Boris Johnson addressed the nation last night to outline the slight relaxation of the lockdown rules but it was left to the First Minister of Wales to tell English people that the announcement only applies to England.
The new rules mean people in England can travel wherever they want for exercise and relaxation as long as they maintain social distancing with effect from Wednesday. The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments chose not to follow the British government’s rule changes for England and the restrictions on movement still apply there.
There is an unwritten rule in Westminster that England must not be named. The racist devolution system that excludes England and the British establishment’s tenuous grip on political power in England relies on the institutional discrimination not becoming a topic of conversation in England. That means that when Boris talks about lockdown rules in England he talks about the country. When Ministers go on TV and radio to talk about the lockdown rules in England they talk about the country. When people listen to them talking about the lockdown rules in the country they don’t hear England.
So because Boris et al don’t explain that they only speak for England the First Minister of Wales was forced to do it for them this morning with a message to English people telling them that Wales is still locked down and to stay away. That’s right, the First Minster of Wales had to tell the people of England that the British prime minister only makes the rules for England.
An English Parliament with an English First Minister taking charge of England’s response to the Coronavirus would have ensured there was no confusion as to who the new rules applied to. And when this pandemic is over and done with it would ensure there was no confusion as to which country they were talking about when politicians were talking about transport, fishing, environment, farming, forestry, education, health, social care, housing, planning, local government, sport, culture and tax.
The British government have launched a contact tracking mobile phone app on the Isle of Wight to help identify contact with people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Which is great … except it isn’t.
Google and Apple are both rolling out changes to their Android and iOS operating systems to enable contact tracking. Their system records contacts via bluetooth and those contacts are stored on your own device. Data doesn’t get transferred to a central database.
The NHS app tracks your contacts and uploads them to a central database when you confirm you have tested positive. The central system behind that database will work out who you’ve been in contact with and notify you. The state then has a big database containing comprehensive data on the movement and associations of millions of people.
Most countries building contact tracing apps are using Google and Apple’s decentralised contact tracing technology that doesn’t involve building tracking databases. The fact that the British government chose to build a big database when one wasn’t needed speaks volumes.
A lot of money has been invested in this tracking app and it will be installed by millions of people who are being told that it will “protect the NHS and save lives”. Once the current pandemic is finished the technology isn’t going to be abandoned, it’ll be expanded and used for other things. It’s the thin end of the wedge and I will have no part of it.
Panic buying because of the Coronavirus has become such a problem that supermarkets have had to introduce rationing. Shelves are being stripped bare of paracetamol. soap, hand sanitiser, bleach, household cleaners, toilet rolls, bottled water, pasta, rice and tinned food.
What these muppets have neglected to consider is what everyone who hasn’t panic bought 2 years’ worth of bleach and soap is going to do to stop themselves spreading the virus to those who have.
You see, we’re all relying on everyone else to do their bit to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. People are panic buying soap and bleach and tissues because the experts are telling us to wash our hands regularly, clean hard surfaces regularly and to sneeze into a tissue and throw it away (the fact they have to tell people this in the first place is a bit worrying). This stops the virus being spread around the population because everyone is doing their bit to kill it off. It’s called herd immunity and it’s why we vaccinate against preventable diseases.
If people can’t wash their hands regularly because they can’t buy soap, can’t clean hard surfaces regularly because they can’t buy bleach and can’t sneeze into a tissue because some people think they need half a deciduous forest in their bathroom it’s going to spread even faster and no amount of hand washing, bleaching and blowing your nose is going to stop you getting it.
Only about 1% of people with Coronavirus symptoms who have been tested in England actually had the virus. It’s infectious but you are still less likely to get it even if you come in contact with someone who has it than you are to be infected. This panic buying is not just unnecessary, it’s actually increasing your risk of catching the virus. So do yourself and the rest of the population a favour and stop the idiocy.
The Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) covering Shropshire has plans to downgrade the accident and emergency department at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford and operate just one A&E at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.
When the CCG carried out its statutory consultation on what it optimistically calls “Future Fit” it didn’t just consult residents in Shropshire but included those in Mid Wales who fall within the catchment area of the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. Unsurprisingly, people in Mid Wales supported the plan to centralise the A&E service at Shrewsbury.
Health is a devolved matter, the NHS is Wales is the responsibility of the Welsh government. The Welsh government receives more money per head of population in public funding than the British government spends in England. Last year the British government spent £8,989 per person on public services in the West Midlands. In Wales it was £10,397 per person. That’s a £1,408 premium for every man, woman and child in Wales subsidised by the English taxpayer.
Lucy Allan has said that too much importance has been given to what the Welsh thought about the plans at Telford’s expense. I agree wholeheartedly. People in Wales shouldn’t have had any say whatsoever on the plans for Shropshire’s hospitals. I didn’t expect to have a say on the plans for the Newtown bypass even though I used it every summer because I don’t live in Powys. People in Powys shouldn’t expect to have a say on the plans for our hospitals in Shropshire just because they use one of them.
One of Montgomeryshire’s AMs has expressed his delight that Shropshire’s single site A&E is going to be close to Wales, as has the British Secretary of State for Wales. They’re happy because a town with a larger population than the whole of Powys and which will soon have a larger population than Powys and Ceredigion combined is losing the A&E its residents pay for because it suits people in Powys and Ceredigion who don’t.
The question is, would this have happened if we had an English Parliament? My answer is that the chances of it happening would be infinitesimally small. An English government directly elected by people in England to represent English interests alone would have been unlikely to allow the downgrade of a hospital in England to mitigate the Welsh government’s underfunding of the Welsh NHS. An English Secretary of State wouldn’t “fully back” plans to close an A&E in England because it makes it easier to service people living in Wales to the detriment of people in England. It is because England is still under direct rule of the British government that these things are allowed to happen in England and it because these things keep on happening that we need an English Parliament, Executive and First Minister to represent English interests.