Reply To: Elections Aftermath: Was our 2019 Vote & the EU Referendum Rigged? #TORYRIG2019

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Kim Sanders-Fisher

Boris Johnson, our narcissistic, pampered “part-time Prime Minister,” brazenly begged for public sympathy in a Sunday tabloid press interview, probably hoping to detract from his shambolic handling of the Covid 19 crisis. Brave, “take it on the chin” Boris didn’t sound quite so bold as he wallowed in self-pity relaying his precautionary Hospital admission as if it was a terrifying near death experience. His melodramatic portrayal of requiring “litres and litres of oxygen” and facing his own mortality when “at one point the Doctors were close to putting a tube down his throat,” seriously over-egged his personal plight. He was parked in ICU in case he rapidly deteriorated, but no, he was never put on a ventilator. He might well have thought, “how am I going to get out of this,” but he had better understand, when the grim reaper comes for him, his lies and false promises are not going to cut it!

The Andrew Marr show offered an interesting line up including Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to explain how social distancing could be maintained on public transport as people went back to work. Sir Michael Palin would be sure to lighten our mood with his much needed humorous take on this wretched situation while Sir Ian Diamond, the Government’s Chief Statistician could be relied on to compact the deadly death toll into a barely acceptable, not quite fit for human consumption, but fully Tory compliant, fake reality. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO Technical Lead on Covid 19 would inform us of the latest well researched directives that the Tory Government will be certain to ignore. First Minister for Wales, Labour’s Mark Drakeford would be interviewed and the actor Eddie Marsan was invited to tell us about a TV lockdown drama with his wife manning the camera. The Guardian’s Editor in Chief Katherine Viner and the BBC’s Health Editor Hugh Pym would start with the Paper Review.

The most newsworthy issue of the Paper Review focused on a Sunday Telegraph article, “‘Crystal ball gazing’ over Covid-19 has left Nightingale hospitals empty.” Hugh Pym noted it revealed that, since opening, the Nightingale Hospital has only treated between 20 and 30 patients, while there was room for at least 500. Initially they had reported that it might need to expand to accommodate several thousand critical Covid 19 patients in ventilator equipped beds. This begged the question, was too much capacity created, but my enquiring mind delved even deeper: who made money on the hasty procurement of all that high-end equipment? “White elephant” squandering of time and resources occurred while the Tories ignored simple, far less costly, items like the vital PPE to protect NHS staff. The defence was that the modelling had predicted that a large number of the over 80s would need intensive care … but that was only if they were allowed to come to Hospital!

Sir Ian Diamond, the Government’s Chief Statistician, when asked by Marr how many deaths there have been, dutifully quoted the Tories latest deliberately deflated total of 28,131. He did say that the Office of National Statistics was seeing the highest number of excess deaths each week that have ever been recorded since records began at the ONS; 8-9000 test positive Covid deaths, but there were also indirect deaths. This was the shocking “Collateral Damage,” as was pointed out in “the Hammer and Dance” article, accounting for an increased death rate now and probably a continuing impact into the future. As warned before the NHS doesn’t necessarily need to be overwhelmed to cause deaths in other patient cohorts, people are fearful of coming to Hospitals. Diamond said that, higher fatality numbers will result from the changes in prioritization of treatment that will cause more deaths over next few years due to delayed cancer treatment, but also a lengthy and deep recession with a long period of unemployment will take a toll.

Marr speculated, “a total north of 30,000” and referenced the “excess deaths,” saying that “the Financial Times, Chris Giles has done an assessment and he says that about 60% above Hospital deaths is the kind of figure we should be looking at.” Without attacking Giles there was an attempt to downplay his alarming “prediction.” Diamond was quick to deny the possibility that the UK was heading for the highest death toll in Europe, insisting that making international comparisons is an unbelievably difficult thing to do. Ian Diamond then said something else in defence of our incompetent Government, claiming that we have, “the best reporting, the most transparent reporting and the most timely reporting… as fast as we possibly can…” I was Gobsmacked! Marr said, “does this mean we will never ever know?” I would say if this Tory Government stays in power, we will definitely never know the truth.

Andrew Marr welcomes Sir Michael Palin; who could fail to crack a smile at this iconic entertainer who admits he is enjoying the calm of lockdown. He says a friend had shared that “he got snow blindness looking at his diary!” Marr asked Palin about a book he was contributing to in order to raise funds for NHS charities. Palin said it was full of funny anecdotes and experiences while in Hospital. Michael Palin is also renown for his travel presentations but he admitted he would be travelling less and it would be very different with no air travel until a vaccine is found; he said we should learn to enjoy our own country, sure bigoted Brexit Britain! As a healthy guy over 70, how did he feel about restrictions targeting the over 70s? Asked Marr, Palin responded by saying that, “many in their 70s are active, thoughtful, with ideas… we have just got to be careful.”

Marr wanted to know what the Welsh First Minister, Labour’s Mark Drakeford would be doing differently in Wales as the country emerged from lockdown to go back to work. Drakeford insisted Wales would try to remain in lockstep with the rest of the UK, easing the restrictions at the same time and working to the same plan. His priority was to open work places safely. He said it would take three weeks lead time to organize reopening schools in June at the earliest. Marr asked how they will maintain the social distancing in schools, will they limit the number of children allowed to attend. Drakeford said they would make sure it was safe and reassure people by organizing in advance and prioritizing those most in need of returning to school.

Asked by Marr about Care Homes in Wales Drakeford said they were testing for Covid in Homes with only the non-symptomatic sent back to a Care Home, while testing everyone one leaving Hospital. Marr pointed out that 40% of their deaths were in Care Homes and it sounded like the BBC was becoming too eager to make this point as a problem specific to Wales. He then asked why Wales had abandoned their 5000 a day target for testing, but Drakeford was quick to counter by saying it was more important to target where tests were needed most rather than squander their limited resources. So, unlike the political point scoring of the Tories randomly chucking thousands of Covid 19 test kits in the mail before the deadline so that Mat Hancock could save face!

Marr asks WHO Technical Lead on Covid 19 Maria Van Kerkhove about the risk of a resurgence, a feared 2nd wave of infection in countries now easing lockdown restrictions? She says that in the Far East this has been mostly from returning expats. Marr asks about wearing face masks. She says the main priority is for Care workers to have the right masks. The real controversy here is that many NHS and Care sector workers are not being provided with the WHO recommended mask; sadly this point was not elaborated on. Van Kerkhove did stress that masks help to constrain virus transmission from asymptomatic infected individuals and if you felt the slightest bit unwell you should wear one or better still not go out. Masks alone cannot stop the spread. There is never a mention of wearing and handling masks properly to reduce self-contamination, another important point missed.

Marr asks if we should consider reopening schools first as children are less at risk of infection? Van Kerkhove says that adults can infect children and they can transmit the infection, but they are not so severely affected. Marr asks if those who have recovered can become re-infected? She says that some people test positive again several weeks after testing negative, but they are not really re-infected, it is just part of the normal healing process as the lungs slough off dead cells and the recovering Covid patient is no longer an infection risk to others. People do develop antibody protection, but we do not how long this protection will last.

Van Kerkhove said hundreds of trials are underway testing drugs and searching for a vaccine, but it must be made available to all countries. Marr asked for her reaction to Trump’s accusation that the virus escaped from a lab on Woohan; was Trump right to accuse the WHO of doing public relations for China? She dismissed the fake news outright and said Covid 19 came from an animal reservoir specifically from bats, but there might be an intermediate animal host so scientists were looking into this possibility. We need to do more research in this area to protect against future pathogens and we need to invest in public health globally she said.

Marr tells Grant Shapps, “the Government claims it has made the right divisions at the right time, we have not overwhelmed the NHS, we have all been obeying the rules on social distancing and the NHS has coped with this, so why do we have such a high death rate?” Oh no, I hear a familiar chant of “my heart goes out…” from Shapps as he defensively warns about making any international comparisons, before Marr even gets a chance to lob that contentious grenade. He brings up a recent opinion piece in the Guardian: “Coronavirus deaths: how does Britain compare with other countries?” The points made are all relevant, but it’s really annoying to hear Tory MPs blindly use it as a “fig leaf” to hide from the frequently repeated criticism. Author David Spiegelhalter says, “It’s tempting to try to construct a league table, but we’ll have to wait months, if not years, for the true picture.” But how many more will die while we wait?

Marr directs his attention to Care Homes, raising the issue of the elderly who were returned to Care Homes to relieve pressure on our Hospitals, but they were not tested before being sent back to infect others in their Care Home with Covid 19. The concern is that in a couple of weeks Care Homes will become the new epicentre for the virus. Ignoring any admission of past Tory mistakes, Shapps says they are testing everyone in Care Homes now. Shapps refuses to say that they should have done this at a much earlier stage, just boasting that they are ramping up testing… Marr voices the complaint of lack of PPE in Care Homes and how primary care GPs withdrew visits. Shapps said they used to purchase their own supplies privately before but now the Government was helping out and lack of PPE is a global problem, they are protesting in Germany over PPE; look elsewhere, “nothing to see here!”

Shapps tries to dominate the conversation with big numbers, gowns, millions… Marr interrupts, “before this started there were no gowns in the stockpile.” Shapps says this caught us off guard, we were prepared for flue. Marr says, “advise to the Government was to stockpile gowns, but you ignored that advice.” Shapps leans on “the science” a familiar Tory security blanket. Marr counters by saying that, “the scientific advisors told you, but you didn’t follow their advice.” The Tories are highly selective when it comes to “advice.” “Let’s be transparent,” Grant Shapps says, “learn lessons…” I was gobsmacked by this response; in reality transparency is the absolute antithesis of Tory policy and they never learn lessons, ever!

I was surprised that Marr failed to exploit the recent talking point over Mat Hancock claiming he had reached his 100,000 tests a day goal by including test that were sent out, but still in the mail; it was an easy political point missed, but with the testing numbers back down to 70,000 a day it was necessary for the BBC to cover for the Tories over their shallow PR stunt. Marr asked about not just testing, but the need for track and trace. Shapps says they will have 18,000 people trained to do the contact tracing as this training is not too complicated. The new App will start into live testing on the isle of Weight this week.

Marr asks, will we finally start checking people coming into the UK? Shapps says they will all be subject to the same restrictions as UK citizens to match our effort. Yes, but we all want to know why the UK did not establish quarantine restrictions that would have prevented the widespread outbreak here? “Other countries had stricter policies to protect their populations, why didn’t we?” Marr demanded. Shapps tried to minimize the significance of this massive Tory oversight and subsequent ignoring of continued risk that saw people strolling into Heathrow from global hotspots unrestricted just as the whole nation went into lockdown! He tried to insist that a strict quarantine might have delayed the inevitable for five days, but we had to consider our returning British nationals.

Marr brought up the need for social distancing on trains with only 12% capacity, running almost empty, as people returned to work. Shapps said the Government would expand the number of buses and trains running, but the Tories don’t exactly have a great “track record” on public transport, even after they demoted “failing Grailing.” Shapps said he hoped to see more people cycling to work; that will work well on the long commute into London from affordable housing well out of the city. He talked of staggering work times and said workers could go to their employer to get a bike on a new hire purchase incentive scheme to participate in what he called “active travel.” I am sure the underpaid slave labour pool will relish a new form of indebtedness…Not! Could people book a holiday asked Marr asked, he should have known the watch word was no travel at the moment.

Stress itself damages the immune system making us more susceptible to infection and disease. Oh… how very different this could all have been. With a progressive Government installed right before Christmas the entire country would have gone into the festive season celebrating the reality that our country could finally emerge from under the harsh boot of Tory oppression. I believe the new Government would have moved swiftly to rescue our NHS, restoring the strength of this crucial service to get us through what had become the winter crisis that now lasts year round. This relief package would have arrived just in time to significantly bolster the NHS, building on this with additional preparations for the pandemic without the two month delay that has cost us so many lives.

I have no doubt that a Corbyn Government would have heeded warnings from the WHO in good time and test, test,test, would have embraced offers from small labs all over the UK to crank up a powerful national effort launched at a far early date to halt the disease the second it hit our borders. With the trust and confidence of the people restrictions like the postponement of football games would have been accepted by citizens relieved at the prospect of ending ten torturous years of nationwide destitution and unnecessary deprivation of the poor that caused the UN to criticize this Tory Government. Due to the dire need to alleviate the extreme suffering of a decade of austerity the new Labour Government would already have launched numerous measures of much needed support that would be well on the way to becoming established before there was a real crisis to contend with.

Jeremy Corbyn would have had the people on side as he put the needs of the most needy and the vulnerable first and foremost in our national strategy. Instead of facing ridicule as the outlier supporting the warped eugenics program of “Herd Immunity” the UK would have put superfluous Brexit plans on hold and rebuilt Britain’s decimated overseas reputation for deplomacy by exhibited global leadership. We would have been bringing the Tory genocide to an end instead of manipulating a crisis to engineer round two with the “slaughter of the sheeple” and a preventable “Holocaust in Care.” If these considerations do not galvanize your thinking in support of demanding a full investigation of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election that extinguished such a vital ray of hope for our entire country, then just what will it take? How many more innocent people and dedicated NHS staff have to die before the British people realize the urgency of removing this Tory Government from office ASAP?