BBC News: Newspaper headlines: ‘Tiers of rage and disbelief’ as ‘north sees red’

BBC News – Newspaper headlines: ‘Tiers of rage and disbelief’ as ‘north sees red’

Well, that announcement went well for him didn’t it! So much for levelling up. So much for his Northern wall seats.

The sad thing is, tough lockdown rules are needed now because he’s been too late to act several times in the past and I see a full, or near full, lockdown coming in the new year due to the Christmas easing. That’ll go down really badly and will be resisted by the lunatic right wing of his party but, again, wi be the right call even though it’ll be a direct result of his government’s failings up to now.

Scotland isn’t much better off but at least we have a leader who is calm, clear, detailed and humble when explaining the rules.


Spending Review

So, Rishi Sunak presented his spending review and the Tories revert back to their attack on the public sector. A pay freeze takes money out of the pockets of millions, reducing their ability to spend within the economy and thus stilting any possible recovery. The justification? Those in the private sector have had difficulties. Yes, they have. But many have received billions in dodgy contracts for PPE and other services. It’s not about fairness, it’s about a hatred of public service.

He said at one point that this is the biggest government spend in 40 years. That takes us back to the start of the Thatcher years so he accepts government investment has been low since the rot set in under her.

He avoided any mention of the economic hit coming from Brexit, Covid will provide the cover they need for the destruction they are causing.

The national debt rises massively under Tory leadership. This has been the case right through austerity and shines a light on the lie of economically responsible Tories as opposed to wasteful Labour.

There’s no chance, in my opinion, that this government will do anything that genuinely helps Britain recover. I think they’ll all end up running away when the real damage happens next year and someone else will have to pick up the pieces.


Vaccine priority

Here’s my thoughts for the vaccine priority :

  • NHS staff (including ambulance service staff)
  • Care workers
  • The most vulnerable groups
  • Public transport workers
  • Teachers
  • Food shop workers
  • The general population in descending age order.

Winter of Discontent?

Are we perhaps heading towards a winter of discontent? A perfect storm of disappointment and dissatisfaction in this dogs breakfast of a government? Why do I think this?

  • Priti Patel has been shown to be a bully and was protected during anti-bullying week.
  • Brexit is going to hit the country hard in January.
  • The virus could very well hit back hard in January if restrictions are lifted for Christmas.
  • Any vaccine will be rationed, initially, and there’ll be discussion, debate and anger over the allocation
  • Unemployment will continue to rise due to the double hit of the pandemic and Brexit
  • Food prices will rise due to Brexit
  • Public sector pay freeze will hit key workers hard.

Boris is not going to get his feel good bounce for some time yet. It will only take a few angry protests to spark of poll tax type riots in the Spring I suspect.



I’ve not posted for a week as I’ve been self isolating and this is something I do on the train to work.

Excellent news about vaccines over the past week. A real chance of the world being able to get on top of this awful disease.

But . . .

I think we now enter the most dangerous time. The vaccines aren’t yet approved for distribution and likely won’t be for several weeks but I suspect some people will take this as a signal to stop being careful. We also have the clamouring for a normal Christmas. This scares me too. I’d far rather have a disrupted Christmas and a locked down month or two more if it means the virus is kept suppressed until the various vaccines are ready to roll out. I worry that restrictions will ease for Christmas and early in January there’ll be a spike in cases and another few people will die unnecessarily.

It is undoubtedly good news about the vaccine but I have no faith we’ll be able to manage the last few months before they’re ready in a safe and protective manner.


Trumpety Trump

I’ve kept quiet on the US election so far. Partly because I’m British so it’s not my decision and partly because my views on Trump and the right wing libertarian nationalistic machine (which includes most of the current crop of Tory MPs and the Brexit voters) are quite well known. But . . .

How can the Republican party genuinely continue with this farce. Biden is the President-elect and Trump is now even more a figure of ridicule than he was before. To borrow a phrase that I have been subjected to frequently over the past 4 years, “You lost! Get over it.” The popular vote is clearly for the Democrats. The college vote has gone his way too. Surely the time is right for the Republicans to recognise that their world view is not the view of the majority of US citizens and that now is the time to take stock and realign their politics. The economic philosophy of the last 40 years, built of Reaganomics and Thatcherism, has given us frequent economic crises, caused immense harm and difficulties to many people, created a job market with no security, and created a megalithic group of companies who pay little or no taxes while destroying local competitors.

Trump is the zenith of this bullying, corporate greed approach to running a country. This idea that multimillionaire investors will support an economy so their largesse “trickles down” to make us all wealthier is clearly wrong. Average earnings have stagnated or regressed over the last 15 years at the same time as the gig-economy has allowed companies to change their relationship with their employees so they hold less responsibility. Surely this is unsustainable.

I hope Trump (and Johnson) is the peak of their successes and the election of Biden signals a tidal change to a more centrist, socially democratic movement.

I hope, rather than the zenith, Trump becomes the nadir of neoconservatives.


The Ethics of Vaccine distribution

I’m reading Those most disenfranchised should get the vaccine first via The Independent Daily Edition

This is an interesting article which would form the basis of an excellent TOK lesson in a year or two.

Who should get the vaccine first? The current suggestion seems to be the most elderly (over 80s) and those with serious health risks and those who care for them. This sounds fair. Then we go to the whole health service (this makes sense to me too), then over 70s, over 60s then who? Who deserves the next round first?

I think it gets difficult here. Which group of people put themselves at greatest risk of exposure while working for the national good? I would argue grocery shop workers, teachers and public transport workers.

These are sectors which are essential to the smooth running of society or to protect the future of our children. They are people who are exposed to large groups of people who can carry and transmit the virus and they work in sectors where large absentee rates due to self-isolation or actual illness causes significant problems.

Maybe the Police and Fire Service next (Ambulance staff included in the NHS). Then roll out through the general population. It should be bases on a combination of risk/need/benefit and this requires a genuine assessment of risk – which in schools, certainly, we haven’t had. The public voice says that schools are safe yet we have staff and students dropping like flies and schools really struggling to cope. It may be true that children tend not to suffer serious illness but they are communicators of the disease and it is impossible to teach effectively while being fully distanced and masked so teachers are putting themselves at risk in order to conserve the quality of education our children deserve.

I expect, though, that the distribution will end up going to groups which are perceived to generate more income in the false belief that protecting the economy now should be the priority. Nigeria Faragw, after all, hasn’t been photographed in a pub for months!


The left urgently needs to lose its inferiority complex

This is another interesting article which I think holds true. The right-wing conservative electoral base is getting older and smaller but their ability to win elections seems unabated in the UK at least. One problem, of course, is that of choice. If you have left-wing or centre-left leanings you have a wide choice of parties to give your vote to. Labour, Lib-Dem, Greens, SNP, Plaid all share a left-leaning outlook but have specific policy goals which splits the vote. If you’re a right-wing voter, you have the Tories. This is why we have a Tory government with an 80 seat majority yet less than 45% of the popular vote.

In the UK not enough people are interested in voter reform to be able to do anything about this but until we adopt a more European proportional election system we will see more unrepresentative right-wing governments taking us down a path which I don’t believe the majority of the population wish to travel.


BBC News: UK energy plant to use liquid air

BBC News – UK energy plant to use liquid air

This is quite exciting news, and in my limited understanding as an engineers and technologist seems to make some sense.

One of the issues we have with clean energy sources is their unpredictability. Using pumped storage hydro plants to move water uphill in quiet use times and let it flow down to generate extra power in high use times is one option but this causes significant environmental damage and costs very large amounts.

If this model of using the excess power to compress air which is then released to generate power when needed works, this could be a much less damaging and much cheaper alternative. Here’s hoping it works in practice.


BBC News: Scotland becomes first part of UK to ban smacking

BBC News – Scotland becomes first part of UK to ban smacking

This is excellent, if a little late, news. The popular belief in Scotland is that smacking was already outlawed. It wasn’t but the rules were very strict, this law basically brings the law up to date.

I’ve been a teacher since 1994 and have been a parent since 2003, in that time I have never felt that the only way to control a situation involving a child or young person was through physical violence. Never. There is no way smacking is anything other than assault. It is using the physical strength of the adult to exert a will over the child. Some will say it’s the parents role to bring up respectful children, and I agree wholeheartedly. Where I disagree is in the belief that striking someone is an appropriate way of doing that.

I’m disappointed, but not surprised, by the outpouring of bile about it from right-wing quarters. An English MP shared the news on his Facebook page commenting on the “nationalisation of children” and removing of parental rights. Seriously, he believes parents should have a legally protected right to hurt a child? On the back of the Tory vote not to support free school meals over the holidays it does give the opportunity for accusations of Tories having victorian views on starving the poor and beating the young.

There are enough studies showing that smacking breaks down trust and leaves children distressed to outlaw it. There are also enough studies showing the link between receiving corporal punishment and going on to suffer mental health issues, addiction problems and violent behaviour.

Well done Scotland on following the lead of more enlightened countries. Wales will follow soon leaving England the only UK constituent where a child’s most trusted adult will have legal protection to cause physical pain in the name of discipline.