Agincourt – using the archers’ hand sign would be rude …
The ‘War of the Westminster Bubble Dwellers’ – predominantly the MSM ‘top pundits’, the Islington dinner socialists, the top Whitehall Mandarins and some renegade Tories – against the Johnson government is coming out into the open. When Johnson doesn’t present them with some new item on which to attack him, they create it.
Apparently, that spat about the Care Homes Scandal between Starmer and Johnson at PMQs yesterday wasn’t worth pursuing this morning after it became clear that Starmer was quoting out of context from a document based on advice from SAGE and PHE. But hey: ‘Starmer bashed BoJo – put him into No10’ is all we needed to know- but don’t look too hard at his shadow cabinet …!
There are reports about what people did yesterday as the Lockdown was ‘eased’ – there’s even a report by ‘writers’ in the DT about ‘Our First Day Out’ (link) – yes, really! Most went to work though, so of course, transport chiefs are advised to cut down on services:
“Passenger numbers on the London Underground were up by more than 7 per cent compared with last week, with the peak of the rush hour seeing commuters crammed into Tubes and buses. Rail and bus operators were told to consider shutting parts of the public transport system to prevent overcrowding. Government guidance issued yesterday urged operators to use the “full range of operational responses available” to prevent crowding, including telling passengers to “stay away or disperse”. (link, paywalled)
That is in tune with their advice to workers to walk or cycle. After all, ‘sunlight and fresh air’ can protect against CV-19, according to another SAGE expert (link). This is obviously not helpful for those who want to keep us indoors until Christmas.
There’s also the great news that the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche has developed a ‘100% accurate CV-19 test’, as ‘confirmed by PHE’s Porton Down lab’ (link). This was a ‘DT Exclusive’, so The Times copied and re-wrote the news, publishing it three hours later (link, paywalled), calling it a ‘game changer’. This is how the test works:
“The Elecsys laboratory-based test requires a blood sample to be taken by a health professional. Blood serums are obtained, to which reagents are added, and then examined in machines known as cobas e analysers, already widely installed in NHS labs across the country.” (link)
So ‘Our NHS’ has it all in hand, and while Germany has already ordered 5 million test kits, we – that is PHE – is ‘in talks’:
“The Telegraph understands that the Department of Health is in negotiations with the Swiss healthcare company Roche to buy millions of the kits. […] On Wednesday night, Roche said it stood ready to provide hundreds of thousands of laboratory-based tests to the NHS each week.” (link)
Let’s keep our fingers crossed that PHE doesn’t mess this up as they’ve messed up so many other things, like ordering PPE from Turkey. And look – isn’t Roche a private company? No NHS-developed test then, is it!
There are some interesting bits of news from ‘our friends’ across the Channel. While the Brusselocrats demand that the borders inside the EU be opened so that people can go on their summer holidays, there’s no consensus on face masks. It seems Spain aims to make wearing those masks in public ‘mandatory’ – lovely, that, during the hot summer days. Macron is dithering so nobody knows if you must wear these masks or not, but in Italy you must wear them on public transport and other enclosed spaces. The Nordic countries are equally divided (link, paywalled). So better pack face masks when travelling abroad, you never know …
Meanwhile, Brussels has stepped up to the mark, warning our government not to ‘discriminate’ against other than French travellers;
“A commission spokesman told the Telegraph: “If there was a member state that was discriminating and was not in line with EU legislation, the commission would intervene. People travelling from the same place could not be forced into quarantine on the basis of their nationality, the spokesman said. […] The commission can bring lawsuits which can ultimately lead to huge daily fines levied by the EU’s top court in Luxembourg. Despite Brexit, Britain remains subject to the European Court of Justice until the end of the transition period at the end of this year.” (link)
I’m sure all our Remainers will rejoice: better to kowtow to Brussels and ‘import’ more CV-19 through untested, non-quarantined travellers into this country than to keep our country just a bit more safe. We all know that this proposal by the government, allegedly starting on June 1st, is a massive horse that has long bolted as no quarantine had been imposed during the last three months. But it’s good to know that the Brusselocrats are still keeping their beady eyes on us, in the hope of squeezing us for some more money. It also takes our eyes away from the ongoing trade negotiations about which we hopefully can talk tomorrow.
Yesterday we wrote about that leaked Treasury document, on taxes to be raised and cuts to be imposed to pay for the debts incurred thanks to the Lockdown (here). As expected, there are articles on this issue in today’s broadsheets. The Times unsurprisingly gives their report an anti-Johnson slant, quoting ‘senior Tories’:
“Boris Johnson has been warned by senior Conservatives that he risks “entrenching” the impact of the coronavirus crisis if he raises taxes or cuts spending. […] One cabinet minister said that such an approach risked jeopardising growth and suggested that the additional borrowing should instead be treated like a wartime debt and repaid over decades.” (link, paywalled)
These Tories and our MSM pundits seem to regard this Treasury document as a factual government programme. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, writing in the DT, puts his finger firmly on the actual issue. His introductory paragraph is a joy:
“There is a special place in Purgatory for Her Majesty’s Treasury. It came close to subversion during the Brexit drama. Its Covid-19 blueprint for fiscal retrenchment borders on macroeconomic insanity. The 10-page ‘policy package’ leaked to the Telegraph – hopefully for the purpose of discrediting it – is a sure-fire formula for structural damage and an economic depression.” (paywalled link)
I thought yesterday that their aim was to allow Labour to posture about ‘Toree Austeritee’, presenting themselves as saviours of the downtrodden public servants, mandarins included. Here is AEP’s analysis:
“Far from restraining the rise in the ratio of public debt to GDP, the Treasury plan would risk the very debt spiral so feared by its mandarins. It would almost certainly prove self-defeating even on its own terms – assuming that the fiscal torture did not lead to social revolt and the overthrow of free market capitalism before we ever got there.” (paywalled link)
Their warning about creating a situation akin to 1976 caught my eyes yesterday as well, so it’s gratifying to read AEP’s excellent destruction of it:
“Yet the Treasury has its own mind. It also has a Gothic imagination. The authors warn ministers that if they do not get a grip on public finances, we risk a “sovereign debt crisis” akin to 1976, when a British Chancellor had to go cap-in-hand to the International Monetary Fund. Where does one begin? Britain did not have a sovereign debt crisis in 1976. It did not even lose its AAA credit rating.” (paywalled link)
AEP’s further assessment of those Treasury arguments is spot on:
“Everybody has been hit by the same economic shock and everybody is throwing away the rule-book. The US is majestically splashing €4 trillion of fiscal stimulus – current and planned – and the Federal Reserve is mopping up T-bills and up junk bonds on the open market. Have the bond vigilantes recoiled at this insolent heresy? Has the dollar crashed? Of course not. Yet our Treasury is already itching to retrench, citing a budget deficit of £337bn in its “base case” and £516bn in an L-shaped slump.” (paywalled link)
What is it with these ‘worst case scenarios’ using that ‘500’ million (Ferguson) or billion (Treasury) number! Is it meant to scare us silly? AEP’s last paragraph though points to the actual reason this document was ‘leaked’ – and it’s not because of ‘the economy’:
“For whatever reason, somebody is trying to bounce the Chancellor into a destructive course of action. […] Treasury mandarins have a tighter grip over the department than at any time in recent history.” (paywalled link)
Indeed they do and they certainly want to keep it. However, we remember, do we not, that they have ‘expertise’, creating economical ‘scare scenarios’ ever since 2016. They’ve learned nothing, they are still at it. They were proved wrong then, so why should we take their current ‘scare scenario’ seriously when it’s becoming clear that this leak was driven by Mandarin party politics.
I leave you with a seminal quote from an article. I’m indebted for the link, again, to the ever more important Lockdown Sceptics. The author of that article, Ted Yarbrough, is looking at the reason government has given for the Lockdown (‘Protect you-know-what’), quoting from Johnson’s Sunday speech, writing (his emphasis):
“To translate, Britain has given up its freedom, at least temporarily, to bolster the NHS. The UK’s new “national religion” is more like a cult.” (link)
There follows a scathing, devastating analysis of the NHS and the government Lockdown paper. I urge you to read the whole thing. Keep his analysis in mind when the clappers-for-our-sacred-cow come out again this evening. Keep in mind that the Whitehall mandarins are in more or less open warfare against Johnson’s government, as that leaked Treasury document shows.
Keep also in mind that yesterday more of us were out and about than ‘our betters’ in the Westminster Bubble expected, so perhaps we’re not as frightened as they think. Perhaps we peasants outside the M25 haven’t lost that ‘Dunkirk Spirit’ yet.
Perhaps too many of us are now abandoning the MSM: not watching, not listening, not reading what their pundits are saying. Perhaps we’re seeing signs of a very quiet, very British way of giving that Agincourt hand sign to mandarins, pundits and those in government who’re in thrall to them. Keep it up and
Photo by openroads.com