Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and is a commentator for CNN.
One of the more vacuous soundbites delivered by Minister after Minister at the daily press conferences is: “We made the right decisions at the right time.”
Er, no. First of all, at this stage it is impossible to know for certain that the right decisions were made, let along whether they were made at the right time.
And who is the judge and jury about what the right time was? We’re told all the decisions were made on “the best scientific advice available”. Fine – but it’s becoing clear that the Government’s scientific advisers aren’t and weren’t exactly all on the same page.
What Ministers should be saying is that they made what they believe were the right decisions at the right time, but that, inevitably, some mistakes have been made. No Government in the world has, or could, get everything right. And the general public knows that.
Admittedly, if Ministers make such an admission, the media will push on and ask which mistakes and when. But in the end, admitting to mistakes is actually a sign of strength rather than weakness. The Government will no doubt be very pleased at their poll ratings at the moment, but these could collapse at any time.
Sixty five per cent of the public think that Ministers have not performed well on the supply of PPE. If that level of criticism spreads to other areas, these unprecedented Government opinion poll ratings of more than 50 percent will plummet like a stone.
Keir Starmer has shown in his first three weeks as Labour Party leader that he is going to be much more of a challenge to deal with. I can’t think of a foot that he’s put wrong so far. Conservatives can’t rely on him tripping up in the way his predecessor did. I seem to recall that his name was Jeremy something.
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Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve had a lot of approaches from people who have been finding it difficult to wade through the government bureaucracy and get to the right person.
Many of them have been wanting to offer PPE material. The trouble is: how do you work out who is serious, legitimate, or someone just trying to make a fast buck?
I had a call into my show the other day from someone who reckoned that he had 10 million face masks in a warehouse, but the NHS wouldn’t take them because his company wasn’t an approved NHS supplier. Just the sort of thing that makes you want to bang your head against the wall.
I suggested that he email me all the details, and said I’d contact one of the Health ministers on his behalf. However, I decided to quiz him a bit more, as a sixth sense told me something didn’t stack up here.
How much do these facemasks cost? I asked him. Silence ensued for a couple of seconds. “Well, about $5,” he eventually spluttered. I said that seemed very expensive, given that they normally retail at about £1.
I then asked him who on earth imports ten million masks when they haven’t sorted out a buyer for them – a thousand maybe, to retail on a website, but ten million? Again, he couldn’t answer. I guess you won’t be surprised to hear that I never got an email from him.
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I’m not sure that Harriet Harman covered herself in glory this week when she suggested that, if Boris Johnson is fit enough to take a phone-call from Donald Trump, he is fit enough to return to work and do Prime Minister’s Questions.
The worst course that the Prime Minister could take is return to Downing Street too early, and risk his health again. It’s a huge temptation for him to think that he’s ready, but he simply has to take the advice of his doctors.
And while we’re on this subject, shame on those who seem to believe that his whole illness wasn’t as serious as has been suggested. The man nearly died, but because he wasn’t on a ventilator some people seem to think his health wasn’t serious. They know nothing.
Many people die having not been on a ventilator. The fact is that you don’t go into an ICU if you’re not in a very serious situation indeed. Quite a high percentage of those who do don’t come out alive. The New Zealand nurse who cared for the Prime Minister has now gone public, and confirmed that he was in a very serious state indeed. Let that be the end of it.
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I have two dogs, a Jack Russell called Dude and a Miniature Schnauzer called Bubba. Bubba has to go to the dog groomers every six weeks or so, otherwise he starts getting a bit shaggy.
It’s now been eight weeks. My partner bought some hair scissors and cut his beard a bit, and his eyebrows, as the poor little blighter could barely see through them.
But given it’s quite hot at the moment I’m wondering about the rest of his body (Bubba’s – not my partners.) I could use my Remington shaver which I use to shave my head, with a number three attachment, but I think that the experience might traumatise him! All suggestions gratefully received.