Keir’s tears, vaccination fears, the roadmap to freedom and plaster casts of transgender sex workers – OTR gets to grips with some of the key talking points of the week.
WHY I’M STILL CONFIDENT ABOUT THE JUNE 21 ROAD MAP
While the spread of the new variant is obviously concerning, the good news is that, for the moment at least, the number of infections is not resulting in a proportionate increase in hospital admissions or deaths.
In fact, June 1st saw Britain record no new deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid- 19 test for the first time since last July.
There’s no doubt there’s a real urgency to the vaccination programme and the government has said that it wants all of those who are aged over 50-years to have had their second jab by the end of June.
For these reasons I am confident that the PM will stick to the roadmap and that so called Freedom-Day will be celebrated as planned.
The deal made with the population was once we protect the vulnerable, we will be able to get back to normal and learn to live with the virus.
The alternative would be to shut society and the economy down every time there’s a new variant of interest and that’s simply not going to happen.
No government could allow that set of circumstances to prevail which is why I’m focussed on June 21.
TO JAB OR NOT TO JAB?
Whether health workers should be compelled to have the vaccine is a real dilemma for anyone who believes in civil liberties.
But the rights of the individual need to be balanced with the responsibilities that exist to protect the vulnerable. I’ve heard some commentators talk about the prospect of organisations that allow non-vaccinated employees being pursued for corporate manslaughter if the staff infect colleagues or customers.
If I can legally make vaccination a condition of employment for new recruits I will.
PLASTER CASTS OF TRANSGENDER SEX WORKERS – YOU’RE TAKING THE PLINTH!
One of the suggestions to appear on top of Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth is 850 plaster casts of transgender sex workers (I kid you not!). Mexican artist Teresa Margolles has proposed naturally decaying casts of transgender people’s faces for the work.
Other short-listed pieces include a giant rocket, a Ghanaian grain silo and a figure inspired by German folklore.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has described the Fourth Plinth as being the world’s most high-profile public art prize but does that mean it should be something shall we say, quite so niche?
A statue of Sir Tom and his stroller has been suggested as a tribute to his remarkable life and former Tory MP and grandson of Winston Churchill, Nicholas Soames, even launched a campaign arguing that the plinth should not feature politically correct artworks but should be used as an opportunity to celebrate a magnificent and nationally unifying figure who raised more than £32m for NHS charities.
Given the choice between an artwork based on a Ghanaian grain solo and Sir Tom – I know where my customers’ votes would go!
FOR CRYING OUT LOUD
The Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer broke down in tears during a television interview with Piers Morgan for the broadcaster’s Life Stories series.
Starmer showed his emotions when he recounted how his mother, Josephine, sadly passed away weeks before he was sworn in as an MP in 2015.
Starmer has been criticised for his robotic non-emotional style and I can’t believe that he went into the interview with his eyes closed and without appreciating the dynamics of the format – after all, the clue is in the title.
Was this a cynical attempt by Starmer’s office to humanise their man by showing his vulnerability?
If so, I think the spin masters may have misjudged the national mood.
Yes, the people don’t want a robot leading the country but equally they don’t expect a prospective PM to well-up in difficult moments.
Boris Johnson connected with his audience at the weekend and didn’t have to say a word. I fear, for Starmer’s sake – that the electorate may have seen weakness in his tears and not humanity. Not sure the grand master flash of spin, Tony Blair, would have done it.
BREXIT – IT’S NOT HALF AS BAD AS THEY WANTED US TO THINK
Despite the inevitable pain that comes with ending a long-standing relationship such as the one the UK enjoyed with the European Union, I think the predicted consequences of Brexit have not materialised.
The first four weeks must have been a nightmare for firms trying to export and there’s no doubt that there was some payback with stories of French border staff confiscating packets of smoky bacon flavour crisps from British lorry drivers. Exports to the bloc have jumped by nearly 9 percent and have risen to hit pre- Brexit levels.
It’s not going to be a smooth journey but we haven’t seen the sort of weakness in trade that some people had led us to believe would happen.
BORIS’S MARRIAGE OF INCONVENIENCE
If I was asked whether I thought the Prime Minister was a role model Catholic the answer would have to be a big fat dishevelled no! His conversion back to Catholicism having converted to the Church of England when he was at school enabled him to get married in Westminster Cathedral despite the fact that this represents third time lucky for him in the marriage stakes. The argument being that his previous marriages took place when he wasn’t a Catholic and therefore somehow don’t count.
If Tony Blair was the first politician to father a child as a serving PM, then Boris must be the first to have a child outside of marriage, in a relationship whilst serving as PM. It would appear that Boris Johnson’s personal life involves as many u-turns as his professional life. Listening to the various radio phone-ins, the whole episode has not gone down at all well with fellow Roman Catholics denied the opportunity to re-marry in church as well as those who were unceremoniously turfed out of Westminster Cathedral in order for the marriage to take place!
KEEP UP LABOUR, THE COUNTRY’S BEEN CALLING FOR TIGHTER BORDERS FOR OVER A YEAR
The Labour Party has (at last) called for the introduction of stricter travel controls.
Nick Thomas-Symonds (no I hadn’t heard of him either) who is the shadow home secretary, has called for a ‘pause’ on international travel so that all countries on the government’s amber list could be transferred to the red list.
The shadow home secretary accused the government of being consistently late on border control, which is exactly what every sane person in the country, and I include this column, has been saying since April of last year.
Why are we so slow and totally inept about deciding to close the borders and why is the official opposition so poor at holding the government to account?
Talk about closing the stable door(s)..