Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and the For the Many podcast with Jacqui Smith.
The Coronavirus pandemic has shown how true the maxim is that those who shout the loudest get the most attention.
Take teachers, for example.
And before I go on, I should say that originally I was going to be a teacher (of German, since you ask) and I have the highest regard for the teaching profession.
However, the very thought that teachers should be vaccinated ahead of other groups is for the birds.
There is no evidence that teachers are more likely to either contract or die of Coronavirus than anyone else.
Indeed, the league table of occupations with the most Coronavirus deaths put teachers almost at the bottom.
But the teachers unions have a very loud voice and they used it to persuade the Labour Party to press the Government to put teachers at the top of the next round of vaccinations.
It would have been easy to give in, but they didn’t. And quite right too.
This week the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) declared that teachers were no more at risk than other people.
What about those who don’t have powerful public advocates – refuse collectors, people who work in funeral parlours, taxi drivers (who top the death list), bus drivers? I could go on.
The JCVI is absolutely right to say that once the 1-9 groups are complete, the rollout should continue to be largely based on age bands.
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Clickbait headline of the week has to go to Pink News, which came up with this gem: “Horny thief steals £600 of sex toys – including a vegan bondage kit”.
Horny thief steals £600 of sex toys – including a vegan bondage kit https://t.co/UQ96U5rDUf
— PinkNews (@PinkNews) February 25, 2021
The mind boggles. I mean, a leather gimp mask made out of Quorn? Whatever next.
I’m afraid clickbait headlines are not just the province of tabloids. I’ve noticed even The Times has started to get down dirty in the hope of attracting more hits.
This week a headline tried to persuade us that prisoners (at least they didn’t call them “lags”) were going to queue jump and get the vaccine ahead of teachers and police officers.
Teachers, police and other key workers should not get priority for Covid jabs but prisoners can be vaccinated en masse, the government’s advisory body has concluded https://t.co/o3fVcRlxSt
— The Times (@thetimes) February 25, 2021
What a shame the words underneath the headline said nothing of the sort.
Headline writers have a job to do, but that job is not to exaggerate the truth or reality.
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All attention is now turning towards Rishi Sunak’s budget on Wednesday.
In some ways this could be seen as the most important budget for a generation.
It will set the tone for the next decade of rebuilding our economy.
It cannot be business as usual and has to show a huge degree of imagination and understanding of what is needed to recreate an enterprise economy.
Everything must be geared to encouraging economic activity and new business startups. Tinkering with the odd tax rate here and there won’t be enough.
It is also an important day for the Chancellor personally. His popularity ratings are rightfully very high, but this budget will define him for a lot of us.
Has he got what it takes, or will this it all be a bit of a damp squib with decisions delayed and a sense of “meh-ness” pervading the country?
We all accept that debts have to be repaid. But now is not the time to start putting up taxes.
It is rumoured he is thinking of increasing corporation tax.
For a party which traditionally can’t see a tax without wanting to put it up, it is supremely ironic that Labour has declared it would be against a rise, however minimal, in corporation tax.
But it’s a good bit of opposition politics, however opportunistic it is.
To put up corporation or any business tax at the moment would be a complete slap in the face for those businesses who, just as they see a degree of normality (and hopefully profitability) to return, they are told the first thing they will have to do is pay more tax.
There are plenty of people who have done well out of the pandemic, the most obvious being Amazon. It’s fair enough to think of ways of finding new ways of taxing them, but however that is done, it’s important to ensure that it’s not the paying consumer who is hit.
I’d like to see a national insurance holiday for a year for any new business startup. As I said last week, I’d like to see IR35 and the loan charge abolished. This war against the self employed has to stop.
But most of all I want to see a truly radical budget speech.
We are about to find out of what metal Sunak is made.
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I hope you’ve all got your popcorn ready for Alex Salmond’s appearance before a committee of the Scottish Parliament this lunchtime.
It promises to be quite an event.
I don’t profess to be an expert on the internal affairs of the SNP, but I have a feeling that an implosion is imminent.
And at last the English media has woken up to what could well become one of the biggest political stories of the year.
If the worst were to happen (for the SNP, I mean) and Nicola Sturgeon was to be forced out of office, it’s difficult to see who the ready replacement is.
Succession planning was something Salmond did well. He groomed Sturgeon for the job, and few could say with a straight face that she has made a hash of it (although if you work in Scottish education, or parts of the Scottish NHS you might contest that assertion).
She, however, has failed to do that. There is no natural successor.
And that’s a real concern, both for the SNP and for Scotland more generally.