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I welcome the rare chance that the Ware case might allow a unique opportunity to validate strong criticism of the BBC that’s been lurching further and further to the far-right to fully accommodate this corrupt Tory Government. Changes that have occurred in the few months since the Covert 2019 Rigged Election are really noticeable. The Victoria Derbyshire show was axed and to eliminate criticism of the Government, minimally balanced Politics Live has virtually disappeared. While announcing BBC News bulletins as being broadcast, “around the world” the presentations have become myopically parochial; the only overseas snippets include shots of Brits on Spanish beaches angry over new quarantine restrictions. Rising Covid 19 infection rates abroad make ‘world news;’ this detracts from Tory failures with a high UK death toll. The Paper Review has also pretentiously ‘gone global’ as it helps limit bad UK headlines, until the BBC cut to the US to faithfully transmit Trump press rants that do not need to be brought to you by Coca-Cola!
The relentless reporting over disruptions to summer holidays cruelly drums home a luxury so many working poor cannot afford to even dream of. It paints the false impression that the vast majority of the population are eager to jet of to a sunny vacation spot rather than worry over losing their job, learning to subsist on Universal Credit or face potential eviction. Those foolish enough to be lured into booking a trip to Spain, and lucky enough to have the money to pay for it, will now have to quarantine for fourteen days when they return; it was a sudden chaotic switch in policy, but they really should have anticipated that risk. The current focus on the tourist industry, air corridors and overseas trips is part of the Tory program of convincing the public there is very little risk of infection, they should return to work, their children should get ready to go back to school in the autumn and everything is returning to normal. There is constant confusion over the Tory Governments nonsensical mixed messaging and rules that then backtrack.
Government policies continue to confuse with Tory claims that they are putting safety first while it clearly seems they are mentally preparing the UK public to accept the inevitability of a second wave and a lot more fatalities. The Tories are actually still proactively driving that second wave of infection to further cull the ‘economically inactive,’ weakest and poorest citizens as well as the disabled and elderly in the ‘Holocaust in Care.’ Cummings’s ‘Herd Immunity’ eugenics program is still on track as a ruthless ‘Slaughter of the Sheeple’ will reduce the burden on the state; brace yourself for the next ‘Boris Spike!’ The BBC report that, “the Government is funding six urgent projects to try and understand why people from ethnic minorities are at greater risk from Covid 19. Scientists are being given millions of pounds to analyse data about health and social circumstances as well as genetic risk factors. The research will also investigate whether Healthcare workers are particularly vulnerable.”
BBC Scientific Correspondent, Pallab Ghosh reports, “more than 45,000 people have died from Coronavirus a disproportionate number have been from ethnic minorities the Government has announced a series of studies to analyse the Health social circumstances and activities of these groups to try and understand what’s going on. Research shows that ethnic minorities are more likely to die from Covid 19. Indians are at 1.5 greater risk than the white population. For Bangladeshis and Pakistanis it’s 1.8 and the highest risk is with black people at 1.9. One study will follow 30,000 Health and Social Care workers for a year to assess the factors that lead to them becoming infected and falling seriously ill. They’ll be asked questions about their mental and physical health as well as about their workplace routines.” While this should please the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protesters, I am still concerned that it might become a scapegoating exercise for the Government to blame the victims as the Tories have form with such tactics.
One Doctor says, “If we can find the factors that lead to personal factors that make people at increased risk we should be trying to protect them. Now that might be enhanced occupational risk assessments it could perhaps be enhanced by protective equipment and also in really high risk populations perhaps they shouldn’t be working on the frontline with Covid patients.” Ghosh reports that, “All the studies have to provide results within twelve months and will be shared with Community groups, Professionals Bodies and Health Regulators.” The Doctor responds, “Some of the studies may be able to supply data before the twelve month result in which case, immediately, as soon as we get any results, we will be hearing about them to see if there are changes that we can make to reduce this risk in our minority population.” Ghosh says, “Ethnic minorities are more likely to have jobs that bring them into contact with other people; it is hoped the new research will help them identify the risks and make the changes needed to save lives.”
The waves of bad news kept coming for the Tories today as a new Government report was completed focusing on the Covid 19 situation in Care Homes. MPs say the Government’s decision to allow hospital patients in England to be discharged into Care Homes at the beginning of the Pandemic without Covid-19 tests at the start of the pandemic has been described as “reckless.” The BBC interviewed Labour Co-op MP Meg Hillier, Chair of the Public Account Committee. The Committee said there had clearly been an “emerging problem” with official advice before it was “belatedly” changed in April. It accused ministers of being slow to support Social Care during the crisis. The lack of PPR supplies was even worse than in NHS Hospitals despite the increased vulnerability of Care Home residents. The Government claimed it had been “working closely” with the sector: that would be Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s “protective ring,” and “putting our arms around the Care Homes” otherwise known as the ‘hug of death!’
The Committee said around 25,000 patients were discharged into Care Homes in England between mid-March and mid-April to free up Hospital beds. After initially saying a negative result was not required before discharging patients, the Government later said on 15 April all patients would be tested. In a highly critical report, the cross-party Committee said the initial decision to allow untested patients into Care Homes was an ‘appalling error’. Speaking to the BBC, committee chair Meg Hillier acknowledged there had been limited data about the virus when early decisions were made; however she said there was also a long-term lack of understanding at the Health Department about how the Care Sector works. “The fact that there are people on low pay not taking sick leave, moving from home to home were things that were risk elements – if you had better understanding of any impact of any disease on a Care Home you would have understood the implications,” she said.
Among the many working poor not benefiting from Johnson’s generous Corporate bailouts, newly unemployed families are now turning to food banks so their children don’t starve. So the PM offers £50 towards bike repairs! Oh, what do you mean they haven’t all got bikes? So give them bikes… Boris, you can’t eat bikes! It was worse than a “let them eat cake” moment, but then perhaps a pragmatic aid was there to remind Johnson that he could risk being publicly shamed again by that outspoken young football star if he didn’t focus on the lack of food. It probably annoyed him as it could seriously disrupt plans for his national ‘fat shaming’ agenda, but he was forced to act; pledging to increase access to free school meals to another 1.6 million. Still the humanitarian bar was not set very high among ‘Compassionate Conservatives;’ who can forget Theresa May’s 6.8p per child ‘breakfast club!’ What would that provide? Affordable choices include: half a boiled egg; one slice of toast with 12 baked beans; 37.5 cornflakes in 100ml of milk!
When the increased access to school meals was announced during the BBC news segment they featured football hero Marcus Rashford who had shamed the Tory Government into a U-turn after our new not very Socialist Labour Leader, Keir Starmer failed to stand up to the PM. The BBC News anchor also interviewed Sir Michael Marmot director of University College London Institute of Health Equity and an advisor to the Director of WHO. She asked, “10 years ago you were part of a huge review into food and health and equality and here we are still talking about it, still trying to address problems what do you think of where we are today?” Marmot replied, “I’ve said …overdramatically if you look at the problem of obesity, that we can’t solve the obesity problem without solving the inequality problem.” It was so gratifying to hear this highly respected man endorse exactly the point I had made here just the other day. He said, “Because the nation’s waistline has grown what we have seen is increasing inequalities in obesity.”
He continued, “Children, which I emphasize in this new report, we’ve got this double burden of food insecurity and hunger and obesity in deprived households and that relates to the quality of food as well as the amount.” He was asked, “do you welcome the suggestion that an awful lot more children should be getting free school meals?” Marmot replied, “Very much so, I think we can’t deal with the problem of the nation’s diet without dealing at the same time with the social and economic circumstances in these people. We know for example with lockdown two million households were experiencing food insecurity, my goodness I mean what do you want from a country? First everybody should be able to eat and be out of food insecurity, that’s pretty basic and it means that we need to make sure there’s an adequate supply of food.” Admitting he was among those who have been “banging away at these issues for years” he praised Marcus Rushford’s remarkable accomplishment, I say why isn’t Starmer fighting for the poor?
In reference to Rushford, Marmot said it was, “Great, terrific, but we need to deal with this long term issue of social and economic inequality and dealing with the quality and availability of food. So, extending availability of free school meals and extending the scheme over the summer is very welcome indeed.” He was asked, “Focusing on the availability of food and what type of food people are eating and raising the issue of processed foods, high in sugar, the problem if you’re eating on the go. She said some of the foods that are really bad for you are cheaper than the foods that are much healthier?” Marmot replied, “Indeed you refer to the report I did in 2010, in February this year I did a marmot 2020 I looked back at the last ten years and I cited a figure produced by the food foundation that for households in the bottom ten percent of household income cannot afford the recommended foods.” It also follows that inequality accounts for depravation and the more deprived the area the higher the mortality from Covid 19
A Canary Article, “The Tories getting a Dimbleby to advise them on poverty sums up the problem” says that, Henry Dimbleby, a restaurant owner and son of former Question Time host David, has released a government-commissioned report into food poverty and hunger.” Dimbleby privileged background makes him an almost obscene choice to author such a book as the Canary point out. Describing the book they report that, “It calls for overarching measures to tackle a potential rise in food-related inequalities due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. The National Food Strategy Part One deals with the potential rise in food insecurity and poverty due to the pandemic. It states that: Our food system has just endured its biggest stress test since the Second World War. As COVID-19 swept through the UK, the entire machinery of supply and distribution had to be recalibrated, fast.” It also says, “the wave of unemployment now rushing towards us is likely to create a sharp rise in food insecurity and outright hunger.”
The Canary reveal that, “At the same time, the virus has shown with terrible clarity the damage being done to our health by the modern food system. Diet-related illness is one of the top three risk factors for dying of COVID-19. This has given a new urgency to the slow-motion disaster of the British diet. Even before the pandemic, poor diet was responsible for one in seven deaths in the UK (90,000 a year)…That is vastly more than the death toll from traffic accidents (1,780 a year)… and almost as fatal as smoking (95,000)…This is a medical emergency we can no longer afford to ignore.” As the report notes, “during the height of the pandemic, foodbank use rocketed… the number of adults in early April who said they had experienced some kind of ‘food insecurity’ hit 8.1 million. It also says that the majority of ‘new’ foodbank users during the pandemic were young people and those with children.”
The report says: “The UK economy shrank by an unprecedented 20% in April as the country went into lockdown. Every day we hear reports of well-known companies going bust or laying off swathes of their workforce. According to the latest figures, there have been 3.3 million new claims for Universal Credit since March 16th, 9.3 million employees have been furloughed and a further 2.4 million people have applied for the Government’s Self Employed Income Support Scheme. By October, when the furlough scheme comes to an end, the Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that 1.6 million more people will have been made redundant.” The solutions offered include extending free school meals and the holiday food program that Rushford bargained for.
The report’s recommendations are broad, and fall into two areas. Perhaps most urgently, to protect “our most disadvantaged children”, the report says the government should:
• Extend Free School Meals to everyone on Universal Credit. This would mean 1.5 million more children would have entitlement, taking the total to 2.6 million. At present, Free School Meals are only available to children of parents earning £7,400 in work income or less.
• Expand the Holiday Activity and Food Programme provision across England, so all Free School Meals-entitled children would be eligible. In 2019, the programme was available to 50,000 children.
• Increase Healthy Start vouchers’ value to £4.25 and make them available to all pregnant women on Universal Credit (or “equivalent benefits”) and also households on them, where a child is under 4. Currently, they are means tested and only available under certain circumstances.
• “Extend the work of the Food to the Vulnerable Ministerial Task Force for a further 12 months up until July 2021”. The government set up the task force during the pandemic to ensure certain protected groups could get food.
Although the first two items on the list have been agreed concessions for poor children are less of a priority than Corporate welfare for the Tories, but Rushford proved that the shame them into shifting policy tactic can work. According to the Canary, “The report’s second area is around the notion of ‘food sovereignty’. It recommends, among other things, that any trade deals post-Brexit do not compromise UK food standards.” This may be a battle already decisively lost unless the House of Lords take a stand on it as it was voted on in the Commons already. The report includes some evidence, both statistical and anecdotal, of the impact poverty has on food security and health. It confirms that, “Rates of obesity are higher among the poorest people than the richest (36% versus 21% in the most and least deprived deciles respectively). Yet it also claims that poverty alone isn’t a driver for obesity.”
The Canary say, “The report notes socioeconomic-based analysis that claims that while poor people may be obese due to ‘pound stretching’ (poverty), rich people could be obese due to being ‘restaurant eaters’. While this may be true, the report fails to give advice tailored for these individual groups. Moreover, it doesn’t give solutions to the problem of ‘choice’. That is, rich people have the choice to eat in a restaurant every night of the week. But poor people don’t have the choice of whether or not to eat what is considered unhealthy food – whether that be due to finances, time poverty or the social psychology of cheap, tasty food.” The Canary also criticize the authors lack of joined-up thinking when it comes to the logistics working in an impoverished environment. “…stress, and the impact stress has on appetite and energy, lack of equipment (1.9 million people are living without a cooker and 900,000 people without a fridge) poor skills, the cost of energy and a fear of waste that comes from having no margin for error.”
The Canary report that, “Dimbleby himself notes from his experience volunteering at a foodbank: The roll-out of Universal Credit was a recurring theme, as people struggled to make ends meet while waiting five weeks for their first payment. Even after the Government introduced a 100% advance payment to help bridge this gap (in January 2018) many people decided they would rather go without in the short term than have to pay back the advance in the form of lower payments in the longer term. These people’s stories had nothing to do with the food system: they were problems of poverty, mental illness, domestic abuse, and often revised or delayed benefits claims. But the report fails to make the basic recommendation, called for by some charities and thinktanks, of ending the five-week wait for a first Universal Credit payment.” You would have thought that the Tory Government would have enough evidence by now to realize that the five week wait just seriously compounds problems leading to destitution.
The Canary claims that, “the report recommends what are essentially sticking plasters,” they say, “the report fails to acknowledge the elephant in the room. It is inequality and a system which entrenches those divides, which is the reason society’s poorest people can’t eat well. If richer people decide to eat too much unhealthy food and drink a lot of alcohol, it is often and in no small part through choice. Under corporate capitalism, poor people are not afforded that same luxury. Sadly, whatever good intentions Dimbleby may have had have not manifested in his report. And herein lies the problem. Because when you get someone from a rich, privately educated background to comment on issues they’ve never experienced, then the outcome will always be the same. The UK’s poorest people no longer need blunt, crude and top-down measures to alleviate their suffering. They need a system change to banish the scourge of poverty for good.”
Can we really choke down another decade or more of this chaotic Tory Government? If Dimbleby’s privilege make him too far detached from the harsh realities of grinding poverty to really understand the issue at least he has tried to be compassionate. Most Tories are satisfied with the least they can get forced into conceding under intense public pressure before the offer assistance to the most needs. Cummings is warped enough to just accept culling those he considers a worthless drain on society. Covid 19 was going to hit the UK, but it did not need to hit us so hard or catch us so unprepared; those who lose their jobs now or due to crash-out Brexit should remember much of this could have been prevented and we could still derail Brexit. The Ware Court case could expose a huge amount of the corruption aimed at sabotaging the vote in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. This will hopefully create a surge of public opinion to challenge the legitimacy of the vote, demand a full investigation and heave these Tories out of office
DO NOT MOVE ON!