Day: 19 December 2021

News Round-Up

Whistleblowing BBC Journalist Exposes Lockdown Zealotry of Colleagues

A pseudonymous BBC reporter calling himself Charlie Walsham has written a brilliant exposé in the Spectator about the pro-lockdown bias of his colleagues. Here’s how it begins:

I have been a BBC journalist for many years, and in that time I have been committed to impartiality and the corporation’s Reithian values to inform and educate. My despair about the BBC’s one-sided coverage of the pandemic though has been steadily growing for some time. And in early December, as I listened to a BBC radio broadcast, I felt the corporation reach a new low.

During a morning phone-in show on 5Live the topic of discussion was Covid jabs and whether they should be mandated, or if punitive action should be taken against those who refuse them, such as imposing lockdowns on the unvaccinated. Setting aside the fact that these authoritarian measures are now considered a matter for breezy debate, I at least expected a balanced discussion.

This was wishful thinking on my part, as ‘Michael from Birmingham’ – a caller – was about to find out. Michael told the host he hadn’t been vaccinated because he didn’t trust ‘the data’ and cited historic incidents of documented corporate malfeasance by pharmaceutical giants to explain why he was concerned. Now you may disagree with Michael, or think him completely deluded, but he was still a person who had genuine fears about the vaccine and its safety. Yet instead of holding a reasoned debate with his concerned caller, the host immediately lost his temper, talked over Michael, implied he was a flat-earther and then muted him entirely.

It was an interaction that goes to the very heart of the dismal failure of BBC News. I have been working at BBC News throughout the Covid era and have witnessed how the insatiable demands of the 24-hour news cycle have exacerbated a serious and protracted crisis. I have also seen how any attempt at balance has been abandoned in favour of supporting and promoting Covid restrictions.

Australian Teachers Punished with Pay Cuts for Refusing to Get Jabbed

The Australian state of Victoria will deny payment to unvaccinated teachers for the duration of the country’s summer holidays, which runs from December 18th to January 27th. On December 10th, the state’s Department of Education informed its educators that they must provide evidence of inoculation, and gave them a week to do so, while also warning that any teachers who remain unvaccinated by late April will be sacked. The Mail Australia has the story.

Teachers who refuse to get vaccinated against Covid will lose thousands of dollars worth of holiday pay.

Unvaccinated educators across Victoria’s state schools were given just a week to get jabbed or miss out on their full leave entitlements. 

On December 10th, teachers and other school staff were told that if they didn’t show proof of vaccinated by December 18th, they wouldn’t be paid for the school holidays.

Those who didn’t upload proof of vaccination by Saturday would not be paid from December 18th to January 27th, the entirety of the summer break. 

Educators were warned of the significant pay cut in an email from Tony Bugden, an Executive Director at the Department of Education.  

He previously told staff in October that those who refused the jab would not be able to set foot on school grounds from October 18th. 

Unvaccinated educators were additionally told they would not be able to take leave from January 18th and would ultimately get the sack by April 28th, 2022. 

In October, unvaccinated teachers were reassured they would be paid over the school holidays, a hefty pay cheque that could number in the thousands.

“Should you update your vaccination status during the school holidays to show that you meet the vaccination requirements, your pay will be reinstated and the expectation is that you will resume duty at the commencement of the 2022 school year,” the email from Bugden read. 

Unvaccinated teachers who are not medically exempt can either refuse the jab and not return to school, or get vaccinated and be back paid their school holiday leave.

A couple, both of whom worked in the state system for years, told the Herald Sun they would miss out on a combined $10,000 AUD over the four-week break. 

Another man who worked full-time for nine years said he can’t get both his shots in a week and claimed there was no legal basis for being asked to do so. 

The teacher said he offered to do daily PCR tests but was denied by the department.

Worth reading in full.

Sajid Javid Says The Unvaccinated Are Having a “Damaging Impact” On Society

In an interview with Sky News, Sajid Javid criticised the unvaccinated for “the damage they are doing to society” by not coming forward for the jab. The Health Secretary also mentioned that further Covid restrictions, including the imposition of a post-Christmas lockdown, are not off the cards, and that the Government “will do what is necessary”. Sky News has more.

When pushed on reports that ministers are drawing up plans to introduce more restrictions after Christmas, the Health Secretary told Sky News‘ Trevor Phillips on Sunday programme the Government will “do what is necessary”, but that any change must be “backed up by the data”.

He added that ministers are discussing the latest Covid data “almost on an hourly basis” with scientific advisers.

“We’ve shown in the past as Government in dealing with this pandemic that we will do what is necessary but it’s got to be backed up by the data,” the Health Secretary said when probed on any possible plans.

“We are watching the data and discussing it with our scientists and our best advisers almost on an hourly basis. And we will monitor that very carefully. We will keep the situation under review.”

Javid then reiterated that various factors, including vaccinations for Covid, mean “the situation today in terms of our defences is very different”.

He also confirmed that Parliament would be recalled if the Government believed introducing further restrictions was necessary adding that “it would have to be a decision for Parliament”…

The Health Secretary also told Sky News that 10% of the population (more than five million people) have still not taken up the offer of the vaccine, and that around nine out of 10 of those needing the most hospital care were unvaccinated.

“They must really think about the damage they are doing to society… they take up hospital beds that could have been used for someone with maybe a heart problem, or maybe someone who is waiting for elective surgery,” Javid said.

“But instead of protecting themselves and protecting the community they choose not to get vaccinated. They are really having a damaging impact and I just can’t stress enough, please do come forward and get vaccinated.”

Worth reading in full.

Brexit Minister Resigns in Protest of ‘Plan B’ Restrictions

Lord Frost has resigned from the Cabinet following the Government’s decision to introduce ‘Plan B’ restrictions. Writing to the Prime Minister, Frost accused Boris Johnson of breaking his promise to ensure that the re-opening of the country during the summer months was “irreversible”. The Telegraph has more.

Lord Frost quit the Cabinet on Saturday night over concerns about Boris Johnson’s Covid curbs and the Government’s “direction of travel”, as the Prime Minister considered calls for a third national lockdown beginning as soon as this week.

The Cabinet Office minister, who was leading Johnson’s post-Brexit negotiations with the European Union, resigned over the Government’s ‘Plan B’ Covid measures, having held private concerns for months about Covid restrictions and the Government’s economic policy, including its planned National Insurance hike. 

In his resignation letter, Frost reminded Johnson of his pledge that the lifting of restrictions in the summer would be “irreversible”. He also urged the Prime Minister to “deliver on the opportunities” of Brexit by moving “as fast as possible” to “a lightly regulated, low-tax, entrepreneurial economy”. 

The resignation of such a close ally creates a major new crisis for the Prime Minister. His concerns about the direction of the Government echo the views of many Tory backbenchers. 

One senior Tory backbencher said: “The trouble is Frost speaks for the party. This is the beginning of the end.” A senior minister said they were not at all surprised at Lord Frost quitting the Cabinet, adding: “I know he opposed ‘Plan B’. The Prime Minister’s supporters are the ones who are least keen on the restrictions. The ones who want to undermine him want the restrictions. Frost going just proves that.” 

Frost initially offered to resign earlier this month over Plan B, and had been persuaded to stay on until the New Year. He quit with immediate effect on Saturday night after news of his resignation leaked.

Frost’s resignation emerged as the Prime Minister was weighing up a “sliding scale” of new Covid restrictions, with Sajid Javid warning that ministers may have to introduce new measures on the basis of “early and patchy” data.

As the Government’s scientific advisers called for an “immediate” curtailment of indoor mixing to combat the spread of omicron, the Prime Minister was considering a range of potential measures, from new guidance on restricting social contact, to a third national lockdown.

Frost, a former adviser to Johnson during the Prime Minister’s time as Foreign Secretary, was among a series of Cabinet members opposed to new restrictions.

Worth reading in full.