- “Highest taxes since Second World War as Boris Johnson abandons manifesto pledges” – The Prime Minister has raised National Insurance and pulled the plug on the pensions triple lock to fund NHS and social care, reports the Telegraph.
- “Covid booster jab campaign may not be needed, says AstraZeneca boss” – Pascal Soriot warns that the NHS may come under unnecessary pressure if the roll-out begins without clear evidence, reporst the Telegraph.
- “There can be no justification whatsoever for an October lockdown” – It simply isn’t plausible that we could go from being at herd immunity for summer to having a new wave ten times as great this autumn, writes Andrew Lilico in the Telegraph.
- “Javid’s cash boost can’t fix a battered NHS” – “The Treasury is, true to form, anxious that the health service doesn’t just take the money without it appearing to touch the sides,” writes Isabel Hardman in the Spectator.
- “Exam contingency plans being made in case coronavirus forces more ‘unthinkable’ cancellations in 2022” – Schools Minister Nick Gibb says teachers and schools want advance details of “what data they might or might not need to collect should the worst happen”, reports Sky News.
- “It’s not up to my 12 year-old daughter to decide whether she gets jabbed” – These children aren’t old enough to buy gerbils, yet according to the Government they are able to make their minds up on the Covid vaccine, writes Judith Woods in the Telegraph.
- “Never again should Parliament sit via Zoom” – The more MPs are able to look into the whites of each others’ eyes, the better, writes Iain Dale in the Telegraph.
- “Four in five people aged 16 and over in U.K. have had both vaccine jabs, says Government” – A total of 43,535,098 people have had two jabs (80.1%) and 48,292,811 have been given one dose (88.8%), reports Sky News.
- “The Left’s science denial” – Beware sharing politically inconvenient stories on social media, writes Tom Chivers in UnHerd.
- “Covid Bosh: The Illicit and the Desperate” – “The lies are growing more desperate. Now more than ever, we have to cleave to what we can best discern and know to most likely, rationally, be the case,” writes Omar Khan in Uncommon Wisdom.
- “Young adults’ lung function is not affected by Covid, researchers find” – Scientists in two separate studies say the results are reassuring for those in this age group who become infected with Covid, reports the Telegraph.
- “Scientist Claims Anthony Fauci ‘Untruthful’ About Chinese Lab Research” – The U.S. Government helped fund research on bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, reports Breitbart.
- “Vietnam man jailed for five years for spreading Covid” – The man was sentenced to five years in jail for “spreading dangerous infectious disease” after breaching quarantine rules and passing Covid to at least eight people, reports the Guardian.
- “Sex, drugs and the Modern Review” – We wouldn’t have survived amid today’s echo chambers and cancel culture, writes Julie Burchill on the Modern Review in UnHerd.
- “Only connect” – “This,” according to Alexander Adams in Bournbrook Magazine, “is why meeting in person at organised events, social get-togethers and chance encounters is so valuable.”
- “E.U. wants everyone to pay the cost of going green – except the wealthy” – Climate change is for all us to solve. Leaving out supercars and private jets from plans is hypocritical, writes Matthew Lynn in the Telegraph.
- “We won’t be bullied into going green, says China” – Beijing has told Britain that it will not yield to international pressure for bigger improvements to its climate change commitments at the COP26 conference, reports the Times.
- “Radical environmentalists need to get a grip – we’ll still need coal for the foreseeable future” – Without steel you can’t have wind turbines, or solar farms, or new energy-efficient homes. And to produce mass steel, you need coal, writes Ross Clark in the Telegraph.
- “Better-off workers will boost the war on woke” – “There is often more method to the madness of commercial wokery than is commonly supposed,” writes Andrew Cadman in TCW Defending Freedom.
- “Train conductor sacked for referring to ‘alcohol-free caliphate’ on Facebook” – There was a time when one might have sacked for using the F-word in public, but Jeremy Sleath has been sacked for using a simile, reports Archbishop Cranmer.
- “BBC offers staff test to see how privileged they are” – The initiative has been ridiculed by critics as pointless, while MPs declare that the corporation’s “distorted view” is not shared by viewers and listeners, reports the Telegraph.
- “Can the perpetually underfunded NHS please just look after our health rather than wasting time and money lecturing us about race?” – “An NHS blog titled Dear White People in the U.K.’ emerged over the weekend. If this is the sort of rubbish we can expect added funds from the proposed raise in National Insurance to go on, Britain is being taken for a ride,” writes Paul A. Nuttall in Russia Today.
- “I am sick of being told I have to protect the NHS!” – Toby says on talkRADIO: “It has become our national religion. A lot of people are sick to the back teeth of this.”
Day: 7 September 2021
There’s good news and bad news on the travel front today. The good news is that the ‘traffic light’ travel system could be (partially) scrapped next month under plans being drawn up by ministers. The bad news is that officials have been told not to allow a return to normal but to create a new system based on Covid vaccination instead. The Telegraph has the story.
Officials have been told to develop a new system based on the vaccination status of travellers rather than the Covid rating of the country they are visiting.
It is likely to mean ‘Amber’ and ‘Green’ will disappear as separate categories, although ‘Red’ will continue with travellers still required to quarantine in hotels on returning from high-risk destinations.
Double jabbed holidaymakers can already travel to Amber countries without having to quarantine on their return after the Government ditched the requirement to self-isolate.
It means that for fully vaccinated travellers, visiting Amber or Green countries is exactly the same, requiring only pre-departure tests and then a PCR test within two days of returning to the U.K.
The proposed new two-tier system is only likely to have an impact on those who are not vaccinated. It is unclear, however, whether they would be required to continue to quarantine or face a more intensive testing regime on returning to the U.K.
The rethink of the traffic light system has been triggered by the Government’s promise to review it by October 1st when it was originally unveiled earlier this year.
It also coincides with the completion of the vaccination roll-out with all adults aged 18 and over offered both their jabs by the end of September.
Worth reading in full.
Matt Hancock tried to make a modest re-entry into public life this afternoon in the House of Commons debate about the Government’s National Insurance hike. It didn’t go well. MailOnline has the details.
Matt Hancock was booed and heckled by fellow MPs this afternoon as he spoke in the House of Commons for the first time since resigning.
The disgraced former Health Secretary stood up to speak from the backbenches in Westminster in support of Boris Johnson during a debate on social care reform.
The 42 year-old Conservative was forced to quit the Cabinet on June 26th when CCTV from his Whitehall office was leaked of him kissing his married aide Gina Coladangelo in breach of his own COVID-19 social distancing guidance.
And today, he congratulated the Prime Minister following his statement on social care – which will see a £12 billion-a-year tax raid to address the funding crisis – and called for the sector to be integrated with health “properly”.
It comes after friends of the couple claimed over the weekend that Mr Hancock is pushing his “shattered” long-Covid hit wife Martha to “breaking point” with a list of break-up demands and is being a “complete a” to her.
Mr. Hancock was last week spotted on a romantic Alpine break with his new lover, with Mrs. Hancock left feeling “very low” at the family home while “desperately trying to keep it together” for their three children.
Worth reading in full.
There is some confusion today on recent reports that the Government is planning a potential October ‘firebreak’ lockdown. A senior Government scientist told the i that an “extended peak” of Covid ‘cases’ and hospitalisations could push ministers to impose another lockdown next month, but BBC News today quotes from both the Department for Education (DfE) and the Prime Minister’s spokesman who have denied this report.
“It is not true that the Government is planning a lockdown or ‘firebreak’ around the October half term,” [the DfE] said in a tweet.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman also denied the report. He said plans had been kept for a range of scenarios – “but these kind of measures would only be reintroduced as a last resort to prevent unsustainable pressure on our NHS”.
“I think we’ve been clear throughout that we will take action, and indeed we have done when necessary to protect our NHS,” he said.
But the spokesman pointed out that when rules were brought in the past, the U.K. did not yet have the protection from vaccines.
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi has, however, been a little less clear in his denial of reports. He is reported in Sky News as saying that we can “continue on this sort of one-way road” towards reopening “if we do [the booster vaccine roll-out] well” (emphasis added).
Speaking to Kay Burley on Sky News, Mr. Zahawi did not confirm or deny whether he would endorse an October ‘firebreak’ if hospitalisations for Covid remain high. …
He added: “So the booster programme that we have had interim advice from the JCVI [Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation] on is my absolute priority.
“That will protect the most vulnerable to serious infection – that will absolutely help us to transition the virus from pandemic to endemic status.
“The important thing is that we get that right, because I think if we do that well, we can continue on this sort of one-way road towards sustaining the opening of the economy and, by next year hopefully, transitioning the virus from pandemic to endemic and dealing with it on an annual basis.”
Later during his Tuesday morning broadcast media round, Mr. Zahawi added that he had seen no plans for an October ‘firebreak’ lockdown if cases rise this autumn.
It is worth noting that, on the basis of the impending introduction of vaccine passports despite Zahawi’s previous claims to the contrary, an October lockdown could be on the cards even if the Vaccines Minister had ruled one out.
Below is a guest post by one of the editors of the Modern Review, a new Indian-backed but British-based cultural and political magazine that will be launching this autumn. To mark the launch, the editors have organised a lockdown debate in which I’ll be participating, alongside Professor Carl Heneghan and Luke Johnson.
If the eruption of Covid united us in common grief and shared suffering, the Government’s response to it – often characterised by improvisation and incompetence – has divided us. Many are grateful that the lockdowns saved lives; others complain that they destroyed livelihoods. The hospitality sector suffered the worst job losses in history, and the travel and tourism industries stand devastated. Many among us reconciled themselves to the lockdowns as an unavoidable necessity; others have come to see in their prolongation the seeds of authoritarian governmental control.
Wherever you stand, the ramifications of the lockdowns extend beyond health and safety: they will shape our economics, politics, and ways of life for at least the next decade. Or will they?
Join us at what promises to be an edifying and entertaining event. Bringing together individuals who are credentialled and contentious, it will be a no-holds-barred debate. There will be no shying away from discomfiting facts, no suppression of fiery opinions. And best of all: you can have your say with a vote at the end.
The event will be held at The Londoner, the capital’s newest luxury hotel in the heart of the West End. It will open with a drinks reception at 6.30pm, followed by the main event at 7pm.
Tickets are £30 and can be obtained here.
Debaters include, among others:
Author, broadcaster, Associate Editor of the Spectator, Founder of dailysceptic.org
Dr. Carl Heneghan
Epidemiologist and Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, University of Oxford
Businessman, chairman of Risk Capital Partners, owner of Gail’s, and former head of Channel 4
Dr. Sonia Adesara
Medical doctor, former National Medical Doctor’s Clinical Fellow, and former Director of 50:50 Parliament
Columnist and leader writer, the Times
Dr. Dominic Green
Author, historian, and editor of the Spectator‘s world edition
There was a time when commentators seemed obsessed with telling their readers that they rather enjoyed being locked down – avoiding lengthy commutes, spending time with family in the garden and rediscovering forgotten hobbies. Needless to say, this joy was not universal. Others (likely those without the gardens or without the funds for hobbies) found lockdown to be particularly difficult, as is reflected by figures showing that family breakdowns led to a surge in the number of children referred for foster care in the year up until July 31st, 2021. The Telegraph has the story.
The 36% increase in referrals to Barnardo’s, from 14,130 to 19,144 in the 12 months to July 31st, 2021, prompted an urgent appeal by the charity for foster parents.
Barnardo’s is targeting foster parents who would be willing to care for siblings left without a family after a 31% increase in their numbers.
Lyn Perry, Joint Chief Executive of Barnardo’s, said job losses caused by the pandemic combined with mental ill health had contributed to the sharp rise.
“The pandemic and lockdown measures have piled pressure onto struggling families with job losses, deepening poverty and worsening mental health, contributing to family breakdown,” she said. …
In England the rise in the total number of children referred to Barnardo’s fostering services was 40%, in Wales it was 5% and in Northern Ireland it was 20%. In Scotland, however, there was a decrease of 17% in total referrals.
Worth reading in full.
One aspect of the pandemic that’s received comparatively little attention is the impact that ‘non-pharmaceutical interventions’ have had on pathogens other than SARS-CoV-2.
All the things we’ve been doing over the past year and a half – lockdowns, voluntary social distancing, frequent use of hand sanitiser – are highly unusual. And they may have reduced our exposure to many different viruses and bacteria.
The potential consequences of this reduced exposure were discussed in an article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last November. That article – which represents the combined efforts of a dozen scientists – lists 10 ‘evolutionary insights’ on the COVID-19 pandemic.
The second insight listed is that members of ‘generation quarantine’ may lack critical microbial exposures. As the authors note: “Quarantine has temporarily halted the regular exposure to novel pathogens that is characteristic of human social interaction.”
While most adults have already been exposed to many pathogens at least once, children may not have been. And proper cognitive development, the authors note, “requires adequate and diverse microbial exposure”.
They cite experimental evidence that animals deprived of normal microbiota during critical windows “develop into adults with altered cognition and anxiety”, as well as evidence that disruptions to the microbiome are associated with some neurodegenerative diseases.
Lockdowns and social distancing, the authors note, will result “in a generation whose neurodevelopment will have been influenced disproportionally more by the microbial environment of their natal family in quarantine than by the outside world”. And the long-term effects of this are “unknown”.
This year, New Zealand has already seen an unusually large outbreak of RSV (a respiratory virus affecting children), which doctors have attributed to an ‘immunity debt’ caused by lockdowns last winter. We may have to wait months or years to get a full picture of the impact on children’s health and development.
All 10 of the ‘evolutionary insights’ listed by Benjamin Seitz and colleagues are interesting, and the paper is worth reading in full.
I finally went to the tip on Sunday to clear out the junk and defunct household items that had been accumulating since March 2020. I’d been putting it off because since the first lockdown the local tip had introduced an inconvenient booking system and all manner of the usual ‘Covid safe’ nonsense. Bear in mind that this is a facility that exists entirely outdoors and so where the risk of transmission is minimal.
I was waiting for the restrictions to be lifted so that I could just turn up, in the handy, old-fashioned way, and not be harassed by the tiresome ‘safetyist’ propaganda. This had taken considerably longer than I had anticipated, however, and now ‘Freedom Day’ had come and gone, and still the booking system remained stubbornly in place. The rest of the country may have lifted restrictions, but not the tip.
So when the microwave gave up in quick succession to the coffee machine and I faced the prospect of a garden filling up with broken small electrical appliances, I finally admitted defeat and booked myself in for a slot. It was, as predicted, irritatingly inconvenient, as having made the arrangement for three o’clock on the Sunday I now felt bound by it and had to arrange my day around it. The fact that the weather turned out unexpectedly summery and we ended up at a classic car show only meant that, come the hour, I had to drag my two small children away from the enticing bungee bounce in order to be able to make my time.
On arrival at the recycling centre (as the tip is now styled) it was like stepping back to April 2020. Large illuminated signs warned the approaching visitor of the dangers of Covid and reassured them there were numerous measures in place for their safety and to prevent the spread. Staff would not be able physically to help with disposing of items, the signs declared. That’s a noble sacrifice on their part, was the unkind thought that went thought my head.