Blair’s vaccination arguments have a point
End restrictions for the 30m who have been doubly immunised.
Tony Blair is not everybody’s favourite former PM dividing opinion across the population. Despite the fact that he was the last Labour politician to occupy Number 10 – and some might argue will be the last – large swathes of Labour’s support refuse to forgive or forget his role collaborating with the United States in the Iraq War and view him as a War Criminal.
Blair has returned to the political fray not via conventional party politics but courtesy of his own think tank – the very modestly named ‘Tony Blair Institute for Global Change’. The think tank’s latest report ‘Less Risk, More Freedom’ lays out a pathway for how the country can remain open for business even if the virus persists.
Its basic premise is to facilitate a form of Covid Passport but not to make it mandatory. The report states that double vaccination status has to mean something and that it should serve to remove certain restrictions thereby enabling the sustainable reopening of the economy.
The report advocates a policy that would subject hospitality venues to fewer lockdown restrictions if they operated a vaccine-only directive.
It would also enable double-jabbed UK tourists to skip amber-listed quarantine. In answer to the inevitable ‘whatiffery’ objections Blair argues that digital Covid passes would be accordingly switched on and off as a requirement when new variants that threaten particular types of vaccine are identified.
Tony Blair’s arguments switch focus from the heavy-handed mandatory requirements to a choice- based strategy that delivers for the vaccinated, delivers for venues and delivers for the economy.
Coinslot has received feedback from resorts in the north west, the east of England and the south coast – all of which paint a picture of packed promenades and hospitality hungry tourists.
More than 30 million people in the UK have now been double vaccinated – if the vaccination strategy is worth anything than surely Freedom Day for this substantial cohort should not be kicked into the long grass of procrastination.
As Tony Blair argues, we do have an alternative to the blunt tool of lockdown and why can’t immunisation enable the country to live freely and safely?
Money for old rope
The government has given the Gambling Commission the extra money it wants. And the land based sector is paying a heavy price for that.
Fifteen percent more for a land-based operator’s licence. And for that extra cost, you have the added bonus of waiting longer for your licence to be processed – some reports are hitting the 10 week delay; the super-benefit of answering ever more irrelevant questions; and the fun and excitement of jumping through hoops of regulatory fire during the second round of your application – the follow-up questions section.
For most applicants, visiting Dustin Hoffman’s nazi dentist in the Marathon Man would be more painless. But, he’s dead now, so you have to sign up for the next best thing; applying for a UKGC licence.
For balance, we have to note that the Commission is a regulator, albeit with weirdly super powers shared only by god. So much power in the hands of such an inadequate bureaucracy, some would argue.
Drunk on all that power, the Commission has got sloppy – to the point of failing many of its customer service requirements. And for years, it’s cared less and less about this – it has a biblical approach to its work – it almost hears god talking to it from a burning bush.
In simple terms, the Commission doesn’t merit its 15 percent increase from land based operations. It doesn’t do its job well in this sector. In fact, it performs poorly.
The regulator’s service is not in sync with its fee increase; but now it has it, it needs to get its act together.
The increase isn’t a licence to bully the industry even more; it’s funding to do its job properly and service the industry speedily, fairly and respectfully.
Since year dot, the Commission has regarded itself more as a prison kommandant, the nasty ones you see in the old war films, if you get my drift.
The world has changed. And the Commission must change with it.
This is a reset moment; albeit a very expensive one for the land based sector, but one for the regulator to re-engage with the industry in a way that drives the regulatory framework forward in a spirit of co-operation rather than contempt.
What, another month?
Lockdown will be around for another four weeks to drain even more optimism out of the hospitality industry.
Four more weeks, maybe more, maybe less. Who know’s with this government.But at some stage, many are now insisting, we have to live with Covid, delta variant or whatever one it gets up to, and accept the health implications it brings.
The number of people responding to Coinslot this week saying that we now have to get on and accept the consequences was a surprise; especially given the lockdown stasi had spent the past 15 months successfully guilting people out for daring to say – we have to live with Covid deaths.
It’s been a long time coming and one where loss has still been felt through businesses going under, jobs being lost and long standing illnesses kicking in.
The country has taken a damagingly myopic view on lockdown – a bleeding heart over a pragmatic perspective.
And the government’s decision to side once again with the worriers is a massive disappointment and will result in blood on the business carpet.
But, it won’t happen again. Johnson knows exactly how far he can go before he loses his loyal base. And he knows, there’s enough people out there now who will stand up and say no more delays.