Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and the For the Many podcast with Jacqui Smith.
Desmond Swayne is an adornment to our political life. Politics has always had mavericks and MPs who are outspoken, and he is the latest example.
However, his comments on “manipulated” Coronavirus statistics and interview with anti-vax champions were dangerous and outrageous.
He maintains that things he said in November were correct at the time – an assertion which in itself is questionable.
He then doubled down and claimed that it would be a “thought crime” for him to lose the Conservative Party whip.
Michael Gove has called on him to apologise, but he refuses.
I should make it clear that even though he has appeared with anti-vaxxers, whom he calls “nutty”, he is not one himself and maintains he is “evangelical” in his support for vaccinations.
He says that he didn’t know any of the people he was talking to were anti-vax and that he was purely talking about lockdowns.
For someone who loyally served David Cameron as Parliamentary Private Secretary, he has displayed the political judgement of a shrew on this issue.
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It’s not been an easy week for the Prime Minister.
Quite naturally, when the 100,000 Covid death milestone was reached, he appeared before the press cameras looking very sober, and also somewhat exhausted and dishevelled.
He said all the right words, but was I alone in thinking that it just didn’t quite work?
Tony Blair and Cameron had a unique ability to not only say the right words, but to do so in a way that the public related to.
Not all politicians have that gift. Theresa May didn’t. Gordon Brown didn’t.
Boris Johnson is a politician made for the good times. His naturally sunny optimism is great in many circumstances.
Being sombre and downbeat, however, is not his natural demeanour.
I don’t blame him for that. None of us can change the way we are, merely do our best to say the right thing in the right way.
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The suggestion from Nicola Sturgeon that Johnson shouldn’t have gone to Scotland yesterday is as ridiculous as it is insulting.
Johnson is Prime Minister of Scotland too, and in my view should be going to Scotland as often as possible and trying to build a relationship with Scots, which he doesn’t have at the moment.
She says in times of a pandemic he should not be rampaging across the UK.
He is the Prime Minister, not an ordinary member of the public. He has a duty to visit every part of the UK.
If the UK Prime Minister does not make the case for the union, who will? (And I say this as someone who is not unsympathetic to the notion of Scottish independence.)
Sturgeon sometimes appears drunk on her zealotry for Scottish independence.
She is in many ways an admirable political leader, and yet I wonder if she is about to overreach herself.
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The calls for an immediate public inquiry into Covid have reappeared.
They should be resisted. I cannot see the logic of commencing an inquiry when the pandemic is still ongoing.
I am not saying it shouldn’t start until the last case has been eradicated, but surely its terms of reference cannot be decided until we have the end in sight.
Assuming the vaccine process has the desired effect, I’d have thought launching the inquiry at some point in the second part of the year was achievable and desirable.
Should it be a UK wide inquiry, or should there be four separate inquiries into the conduct of each of the four governments of the UK? These are the questions we need to ask.
Clearly the inquiry will seek to apportion blame for mistakes that were made, but these are mistakes that have been made by representatives of all the main political parties, who run the four different administrations.
Some are questioning the need for any inquiry at all on the basis it will cost a lot of money and will take years to report, by which time all the main political protagonists won’t be in office.
Surely it is absolutely vital to have a proper inquiry, from which everyone can learn the lessons for the next time something like this happens.
Not just the politicians, but the scientific and medical community too.