Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and is a commentator for CNN.
Cometh the hour, cometh the Hancock. Sometimes it needs a good crisis for a politician’s best qualities to come to the fore, and so it has proved with our Secretary of State for Health.
So far, Matt Hancock has had a ‘good war’. He’s shown calmness under fire, a total grip of the subject matter and leadership qualities which perhaps hitherto hadn’t been on full display.
In some ways, this is something of a surprise, given the centralising tendencies in Number Ten, but they have allowed Hancock to lead the Government’s response, bringing in the Prime Minister only when necessary.
The media, of course, want it both ways. They complain when everything seems to emanate from Number Ten, but then also berate Boris Johnson for not leading the Government’s response to the crisis and chairing every single Cobra meeting.
He’s clearly taken the view that he has a Cabinet, and he trusts its members – well, some of them – to get on with their jobs.
We are still in the early stages of this crisis, and things could soon change rather dramatically. It is clear that public demands for ‘action this day’ are growing. As I write, Cobra is about to meet and we will be moving to stage two – delay.
I still don’t expect the kind of dramatic response that we’ve seen in Italy, but let’s not pretend that a full quarantine lockdown could happen. We’re about two weeks behind it.
The natural response of many is that we should be banning flights into the country from Italy and some other countries too. People think all sporting events should be cancelled.
It is clear that many businesses are already taking the kind of action people expect the government to take. Conferences are being cancelled, left, right and centre. The Liberal Democrats have cancelled their Spring Conference which was due to take place in York this weekend.
People will shrug their shoulders, but that single decision will have economic consequences on the local economy in York. Hotel rooms empty. Restaurants less busy. Taxis without fares. I could go on.
Too many businesses seem to be adherents of the ‘something must be done’ syndrome. Sometimes doing nothing is better than doing the wrong thing. It seems to me that some organisations are taking ‘firm action’ just to virtue signal that they are doing something.
Having said that, it is entirely right that home-working should be encouraged. The less people mix with each other the better.
I suspect one of the lasting legacies of this crisis is that companies will start to trust their employees to work at home in a way they’ve never done before. Clearly, home-working is impossible in many sectors of the economy, but where it can be done, it should be.
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The idea that Trevor Phillips is some sort of Islamophobe is to be ridiculed. He’s spent his life fighting racism.
The Labour Party said they had to suspend him as a matter of urgency, yet all the things he is accused of saying were said many years ago.
And most of the accusations revolve around his comments on British Pakistani grooming gangs – all of which I wholeheartedly endorse.
Jenny Formby, the General Secretary of the Labour Party, has overreached herself on this one. Assuming Keir Starmer wins the leadership of the Labour Party, you’d have to predict that her tenure in the job ought to be a very short one.
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Could Hillary Clinton yet become President of the United States? Joe Biden is rumoured to be thinking of picking her as his vice-presidential running mate.
Well, why not? You don’t have to be a septuagenarian to be involved in this contest, but it sure does help. She’s 72.
If Biden wins, he’ll be 78 by the time of his inauguration and given the clear signs of mental decline that he is displaying, it is surely sensible to have a Vice President who’s highly experienced.
The trouble is, however, Donald Trump will think all his Christmases have come at once.
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I don’t wish to rain on Rishi Sunak’s post-Budget parade, but what on earth happened to the concept of ‘sound money’? I never thought I’d live to see the day when a Conservative Government would turn on the spending taps like this. Margaret Thatcher must be turning in her grave.
I completely get the need to invest in infrastructure, and I the fact that interest rates are at an all time low, but it comes to something when a Conservative Chancellor adopts the policies which Ed Balls was advocating at the 2015 general election.
It makes you wonder what austerity was all about. I do worry that by spending in haste, Sunak will repent at leisure. Or rather his successor will have to clear up the mess. I hope I am proved wrong.