Day: 1 November 2021

News Round-Up

And Finally…

In this week’s episode of London Calling, James Delingpole and I devote the best part of an hour to taking the Mickey out of COP26. I challenge James to identify the biggest climate hypocrite of the week: Joe Biden, who brought five passenger jets with him; Dana Strong, the CEO of Sky, which is one of the main sponsors of the conference and who spent the first six months of her job ‘commuting’ to London from her home in Philadelphia on a private jet; or the organisers of COP26, who’ve had to rig up oil-fuelled generators to power the fleet of 260 electric Range Rover they’ve laid on to transport the VIPs from the nearest private jet landing strip to the conference centre. We also just manage to squeeze in a discussion of King Richard, Dune and season three of Succession.

You can listen to the episode here and subscribe on iTunes here.

Cop26 Proves that for the Billionaire Class and their Political Bag-Carriers, Virtue-Signalling is More Important than Being Virtuous

I’ve written a piece for Mail+ about the galactic levels of hypocrisy being exhibited by the billionaires, politicians and celebrities attending COP26. Here is an extract.

If hypocrisy were a type of fuel, the 20,000 attendees at Cop26 in Glasgow would have solved the climate crisis at a stroke.

Yesterday, Amazon owner Jeff Bezos flew in to Glasgow in his £4 8million Gulfstream jet, leading a 400-strong parade of private aircraft transporting billionaires to the climate conference.

The jets, which included one carrying Prince Charles and his entourage from Rome, will disgorge more carbon into the atmosphere in a few days than 1600 Scots burn through in a year.

And the reason these plutocrats are flying in to Glasgow, of course, is to wag their fingers at ordinary people, insisting we reduce our carbon emissions or face the wrath of the next generation.

“It’s one minute to midnight,” Boris Johnson warned, neglecting to mention that he has taken more than 20 private flights since becoming Prime Minister.

I would say this means irony is dead, but climate change hypocrisy is a bit like the Black Knight in Monty Python And The Holy Grail. Every time you think these rich and powerful do-gooders have inflicted a mortal wound on their moral credibility, they carry on as if nothing has happened.

Perhaps the ultimate example of these double standards is Sky chief executive Dana Strong. The broadcaster is one of the main sponsors of Cop26 and Ms Strong has not been shy about lecturing her rivals for not doing enough to promote the green agenda.

So is she leading by example? Not exactly.

For the first six months of her term as chief executive, Dana Strong ‘commuted’ to Sky’s London headquarters from her home in Philadelphia via private jet. That meant she completed the 7,000-mile round trip multiple times before she relocated to London in June.

Worth reading in full.

Independent Sage Accuses JCVI of Being “Anti-Vax”!

The Zero Covid absolutists at Independent SAGE have, in typical style, denounced the medical and scientific experts on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation of proposing to use children as “human shields” because it wouldn’t rubber stamp the Government’s decision to vaccinate healthy 12-15 year-olds. Surely, it is the Government that wants to use younger teenagers as “human shields” by insisting on extending the vaccine roll out to them even though the health risks clearly outweigh the health benefits? MailOnline has more.

Members of Independent Sage, a vocal group of experts who have clung on to the idea of eliminating Covid, accused the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation of using youngsters as “human shields” to protect adults.

Newly-published minutes from JCVI meetings show that the group first looked at whether letting 12 to 15-year-olds get Covid naturally was better than vaccinating them in spring, months before the rollout was expanded to teens.

Echoing the view of many independent experts, the JCVI accepted allowing the virus to circulate naturally could give youngsters strong immunity and also protect adults — without the risk of side effects from vaccines.

The panel emphasised Covid posed such a tiny threat to children and raised concerns about a heart inflammation condition associated with the jabs in young people.

“Children rarely develop severe disease or die of Covid; even children with underlying comorbidities have a very low risk,’ the JCVI said in its 32nd meeting on May 13.

“There are limited data on Covid vaccine use in children; there is a need to consider the mild transient illness of Covid versus potential rare adverse events associated with vaccination.

“There is an argument for allowing the virus to circulate amongst children which could provide broader immunity to the children and boost immunity in adults.”

The group also considered that children might be better off catching Covid at a young age, when they are at low risk, so that they are less vulnerable in adulthood, as is the case with chicken pox and other viral infections.

Dr Kit Yates, a mathematical biologist at the University of Bath and Independent Sage member, quoted excerpts from a number of JCVI minutes in a lengthy Twitter thread, writing: ‘Anti-vax or JCVI?’

His colleague Professor Alice Roberts, a public health expert at the University of Birmingham, said the views expressed at the meetings were “just appalling”. Other Independent Sage members described them as “upsetting”.

Worth reading in full.

If members of the JCVI can be accused of being “anti-vaxxers”, the phrase has clearly lost any connection with its original meaning and now means “anyone who raises the slightest concern about the Covid vaccines, regardless of their medical or scientific expertise”.

Mandatory Vaccination For NHS Workers Would Lead to A Winter Staffing Crisis, Warns NHS Providers Chief

Chris Hopson, the Chief Executive of NHS Providers has sent a warning that the NHS could suffer severe staff shortages this winter if mandatory vaccination for NHS staff comes into effect. Approximately 10% of all NHS workers haven’t received two doses of a Covid vaccine, which encompasses roughly 120,000 members of staff, with Hopson saying that any vaccine mandate should be delayed until April to avoid any serious problems over the next few months. The Telegraph has the story.

Latest NHS figures show that 90% of staff have been double-jabbed. However, about 120,000 workers are not – and at some trusts, including major hospitals in London and Birmingham, uptake is as low as 80%.

Barts Health NHS Trust, Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust, North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust and Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust all have an uptake of 80% or less, according to NHS figures for the week ending October 14th. 

Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, last week said he is “leaning towards” making jabs compulsory for frontline health workers.

But on Monday Chris Hopson, Chief Executive of NHS Providers, which represents hospitals, said that if the Government was to press ahead, it should delay until April to ensure the NHS can get through the “very, very difficult winter”…

Hopson said around two thirds of NHS leaders backed mandatory jabs, but one third objected. 

He told BBC Breakfast: “If we lose very large numbers of unvaccinated staff, particularly over the winter period, then that also constitutes a risk to patient safety and quality of care.

“We know – and the Chief Medical Officer has said this really clearly – that we’ve got a very, very difficult winter coming up and we know the NHS is going to be absolutely at full stretch.

“So it makes sense to set the deadline once that winter period has passed”.

Worth reading in full.

CNN Reports on COP26, But Gets City Wrong

Much hilarity on Twitter today after CNN’s Wolf Blitzer posted a photograph of himself with Edinburgh Castle in the background, accompanied by the words: “I’m now reporting from Edinburgh in Scotland where 20,00 world leaders have gathered for the COP26 climate summit.” Just one small problem Wolf: COP26 is being held in Glasgow, not Edinburgh.

If CNN can’t even be bothered to check which city COP26 is in, how confident can we be that the broadcaster will check any other ‘facts’ it broadcasts about the ‘Climate Breakdown’?

Does Boris’s Megalomania Conceal a Smidgen of Libertarian Sentiment?

We’re publishing a guest post today by David McGrogan, a professor at Northumbria Law School and Daily Sceptic regular. He is gradually coming round to the idea that beneath Boris’s megalomaniacal lust for power there is a smidgen of libertarian sentiment.

He didn’t know we were at war, and wouldn’t have cared if he had. But I have made my peace with Boris.

This time last year, we had just been “plunged” (I feel duty bound to use this word) into the second full-on national lockdown, and my view of the Government had reached its nadir. It seemed to be hypnotised by opinion poll results which its own messaging had created, victims of a grotesque feedback loop whereby the fears of the population fuelled ever more fear-inducing restrictions. Either that, or the Government had fallen under the sway of a small coterie of scientific advisors whose own groupthink had rendered them incapable of anything other than worst-case scenario planning. Worse, certain high-profile members of the Cabinet seemed to be positively enjoying themselves: the sparkle in their eyes as they appeared on our TV screens hinted at deep wells of authoritarianism lying just below the surface of their placid faces.

But I am now convinced that, although we are not Sweden (the Lionel Messi of public health responses to Covid), we are in a better place than almost any other society. Yes, depressingly, in Scotland and Wales vaccine passports have been introduced and mandatory face-covering is still in place indoors. But life in England is pretty much back to, if not the old normal, then something close to it. We can go to pubs, restaurants, theatres and sports stadiums as we used to. Most of us haven’t worn a mask in months. Kids are in school. Students are on campus. Places of worship are open. Shopping centres are brimming with pre-Christmas energy. Better, we’ve stopped obsessing over the figures – “case” numbers have finally begun to lose the sway they once had over the public mood.

No, things are not as readers of this website would wish it. But compare our situation to that in France or Italy, where vaccines are near-compulsory and mask-wearing entrenched. Or Australia – zero-Covid hell. Or New Zealand, which has merrily embraced becoming a “two-tier society”. Or Austria, which has threatened to lockdown the un-vaccinated, Latvia (back under full lockdown), or Japan and South Korea (where everybody wears a mask every moment of the day they are not in their own homes). Imagine living in the U.S., where a doddering tyrant of a President clings onto Covid authoritarianism as his last best hope to display leadership (although some states have defiantly lifted all restrictions).

By the world’s standards, we have actually muddled our way through the pandemic with our “old normal” relatively intact. And this should, after all, be the bar by which success is judged. Negotiating to a position of living with the pathogen with one’s society unscathed is what pandemic management is all about. We seem to have almost got there. Most countries still appear to be largely stuck in the mindset that dealing with a pandemic means eliminating the pathogen and abolishing death, and, as we now know, in that direction lies nothing but madness.

Thank God that’s not us. And, while you’re at it, it may be worth thanking Boris, albeit through gritted teeth. He has revealed himself to be a very cynical politician over the last two years, adept at manipulating and responding to public opinion. At every stage, he seems to have judged the public mood to be going one way and leapt aboard, flinging principle in the dustbin en route. But what has been revealed since restrictions were lifted in July is that his inner sentiments are in favour of old fashioned, Cavalier-ish English liberty, as he has always liked to imply. In the white heat of March 2020, or winter last year, with the media baying relentlessly for lockdown and the scientists putting out a relentless tsunami of bleak forecasts, he allowed his hand to be forced. But now there is some wiggle-room he is erring in the right direction: toward personal freedom. We ought to be fair to him and give him some credit for that; we all know that if Keir Starmer was in charge things would look very different indeed.

Robert Caro, probably the greatest political biographer of the last 100 years, likes to say that “power reveals”. Once somebody has attained a position to do what they would like to do and to impose their decisions on others, you finally get to see what they are really like. The period 2020-2021 has revealed Boris to be almost nihilistic in his desire to retain power – a chameleon of principle. But it has also shown that there is a foundation of libertarian sentiment somewhere in the depths of his psyche. If I were being very optimistic I might even push the point and suggest that, since it is our electoral system that resulted in him being PM, our society shares that sentiment – at least more than many other countries – too. I wouldn’t have suggested any such thing in April 2020. But stepping out of my front door into an England that feels free once more, I can say it now.

Over 4,000 Australian Healthcare Workers Suspended for Refusing the Vaccine

The Australian state of Queensland has suspended more than 4,000 healthcare workers for refusing the vaccine. Health Minister Yvette D’Ath remarked that the healthcare system would be able to cope without these employees, with the figure only encompassing around 3% of the total healthcare workforce. Those who have not received the vaccine are still receiving full pay but will soon be asked for their reasons as to not getting jabbed and then suspended with immediate effect. Sky News Australia has the story.

“There will be some disruptions, but we are managing those disruptions… we have been planning for this”, she said.

“We have a number of staff who will now go through a show-cause process and we will put in place measures to manage any workforce shortages that might occur”.

Under Queensland’s current guidelines anyone working in the healthcare system must have received their first dose by September 30th and a second dose by late October.

The 4,000 who do not fill this criteria will be asked to explain why they have not received the vaccine and then be suspended with immediate effect.

“There are 7,000 health workers who have not come forward saying they are vaccinated, but 3,000 of those are on [long service or maternity] leave”, D’Ath said.

“There are 4,000 who have not been vaccinated and will be given their show cause and will be suspended with full pay.

“I have every confidence that these numbers [of vaccinated health care workers] will continue to grow each day, just as we saw when we mandated vaccinations with our aged care workers”.

D’Ath said more than 92% of Queensland health workers have had one dose and all aged care workers had received one dose and 96.3% were fully vaccinated.

Worth reading in full.

Thousands of English Schoolchildren Forced to Wear Masks

Thousands of children were told to wear masks when they returned to school today after the half-term break, in spite of zero evidence that masks suppress transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in schools. The Daily Mail has more.

Schools in the East of England will be urged to reimpose the measure on top of mass testing to halt an increase in coronavirus cases in the region, it emerged yesterday.

“Targeted local action” will affect more than 1.5million people living in Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and Suffolk.

The plans include asking secondary schools to make masks compulsory in communal areas, as well as the return of routine onsite rapid testing for pupils.

The measures – which will be in place for at least five weeks – were announced by the Health Security Agency, the organisation which has replaced Public Health England.

Extra vaccination and testing teams will also be deployed to the East of England to try and tackle the spread of the virus.

Similar restrictions could be rolled out across other parts of the country this winter if they also see a spike in cases.

Worth reading in full.

500,000 Learner Drivers Hit by Lockdown Backlog

According to the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency), there are roughly 500,000 learner drivers waiting to take a test, with the average waiting time being 14 weeks but some have had to wait twice as long in the worst effected parts of the country. Driving tests only resumed in April this year, allowing the backlog to swell over the course of 12 months of repeated lockdowns, with the Transport Committee informed that the situation will not return to normal until 2023. The Mailonline has the story.

The delay means learners are having to fork out thousands of pounds for extra driving lessons as they are required to keep up their skills to ensure they are ready when their slot comes round.

Others who had taken their theory test – a requirement to sit the practical – were forced to pay for another as it had expired before they were able to take their practical exam. 

Figures from the DVSA show that the number of tests conducted in the U.K. between April and June this year was 26% lower when compared with the same period in 2019.

Critical workers, such as those in health and social care, were still able to book tests throughout the various lockdowns. 

Peter Hearn, operations director at the DVSA, told the Commons Transport Committee: “The backlog on car testing at the moment is double what we would normally expect.

We normally expect a backlog of about 250,000 tests – we’re double that at the moment. 

We have had significant periods in which we have not been able to test drivers so we are now in a period in which we are trying to recover those services.

We’re doing lots of additional things right across the organisation with additional hours, we’re bringing people in that can test.”

Hearn told the committee the agency was recruiting extra staff, including examiners and support staff, and said they had already hired 90 with plans to bring in up to 300.

Worth reading in full.