Sunday, 24 January 2021
Sunday, 3 January 2021
Thursday, 19 November 2020
Friday, 13 November 2020
Instead, let us take this moment to remember the names of the victims we know and to reflect that we may never know the names that would surely complete this tragic list:
And these are the women who survived attacks by Sutcliffe, more women whose lives will be forever affected by his violent hatred of women:
Say their names. Say all their names.
Tuesday, 6 October 2020
Monday, 21 September 2020
Wednesday, 10 June 2020
And while we're at it, Priti Patel could easily put an end to all Windrush deportations and ensure that every family affected receives compensation.
Tuesday, 2 June 2020
The Dompologists came out in force as soon as their hero was busted. Apparently, Dominic Cummings going to work on what should have been his first day at home for a 14-day quarantine; driving 260 miles non-stop to Durham with a child in the car while he and his wife were both possibly contagious so they could be near the person who was their only childcare option; the person who was the only childcare option apparently incapable of travelling alone to London if required; being tragically unable to ask a single friend or family member in London to drop off groceries or medication during quarantine; being unable to pay for a grocery or medication delivery service despite having a pretty good combined household income; driving his child to hospital in Durham with his wife while still possibly contagious; driving to Barnard Castle on his wife's birthday with his wife and child in the car on a 60-mile round trip to test his eyesight; not sharing the drive home with his wife even though she can drive; his wife writing a column for the Spectator about life in lockdown which omitted the salient fact that they'd buggered off to Durham; testing the capacity of a Range Rover petrol tank to its absolute running-on-fumes limits; being the parents of a four-year-old with a cast iron bladder; and retrospectively editing a blog post in April 2020 to give the impression that he warned everyone about the coronavirus last year - all mean that he didn't break any of the rules he helped to set and therefore he shouldn't resign.
Instead, a pathetic rebranding of Dominic Cummings, father of the year, erupted. It was quickly pointed out that the whole "he did what any good dad would do" line insulted everyone, especially those struggling to juggle kids and work, and all who had followed the rules since March.
So, the Dompologists started yelling: "LET'S MOVE ON AND TALK ABOUT THE IMPORTANT ISSUES!".
OK. Sure. Fine by me. Let's talk about the important issues. How about we start with childcare? Seriously, I've never heard so many people who have never previously breathed a word about childcare talk so much about childcare when they leapt to Cummings' defence.
Let's talk about childcare not just for now - although that is important - but for the long-term. What can we do about (mostly) women giving up careers because childcare costs meant they were literally paying to go to work? What about incentivising employers to subsidise childcare, offer more flexible hours or working-from-home opportunities to help families? Hell, if anything good can come of this wretched virus, it might be the penny dropping for presenteeism-obsessed employers in regard to trusting staff to work from home. At the same time, though, how about recognising the need for people who work from home to have access to childcare? And what about affordable, high-quality childcare for people on low incomes? Maybe some of the Conservative MPs who smashed the red wall could raise this issue on behalf of their working class constituents?
Perhaps the craven cabinet ministers who all spinelessly tweeted embarrassing boilerplate nonsense about Cummings being a plucky little battler who was struggling with childcare could show the same concern for families up and down the country? I could introduce them to someone I know, a single father raising a severely disabled teenaged daughter while working from home. I'm sure that meeting would prove very instructive for the government front bench.
And let's talk about how shamefully outrageous the Downing Street rose garden press conference was. Why was an unelected adviser allowed to use that particular space to defend himself on live TV?
But more importantly, if the Dompologists want to talk about the big issues of the day, let's talk about how Cummings' defence blew wide open the rifts among Brexiters, and how it became painfully clear that the main reason Boris Johnson hasn't sacked him is because he is too scared to try and be prime minister without his trusty adviser.
Cummings came across as being puffed up with his own self-importance during his rose garden statement but he had a point - to Boris Johnson, he is important. Cummings was quite right to talk up his importance to the running of the country - this is the pedestal on which Johnson placed him and now he's incapable of taking him down.
We have a prime minister who is self-serving, unpleasant, cowardly, bullying and lazy. This PM gig has not panned out like he thought it would when it competed for top billing in his masturbatory fantasies at Eton. As a result, he relies heavily on Cummings, having been way too impressed by the effectiveness of the "Take back control" slogan of the Brexit campaign.
Since then, Classic Dom's simplistic slogans have been the order of the day. To be fair, "Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives" was clear and effective. It was an instruction the Cummings himself found impossible to follow but it made sense. Now we have the shitshow of "Stay alert" with a government rushing to ease lockdown rules because public trust has eroded. It seems the government has figured everyone is just going to flock to the nearest park or beach anyway. Bizarre rules about allowing six people in your garden as long as nobody sits on the sunlounger or uses the toilet abound. We're being warned not to have sex with anyone outside our own households but we can let the cleaner, nanny or estate agent in, if required.
Today, we witnessed the Rees-Mogg-inspired farce of MPs queueing in a ridiculous conga line to vote in parliament, along with a drive to force all 650 MPs back into the House of Commons before it's safe to do so, all because the PM is useless without his braying fan club behind him. The pared-back parliament with limited numbers in the house and questions by Zoom exposes Johnson as an incompetent blatherer, a desperate haystack of a man, obviously out of his depth, reaching for Latin Christmas cracker jokes when he has no answers.
Dominic Cummings isn't urging the PM to take a step back and look at this mess with a cool head. He's probably delighted with the chaos - after all, we are edging towards his libertarian wet dream where everyone does the hell they want so they can all be blamed when there's a second spike in COVID-19 cases. And he is happy to continue to lead Boris Johnson down this pitiful path, regardless of whose lives it might cost, along with leading us over an irresponsible no-deal Brexit cliff for good measure. One unelected man has way too much power. That is what has emerged from the scandal over the drive to Durham. That is what is so outrageous and that is why we should stay angry.
Photo: Ninian Reid/Flickr
Monday, 11 May 2020
Sunday, 19 April 2020
Countries across the world are relying on their governments for leadership, to figure out the best way to manage this terrible virus, to support healthcare systems, to know what the hell individuals can do to stop the disease spreading, to ensure the scientists working on a vaccine and a cure have everything they need, to work out what role charities and the private sector should take, and so on.
And while Johnson may now join the immune herd for COVID-19, he is not and should not be immune to criticism or scrutiny - and neither should the hapless cavalcade of assorted incompetents, yes-men and women, charisma-vacuums, intellectual lightweights and slippery moral bankrupts who are filling in for the PM at the daily briefings.
It is clear that political decisions have been made which are not necessarily in our best interests, such as declining an invitation to join a European Commission-funded scheme to stockpile essential medical equipment, to have constantly dropped pandemic planning from the agenda since 2016, and for Boris Johnson to have found better uses for his time, such as meeting a dancing dragon for Chinese New Year instead of attending a COBRA meeting - or indeed attending five COBRA meetings on COVID-19.
At a time when we should be re-evaluating our relationship with China on multiple levels, including taking a stand on human rights and animal welfare issues and getting over our reliance on cheap goods often manufactured to low standards and in awful working conditions, the photograph of Boris Johnson gurning gormlessly at the dragon is not ageing well.
Yes, it's true that the relevant cabinet minister chairs COBRA meetings but given these meetings were about a global pandemic, it is negligent at worst and lazy at best for Johnson to simply not bother with these ones. Imagine the outcry in an alternative universe if Prime Minister Corbyn missed five COBRA meetings because he was pottering about on his allotment or attending a Venezuelan solidarity Zoom meeting. The very same people who are demanding we leave poor little Boris alone would be foaming at the mouth at the very thought of Corbyn neglecting his duty so comprehensively. Hell, imagine any prime minister in living memory missing such meetings.
In January, when PPE supply chains should have been bolstered and early scientific advice heeded, Boris Johnson was distracted by January 31's Brexit day brouhaha, something which at the time he thought was going to be his greatest triumph, his most memorable speech, the iconic photograph for the history books - but now it seems like a lifetime ago. That was a political decision as well as a negligent one.
To those who are upset about the much-villified "mainstream media" going over past decisions of recent months, please try to comprehend that it is important to flag up the mistakes that have been made. If only we had a leader who could graciously admit to and apologise for mistakes in the way that Emmanuel Macron did - that would be a good first step on the road to accountability and to quickly learning from mistakes which have surely cost lives. There will almost certainly be some sort of inquiry further down the track as to how the government handled the pandemic, when lockdown restrictions have been lifted or at least relaxed. But for now, we need decisive action from accountable leaders who are prepared to admit to errors and work their arses off to fix them.
Getting upset because The Sunday Times and Reuters have pointed out these failings in great detail is absolutely pathetic behaviour. Michael Gove was on brand on Marr this morning when he admitted Johnson didn't attend five COBRA meetings but gave the mealy-mouthed excuse that cabinet ministers chair such meetings, while simultaneously making a dig at journalists, a more articulate but equally venal version of Donald Trump's constant whines of "fake news". This was political manouevring on Gove's part - he appeared to be Johnson's loyal footsoldier but his defence of Johnson missing meetings would collapse in a light breeze and he knows it. He is not an idiot. Gove, ably assisted by his wife, Sarah Vine, a Poundland Lady Macbeth, would most likely be delighted if the pandemic cost Johnson his job. Again, let's not be naive here.
The next political decision to watch is in regard to an extension to Brexit negotiations, which has a deadline of June 30. The government is adamant that the UK won't ask for an extension but they may be left with little choice if the EU decides it has bigger virus-shaped fish to fry for the rest of the year. The British economy can recover from COVID-19 or it can recover from a no-deal Brexit after December 31 this year, but to try and get through both economic and social shocks, most likely concurrently, will be wantonly destructive. We have no choice but to deal with COVID-19 but we do have a choice about taking a more responsible approach to Brexit. Either way, it's a political choice and it will affect us for years to come.
Image: Mikhail Denishchenko