Author Archives: admin

Britain: an oligarchy in which power is concentrated in the hands of an elite, elected or otherwise -1

Angus Walker opens his latest article in Left Foot Forward by listing the democratic decorations and ‘fig-leaves, which disguise this truth:

we have elections every five years in which all adults except prisoners are entitled to vote

these elections are ‘free,’ in the sense that it is illegal to explicitly coerce somebody into voting a certain way

anyone can stand to be an MP

But true democracy runs much deeper. Walker continues:

In Britain, a broken party funding system forces political parties to rely on big donations from corporate sponsors. Corporations hold undue sway over policy. Consequently, decisions are almost exclusively made in the interest of these big businesses. He cites

In 2018, the Electoral Commission fined Vote Leave for breaking electoral law by exceeding spending limits

The High Court upheld the Electoral Commission’s ruling, but the figurehead of Vote Leave is now Prime Minister, and the chief architect of the campaign, Dominic Cummings, is his top adviser. Vote Leave received a £61,000 slap on the wrist, and all was forgotten. The referendum result wasn’t deemed unlawful, let alone undemocratic.

There is no provision for parliamentary scrutiny of any post-Brexit deals. Parliament has no legal right under this bill to debate or vote on a trade deal, or even to know what it contains.

The Trade Bill, which has now reached the committee stage in the House of Commons, also grants the government Henry VIII powers to change the law on trade agreements without full parliamentary approval.

US is likely to insist the deal is enforced by an offshore tribunal, which allows corporations to sue governments if domestic law affects their ‘future anticipated profits’.

Monbiot adds: “This mechanism has been used all over the world to punish nations for laws their parliaments have passed.” In turn, that will warp our legislation in favour of corporate power.

Walker ends: “Yes, in Britain, we can vote. But as we’ve seen yet again with the Robert Jenrick scandal, our ability to hold politicians and big businesses to account is already shaky. The US-UK trade deal risks seeing our fragments of democracy crumble away entirely. As George Monbiot writes in a recent Guardian column: “This is not democracy. This is elective dictatorship.”

Angus Walker is a freelance journalist based in Brighton who writes about politics, art and the environment.

Next: Britain: an oligarchy in which power is concentrated in the hands of an elite, elected or otherwise -2, quotes Theresa May’s one-time adviser

 

 

 

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COVID-19, bulletin 32: Unions’ post-Covid potential

The mediation skills of union organisers are valuable. Steve Turner (left), Assistant General Secretary (AGS) of Unite the Union, played a leading role in the successful Cabin Crew dispute (2010/11) with British Airways, when he was National Officer for Civil Aviation.

He was at the forefront of successful negotiations to resolve disputes involving oil tanker drivers and London bus workers during the London Olympic games and Northampton Hospital Workers, locked out in 2014.

Turner led a delegation of Unite workers to Washington and Montreal as part of the 2017/18 successful campaign to safeguard UK jobs; these were threatened by the US Department of Commerce’s proposal to place tariffs of 300% on Bombardier C-series passenger jets during the firm’s dispute with Boeing,

Turner now asks why our government and many private-sector corporations show no faith in our homegrown skills and products.

When the coronavirus crisis hit, our automotive and aerospace sectors in particular were already being challenged by the US/China trade war, the climate emergency and Brexit-related uncertainties.

As we now look to build back, he stresses that this is the opportunity to repair, recover and rebuild with manufacturing at the heart of a new, greener, transitioning economy.

See “Rebuilding after Recession – a Plan for Jobs” : a just transition to a zero carbon economy TUC report “Rebuilding after Recession – a Plan for Jobs” report.

 

 

 

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COVID-19, bulletin 31: Unions play a constructive role

Paul Halas recently reflected in Ars Notoria that Margaret Thatcher – whose economic impact was regarded by some as a miracle and by others as a cataclysm (Nunns) – made a bonfire of the nation’s cohesiveness and decency.

He continues: “While the unions and people’s lives were shattered, while our council houses and utilities were flogged off, while spivs and speculators became a new aristocracy and malignant globalism started to grow, destruction of whole industries, communities and social structures”

In The Official History of Privatisation Vol. I: The Formative Years …, David Parker describes the government as being ‘intent upon encouraging employees to own shares’ in the newly privatised industries and many also bought their council houses. The BBC comments that by the late 1980s the all-out strike was history; no union could ask its heavily mortgaged members to contemplate anything more than a one or perhaps two-day strike.

A workers’ advocate is still sorely needed in 2020: see a case reported in The London Economic  

Over 100 NHS and social care workers are now known to have died with Covid-19 in the UK. These include outsourced hospital workers such as porters, many of whom are complaining of a lack of provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

By 28th April Over 100 NHS and caseworkers had died during the pandemic

A cleaner employed by private contractors ISS. who works near the entrance of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in London, was told he wasn’t entitled to wear a face mask, despite “people walking in and out coughing and sneezing” near him. The 57-year-old said he requested a mask as he lives with his brother who is self-isolating as he has two serious lung conditions. The company refused his request and, when he complained, he was told he would be disciplined because of his behaviour,

Local GMB Organiser Helen O’Connor said, “ Unfortunately many of our outsourced NHS GMB members endure the type of conditions that were commonplace in the victorian era. Alongside low pay, comes breaches of health and safety and bullying and harassment to stop these workers fighting for their rights or speaking out about wrongdoing”.

After a campaign by GMB he was finally reinstated by ISS, which also agreed to put in place “reasonable adjustment” measures to accommodate his disability.

 

 

 

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Time to declare independence–5: once again – shamefully – Britain follows US diktat

Sanctions “designed to throttle the economy and force Mr Maduro from power” (Stott, FT)) have been imposed on Venezuela by the US and several allies have been pressed to observe them, with varying responses.

Britain has supported this action, damaging many sectors of the Venezuelan economy. Due to sanctions on the import of spare parts, oil production, the mainstay of its economy, has crashed to levels not seen since the 1940s.

Venezuela’s central bank now seeks access to $1bn of Venezuelan gold ‘safely’ deposited with the Bank of England.

In May, Reuters reported that Venezuela reached an agreement with the U.N. Development Programme to sell part of the gold and lodge it with UNDP which would buy healthcare, food and medicine to combat the coronavirus in Venezuela.

Despite this, Michael Stott reported yesterday that the Britain’s ‘independent judiciary’ has refused the Venezuelan government access to its gold.

Though ‘recognised’ by many US allies, Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó  (right) and his party have lost much of the earlier public support gained by stirring rhetoric at countrywide rallies  and a June FT article noted that its reputation had been “stained by financial scandals and a failed armed incursion from Colombia”.

Reuters reported in June that the court had been asked by the Bank of England to determine who the British government recognises as Venezuela’s president

In the High Court, Judge Nigel Teare stated that it was indeed the British government’s prerogative to decide who was Venezuela’s legitimate head of state.

He ruled that opposition leader Juan Guaidó had been “unequivocally” recognised as Venezuela’s president by the UK even though Britain has continued to maintain full diplomatic relations with Mr Maduro’s government after recognising Guaidó

Stott points to the fact that the Maduro-appointed envoy, Rocío Maneiro, serves as the Venezuelan ambassador to London as proof of the UK’s recognition of the Maduro government. The UK also maintains an ambassador and full embassy presence in Caracas.

The Venezuelan central bank’s legal team argued that this proved the UK had in reality continued to recognise the Maduro government and therefore Mr Guaidó had no legal backing for his claim to be president.

Sarosh Zaiwalla (left), senior partner at Zaiwalla & Co, representing Venezuela’s central bank, said it was very rare “for an English commercial court to be told that it can only decide a question in the way that the government says it must”.

The Banco Central de Venezuela will be seeking leave of the court to appeal this judgment, which entirely ignores the reality of the situation on the ground; as Zaiwalla points out: Mr Maduro’s government is “in complete control of Venezuela and its administrative institutions and only it can ensure the distribution of the humanitarian relief and medical supplies needed to combat the coronavirus pandemic”.

 

 

 

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HS2? Mebyon Kernow advocates rebuilding and strengthening of the wider rail network

Mebyon Kernow, Cornwall’s progressive left-of-centre party, is striving to build a confident and outward-looking Cornwall with the power to take the decisions directly affecting the people of Cornwall, locally. Its policies are founded on three core values:

  • Prosperity for all
  • Social justice
  • Environmental protection

Cornwall has its own distinct identity, language and heritage. As one of the four nations inhabiting the British mainland, Cornwall has the same right to self-determination as England, Scotland and Wales. Mebyon Kernow (MK) is leading the campaign for the creation of a National Assembly for Cornwall, with the necessary powers to unlock Cornwall’s true potential.

One of the issues covered in the latest edition of Cornish Nation magazine (no 82) is HS2, the proposed high-speed rail link

Under the heading Fair transport investment, MK has challenged the decision of the government to give the go-ahead to HS2, the proposed high-speed rail link between London and the Midlands/north of England.

About ten years ago, the project was projected to cost £32.2 billion, but by 2015 this had risen to £56 billion. It is presently estimated that it will cost £106 billion.

Party leader Cllr Dick Cole (below right) said (20.2.20):

“Looking at it all from a Cornish perspective, the present trip between Birmingham and London takes the same time as a journey from Penzance to Liskeard. In terms of the proposed HS2 times, someone would be able to get from the Midlands to London just as quick as someone could get from Penzance to St Austell.

“I am usually a strong supporter of an improved public transport network, but I really do struggle with the whole concept of HS2. I feel central government should instead prioritise the rebuilding and strengthening of the wider rail network decimated by Beeching’s cuts in the 1960s.

“There are also growing complaints that too many of the proposed new jobs will be in London and the UK is still in the process of spending £40 billion on its Crossrail project between Heathrow Airport and the Canary Wharf financial district.

“The UK Government is spending so much money on projects such as HS2 and Crossrail, it will mean that less money is spent in places such as Cornwall. That is why I believe there needs to be an ongoing year-on-year audit of capital expenditure across all the parts of the UK, in order to ensure parity of investment.”

 

 

 

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Media 112: Is the BBC a far from neutral public-service broadcaster?

Richard House’s formal complaint to the BBC


On the Chiles on Friday show just now (19/6), a Labour Party representative just referred to the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn being “riven with anti-semitism” – she said this with great emphasis.

Adrian Chiles made no attempt to challenge this lie and smear – as, indeed, your organisation never did when it gave wall-to-wall coverage of alleged anti-semitism in Labour when Corbyn was leader.

I immediately sent in the following text, which was received in plenty of time to be read out while the offending person was still being interviewed – it said:

“It’s a total lie to say that Labour is ‘riven with anti-semitism’ – why are you allowing people to say such blatant untruths without challenge?”.

It was not read out. All of the evidence shows unambiguously that anti-semitism is less prevalent in Labour (Ed: see FactCheck) than either in the other main political parties, or in society as a whole – but hey, why let the truth get in the way of another opportunity to hammer the Labour left?

The BBC has had huge numbers of complaints about this outrage (Ed: including JVL, 2018, 2019) – yet you allow it to continue. You are institutionally anti-left – a disgrace for an allegedly neutral public-service broadcaster.

I await the robotic reply-in-complete-denial that you’ll send me to this complaint without holding my breath.

 

 

 

 

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Away with manipulative think-tanks – government stalking horses

Paraphrasing George Monbiot’s Rings of Power essay: personnel  employed by opaquely-funded thinktanks, that formulate and test the policies later adopted by government,  circulate in and out of the offices of the UK Prime Minister and US President. Their output is published or reviewed in the print media, most of which is owned by billionaires or multi-millionaires living offshore.

Michèle Flournoy, a former US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and the co-founder of WestExec Advisors, described as ‘a diverse group of senior national security professionals with recent experience at the highest levels of the U.S. government’, has today published an article in the Financial Times.

It is – ostensibly – about the recent India/China confrontation, but is actually another move in what Robert Armstrong calls the US-China fight.

This cartoon replaces WestExec’s patronising cartoon of PM Modi and President Xi battling with stone-age clubs. It is taken from Jonathan Power’s FT article earlier this month:

Fanning the flames: “In principle, it is a moment that demands US leadership to convene and mobilise the region’s democracies”  

Embedded in the article are Ms Flournoy’s references to China’s rising military expenditures, its  growing assertiveness, coercive measures to enforce excessive maritime claims, expansive global infrastructure development strategy, modernised armed forces and multibillion-dollar state-directed campaign to develop (and steal) key emerging technologies. She adds:

“Its vessels have collided with foreign ships in the South China Sea (Ed, in 2014). Japan protests that its vessels re being harassed in the East China Sea. Chinese aircraft have encroached upon Taiwan, and Beijing has promulgated a new national security law for Hong Kong that seriously erodes its liberties”.

She then calls for deeper security co-operation among like-minded states, naming Japan, the US, India and Australia, urging these ‘major democracies’ and other countries who are anxious about Chinese intentions and capabilities, to treat China’s border clash with India as a clarion call and take steps to protect their common interests and values. If they do not, she continues, China will continue pushing boundaries, posing unacceptable risks to international order, ending: “In practice, however, that may have to wait for a new occupant in the White House”.

Another voice says:The attack on China should stop’

Jonathan Power writes:

“The world is supposed to be pulling together to defeat the Coronavirus and to some extent it is. Earlier on Russia sent special equipment to the US and recently the US has sent some to Russia. China has aided Italy and Africa with doctors and equipment. Tiny Cuba, with its deep pool of doctors, has also helped Africa (detail here). Around the world there is a sense of “we are all in this together” and that this is a bigger problem than the ones the world has faced since World War 2.”

But President Donald Trump has suggested Chinese culpability for spreading the COVID-19, calling the virus “a Chinese virus” – and some Chinese senior officials publicly retorted.

Powers forecasts that the Coronavirus debate over who is right and who is wrong could become a watershed moment in the relationship between the US and China.

The World Health Organization has brought all the world’s countries together to discuss how to go forward now and – as Power continues – Trump’s representatives needed to say “Let’s sit down and with our best scientists discuss not who is to blame but how such diseases can be forestalled”. That is likely to bring a better result.

Power adds that despite Trump’s good-humoured meetings with Xi, “this antagonism is not a new development. There were three rounds of tariffs in 2018, and a fourth one in September last year. The most recent round targeted Chinese imports, from meat to musical instruments, with a 15% duty. He has refused to negotiate an extension of the nuclear weapons reduction agreement with Russia unless China (a relatively small nuclear power) is brought into the deal”.

Though both countries have an extreme superiority complex and think they are exceptional, unlike China, Power notes, the US has sought to prevent the emergence of a peer competitor, whether Western Europe, Russia or China, that could challenge its military dominance.

Fareed Zakaria in Foreign Affairs agrees: “Today’s China is a remarkably responsible nation on the geopolitical and military front. Beijing is now the second-largest funder of the United Nations and its peacekeeping work. It has deployed 2,500 peacekeepers, more than all the other permanent members of the Security Council combined.

It has not gone to war since 1979. It has not used lethal military force abroad since 1988. Nor has it funded or supported proxies or armed insurgents anywhere in the world since the early 1980s. That record of non-intervention is unique among the world’s great powers”. Powers comments: “For its part, the US has attempted regime change around the world 72 times”.

If Michèle Flournoy were to study the writings of Zakaria and Power, heeding the 16th century advice from Thomas Cranmer, to “read mark, learn and inwardly digest” – she might change course.

 

 

 

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COVID-19 bulletin 30: post lockdown, government has the resources to invest and reflate the economy

Professor Sikka advocates investment to rebuild the economy of Britain, which entered the coronavirus crisis with poor social infrastructure and deep inequalities. Points made in two of his recent articles.

The crisis showed that the low-paid workers such as nurses, midwives, care workers, supermarket staff, teachers and bus and delivery drivers were the lifeline of society. Detailed figures for the cuts to the police and NHS are given in his May article

Treasury documents leaked to The Telegraph show a government blueprint for recovering £300bn of the costs associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

  • It lists government plans to scrap the triple-lock on the state pension the main source of income for many, which is around 29% of average earnings, the lowest among industrialised nations. The proportion of retirees living in severe poverty in the UK is five times what it was in 1986. So there is no economic or moral case for hitting retirees.
  • There is already talk of further wage freezes for public sector workers.
  • Influential think tanks like the Institute for Fiscal Studieshave called for a cut to the minimum wage.
  • The Social Market Foundation is urging the government to hit the state pension, already one of the lowest in the western world.

Sikka (right) describes the government’s post-coronavirus economic strategy as, “more austerity, hit the poor, cut essential services”. And continues:

We have the money to build a better society after this crisis: there is no shortage of resources

With record low interest rates, government can borrow to invest and reflate the economy – just as the economy was rebuilt after the Second World War – and the subsequent prosperity enabled governments to reduce the public debt.

He adds that the government can use its overdraft facility known as the “ways and means” facility at the Bank of England. The Treasury has used £400m so far and during the 2008 recession it used £19.8bn.

The Bank of England is using its £645bn quantitative easing programme, i.e. printing money, to support purchase of corporate bonds. The government could use the same process to bail out the poor by buying their debts.

Economist Martin Wolf agrees in the FT today: “It is equally vital to support the economy for as long as is needed to ensure a full recovery. Given the Bank of England’s welcome and sensible support, the government can afford to borrow on a huge scale and must be willing to do so”.   

Tax related measures advocated include raising additional tax revenues without increasing the basic rate of income tax or national insurance contributions. Investment in HMRC and curbing offshore tax avoidance could raise billions.

But corporations are already undermining our welfare

Sikka points out that the government has given billions of pounds to businesses in the form of business rates holidays, wage subsidies, cheap loans and guarantees; all without any obligations to safeguard jobs. This has freed corporations to reduce wages and cut or downgrade the jobs of workers; examples cited in detail in his June article relate to British AirwaysBam ConstructRyanairDaily Mirror, Daily Express and P&O.

Cuts to public services will damage the private sector which is the main supplier 

Wage and pension cuts will severely erode people’s purchasing power; they will not be able to buy goods/services produced by businesses and the economy will stall.

But the Conservative government – with its large parliamentary majority – is not in a mood to listen. Shall we on the left be able to reposition people’s awareness and press the government to change its policies?

The new economy must work for everyone, not just shareholders and financial speculators. Parliament needs to make the right choices and build a sustainable economy by investing, creating resilient public services and boosting people’s purchasing power. 

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Sources:

https://leftfootforward.org/2020/06/elites-will-use-this-crisis-to-reshape-the-state-we-have-to-push-back/

https://leftfootforward.org/2020/05/prof-prem-sikka-we-must-rebuild-not-tax-and-cut/

 

Prem Sikka is Professor of Accounting at University of Sheffield and Emeritus Professor of Accounting at University of Essex. He is a Contributing Editor to LFF and tweets here.

 

 

 

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Media 111: Why has British mainstream media ignored this Jewish-Arab rally?

Five pages of a search on the 7th&15th June showed that only one British paper covered the joint Jewish-Arab demonstration in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square earlier this month, though it was covered in many other countries. A few days later the FT – no longer British-owned – gave good coverage.

Tens of thousands had been peacefully protesting against Israeli plans to annex whole swathes of the occupied West Bank. The Times of Israel reported that police initially sought to block the rally but gave permission after meeting organizers, who urged participants to wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines and appointed officials to ensure adherence to these safety measures

The demonstration was organized by Meretz, a left-wing   social-democratic and green political party and Hadash, which supports a socialist economy and workers’ rights. It emphasizes Jewish–Arab cooperation. It was joined by several other left-wing rights groups.

Nitzan Horowitz, the head of Meretz, told the crowd that annexation would be a “war crime” and would cost Israel millions as the economy is already reeling due to the pandemic:

“We cannot replace an occupation of dozens of years with an apartheid that will last forever. Yes to two states for two peoples. No to violence and bloodshed. No to annexation, yes to peace.”

Fellow Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg said the agreement would “officially make Israel an apartheid state… sovereignty without citizenship is apartheid.”

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders addressed the crowds via video link: “It’s up to all of us to stand up to authoritarian leaders and to build a peaceful future for every Palestinian and every Israeli … The only future is a shared future.”

His friend, Ayman Odeh, an Israeli Arab lawyer and leader of the Joint List alliance of Arab-majority parties to which Meretz and Hadash belong, told those gathered:

We are at a crossroads. One path leads to a joint society with a real democracy, civil and national equality for Arab citizens … The second path leads to hatred, violence, annexation and apartheid. We’re here in Rabin Square to pick the first path.”

In a long and comprehensive Financial Times article* today, Mehul Srivastava, writing from the occupied Jordan Valley, reporting that Benjamin Netanyahu (below) has sent mapmakers across the West Bank to prepare for the Israeli parliament’s vote on a new map described in the ‘peace plan’ presented by the Trump administration in January.

It proposes to annex almost a third of the occupied territories — from the entire fertile Jordan Valley, to the homes, factories and vineyards of some 650,000 Jewish residents in the settlement blocs near Jerusalem.

Several maps are presented in the FT article and a great deal of information about the 1993 Oslo Accords, signed when Mr Netanyahu, new to the Knesset, shouted at then prime minister Yitzak Rabin that the Bible was Israel’s “deed to the land”.

Shrivastava describes the proposed Palestinian state as being “shrivelled to a constellation of disconnected enclaves after Israeli land annexations”:

  • major Arab cities like Ramallah and Bethlehem would be connected to each other only by highways and tunnels,
  • Palestine would have only a tiny strip of land — perhaps just a highway — connecting it to Jordan,
  • And the future of several thousand Palestinians in the Jordan Valley remains unclear. They might live in restricted enclaves or become non-voting residents of Israel.

Mohammed Shtayyeh, prime minister of Palestine, is a UK-trained economist. In an interview in Ramallah, he said: “I am angry. I have invested most of my life in this process, and all I have wanted is for our people to have a moment of happiness, not to live under an occupation forever.”

A group of UN human rights experts warned “What would be left of the West Bank would be a Palestinian Bantustan, islands of disconnected land completely surrounded by Israel and with no territorial connection to the outside world”.

A good time to bury bad news

Shrivastava ends by saying that Netanyahu hopes to pass this legislation while he has a favourable administration in power in the US, at a time when regional support for the Palestinians has declined and other countries are focussing on controlling the coronavirus epidemic and restarting economic activity.

The FT editorial says, ”The world should not be silent on Israeli annexation”. Will British media report the news, or assist the Trump/Netanyahu plan by remaining silent ? 

*People with a serious interest in this subject who face a paywall may ask for a gift link to this article via its comments section.

A Bardali case-study about alienation of its water supply may be read here.

 

 

 

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Whistleblowers 14: Richard Horton, editor of the world’s oldest and best known general medical journal

In 2018, MEP Molly Scott Cato’s support for the proposal for a new EU directive to protect whistleblowers, was reported on this site. It followed twelve general articles about whistleblowers which focussed on brave individuals who suffered for revealing unwelcome truths, including Paul Moore (former HBOS banker), Dr Raj Mattu, Julian Assange, Ian Foxley, Peter Gardiner, Bradley Manning, Osita Mba, Jerry Bryzan and the Glaxo 4.

Before this site was set up, there were several other health sector whistleblowers; Marta Andreasen & Paul van Buitenen also revealed shocking cases of EU financial mismanagement and suffered for it.

On January 27th, Dr Anjana Ahuja (right), a science journalist, reported in the Financial Times on research which revealed that a new Sars-like coronavirus had been present in China since December 1, a full month before the alarm was raised. At the time, almost 3,000 people had been diagnosed with the illness. The two papers in The Lancet medical journal revealed other worrying details. One set out the clinical data on the first 41 laboratory-confirmed patients.

Outspoken Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet (below), called for the emergency committee of the WHO to reconvene as a matter of urgency and for a  Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) declaration to be considered.

He added that he felt there were political sensitivities at play that have not dogged other epidemics, such as Ebola in west Africa.

On 13th March, Paul Nuki, Global Health Security Editor (right) commented: “The UK Government – Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson – claim they are following the science. But that is not true. The evidence is clear. We need urgent implementation of social distancing and closure policies. The Government is playing roulette with the public. This is a major error. A paper published in the Lancet by experts at Imperial College London and Oxford University last week made clear there were hard political choices ahead”.

Professor Sir Roy Anderson, the study’s lead author said: “Government needs to decide on the main objectives of mitigation – is it minimising morbidity and associated mortality, avoiding an epidemic peak that overwhelms healthcare services, keeping the effects on the economy within manageable levels, and flattening the epidemic curve to wait for vaccine development and manufacture on scale and antiviral drug therapies? We point out they cannot achieve all of these – so choices must be made.”

Earlier this month, Richard Horton published a short and hard-hitting book, The COVID-19 Catastrophe: What’s Gone Wrong and How to Stop It Happening Again 

In it he scrutinizes the actions that governments around the world took – and failed to take – as the virus spread from its origins in Wuhan to the global pandemic that it is today.

He shows that many Western governments and their scientific advisors made assumptions about the virus and its lethality that turned out to be mistaken. Valuable time was lost while the virus spread unchecked, leaving health systems unprepared for the avalanche of infections that followed.

Drawing on his own scientific and medical expertise, Horton outlines the measures that need to be put in place, at both national and international levels, to prevent this kind of catastrophe from happening again.

In 2019, the new EU directive required member states by 2021

  • to have created safe channels for reporting both within an organisation
  • to have provide a high level of protection to whistle-blowers against retaliation
  • and national authorities to inform citizens and train public officials on how to deal with whistle-blowing.

The publication of Richard Horton’s book follows many interviews on radio and television conveying these messages.

As Anjana Ahuja ended, “All factors considered; it is perverse to see the coronavirus outbreak as anything other than a PHEIC”.

Will Horton suffer for speaking out in the public interest? And – if so – will the public and the legal system support him?

 

 

 

 

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