When lying is the assumed default position:
The practice from which I retired was in an area of deprivation. As is commonly the case in such areas, we had a significant number of drug addicts on our list. Two of my partners were specialists in drug problems, so I didn’t often have consultations with one of the addicts. When I did, I always felt that the most stressful aspect of the situation was dealing with an individual where you started with the premise that they had an agenda, and that they were lying to you most of the time. This was in contrast with “ordinary” patients, who you could usually assume were telling the truth. For years now UK politics has been like this: whatever the Conservative Government says I assume is a lie until proven otherwise. I find this to be a significant source of stress. There are numerous examples of the UK Government lying to the public in the last few years, but perhaps the most outrageous recent examples are the lies they have told over the preparation for, and management of, the current COVID Pandemic.
A Led by Donkeys Timeline:
The Led by Donkeys Timeline of Failure Part 1 shown below gives an excellent brief summary of the Government’s shambolic response to COVID up till 5 May. I look forward to Part 2. Several widely publicised articles have been very critical too.
The Reuters Article:
One of the first articles suggesting Tory Government incompetence came from Reuters. It is entitled “Johnson listened to his scientists about Coronavirus, but they were slow to sound the alarm”. Obviously, at the end of the day the buck stops with the Government, but as the title suggests, the writers placed some of the blame for the UK’s slowness to respond to COVID at the door of some of the scientists advising the various Government Committees. The delay left time for 17 passenger flights from Wuhan, and 614 flights from the whole of China to reach the UK prior to the Chinese putting Wuhan into lockdown. Apparently, many of the scientists involved thought that a Chinese style lockdown would never be considered acceptable in the UK, so they didn’t model it. The UK’s initial limited approach mirrored the country’s longstanding pandemic flu strategy. Asian countries, on the other hand, built their pandemic plans with lessons learned from SARS in 2002.
The Reuters article does mention that Britain missed 8 conference calls or meetings with EU leaders re Coronavirus between 13 February and 30 March. It also makes the point that we missed a deadline to participate in a common purchase scheme for ventilators. The organisation of testing is also criticised.
Byline Times Timeline:
Another article came out in Byline Times and was entitled “A National Scandal: A Timeline of the UK Government’s Woeful Response to the Coronavirus Crisis”. As the title suggests, like the Led by Donkeys video it follows a timeline, but this one goes back to October 2016 with Exercise Cygnus, and the gaping holes it demonstrated in the UK’s pandemic preparedness. It details the UK Government’s failure to respond adequately to COVID from the start of 2020, and mentions the alleged comment by Dominic Cummings: “herd immunity, protect the economy, and if that means a few pensioners die, too bad.”. The cavalier approach to the worsening news at the beginning of March is covered, and the ridiculous decision to proceed with the Cheltenham Festival. There is also criticism of the decision to stop trying to track-and-trace affected individuals. The ground covered is similar to the Reuters article, but there are even more details of the Government’s chaotic response.
The Sunday Times Article:
A third article was published in the Sunday Times, presumably with the approval of Rupert Murdoch. It is entitled “Coronavirus: 38 days when Britain sleepwalked into disaster”. It covers similar ground to the other 2 articles, but the main difference from them, apart from the fact it was published in a right wing newspaper, is that it is extremely critical of the role of Boris Johnson personally.
The APPG Inquiry:
I was intrigued to find out that there is to be an urgent inquiry into the Government’s handling of the COVID Pandemic. The inquiry will see a cross-party committee of ministers, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus (APPG), take evidence from bereaved families, health experts, professional bodies and the public. The APPG is to be chaired by the incredibly ambitious Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, with vice-chairs from the Tories, Labour, the SNP, Green Party and Plaid Cymru.
Hopefully, the committee will address all the major issues, about virtually all of which the Government has lied to us. These would include: (1) the total lack of preparedness of the UK despite Exercise Cygnus; (2) Johnson’s failure to attend multiple COBRA Meetings; (3) the real reason behind the decision to abandon track-and-trace at an early stage (our scandalous lack of testing capacity); (4) the delay in locking down the UK, which almost certainly led to thousands of unnecessary deaths; (5) the failure to provide adequate PPE to NHS and care staff; (6) the decision to discharge people from hospital to care homes without COVID testing; (7) the failure to recognise the rapidly worsening situation in care homes; etc., etc.
Probable Inquiry Omissions:
The inquiry will probably not cover the extremely expensive cock-up of the failed British track-and-trace app, or the burgeoning scandal of Government contracts for PPE being awarded to dubious companies without competitive tendering, but we may come back to these at a later date.
Meanwhile, the attempts to divert blame from Boris Johnson are well underway, but that too is another story.