Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and the For the Many podcast with Jacqui Smith.
One thing we have learned during the Coronavirus pandemic is that science is not a science. It is an art.
I had always assumed that science was based on incontrovertible facts – and that unlike economics, you could assert something as beyond contradiction. It seems that just like economists, you can put 364 economists in a room and they will come out with 365 different opinions.
The big emerging question now is about the two metre rule. In other countries, they seem to be doing OK with a one metre or 1.5 metre rule without experiencing increased reinfections.
Yet our scientists seem reluctant to go down that road. I understand why, but could it not be relaxed in some areas and not others? I know that might be confusing for some, but it can’t surely be any more confusing than the concept of ‘social bubbles’.
For instance, we know that children very rarely contract Covid-19, and even if they do, they don’t seem to suffer. So surely the two metre rule could be relaxed in schools. If that doesn’t happen, it’s difficult to see how all schools can return to relative normality in September.
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There is a growing consensus that lockdown happened a week too late. Hindsight is a wonderful thing – but put yourself in the position of Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson at the time.
On March 13th, SAGE recommended that lockdown should not yet happen. They feared if it was imposed too early, people wouldn’t obey it, and there could therefore be a second spike later. No doubt the Treasury was also warning about the consequences of going too early.
On March 17th, Dominic Cummings attended another meeting of SAGE and is reported by several of those present to have asked why we weren’t in lockdown yet.
On March 23rd, six days later, lockdown was announced.
That ten day period between March 13th and 23rd has, according to Neil Ferguson, cost 25,000 lives. Given that he was the one responsible for much of the modelling which guided the Government, he’s clearly getting his defence in early.
Because, make no mistake, when the public inquiry is convened (as it surely must be, by the end of the year) everyone will have to defend the decisions they took, and explain on what evidence the decisions were based.
I do hope the relevant players kept diaries… Ferguson’s defence is that he had “assumed” care homes would be shielded. Assumption is a wonderful thing. It’s the sort of thing a scientist can get away with, but a politician can’t.
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I don’t pretend to know the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of what Robert Jenrick is being accused of in relation to Richard Desmond.
It relates to planning permission given to Desmond to build some flats and that, during the weeks afterwards, Desmond donated £12,000 to the Conservative Party.
I guess the insinuation is that somehow the two things are linked. Here’s a simple question: Does anyone seriously believe that a politician or a political party can be bought for £12,000? Seriously?
However, perception is more important than reality where political donations are concerned. One thing, though. It was Chris Pincher who was deputed to answer the Urgent Question from Labour in the Commons earlier this week.
There may well have been a good reason for Jenrick not to appear himself, but it didn’t look good.
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I’ve just commissioned a set of political baseball caps for my online shop. I’ve done five – featuring Johnson, Keir Starmer, Layla Moran, Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
I’m sad to report that Biden isn’t proving very popular. I haven’t sold a single one of his. Still, four months to go…. Gulp.
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I deprecate the tearing down of historical statues in the way that happened at last weekend in Bristol. If a statue is to be removed it should be done in the proper way. I hold no candle at all for Edward Colston, but clearly he is a figure of significance in Bristol’s past.
Perhaps an alternative to removing a statue would be for there to be large plaque alongside giving a balanced account of the subject’s life (though good luck to the person writing the text). Alternatively, maybe we should do what the Hungarians have done, and build a theme park where all the statues can be available for viewing.
But if we’re going to be consistent about it, and include everyone who has done terrible things or uttered bad thoughts, then I look forward to Karl Marx’s mausoleum being included, as Charlotte Gill wrote yesterday. Or Millicent Fawcett, who did wonderful things for women’s rights, but held some very dodgy views on race and empire.
The list could go on. It’s a very dangerous path we are embarking on if we seek to censor history using modern standards of what’s acceptable and what’s not to be the determining factor. There are seriously some people who think Churchill’s statue should be removed from Parliament Square on the basis that he held racist views.
Yes, he did. So did your grandfather. So did most people of his age. There’s also a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament Square. Strangely, I hear very few people calling for him to be removed, even though he was a total racist against black Africans. If we’re going to go down this road of removing statues, let’s at least be consistent in our justification for it.