All posts by johnrobertson834

Retired Professor of Media Politics Not-for-profit independent political analysis

Scapegoating the people: failing to self-isolate comes second to UK Government failures

According to the experts, we can be ‘confident’ that more that 70% of people (across the UK) are not staying at home for the full period after displaying symptoms of Covid.

The experts don’t seem to have noticed that the infection rate in Scotland is currently well below half that in England and only around two thirds of that in Wales and Northern Ireland, suggesting that maybe the compliance is better here. I’ve asked the researchers for a 4 nations breakdown of the their data but expect to hear that it’s somehow not available or ‘useful.’

Anyhow, this focus on the self-isolation failures is only a part of the story.

Now, those who had the symptoms and who were not prevented from self-isolating due to family and economic pressures, that is to say those who easily could have, but who selfishly didn’t, share responsibility for the surge in deaths in the second wave.

However, this focus on the general population is classic scapegoating, by elites, of those less powerful. The Wuhan blame game is a classic example. Did the virus originate in a research centre, in industrial-scale farming or in the ‘wet markets’ used by the poor? The latter were quickly blamed and the global media piled in with images of peasant tastes, to reinforce Western conclusions with disgust. I don’t know the answer but given their history, I’d go for industrial-scale farming. We won’t find out of course because powerful interests will be protected.

Something similar operates with this allocation of blame to those who have not self-isolated.

It’s worth noting that the experts ‘confidence’ above is based on self-reporting surveys. They do not actually ‘know’ that 70% did not self-isolate adequately.

Anyhow, getting far less attention than it should, is the catastrophic failure of the UK Government to protect its people by controlling its borders and in pressurising the devolved authorities not to control internal borders.

80% of all Scottish second-wave infections came from Spain with the other 20% in those returning from holiday in England or coming from England to holiday across Scotland.

This failure was due to the Conservative Party’s weakness in allowing business and corporate interests to determine policy, from the slow initial lockdown, to the current struggle, nearly a year late, to control international air traffic.

0.018% of consultants complaining means ‘patchy supply’ of sources for journalists

There are more than 5 000 consultants in NHS Scotland. One, just one, has allegedly, but anonymously, told the Herald this:

The pandemic has reinforced a belief amongst NHS staff that they should be willing to “sacrifice their own health for a salary”, a consultant working on the front line of Covid care has said. The doctor said the decision to delay the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine coupled with insubstantial testing and PPE meant that a lot of NHS staff had “lost confidence” in public health strategy around the virus.

Remember this is:

How can we trust the words of one anonymous source? They might be having a breakdown or be Anas Sarwar’s sister-in-law.

Is this quality without the kind of background research formerly required for quality journalism?

How about this:

Healthcare workers, including those with jobs such as doctors and nurses, were not found to have higher rates of death involving COVID-19 when compared with the rate among those whose death involved COVID-19 of the same age and sex in the general population.

Compared with the rate among people of the same sex and age in England and Wales, men working in the lowest skilled occupations had the highest rate of death involving COVID-19, with 21.4 deaths per 100,000 males (225 deaths); men working as security guards had one of the highest rates, with 45.7 deaths per 100,000 (63 deaths).

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/causesofdeath/bulletins/coronaviruscovid19relateddeathsbyoccupationenglandandwales/deathsregistereduptoandincluding20april2020#main-points

In the first wave, key worker mortality was much lower in Scotland than in England.

ONS mortality statistics for England and Wales show that 237 health and care workers and 47 teachers were killed by coronavirus up to 23 April – deaths in the three weeks since are not included.

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/causesofdeath/datasets/coronaviruscovid19relateddeathsbyoccupationenglandandwales

In Scotland:

As at 5 May, we have been notified by Health Boards or the Care Inspectorate of 7 deaths of healthcare workers and 6 deaths of social care workers, related to COVID-19. We are not able to confirm how many of these staff contracted COVID-19 through their work. 

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-daily-data-for-scotland/

The UK has 12.6 times the population of Scotland so, pro rata, we might expect 12.6 times the deaths, 164, but it is 284.

BBC UK reveals Scotland’s care home vaccination success but BBC Scotland have some English stuff for you

At around 07:20am, BBC UK had a special report on the anxiety in English and Welsh care homes that they were being left behind in the vaccine rollout. They had the above graphic and the percentages showed Scotland to be well ahead on the curve, so to speak.

By 07:27am, BBC Scotland’s wee insert ignored that story altogether and spent some time with an English professor who had found that more than 70% of people showing symptoms of coronavirus aren’t following the rules in self-isolation. That the data are UK-wide was admitted but not commented on. Might the infection level being only half that in England suggest compliance with self-isolation, is higher?

I’ll ask her.

Footnote: Graham Stewart pronounced prevalence, preVAYlance. Yesterday, their Jamie McIvor pronounced whether, whUther. Are they mutating into a new variant due to isolation?

Devolved nations help UK not be worst in world

You won’t find Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland mentioned in the above reports, often featuring the thoughts of highly educated professors, though England will appear at times.

In some ways that’s strange given that the UK doesn’t hold the record death rate, England does:

https://ig.ft.com/coronavirus-chart/?areas=s92000003&areas=e92000001&areas=gbr&areas=prt&areas=cze&areas=deu&areasRegional=usny&areasRegional=usnj&areasRegional=usia&areasRegional=usca&areasRegional=usnd&areasRegional=ussd&cumulative=0&logScale=0&per100K=1&startDate=2020-09-01&values=deaths

I wonder why they don’t use the data for England and headline those? I’m sure they know heath is a devolved matter. Don’t the corporate press chief execs and editors want their old Eton and Oxbridge chums to be embarrassed at their failures?

Anyhow, don’t get cocky Jocks. BBC Scotland will keep you in your ‘box’:

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You take the high road and you’ll be in the cemetery before us?

Every MSM journalist’s favourite graph, showing Scotland behind the other nations, on vaccinating its population because it followed the JCVI guidance on preventing another ‘tsunami of death’ in its care homes.

The graph you won’t see:

The percentage vaccinated of those most at risk in the population, in care homes, based on statements to media by both health secretaries, in week beginning 18th January 2021.

7-day average infection level falls for 14th day in succession

Analysis by the Herald above. The news for an adult population that can be trusted with the truth and not go daft with house parties, below:

The number of new cases has fallen now, every day for 14 day from 2 323 on Jan 7th to 1 591 yesterday. Slow but steady. It’s working.

Hospital admissions have begun to level, with only 1 more yesterday, at around two thirds of capacity (3 000+). ICU admissions too are beginning to stabilise at 25% of capacity (700+).

As day follows even the darkest night, the death rate will fall too.

Don’t go back to Spain, this time!

Better leadership, greater compliance and a better-staffed NHS continue to result in far lower infection and death:

Further thoughts on the SNP leadership

Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond
PA Media

By brobb

I find myself feeling umpteen contradictory thoughts on this issue. I was a strong supporter of Wings until the main focus of posts turned to trans issues and then an all out attack on NS/SNP despite the Westminster mess and opps for dissecting what was going on there. I feel his relationship with AS has pushed him into taking sides regardless of circumstances and now wonder if this tendency to see black or white was always there

I always thought AS was a good politician well able to argue his points and moved us a long way in the indy direction. And, while I know he was found innocent of all charges against him, I’m old enough to be ambivalent about what constitutes sexual harassment – I think the timing following Harvey Weinstein and the Me Too movement forced the more zealous into pursuing the case unwisely here. It did feel like a stitch up and as we know mud tends to stick. He wasn’t the first to fall foul of the higher standards which seem to apply here (Mark McDonald seemed particularly unfairly treated) and it all seems so hard when you see what Westminster politicians are getting away with

I do admire NS, not just for her management of Covid but because her principled approach to governing for the whole country, not just yessers, has rightly earned her steady support and world wide acclaim. I don’t however think she is perfect and sometimes is hoist by her own lofty principles but she does seem like our best asset just now. To be honest I see what I would call a white lie (if it is that) about a meeting a very minor & very human error when trying to deal with a very tricky dilemma and balancing loyalty to her old friend and mentor with her feminist principles and new policy expectations. I know nothing off PMs role in this – he may well have disliked AS or wanted to protect NS but I can understand why folk find his emails distasteful.

I can comfortably accommodate all these contradictory opinions without losing sleep – it won’t affect how I vote or my desire for independence. I do agree with Julia though when she asks who has the most to gain from this rumbling on. I can’t help hoping the key figures here will find away to resolve this without destroying each other, the SNP and our chance of becoming independent – that would indeed be unforgiveable in my eyes. The press & the opposition parties will continue to push any angle of this story which might weaken the independence movement so it is up to the key figures to sort themselves out and stop allowing a rift (however genuine) to tear everything apart.

NHS England fiddles hospital-onset Covid infection rate but still reports it at three times the rate in Scotland

in the Daily Mail yesterday:

Thousands of ‘probable’ cases of Covid caught in hospitals in NHS England have been excluded from official figures.  Health officials calculating the rate of cases in hospital settings omitted instances where patients contracted coronavirus between seven and 14 days after admission – despite the fact the virus has an incubation period of up to six days in 95 per cent of cases. This practice goes directly against official advice to staff to categorised these cases as ‘hospital onset’ infections, and allowed NHS England to claim that its ‘nosocomial rates – referring to Covid patients infected in hospital – are down to as little as 7.7 per cent.

In NHS Scotland the most recent figures, for week-ending 27th December put the definite hospital onset figure at 1.9% and the probable rate at 0.4%.

https://beta.isdscotland.org/find-publications-and-data/population-health/covid-19/hospital-onset-covid-19-cases-in-scotland/

So, the rate in England of hospital-acquired Covid infection is between 3 and 4 times higher even with these fiddled figures.

Back in October, the Centre for Evidence-based Medicine at Oxford put the rate at between 18% and 23%.

I contacted the researchers recently and asked for a more recent update. They said they would be updating but have not published anything newer.

BBC Scotland have not covered the story.

What this man and this woman have wrought Together can be improved upon

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon enjoys a cup of tea with Alex Salmond while on the General Election campaign trail in Inverurie in the Gordon constituency.

He took us from nowhere, by force of will, political acumen and sheer courage, to the edge of freedom. His principled stand against the UK establishment’s war agenda in the form of the Blair regime, the frankly awful human being that is Alistair Campbell and the security services, brought upon him their revenge in the form of a brutal legal process based on minor alcohol-fuelled misbehaviour against a few women. His repeated mediated humiliation by the likes of that other awful human being, Kirsty Wark, shocks in the light of her colleagues long neglect of the Jimmy Saville case, that of several other high profile BBC offenders and, of course Tory sex criminals such as the two English mayors doing time for child rape whom you won’t see a special on.

She has taken us from a near thing to a strong sense of confidence that we can do it next time. Her performance in the pandemic has been at least one major factor in the strength of support for both the SNP and for independence. Her human rights idealism may have been exploited by those same agencies which have penetrated her civil service but again, her errors, like her predecessor’s, have not weakened either the Party or the wider movement, because we are bigger than them, so much bigger.

For all his achievements, he was replaceable. She too is replaceable. We all are.

I won’t name them but there are at least 10 leading members who could lead the party onward to even greater things. That’s 10 more than any of the other parties have.

Courage mon brave!