Tag Archives: lockdown

How easily we have surrendered our private freedoms….

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On Sunday we had a visit from a relative in the garden at a two metre distance.

On Monday they kindly returned and we hugged several times.

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People are still shooting the messenger, not hearing the message

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It was the person who commented on Facebook that really gave me pause for thought: “I get that you may be working abroad,” he wrote, “but this might be a bad image to project upon people who are severely pissed off and stuck in what was once a great country.”

I was on a business trip to Australia. Anyone who knows what I do professionally (I’m a tennis commentator) would not only have known it was a business trip and not a jolly, but my commentary could be heard across the UK. I had recorded a county elections campaign video from my hotel quarantine room in Melbourne contrasting Australia’s approach to Covid with Britain’s, yet instead of people hearing my comparison, some heard ‘Australia’, saw me in a polo shirt, and thought ‘jolly’. I wouldn’t call 14 days in hotel quarantine jolly.

I understand that people are irritated when they’re locked down in a cold snap and they see someone in a polo shirt pontificating from somewhere’s summer. But this form of shooting the messenger (or shooting the messenger’s location) means people don’t see the blindingly obvious message – that they are being taken for a ride by our government.

The biggest comparison I drew between Australia and Britain (or perhaps it should be between Victoria and England) was the contrasting sense of cause and effect. Australia has taken the necessary measures to eradicate the virus, and is largely back to normal now, while Britain’s lockdown is based on hoping for the best with poor enforcement, and we’re a long way from normality. But this week’s figures on track and trace in England highlight an even bigger contrast.

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Lockdown weak, NHS in danger, where next?

With coronavirus case numbers still growing strongly (though perhaps slowing a little according to symptom tracking) and the NHS struggling to cope with the numbers of people needing hospitalisation already, driven by the much lower case numbers of 2 or 3 weeks ago, this is clearly the most dangerous time of the whole pandemic for any of us to contract the virus; there is every chance, wherever we live, that the NHS may not be able to give us the treatment we might need.

Acceleration of the vaccine programme is of course essential and the delay to second doses to give more people the protection of a first dose is a proportionate response to a crisis of this magnitude. But it will take until mid February to vaccinate (first dose) the most vulnerable 15 million people, accounting for 88% of deaths. So we should expect a big drop in pressure on the NHS by mid March. But that is 7 weeks away. For now, growth in the virus is adding pressure faster than vaccination can relieve it.

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24 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems move to scrap Section 60 Stop and Search
  • Evidence for reopening schools must be published amidst fears of Covid-19 spike
  • Nominations for Lib Dem leader open
  • Lib Dems back health leaders’ push for review into lockdown easing
  • Bank of America criticism of pound performance shows need to extend transition period

Lib Dems move to scrap Section 60 Stop and Search

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to back a new Bill to scrap suspicion-less stop and search in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, which have exposed ingrained institutional racism and discrimination in the UK.

Given the disproportionate impact of current Stop and Search laws on black people in particular, and BAME communities more widely, the Liberal Democrats will today (Wednesday 24 June) introduce a Bill to outlaw suspicion-less Stop and Search, highlighting that the current law “undermines” community trust in police.

The Party is demanding the Government back their proposal. If passed, the law would prohibit Section 60, suspicion-less stop and search, which currently leaves a black person almost 50 times more likely to be stopped than a white person. The party is further calling for a Race Equality Strategy and an end to the Hostile Environment.

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23 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems table amendments to stop MPs debating complaints in the chamber
  • Govt must be transparent on guidance behind decision to relax lockdown
  • Govt must guarantee scrutiny in Parliament as daily COVID updates cease

Lib Dems table amendments to stop MPs debating complaints in the chamber

The Liberal Democrats have tabled amendments to the Independent Complaints Scheme which will prevent Members of Parliament from debating and voting on motions concerning complaints made in Parliament.

The amendments tabled to a motion set to be debated later today are crucial for protecting anyone who makes a complaint. It would give the independent panel the power to …

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Liberalism in lockdown

I confess that when lockdown began I was like many feeling pretty low. I had been planning to get more involved in political activities as the year progressed and that looked like it was going to have to be put on hold for some weeks. My favourite sports were cancelled and the library was closed! So I watched the news, went for my daily walk and hunted for home food delivery slots on supermarket websites. My village set up a helpline for vulnerable people which I volunteered to help with and that has been a very rewarding experience.

Then I discovered the joys of online meetings and in the past few weeks I have taken part in so many I have simply lost count. I have heard all three candidates for party leadership and a variety of other inspirational speakers. ALDC has organised webinars which I have found really informative given my plan to be a local election candidate in the future, and I haven’t just restricted myself to Liberal themed events. The Young Greens had a number of interesting talks open to non party members and I have joined others from across the political spectrum. As a result I have attended more political meetings in this period than I have in 40 years of activism.

As lockdown eases and we edge slowly towards something close to normality I really hope the option of online meetings is continued because they are so accessible. I particularly welcome the proposal to have an online Federal Conference this Autumn which will open up the event to more members than ever before. I hope the party will also look at using Zoom for policy groups and other meetings that are usually London based. The possibilities are endless.

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30-31 May 2020 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Govt must follow the science when it comes to easing lockdown
  • Govt must rethink plans to shut down virtual Parliament
  • Govt must issue “crystal clear” guidance for those returning to sport
  • Ministers must explain evidence behind decision to ease lockdown
  • Foreign Secretary’s silence on Trump tweets is shameful
  • Govt decision to press on with reopening schools “deeply worrying”
  • Govt must urgently scrap Vagrancy Act as part of plan to end rough sleeping

Govt must follow the science when it comes to easing lockdown

Responding to reports that several members of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group have warned of the risk of easing the lockdown in England on Monday 1 June, Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

The decision by key members of SAGE to go public with their concerns shows that Ministers are no longer following the science.

The test, trace, isolate system that we need to keep people safe is not yet fully functional. The NHSX app is delayed for an unknown period. For seven days straight the Government has been unable to provide even basic data about the number of people tested. On top of these failings, public health messaging has been badly undermined as people see it’s one rule for the Tory elite and another for everyone else.

Given this chaos, measures to lift lockdown appear premature. At every stage the Liberal Democrats have been clear that the Government must listen to the experts and follow the science. Protecting public health and tackling the spread of the virus must always be the Government’s number one priority – many are questioning whether this remains the case.

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SOS – Safety 4 Our Schools

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Thanks, Prime Minister. From Monday up to six of you can meet in your garden, but you must maintain a distance of 2 metres.  Meanwhile more Primary school teachers are due in this Monday 1st June, expected to take groups of up to 15 for hours on end, usually indoors (although this may be minimised). This ratio is compared to what the National Education Union thinks is safe and manageable of 1 teacher to 5 students.  The latter ratio is close to what Denmark has been using.

Government’s figures at the press conference on 28th May stated 564,000 people have been infected with Covid-19.  We know that around 10% of this number have died.  Some estimates put excess deaths at above 60,000 across the UK.

Independent SAGE say the risk to school staff, pupils and parents could be halved by waiting two more weeks.  Meanwhile SAGE, the Government’s own scientific body, say that we should be operating a week on, week off system where 50% of pupils go in 1 week, and 50% the next (option 7b).  The National Education Union argues that instead of three year groups, we ought to be sending back one year, for two weeks, to see how schools, pupils, teachers and parents cope before widening school attendance.

To make matters worse, rather than providing a set of timely guidelines and in consultation with schools, the Government have rushed these out at the last minute.  The result is schools are left to draw up health and safety assessments on their own, with little support.  The end result will be a mish-mash of different rules and interpretations, leaving parents, teachers, pupils, management, councils and Government all confused about what is going on.

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29 May 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Govt must fulfil duty to protect all Hong Kongers
  • Clarity needed about 5-mile rule
  • High coronavirus threat level raises questions about Govt’s priorities
  • Davey responds to furlough scheme details

Govt must fulfil duty to protect all Hong Kongers

Responding to reports that, if China imposes its new security law on Hong Kong, the Home Office appears ready to extend visa rights for all British Nationals (Overseas) in Hong Kong, whether or not they are current BNO passport holders, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

If confirmed, this is welcome news. This move is long overdue.

I introduced legislation to give the people of Hong Kong the right to live in the UK back in February. I am glad the government is finally listening.

Beijing has repeatedly shown contempt for the Sino-British Declaration. Under that Declaration, the UK has a duty to the people of Hong Kong.

The government must now ensure all Hong Kongers are protected. Relatively few people have BNO status as the offer was closed years ago.

My cross-party Hong Kong Bill would reopen the passport offer to also give young Hong Kongers the right to live in the UK, regardless of whether they are a dependent of a BNO status holder. I am urging the government to do this immediately.

Clarity needed about 5-mile rule

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have today called on the Welsh Government to give urgent clarity around the new 5-mile rule and how it effects different areas of Wales.

In the Welsh Government announcement today First Minister Mark Drakeford announced that two individuals would be allowed to meet, so long as they maintained social distancing.

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Ed Davey’s media blitz calling for Cummings to go

I have a friend who is not well. She had to spend lockdown away from her husband, who was working, being cared for by her parents.

She didn’t see her husband until restrictions were lifted, even though he was round the corner.

Another friend lost her husband. She’s had people at the end of a phone or video call, but not with her to help and hold her. We may all have watched the livestream of the funeral but we couldn’t be there to support her and pay tribute to her husband.

We’ll all know people who have made extraordinary sacrifices to keep to the rules, because it was the right thing to do.

Yet the person who helped write those rules pretty egregiously flouted them. And not only is he not sorry. He’s had a stream of government ministers backing him up. Straight out of the Trump playbook. If you’ve done something awful, just brazen it out.

The people who grabbed power by persuading people that anyone acting in their interest was some sort of elitist are now treating the same people with utter contempt.

Ed Davey has never been off the telly today, telling all the news outlets that Cummings should go and if he hasn’t gone by the morning then Boris Johnson would have to answer why.

Here he is doing various interviews as the story unfolded:

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Three reasons for Lockdown

There are three main reasons for the lockdown. Firstly, to control and eventually reduce the spread of COVID-19, secondly, to build up stocks of PPE and thirdly, to get testing in place so the lockdown could be eased in a controlled manner. The government has partial succeed on the first objective but have failed miserably on the other two. The economic cost of this will be measured against: a £300 billion+ rescue plan, a likely (but hopefully short) world recession and later in the year whatever the outcome of Brexit trade negotiations. As they say in politics we are living in interesting times!

Statistics have started to show that the lockdown has had an impact and we are being told that the peak was reached around 8th April. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said that Care homes now report outbreaks, and have indicated that these outbreaks are difficult to control because of the lack of testing and protective equipment. ONS are capturing numbers from death certificates; they feel that since the start of the pandemic, more than 1,000 have died in care homes. The government figures are significantly understating the number of total deaths.

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Public scrutiny of lockdown exit strategy

The Government must publish its “exit strategy” for easing the “lock down” for public scrutiny to avoid repeating past mistakes and ensure that when the time comes it is ready and it does not overlook anything or anyone.

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