21 May 2020
Diary of a Corbynista
Back to School Edition
by Don Urquhart
Answers to last week’s Covid-19 Quiz
As of 12th May 14:00 GMT:
- How many cases have there been worldwide: 4,287,044
- How many deaths have there been worldwide: 288,238
- After the USA which country has the highest number of active cases: UK
- After the USA which country has the highest number of deaths: UK
- How many countries worldwide have had more deaths than the UK per million people: 5
- In Europe how many countries have carried out more tests than the UK: 4
- How many countries worldwide have carried out more tests per million people: 41
- Which European country has had the most deaths: UK
- Which European country has the most active cases: UK
- How many European countries have had more cases than the UK: 2
A High Tory friend told me yesterday that Covid-19 had all become too political – he didn’t watch political TV programmes any more. A Guardian-reading friend knocked spots off me for “snide” comments about Sir Keir Starmer. He wants to believe that Starmer offers a bright new future for Labour. My other friend doesn’t care who’s in power as long as they don’t introduce a mansion tax. Being a political nerd I am accused of being trapped in my lefty view of the world, but at least I am open to considering ideas that challenge my opinions. When this ceases to be the case I will crawl into a body bag (if enough have been delivered from China) and disappear.
My daughter is a secondary school teacher so during Covid has largely worked at home, cycling in to school once or twice a week to do her share of supervising the children of key workers and at risk children.
She has had to transform her teaching methods developing online lessons and chasing her pupils down in many cases. It has been hard work. There is a media campaign to depict teachers as lazy and uncooperative. What makes them so special that they cannot take the same risks as other front line workers? Cue Isabel Oakeshott and her 6,000 Twitter “likes” generated by the bot factory.
At a school hundreds of people come together and you really do not know where they have been – staff, pupils, parents and their households. Ask any teacher and they will tell you that in normal times they are highly likely to catch whatever is going round.
So schools are having to be creative to protect aforementioned staff, pupils, children, parents, households. Right now it does not wash to say that the R is going down (it isn’t anyway). Anyone thinking the teachers should just man up should ask themselves when they will be taking their next public transport jaunt.
A primary school teacher we know tells of plans for booking children in part time and operating with smaller classes. She describes it as child minding rather than teaching.
Yesterday Matt Hancock told us the government had had their arms round the care homes from day one. Johnson is trying to shift the agenda to obesity. They are not to be trusted.
In truth until Test and Trace is working we will not know how dangerous it is out there.
For this week’s quiz please name the celebrities and identify the odd man out.
TV Presenter who raised many millions for charity and was a key contributor to the car seat belt campaign (1926-2011);
British MP and publisher accorded a lavish funeral in Israel (1923-1991);
Multi-talented Australian entertainer who painted an official portrait of Queen Elizabeth II (1930 – );
TV Presenter, football commentator and game show host, awarded the OBE (1929- );
Glam rock star responsible for one of the most popular Christmas songs of all time (1944- );
An American actor, winner of several Oscars, Artistic Director of the Old Vic and Honorary KBE (1959- );
Labour MP for nearly 20 years ending up as Post Master General (1925-1988);
Fabulously successful novelist, Oxford Athletics Blue, MP and Life Peer (1940- );
War hero, OBE, MP and Secretary of State for War (1915-2006);
Mayor of London and UK Prime Minister (1964- ).
It’s all very well flagging a new civilised dialogue in politics because Sir Keir Starmer is so clearly an establishment figure and PMQ’s has become a jolly conversation which could be taking place at The Athenaeum over a brandy.
In practice we are exposed to the most dishonest executive in my long lifetime, adept only at hoodwinking a slumbering electorate with the connivance of supine media.
Yesterday Alok Sharma, the Business Secretary, told us that Britain is leading the world in finding a Coronavirus vaccine. I think the Americans, Chinese and many others will chortle to learn of this if they take any notice at all of what comes out of our politicians’ mouths.
I found faintly sinister his reassurance that when we get the virus, the Brits will get it first, although he subsequently committed AstraZeneca to providing it affordably to poorer countries.
The New York Times tells of the intense international competition to produce and exploit a vaccine.
Three old Labour Education Secretaries have been dragged out to amplify the government message that schools need to re-open for educational reasons and that the craven teaching profession is standing in the way. Last night on Newsnight there was an extended interview with Tony Blair who shared with us his views on many things including support for the Tories’ line on schools.
It seems that Tories and Blairites alike are keen to present the new politics as one nation Conservatives opposed by a bland Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) run by people who speak nicely and will not rock the establishment boat.
That will work fine until it is too late and the PLP realises it has been facilitating Priti Patel’s version of Windrush, the homeless back sleeping on the streets, queues for A&E and a new normal austerity for the 2020’s.
I’m not surprised that where the UK MSM is concerned, this news item is only to be found in The Independent:
It’s a cautionary tale from our neighbour about sending children back to school while Covid-19 is still rampant and a Test, Trace and Isolate process is several weeks away.