Issue 233: 2020 05 14: Diary of a Corbynista

Thumbnail Don Urquhart Red Sky Lenin Cast of Play Red Dawn

14 May 2020

Diary of a Corbynista

Eat, drink and be merry

by Don Urquhart

Mug shot of Don Urquhart7 May

I lifted this Facebook posting, not because it is uniquely informative, but because it is one of many similar:

My daughter works as a care assistant for a care company/agency and has only just got PPE, which consists of one paper mask/day and one pair of goggles. She has consistently been told, up till last week, to go to work even if she has symptoms that could be the virus. She has been so scared of passing on the virus to her clients. Some are having cancer treatment; they all fall into the vulnerable group. She is less worried about herself than the people she looks after. Yet it seems her employers care little for any of them. Like many, she fears losing her job if she speaks out or simply complains. It’s shocking.

Tonight we will all go out to clap for this young lady, when we should be protecting her with the right clothing and the right to stay at home without financial penalty when she is ill.

8 May

Don’t get mad – get even!

God help us when the poor and vulnerable come to this conclusion.

The BBC wheels out care home owners telling us how tough times are.  They have their hands out for more funds a la Branson while telling their staff to come in to work with Covid-19 symptoms and without adequate personal protection.

On Sunday we will hear Johnson’s plans to release lockdown.  If this includes people going to their normal workplaces, they might well demur citing the government’s laissez-faire attitude to care home workers and residents.

9 May

Last week’s quiz asked you to assign views on the Israel / Palestine situation to their sources.  Here are the answers:

a There should be two independent and sovereign states: a secure Israel, the homeland for the Jewish people, standing alongside a viable and contiguous Palestinian state, the homeland for the Palestinian people, as envisaged by UN General Assembly Resolution 181.

Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary in 2017

 b There has to be a peace process, and there has to be a right of the Palestinian people to live in peace, as well as the right of Israel to exist.

Jeremy Corbyn 2018

 c For as long as the blockade of Gaza and the illegal occupation continues, while Britain continues to sell arms to Israel, as Palestinian refugees continue to be denied their rights and while the lives of children remain under threat, we will strive harder.

Lisa Nandy 2018

d The only solution is two states – a secure state of Israel and a viable Palestine.

Tony Blair 2016

e Immediately suspend the sale of arms to Israel for use in violation of the human rights of Palestinian civilians.

Labour Manifesto 2019

 f We remain committed to a comprehensive two-state solution – a secure Israel alongside a viable and independent state of Palestine.

Labour Manifesto 2015

 g We shall maintain our support for a two-state solution.

Conservative Manifesto 2019

 h ………..?

Sir Keir Starmer 2020.  As far as I can see he has avoided the issue.  The immortal Young Mister Grace said “You’ve all done very well”.  Is that the new view?


10 May

Johnson will address the nation tonight with his Coronavirus plan.  We will be told that it is following scientific advice.

But if “Stay at Home” is to be replaced by “Stay Alert” many will interpret this as an instruction to go out and about.  I ask myself how this differs from the herd immunity strategy favoured by the Prime Minister a couple of months ago.

There are rumblings that the figures we are being given of Covid-19 cases and deaths falls well short of the truth, so could it be that the Government feels it might as well pursue a policy of high economic activity and high death.  When the dust settles well before the next General Election it can all be spun as an unprecedented catastrophe dealt with heroically by the people and the government despite some poor scientific advice.

11 May

It is time for the trade unions to stand up and be counted.  Back to work – fine but people need a guarantee that their transport and workplace will be safe.  Guidance is not the answer.  It must be instruction and enforcement.  I cannot claim to be an expert in Health and Safety but if you are going to ramp anything up inspection and enforcement (fines) in this area appear to be de rigueur.  As to transport, there has to be a way of ticketing for specific buses and trains and again enforcement.  Johnson is trying to nice us lazily into the grave.

12 May

This week it’s a Covid-19 Quiz

As of 12th May 14:00 GMT:

  1. How many cases have there been worldwide?
  2. How many deaths have there been worldwide?
  3. After the USA which country has the highest number of active cases?
  4. After the USA which country has the highest number of deaths?
  5. How many countries worldwide have had more deaths than the UK per million people?
  6. In Europe how many countries have carried out more tests than the UK?
  7. How many countries worldwide have carried out more tests per million people?
  8. Which European country has had the most deaths?
  9. Which European country has the most active cases?
  10. How many European countries have had more cases than the UK?

Answers next week or from Worldometers  for up to date numbers.

13 May

Yesterday Downing Street briefed the press to say that the Covid-19 bill would be paid by taxes and a public services pay freeze.

Comparing notes with a friend my wife heard that one of our favourite restaurants, Brasserie Zédel at Piccadilly Circus was trying to raise cash from customers by selling them vouchers to be redeemed post-crisis.

The government’s claims for British pre-eminence in pandemic management have rung hollow recently but one area where we clearly have the edge is in financial engineering so I ask myself whether we might harness this skill to clamber out of the Covid abyss.

The issue of War Bonds is a well trodden route in many countries.  Right now it seems a decent idea to ask those of us with spare liquidity to defer consumption a little to help keep us afloat.  Might we see a new gilt designated 20 year Covid 3%?

And while we are about it could the insurance companies not step up to help with back to work issues?  Taking the schools as an example:

If a teacher works 5 days a week with a random group of children who cannot be relied on to self-distance and has to get to work by bus huddled together with an equally random group of people, what are the chances of that teacher dying from Covid-19?

Time for our formidable actuarial profession to step up and tell us what the premiums would be for such a teacher to bequeath a substantial payout to surviving kin.


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