Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The BBC can't have it both ways: if they want to criticise the Scottish Government for not taking stronger action than Westminster, they can't simultaneously dismiss devolved laws as toytown rules that shouldn't be taken too seriously

I said yesterday that the BBC were partly justified (and I stress only partly) in asking whether the Scottish Government could have saved lives by locking down earlier than the rest of the UK.  But if the BBC want to have any credibility in suggesting that devolved administrations should diverge more from the UK government line, it would be helpful if their own presenters and journalists didn't dismissively refer to the stricter lockdown laws that now exist in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as if they're toytown rules that don't need to be taken too seriously.  I'm sure you already know what I'm talking about - it's the notoriously sneering exchange on the BBC News channel between host Simon McCoy and Home Affairs Correspondent Daniel Sandford.

*  *  *

Simon McCoy: If you want to get in your car, you can, you can drive as far as you want, but you're not allowed to go into another nation.

Daniel Sandford: (chuckles incredulously) Don't cross the border!

Simon McCoy: (incredulously) Don't cross the border!

Daniel Sandford: I think this goes to the heart of the problem that the Westminster government is having with trying to make sure that the other nations march alongside them a bit.  Of course to a degree there's some politics going on, the other nations are flexing their muscles a bit, saying 'we're not going to take regulations from Westminster'...but it is a ridiculous situation where someone who lives in England on the Welsh border can drive all the way along to the coast of East Anglia to go to the coast but can't cross five miles across the border into Wales under these same rules, but to be honest with you, nobody's going to police that.  That's just what they're asking people to do because of the different rules in the different countries.  

*  *  *

Crikey.  If anyone doubted that Anglocentricity is alive and well at the BBC in London, this should put their minds to rest.  Where to start?

* First of all, as I understand it, the Welsh police are in fact attempting to police the restrictions, but it obviously becomes considerably harder for them to do that if the state broadcaster is wrongly giving people the impression that the law is optional and will not be enforced.  It's no exaggeration to say the BBC have undermined the law of Wales.  That warrants a prominent correction and apology.

* Given that the law in Wales this week is essentially the same as the law in England last week, and given that the police in England were enforcing that law last week, why would it seem in any way strange or unthinkable that the Welsh police would be enforcing it this week?  Unless of course Sandford thinks that laws passed in Cardiff are 'pretend' laws and only laws passed by Westminster are the real thing.

* Note the downright weird implication that the three nations that remain united in upholding the "stay at home" policy are the ones who are out of step, rather than the one nation that has actually decided to go off and do its own thing.

* Note the suggestion that the devolved administrations are a "problem" for the English authorities.  Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that England going rogue is a problem for the devolved administrations?

* Note the subtext in "trying to make sure that the other nations march alongside them a bit" that Westminster is the long-suffering 'parent' administration and the devolved administrations are stubborn children who aren't doing the very reasonable and modest things that are being asked of them.  You'd think after more than twenty years of devolution, the BBC might by now have got their heads around the idea that the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments have parity of esteem with Westminster on devolved matters, and that if the four governments are going to "march in step", that requires dialogue and compromise - not everyone just doing whatever Westminster decides is best.

* Note that Sandford thinks that the impact of "politics" has only been felt in the decision of the devolved nations to stick with the previous UK-wide policy.  It seems far more likely that the devolved nations have actually been following scientific advice, and that the dog's breakfast of the new policy in England can be largely explained by political considerations (ie. splits within the Tory party).

* No, Daniel, it is not "ridiculous" that different laws are applied and enforced in different jurisdictions.  It is, in fact, entirely routine and unremarkable.  Look at it this way: people in Dover are twenty miles away from France and several hundred miles away from Newcastle.  Is it "ridiculous" that the laws that apply in Dover also apply in Newcastle but not in France?  No?  In that case, why the incredulity about exactly the same principle applying to someone who lives five miles from the Welsh border?  Could this betray a proprietorial attitude towards Wales in particular?  Cardiff can play at law-making, but as soon as those laws interfere with the God-given right of an Englishman to do what he likes "in his own back yard", they must obviously be disregarded?


  1. Today on the bbc:
    ‘ This has led to a divergence in lockdown rules between the UK government and the devolved administrations,’

    Could just have said ‘England’ instead of UK Government and it would have been a serious sensible statement instead of a political snipe.

    1. Oh and this:

      Coronavirus: Lockdown confusion at the borders

      They are doing this quite deliberately. There is no confusion. People near the various borders have decisions to make, just as before. I note in this story they didn’t seem to explore the NI position, just England’s, relative to Scotland and Wales.

  2. It's interesting.

    Having lived 45 years in England I have lots of friends and in laws all over that country. It took a few years after I returned to Scotland but pretty much all of them now see that Scotland is better run, more of a community and well able to look after itself. My guess is that they are representative of millions.

    We know this already but the BBC represents the interests of a section of the brit nat establishment and is permeated with, a slightly more intelligent version of, English nationalist colonial attitudes towards the rest of the uk. The educated version of the 'Waily Heil'.
    The sad ones are at Pacific Quay - accepting or trapped by a polite version of xenophobic, jingoistic brit nattery for a, much better than average, pay cheque.
    None of it's new - just worth remembering that many people in England have more in common with us than with the tory death cult.

    1. GWC lives up a waily close.

    2. Covidia lives in cloud cuckoo land, governed by unquestioning obedience and doublethink.

  3. If the BBC want to do some real critical analysis they could look at how the virus got here. There is only one way: from people coming from abroad carrying the virus and then infecting others. That means through airports, the Tunnel or on ferries.

    The UK Gov could have banned all inward travel except for those returning to their main residence. And those should have been quarantined for 14 days having been tested and tracked, along with random visits to ensure they were isolating. This could have been done early March, as soon as Italy went into lockdown, if not earlier.

    This was one of the first of several major errors committed by the UK Government.

  4. The North Wales police force and Dyfed Powys have been policing the travel restrictions much more stringently than their counterparts in South Wales and Gwent due to the fact that North and West Wales are are popular tourist destinations for English tourists. People can move relatively freely around the South Wales belt but road blocks have been set up along the A55 in North Wales and A40 in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

    Caravan Parks in north Wales have been inundated with requests for residents to return to their holiday homes and to take bookings and the reaction has been one of incredulity and disbelief when they have been refused. There is a significant degree of hostility in the local communities toward second home owners and holiday makers and I think this will be reflected in the zealous policing of english tourists by the local Welsh forces.

    There are other multiple issues:

    Monmouthshire particularly is going to struggle, as it operates as a border community rather than a Welsh Authority providing schooling and other local services to residents in England.

    A golf course for instance straddles England and Wales, members were initially told they could only play the holes in England until Wales relented and allowed Golf clubs to now open in Wales.

    Mark Drakeford the Welsh First Minister when asked whether people could meet up with friends as per the regulations in England he replied yes provided people stay 2m apart. This is contrary to his own regulations and the Welsh government had to issue a clarification to the tune that the First Minister's statement during a press conference was inaccurate.
    Welsh Health Secretary Vaughn Gething was photographed picnicing with his family despite only outdoor exercise being permitted.

    The Welsh media has nothing like the scale or reach of that in Scotland, with most people getting their info through UK sources and most Welsh residents now assume the announcements given by Boris Johnson now apply in Wales.

    Mark Drakeford has already announced that he won't be setting up a border between England and Wales as he doubts he even has the power to do so. In practical terms this means that any incursions into Wales will be permitted provided they are within a reasonable distance of people's homes.

  5. Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn, has emphasised that travel restrictions remain in place in Dyfed-Powys, and across Wales, amid concerns that the UK Government’s announcement over the weekend could create confusion within public.

    On Sunday, the UK Government announced that people in England are now permitted to travel outside their local area to take exercise. This is not the case in Wales.

    Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn said: “My main concern is that we could now see an influx of people travelling in to the Force area, and in doing so endangering our communities and threatening the spread of the virus to the vulnerable and the general public”.

  6. Golf clubs in Wales will reopen, it has been announced.

    Clubs in England were given the green light to open from tomorrow by Boris Johnson on the weekend, providing golfers follow certain restrictions.

    But Welsh golfers were told clubs this side of the border would be staying closed until further Welsh Government guidance was provided.

    That has now come, with Jason Thomas, the director of the Welsh Government’s culture, sport and tourism department, telling a Senedd committee that clubs can re-open.

  7. Spencer Smith lives in Wrexham but works in the Ironbridge Museums in Shropshire. His wife Megan works as a teacher in the Wirral.

    "What are we supposed to do?" he asked BBC Wales. "Listen to what our government says and stay home or listen to our employers who could easily say that we have to go back to work?

    1. The English government's refusal to follow the rest of the UK on covid is putting the union at risk.

    2. Armjet PuffregardMay 13, 2020 at 8:29 PM

      It's simple. You obey the laws of the country you live in, so if you live in Wales you don't obey Turkish, Brazilian or English laws, you obey Welsh ones. Same applies to the many people living in Belgium but working in Luxembourg or Germany.

  8. Closing the border between Wales and England to stop people breaking Welsh coronavirus lockdown rules is not a "real option", a minister has said.

    In England people can "drive to other destinations" to exercise from Wednesday, but not in Wales, where exercise should remain local.

    Wales' Health Minister Vaughan Gething told journalists: "I don't think closing the border is a real option."

    He was also "not sure" Welsh ministers had the power to erect border controls.

    Police forces in Wales have the power to fine people for making non-essential journeys and that includes those travelling from England into Wales.

    On Monday, First Minister Mark Drakeford said the four Welsh police forces were concerned traffic into Wales would continue to increase as a result of the change in the guidance in England.

    Speaking at Tuesday's Welsh Government news conference on coronavirus, Mr Gething said: "I don't think closing the border is a real option.

    "It may generate headlines and clicks [on news websites] but it doesn't actually help us at all."

  9. Mr Gething said in order to check all people travelling between England and Wales, border controls would have to be erected and "I'm not sure we have the powers to do that".

    "What really matters is policing and enforcing the laws, the regulations," he added.

    Asked about enforcing people not crossing borders, on Monday, the prime minister said there would be "myriad of hypothetical questions" about policy differences between the nations of the UK on lockdown.

    "This is the moment for the whole country to come together, obey those rules and apply their common sense in the application of those rules," he said.

  10. The chief constable of Gwent Police says the coronavirus lockdown is a "battle against the disease" and not between the difference in laws in England and Wales.

    Police forces have the power to fine people for making non-essential journeys and that includes those travelling from England to Wales.

    Speaking to BBC Radio Wales Breakfast with Claire Summers, Chief Constable Pam Kelly said: "It is certainly giving us some further challenges, but this isn't a battle between England and Wales and against a difference in laws.

    "This continues to be a battle against the virus, and what we are doing is obviously really appealing to people to make sure that they apply common sense and that we just make sure that people's behaviour is all in line with what we are trying to say here in Wales - stay at home, stay safe, stay local and save lives.

    "Ultimately, what myself and other chief constables in Wales are keen to do is make sure in particular that the exercise laws and recreation laws in England don't put people's lives at risk here in Wales.

    "And what we are trying to do is send out clear messages to say that the restrictions still apply in Wales, and that we really don't want people coming to our beautiful country and spreading the disease quite yet.

    "What we want is for them to stay at home, because the laws in Wales apply in Wales when people come over the border."

  11. Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething has been criticised by an opposition politician after The Sun newspaper published a photo of him sitting on a picnic bench and eating chips with his family.

    Andrew RT Davies tweeted: “Smell something fishy here, pardon the pun.

    “Welsh Labour's health minister breaks his own government's guidelines (can't picnic or sit at a bench for a prolonged period) on Saturday, and then those guidelines are mysteriously changed on the Monday...”

    The Sun reported: “Labour’s Welsh health minister tucked into chips at a picnic table despite telling people to 'stay at home and save lives'.

    “Vaughan Gething, 46, was snapped with his wife Michelle and their five-year-old son eating the takeaway snack over the Bank Holiday weekend…

    “But Gething's own strict lockdown rules - which were relaxed on Monday - stated that 'spending a prolonged period on a park bench' was not allowed.”

  12. The First Minister of Wales has just made a massive mistake. A mistake that suggests a casual attitude to rules people have been following at the expense of their own health and wellbeing because they thought it would save lives.

    During a press conference today Mark Drakeford said that it was ok to meet up with one member of your family from outside your household, providing you maintain appropriate social distancing.

    When asked about the new changes announced by the UK Government in England, Mr Drakeford said: "I am not sure that I fully understand what is being proposed in England.

    "It has been the case throughout coronavirus in Wales that if you as an individual are out taking exercise you can, at a social distance, have contact with one other person. We always said that two people can interact in that way and if you did as I did go on my bicycle to my allotment through one of the major fields in Cardiff then you see people doing that all the time.”

    This seemed different to what had been the reality for people all over Wales for the past six weeks. Really? I could have been having a distant chin wag with my mate while exercising all this time?

    When it came to WalesOnline’s turn to ask a question we wanted to clarify. The First Minister had been clear but with something like this, accuracy could be a matter of life and death.

    When asked for clarification, Mr Drakeford repeated: "The rules in Wales are that two people can meet providing they observe social distancing, so if one person from a household is going out and meeting another member of their family then under our rules that would be permitted."

    Mr Drakeford went into some detail, emphasising members of the public could not meet more than one person from another household at the same time.

    He said: "You can't go above two, once you go above two, in our definition it is a gathering and gatherings are not allowed."

    We therefore published an article saying exactly what Mark Drakeford had said.

    However we have now been told by the Welsh Government that the answer given by Mr Drakeford was not their advice.

    A Welsh Government spokesman said: "Our overarching advice is to stay at home. You need a reasonable excuse to go out, and arranging to meet friends and family is not reasonable excuse.”

    So we are in a situation where the First Minister of Wales has given the wrong advice. He was not asked if it was ok for people to bump into people they know. He was asked if it was ok for people to meet other members of their families living in different households, as is happening in England.

    We are in a situation where our top politician either doesn't understand what's happening across the border or doesn't understand the rules he is asking us to follow.

    1. This is why all the UK nations need independence. Would bring an end to this sort of confusion.

  13. Now this is testing.

    Wuhan prepares to test 11 million residents. The Chinese city of Wuhan, the original centre of the pandemic, plans to test all 11 million residents for coronavirus, according to local media.

  14. Times they are achanging

    Twitter announces employees will be allowed to work from home ‘forever’. Twitter will allow its employees to work from home “forever”, chief executive officer Jack Dorsey said in a company-wide email Tuesday.

  15. Any Camper-van or Caravan crossing the from England into Scotland or Wales border should now be examined. If they are tourists they should be turned back with a summary of the conditions in Scotland or Wales of the Covid-19 regulations. No ifs no buts.

  16. Jacinda Ahern New Zealand's prime minister has said "When it has come to Covid-19 we have carved a path based on our people, our health system, and our economy. And now that is exactly what we will do again, as we recover and rebuild.”

    Her comments came as New Zealand recorded a second consecutive day of no new Covid-19 cases, and prepares to loosen lockdown restrictions further on Thursday.

  17. How come other countries / unions manage fine with different rules for different regions / states / nations, but the brits get in a big flap about it?

    Are they just unable to cope with such things?

    They're going to really struggle with brexit if so.

  18. Police in England have no powers to enforce two-metre social distancing.

    Fresh guidelines issued by the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs’ Council urges officers to only enforce what is written in law and that “government guidance is not enforceable, for example two-metre distancing, avoiding public transport or the wearing of face coverings in enclosed spaces”.

    However, the guidance states police in Wales can enforce two-metre distancing, apart from in the workplace, where the requirement for safe distancing lies with Welsh local authorities.

    The advice, set out in a document published on Wednesday after being sent out to forces on Tuesday night, follows updated coronavirus legislation coming into force.

    Fines for breaches of regulation in England have increased - up to £100 for first time offences, with a maximum sum of up to £3,200.

    However, in Wales levels of fines still start at £60 up to a maximum of £120.

  19. More than 22,000 care home residents in England and Wales may have died as a direct or indirect result of Covid-19, academics have calculated - more than double the number stated as passing away from the disease in official figures.

  20. One Nation, one UK, until we're 4 Nations or the precious Union, or if we talk about right across the UK but mean only England

    England, for it is and England and an English problem that they refuse to understand that other nations exist and can decide what they want or don't want, and it's not stupidity, well it is a bit, but it's arrogance, just downright English arrogance that they believe they can stick a Pith Helmet on go anywhere they like and claim that they're British

    England a Nation of people who don't understand where they live and it has land and sea borders just like everywhere else in the world where people of those places understand quite clearly they can't just wander around across other peoples borders without obeying the rules of those places, or if those places say you can't come in right now the answer once again becomes *But I'm British*

    Well no you're not, you're Fkng English, British is a made up invented Nationality the English governemt decided to award itself because the English love Fkng titles bestowed upon themselves

    Everyone in the Isles of modern day Britain were Britons, who decided to change that, well I'll bet any money you like it wasn't Wales Scotland or Ireland because remember folks our votes haven't counted ever nor did they ever used to be even asked for so they couldn't mean anything

    England is a dictatorship not a co-operative, this more of us so we rule isn't even close to democracy and never can be because England cannot relinquish control, even if we all die because of it as long as those and such as those remain alive to rule by right of birth and class distinction endowed upon themselves

  21. I am not particularly interested in Swansea, or people driving around in cars. In Edinburgh, the governments advice doesn't make sense: Go out as much as you want, but stay at home. Visit people, but don't leave the house. In Edinburgh, the government's testing scheme is murderous. Basically, the Scottish government's testing scheme is practically non-existent for vulnerable people, and those they come into contact with. If you come into contact with someone infected, you will not get tested in Edinburgh - for real(unless you wait for Sunday service buses, sit on buses, queue up at the airport to get a swab rammed down your throat, and wait for buses to get home - that's just not going to happen, never mind the completely non-existent 'tracing' bit).

    1. You have not a single idea of what you're talking about you're just firing out Unionist garbage in the hope it sticks to something

    2. The Scottish governments advice has not changed except you can now exercise twice a day. Its still stay at home. I know Edinburgh people are thick but that's not difficult to understand.

  22. It's hard to imagine a testing scheme that was more geared towards spreading infection. Queue up with a bunch of people who think they might have coronavirus, and sit on a bus for an hour with them? Who came up with that idea?

    1. It was the UK government that came up with that idea. They put Deloitte in charge of these centres across the UK. They were the private company awarded a lucrative contract that refused to pass on the results of tests conducted at these centres in Scotland because of "data protection rules". This hindered the collection of valuable data in Scotland.

      It was Westminster that came up with that idea.

  23. It was the same on LBC recently, James. Shelagh Fogarty and Theo Usherwood were discussing how the recent changes in England would affect day to day life. Fogarty suggested a romantic situation: what if you had a boyfriend/girlfriend who lived in Scotland, wouldn't it be lovely to drive to Scotland to see them? It'd be a shame to have to stop at the border as people from England aren't allowed to cross the border into Scotland. Fogarty's tone was quite wistful. Then Usherwood ruined the mood with the stupid, and factually wrong suggestion that the lovers could meet, because the partner in Scotland come cross over into England! I don't think he was joking. I think he honestly thought he'd come up with an obvious solution to the problem. Made me say out loud (even though I'm here on my own) that that wasn't the case, as the rule in Scotland is to STAY AT HOME! Fogarty didn't spot the innaccuracy and the conversation moved on regardless. Take from that what you will. For me, it seemed as if the law in England and Scotland do not have the same weight or substance. Clearly, if a Scottish law is flouted by someone living in Scotland, it's not so serious. A person living in Scotland is free to adopt, or opt into the laws of our neighbouring country as the law in that country trumps Scottish law.

  24. There has been a decrease in deaths related to coronavirus in Scotland, according to the latest weekly data from the National Records of Scotland.

    In the week up to 10 May, 415 deaths relating to Covid-19 have been registered, a decrease of 110 from the previous week.

    However, deaths in care homes still make up 57% of the total coronavirus deaths in Scotland, a much higher proportion than south of the border. There, Guardian data puts the figure at 40% deaths in care homes, although it is worth noting that the data in England and Wales is a week older.

    On this measure, which includes all deaths where the virus was mentioned on the death certificate, there have been a total of total of 3,213 deaths registered in Scotland.

    For the first time this week, the NRS has published additional analysis looking at the impact of deprivation on coronavirus death rates. Their analysis finds that people living in the most deprived areas of Scotland were 2.3 times more likely to die with Covid-19 than those living in the least deprived areas.

    1. Care home deaths south of the border are only reported as Covid-19 deaths if their had been a positive test carried out. It now appears according to a study by the London School of Economics who have calculated 22,000 desths due to Covid-19 against the official figure of 8,314.

      "More than 22,000 care home residents in England and Wales may have died as a direct or indirect result of Covid-19, academics have calculated – more than double the number stated as passing away from the disease in official figures.

      Academics at the London School of Economics found that data on deaths in care homes directly attributed to the virus published by the Office for National Statistics significantly underestimated the impact of the pandemic on care home residents and accounted for only about four out of 10 of the excess deaths in care settings recorded in recent weeks in England and Wales.

      ONS statisticians said on Tuesday that 8,314 people had died from confirmed or suspected Covid-19 in English care homes up to 8 May."

    2. This could be explained by Scotland having a lower death / infection rate than England.

      This would be expected to skew deaths increasingly towards the elderly in care homes because they are the most vulnerable group.

      It’s easier to stop younger, fitter groups dying than it is older groups living in close proximity, so the more you successfully combat the disease, the more it become increasingly confined to the most vulnerable.

      If we get deaths down to 1 a week, you can be sure almost all of these will be over 80 in care homes. Figures will be like '95% of deaths this month were in care homes'...

  25. Strap yourselves in for the second wave.

    Commuters in London said social distancing was "next to impossible" on Wednesday as many made their first journeys to work since lockdown rules were eased in England.

    Street works inspector Matt Hickson, 47, told the BBC that he saw "less than 10% of commuters wearing masks" on his London Underground journey today.

    "People are taking liberties not only with their own health but with other people's," he said. "There could be a second wave of infections coming."

    Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, said reports of packed Tube trains on Wednesday show how "fraught with danger" the government's return to work message is.

  26. For the first time since lockdown, a construction site of several new houses has reopened today in Dyke , by Forres , Moray.

    Several vans of construction workers employed by EXCEL are now coming into and working in this small village.

    Obviously they take their instruction fae Boris not the Scot gov.

    1. Glazier firm in Elgin "due" to re-open this week. It didn't. Obviously following Scot.Gov.

  27. The obviously irked London-centric media and political establishment feel ownership of Scotland, Wales and NI.
    They've never got over the loss of "their" empire.
    The lockstep idea was a ploy to call in and emasculate devolution.
    It's come back to bite them on the bum.
    The Scots, Welsh and NI govts. have never been more popular.
    Troubles ahead for the UK union.

  28. Some clarity on who is responsible for what regards testing in Scotland. One is the SNHS the other is Deloitte who have been given a contract for test centres across the UK.

    "Coronavirus: How do Scotland and England compare on testing?"

    "Scotland effectively has two testing systems running in parallel - one through the NHS, which is the responsibility of the Scottish government, and the UK government's own testing programme. However, both essentially follow the same rules."

    "The UK government operates drive-through testing centres at Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen Airports and at the Highlands and Islands University Campus in Inverness.
    A further site in Perth is due to open this week, with the military also to operate 13 mobile test units in Scotland.
    The UK government has also established a "superlab" at Glasgow University - one of three across the UK - to help process the tests."

  29. For the first time this morning the National Records of Scotland published additional analysis looking at the impact of deprivation on coronavirus death rates. Their analysis found that people living in the most deprived areas of Scotland were 2.3 times more likely to die with Covid-19 than those living in the least deprived areas.

    Guardian analysis also indicates that death rates are higher in the most deprived areas of Scotland. The non-age standardised death rate is higher in council areas with a high concentration of deprivation.

    Inverclyde local authority, which contains a large proportion of the most highly deprived parts of Scotland, continues to have the highest Covid-19 death rate in the country, at 13.2 per 10,000 people compared with the national rate of 5.8 per 10,000. Glasgow, which also has significant pockets of deprivation in the city, has a death rate of 8.05 by this measure.

    1. The poorest always get the wrong end of the shitty stick, no one can really be surprised as it has always been that way. The exact same rules apply in war though the figure is likely higher since the Generals rarely venture to the front line.

      It has been ever thus it seems and was if history is any guide, during the time of the Spanish Flu in 2018 the rich mainly survived, not so those that served them.


      n 1918 the Spanish flu was slaughtering tens of millions around the world, yet in Paris the highest death rates were concentrated along the richest boulevards. This baffled scientists ­– until they realised that it wasn’t wealthy people whose eyes were bleeding, whose skin was blackening, whose corpses were piling up. It was their servants.

      While les riches enjoyed high ceilings and grand balconies, their domestics were crammed below stairs in dark, dirty, suffocating rooms­. They never stood a chance. One out of four women in Paris killed by the outbreak was a maid. As Laura Spinney notes in her history Pale Rider: “The flu may have been democratic … but the society it struck was not.”

      Even today there are not many from the poorest areas who can work from home, no they have to go off and work in the care homes and man the tills, empty the bins... and the list goes on.

      I'd only be surprised that there is anyone surprised that poorer people are much more likely to die during a pandemic than those they serve.

    2. The workers you outline in your second last para are essential workers. If the rubbish is not emptied then have a different pandemic. Those workers also pay tax that subsidises university students. Perhaps if money was diverted to the workers instead of subsidising well of student we would have a fairer society.

    3. A fairer society comes about by providing free education to all and not just those that can afford to pay for it. This is possible by taxing those that can most afford to pay a bit more.

      It was that way for a 3 decades or so until Blair made the decision to charge the poorest for their education and to scrap maintanence grants.

      I don't see how his actions could be seen as representing the working class that elected him and the Labour party. They were in power for ten years and left the working class in a worse position having to deal with austerity and PPI and tuition fees without grants for education.

      Red Tory B-liar will be a fitting eulogy for him.

    4. Thepnr - so you accept that you got it wrong in the past in supporting the British Labour Party and the liar/actor Tony Blair. Yet you seem so sure you are right about the Scot gov having nothing to answer for re the Salmond trial. Sure you are not making the same mistake again.

      The Who - I won't be fooled again.

    5. You think you know anything about me?

      I stopped supporting Labour after 40 years because of B-liar.

    6. By the way, WTF are you on about putting words in my mouth

      "Yet you seem so sure you are right about the Scot gov having nothing to answer for re the Salmond trial."

      That is utter made up shite, there are people within the Scottish government that I do believe have questions to answer and I expect that they will in the soon to be resumed Holyrood enquiry.

      Where we differ is that I will not involve Nicola Sturgeon in any kind of plot against Alex Salmond in some conspiracy. Any conspiracy that is yet to be proven I prefer to believe originated in Westminster until evidence shows otherwise.

      I admire Alex Salmond and still do, I never believed him guilty and believed the powers that be were out to get him. The ultimate power that wanted to get him originates in Westminster and they are the obvious place to look for evidence of a conspiracy to destroy him.

      Not the person he groomed to take over from him and trusted with his every secret, the person leading the SNP now. Alex Salmond chose his successor wisely and current events prove that to be so.

  30. The Welsh minister for economy, transport and north Wales has said it will welcome back people who live in England “with open arms” once the Covid-19 crisis is over.

    Ken Skates said for the moment road blocks were being set up to intercept people travelling in order to exercise - which is banned in Wales. Speaking at the Welsh government’s daily press conference, Skates said:

    We’re working very closely with police forces around Wales and in England to try to minimise the instances of irresponsible behaviour.

    It’s not just that people are traveling across the border. It’s also that some people are not acting appropriately within Wales and are traveling for exercise when they should not be doing so.

    He said if the police felt they needed more powers the government would back them. “If further resources, further powers are required then we will support them in their endeavours.”

    But addressing English people he said: “You will be very warmly welcomed to Wales when we are through this crisis.”

    On public transport Skates said the Welsh government would not ask people to avoid trains and buses in Wales because one in five people in Wales do not have a car. But he said there may be a need for key workers to be given priority on public transport.

  31. The UK is a shambles. English exceptionalism and a colonial superiority complex relative to Wales, Scotland and Ireland is at the heart of the problem.

    1. You clearly ignore the major part Scots played in the Empire.

    2. Someone living in the past.

    3. The Empire was British and Brits ran it.

      If Scotland had been an independent country jointly running the empire, then it would have been a partly Scottish empire run in part by Scots.

      Stop doing an andy murray with the empire.

      'It was the Brits that defeated the Nazis but it was the Scots who ran the nasty empire!'

    4. I reckon it was really the Yank and Soviet industrial capacity that defeated the Nazis. The British did play a fair part.

    5. A waste of time to discuss anything with a Britnat turd like GWC.

    6. As per your earlier comment, it was the Scots that played a fair part in defeating the Nazis.

    7. Yes the Brit/Scots did.

    8. Yes, my Scottish grandparents fought along side some brits as you say.

    9. If they did fight then it was with the British Armed Forces.

    10. Covidia is obsessed with World War II in the most Commando comic way. It exemplifies the childish level of Covidia's thinking.

  32. Here's why a second more severe spike in Covid-19 cases in England is certain by relaxing restictions too soon and before putting any trace, test and isolate stratagy in place. A policy doomed to failure leading to a further lockdown.

    Even the countries that have proven to be the best at managing the crisis cannot control it completely.

  33. What is the worse outcome -

    1. a higher overall death rate or

    2. a higher death rate in care homes but a much lower overall death rate.

    Britnats choose 2. above as being worse because that is the situation in Scotland in their minds. In their minds everything in Scotland must be worse than the homeland England. It justifies in their brainwashed minds calling themselves British. So sad.

    1. The Scottish Government are totally responsible for Scottish care homes and the Scottish NHS. Police Scotland are responsible to the Scottish Government.

    2. Scottish care homes are nearly all privately owned and owned by people out to make fat profits. PROFIT BEFORE LIVES IS THEIR MOTTO!!!

    3. Wrong again GWC The Scottish government is not responsible for private care homes, those are commercial businesses, the Scottish government as employers are indirectly responsible for care homes managed and controlled by local councils who have authority over those
      Police Scotland are answerable to the Crown meaning ultimately the English unwritten constitution that Scotland has on loan, they are only managed maintained and controlled by the Scottish government

      You Yoons really don't know anything do you, you just open your very own big mouths and make parrot noises
      It's why half of Inverclyde and Ayrshire are mosr affected by the Covid virus, because you people just don't listen,is it the big drum, does it make you deaf, or the flutes piercing your ears, or are you all really just that stupid

    4. Looks like the virus has attacked your reality. You have just justified doing away with the jockish Parliament as they according to you have no responsibility for anything. Well done son I could not have said it better.

    5. Poor Covidia. So gormless. So bitter. So very, very obedient.
      It's a real shame that, unlike the rest of the British nationalist trolls, it can't find anyone to pay it for its screams of impotent rage.

  34. Of course the anti Scottish BBC is pumping out the Hootsmans lie about care homes.

    I have a niece who works in a "not for profit" care home that followed the SG guidelines from day one and have had no cases of the Tory Plague.

    The homes that have been afflicted have been by the Tory Plague I think you will find they did not follow the SG guidelines and are are also owned by greedy unscrupulous psychopaths. They put a fast buck before peoples lives.

    1. Oh the Chinky Plague is now the Tory Plague. You Nat si fascists are outdoing Go Balls with your Nazi diahorea. You never mentioned the English!

    2. On finishing this racist scream, Covidia threw its empty turps bottle at the cat for voting Remain, then passed out in the sobbing cupboard.
      Pathetic, snivelling creature.

  35. Private care homes and lazy staff killed old people

    True but not a single newspaper or TV would ever say it

    1. So the staff were intentionally making themselves redundant. I could go along with that as Scots have a tradition of benefit claiming.

    2. Covidia will think of its words here and smile when its Tory overlords put it to work in the fields this summer in exchange for its pittance of a state pension.

  36. Excellent analysis, James, well done. Sadly, experience of the Celtic nations tells us that the chauvinism at the root of this condescension is so deep-seated, it's impervious to critical argument of the kind you've presented here. (It's doesn't help that it takes far longer to unpick the insult than it does to make it.) They just shrug, give each other a sidelong glance and say, 'See? Chippy.'

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