Non-publication of SAGE minutes could mean that the government are taking decisions contrary to the scientific advice and we won’t know it until it is too late

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Over on the Debated Podcast there is an excellent interview with Judith Bunting, a scientist by training, who was PPC for us in Newbury and West Berkshire in 2015 and 2017, and also MEP for the South-East of England from 2019-2020. Will Barber Taylor engages with Judith on the following topics:

  • How Judith had an “absolutely seminal” moment at the 2011 Feltham and Heston by-election, while knocking on doors for our candidate, Roger Crouch. She felt a calling to help the residents.
  • The sharp difference of standing as a PPC for Westminster, where door knocking and name recognition is everything, versus standing to be an MEP, where one’s party is paramount and it’s a question of getting out leaflets.
  • How to get things done with the EU – including the example of how Ed Davey did great things with renewable energy.
  • The confrontational/stone throwing nature of the House of Commons compared to the constructive set-up of the EU parliament.
  • Britain’s last day in the EU – How the communual and heart-warming signing of “Auld Lang Syne” by all sides in the European Parliament was over-shadowed by the antics of Nigel Farage.
  • How Judith garnered support for a second referendum, even from Brexiteers.
  • High hopes that Keir Starmer will raise the level of political debate in the UK.
  • How the UK government should be “cut some slack” on their handling of the pandemic.
  • Profound concern that the government is not publishing the minutes of SAGE meetings and that this could mean that politicians are taking decisions counter to the scientific advice and we will never know it (until it is too late).
  • Listening to Churchill’s speech during the VE day commemorations, and feeling sad that we have left the EU

Here is the podcast:

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • The ‘alternative’ Sage scientists have been critical of the ‘Stay Alert’ change and, from Ed Davey’s statement it seems Boris Johnson has been economical with the truth about it’s scientific backing.

    Guardian today….The UK death toll from Covid-19 has surpassed 40,000, according to official figures, with almost 10,000 care home residents now having died from coronavirus………..
    The Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday that 35,044 deaths involving Covid-19 were registered in England and Wales up to 9 May. Adding the latest figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland and more up to date fatalities from the four nations , the total official UK death toll now stands at 40,496……..

    These are not just the worst in Europe but the worst by a long way..For a country with an NHS that was once the envy of the world what went wrong?

    Matt Hancock’s, “Care Home deaths have halved” is symptomatic of a government more concerned with defending it’s shortcomings than remedying them!’s

  • What went wrong was the appalling lack of readiness for an event like this pandemic despite the (suppressed) Cygna report and exercises like the chillingly prescient BBC programme “Contagion – the BBC4 pandemic” in 2018. See it now on YouTube. Any government would struggle with the current situation and mistakes are inevitable but the real scandal was the failure to have the necessary stockpiles of PPE and testing facilities beforehand. Many of the current failures, delays and mistakes derive from this.

  • Richard Underhill 13th May '20 - 8:54am

    The speeches by the chairmen of select committees should be studied. On health and social care this is the previous health secretary, who persuaded the previous Prime Minister not to sack him, but to put social care into his job title. He should also have tried for more money then and structural changes. He did come second in the Tory leadership contest.

  • Richard Underhill 13th May '20 - 9:01am

    The Voice | Tue 12th May 2020 – 9:24 am
    “Ed Davey did great things with renewable energy.”
    Yes, but please also consider tidal power in Northern Ireland (shared with the Republic).

  • Was the said Jeremy Hunt not up to his elbows in the decisions not to prepare properly for the pandemic which was widely described as the greatest threat awaiting not just the UK but also the world.

  • Richard Underhill 13th May '20 - 9:14am

    Denis 13th May ’20 – 9:01am
    Please also see the comments of the following MP (Labour).

  • Richard Underhill 13th May '20 - 9:21am

    Spitting at someone when positive can be murder.

  • John Russell 13th May '20 - 9:39am

    Geoffrey Payne is right. The government not scientists must take ownership of any decision to ease the lock down. More infections and deaths are bound to take place. The short term impact of this set against the longer term economic benefit is an essentially political judgement. The government must stop using the scientists as a human shield.

  • @ Geoffrey Payne & Denis “Was the said Jeremy Hunt not up to his elbows in the decisions not to prepare properly for the pandemic “.

    Anybody with any experience of drawing up a local government budget during a time of austerity knows that cutting back on such as adequate PPE was an easy target…….. whatever the pandemic recommended standards said in the Lansley Health & Social Care Act (2012) said.

    Hunt knows that and his appointment as Chair of the Health & Social Care Select Committee will give this government every opportunity to cover its back when/if ever there is an enquiry into the handling of the current pandemic.

    There’s a simple rule that should be adhered to : Advisers advise……. politicians (unless they’re weak) decide……

  • Nonconformistradical 13th May '20 - 11:49am

    @David Raw
    “There’s a simple rule that should be adhered to : Advisers advise……. politicians (unless they’re weak) decide……”
    Quite. And all too often the advisers get the blame when it all goes pear-shaped.

  • John Russell 13th May '20 - 1:07pm

    @David Raw. “And all too often the advisers get the blame when it all goes pear-shaped”. Which is precisely why this government claim always to be following the science. Not our fault – just following the science.

  • Robin Bennett 13th May '20 - 3:59pm

    If decisions were made against Sage advice, was the stage never reached where at least one of the “scientists” would resign in protest? It’s a mystery why is, in the face of evidence of what was being done in other countries – Italy and the Far East, for example – the crucial steps necessary to contain the virus and prepare for worse were not taken earlier. Was it the quality o of the recurrence on which

  • Robin Bennett 13th May '20 - 4:01pm

    Was the quality of the advice on which Boris Johnson claims to have been relying the real problem?

  • John Russell 13th May '20 - 9:48pm

    Ministers should have the confidence & professionalism to ask scientists to set out the assumptions that lie behind their advice and how & why they arrive at their conclusions. I sense that Ministers, including the PM, are either too lazy or lack what it takes in terms of intellect – or both.

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