With five working days left until schools are meant to reopen for nursery, reception, Year 1 and Year 6 children, doubts remain over their role in spreading the virus. This debate about children as vectors of the virus is becoming critical. Osama Rahman is director of analysis at the Department for Education (DfE) and chief […]

Testing the tests – false negatives and testing errors

Helen Davidson

Discussion about the number of tests completed each day continues unabated. In the meantime, the low rate of home testing kits being returned – and their error rate, which may be as high as 30 per cent – goes largely unreported. Based on accounts of people self-testing, Helen Davidson examines why the failure rate might […]

cntrl

Domestic abuse: the lockdown effect

Barbara Lodge

In an overwhelming understatement on 5 April, UN Secretary General António Guterres defined war as a “non-essential activity” and called for a global ceasefire to allow the world to concentrate on the coronavirus pandemic. Less reported was his call to end to all violence, from the battlefield to the home. The UN is concerned that around […]

Nadine Dorries in ‘doctored video’ storm

Anthony Robinson

Twitter had gone into meltdown this morning after a doctored video of Keir Starmer was retweeted by several leading politicians including Nadine Dorries, MP and Junior Minister at the Department of Health. Her retweet has since been deleted. Unfortunately for her, it was captured and tweeted by plenty of others, including Paul Waugh, political editor […]

Fuelling the recovery: the case for raising fuel duty

Helen Davidson

With a £337 billion hole in Britain’s finances, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak is urgently looking for ways to plug it. In a time of plummeting petrol prices, Helen Davidson examines how increasing fuel tax could help fund the coronavirus debt, assist the government’s gradual easing of lockdown and have only a marginal impact on consumers. […]

Looking over the edge: Brexit just got serious.

Anthony Robinson

EU Legal guru warns UK it’s later than you think In a move calculated to focus minds on both sides of the Channel, a former Director General of the EU’s legal services department has delivered a stark warning, one that will echo particularly strongly in Whitehall. Unless an extension to the transition period is agreed […]

Treasury warns of “sovereign debt crisis” caused by Covid-19

Anthony Robinson

The Telegraph has got hold of a leaked Treasury document warning of a “sovereign debt crisis” unless the economy soon begins to recover from the seven-week coronavirus lock down. On 1 April, a week after the lockdown was announced, Yorkshire Bylines ran an article: Coronavirus and Brexit: double austerity on steroids is coming up which now […]

Hauliers: Transition period “must be extended”

Yorkshire Bylines

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) yesterday issued a desperate plea for the transition period to be extended due to the “impossible amount of work to be done” by the end of December. The coronavirus pandemic has “stripped resources” from both the government and the haulage industry and neither will be able to properly prepare for […]

“Boris is culling you” says Twitter

Hecate

Twitter’s verdict on steps to end the lockdown was swift and brutal. ‘Tory voters – at the next election – Stay home-Protect the NHS’. Matt Lucas summed up the ‘go out but not out out’ message as he mimicked the squeezed vowels typical of Johnson’s speech. Quips scoffed at “an entire cabinet of Graylings”, fiddling with the […]

Lockdown viewing: Our Friends in the North

Séamus O’Hanlon

If you enjoy The Crown, a show with an impressive scope, spanning decades and revealing insights to recent British history, then this is an alternative for you during lockdown. Our Friends in the North may not have had the same budget and gloss, but it is a powerful creation that focuses on ordinary people. A […]

Health, wealth and food security in the UK

Salli Martlew

We all need it. No-one can live without it. Sufficiency of it brings peace and productivity. Deficiency leads to weakness, illness and lower productivity. The kinks and distortions in supply and demand for food are not new. But then came Covid-19, described as the ‘great magnifier’. All that was there before, good or bad, is […]

Daniel Hannan: Britain’s misleader-in-chief?

Anthony Robinson

Daniel Hannan is not a man you would necessarily trust to give you the truth about anything. He is on record in 2016 saying that, “absolutely nobody is talking about threatening our place in the single market”; since when, he himself never stops telling us that’s precisely what we should do. The former MEP and […]

A Predatory Marriage

Daphne Franks

Three days after my mother’s death in March 2016, the phone rang. It was her GP. He sounded worried. “Daphne, did you know your mother was married? Because your mother’s man-friend’s here with a marriage certificate. It says they were married five months ago.” The shock hit me like a punch in the stomach. During […]

The Cygnus Report on pandemic flu preparation – ignoring the advice

Dr 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 […]

Computer model used to develop government Covid-19 strategy allegedly “unusable for scientific purposes”

Anthony Robinson

Explosive allegations have been made by a programming ‘expert’ that the underlying code of the program used by Imperial College in London to model population behaviour in response to different Covid-19 measures, was itself deeply flawed and regularly produced different outputs when given the same inputs. The work at Imperial, done under professor Neil Ferguson […]

Dilemma for early years practitioners when schools reopen

Dr Pam Jarvis

Vigorous discussion has now begun about how to organise the back to school process, with questions raised about full-time or part-time attendance, and which age groups are to return before others. One important concern that has not yet hit the headlines is the issuing of personal protective equipment (PPE) to those who work with very […]

Outcry over downgrades to safeguarding rules

Don Lodge

At a time of national crisis, emergency measures have to be hurriedly put in place; new priorities emerge and regulatory systems have to be adjusted. This is all an essential part of good leadership. But what if these crisis-inspired ‘shortcuts’ remain when normal life resumes? There are worrying signs that this may happen in areas […]

Detecting the fake news virus

Connor Ohalloran

A guide to spotting fake news – COVID-19 edition In an inter-connected world with a captive, susceptible and vulnerable audience – and in this climate of uncertainty – disinformation and fake news thrives. Our natural tendency to share helpful information is exploited by a proliferation of disinformation pollution, seeping into our information bloodstream. Disinformation is […]

PPE: the truth about your personal protection

Peter Robinson

The phrase ‘personal protective equipment’, or PPE, was unfamiliar to many before the current crisis. Builders wearing hard hats and high visibility vests were familiar, as were police officers wearing stab vests and firefighters wearing breathing apparatus. These sights are unlikely to raise comment. But now we see members of the public in gloves and […]