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Current location: Scotland
Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
Number of posts: 5,976

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It COULD be.

But there have been widespread calls from many quarters to curtail school opening for some time. For a number of reasons - many economic, some seemingly ideological - the Johnson government has resisted this until it's suddenly panicked at the practically uncontrolled spread of COVID in London and the south east of England, which it's, perhaps conveniently, seeking to blame on this "new variant".

This was less than a week ago:

Government launches legal action against Greenwich school closures

The government has launched legal action against a London council over plans to close schools, using emergency coronavirus legislation for the first time to ensure face-to-face teaching continues until the end of term.

The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, issued a “temporary continuity direction” to Greenwich council, demanding the immediate withdrawal of a letter issued to headteachers over the weekend advising them to close schools early and switch to remote learning amid rising Covid infection rates in the capital.

Although the government has previously threatened legal action, this latest move signals its determination to keep schools open in the run-up to the Christmas holidays and beyond. If Greenwich fails to comply the Department for Education can seek a court injunction

Greenwich and Islington councils had advised schools to close, except to the children of key workers and those classed as vulnerable, and switch to online lessons in the last few days of term to help slow the spread of the virus. The government has not yet launched legal action against Islington.


The coronavirus has throughout its course had a staunch ally in the useless Westminster government under Johnson. They're both dangerous. As a combination ...

No serious medical authority will be able to answer that question at the moment.

But these have been daily scenes on London over the past few weeks, so ...


3 days ago London Oxford Street was packed with people almost no masks, definitely no social distancing...Now, London enters Tier 3...and shops remain open...Doesn’t make sense this tier 3, does it?

The author of this article has no medical qualifications, his background's in economics.

There is a high incidence of infection in London and the south east of England at the moment, that's not in doubt. If you look at the scenes of vast throngs of shoppers in London's Oxford Street etc. in the last week or two and the pathetically shabby mixed messages from Johnson & Co. as they've continued to mismanage their response to the pandemic, it's hardly surprising.

Talk of a "Super Covid" in such scaremongering terms at the moment isn't much help and seems to be ahead of the medical research. Mutations in the virus have been logged around the world for some time, and a number of them appear to have made it more contagious. Here's a more sober article from 15 December:

What you need to know about the new variant of coronavirus in the UK

On 14 December, the UK’s health minister, Matt Hancock, told parliament that a new variant of the coronavirus associated with faster spread had been identified in south-east England. This has led to widespread concern, spurred by newspaper headlines about “super covid” and “mutant covid”. Here’s what you need to know about this new variant.

What do we know about this new variant so far?

It was first sequenced in the UK in late September. It has 17 mutations that may affect the shape of the virus, including the outer spike protein, according to Nick Loman at the University of Birmingham in the UK, who is part of a team that has been monitoring and sequencing new variants. Many of these mutations have been found before in other viruses, but to have so many in a single virus is unusual.

So it has a whole bunch of mutations, not just one?

Yes. To put this in context, however, the coronavirus is constantly mutating and there are lots of variants with one or more mutations. In fact, by July, there were already at least 12,000 “mutants”. The number will be higher now, though many mutations are rare and the viruses carrying them often die out.

Hang on, there are more than 12,000 variants of the coronavirus?

There are tens of thousands that differ from each other by at least one mutation in the genome. But any two SARS-CoV-2 coronaviruses from anywhere in the world will usually differ by fewer than 30 mutations, and are regarded as all belonging to the same strain. Researchers instead talk about different lineages.

So what’s unusual about this one?

How fast it is spreading really caught the attention of researchers monitoring viral evolution. By 13 December, 1100 cases of the variant had been identified, mostly in the south and east of England, which is a lot because only a small proportion of viral samples get sequenced. “It’s the growth rate we are worrying about,” says Loman. “We are seeing very rapid growth.”

Are the mutations in this variant helping it spread?

We don’t know that yet. The variant is spreading faster than other strains in the same regions, but it isn’t yet clear why. By pure chance, some coronavirus lineages do spread more than others. For now, there is no clear evidence that this is due to these particular mutations. “At the moment, we don’t know if this is making a blind bit of difference,” says Lucy van Dorp at University College London.

How worried should we be?

It will take a combination of further monitoring and lab studies looking at the effect of the particular mutations present in this variant to find out if it really is more infectious. But so far, no mutation has definitively been shown to make any SARS-CoV-2 lineage more transmissible or more dangerous.


How a president can use Twitter


Joe Biden

When I think of climate change, I think about jobs. Good-paying, union jobs that put Americans to work, make our air cleaner, and rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure.

Brexit stockpiling causing 10-mile tailbacks in Calais

Severe delays as businesses try to get goods into Britain before a potential no-deal Brexit on 1 January
The delays in crossing the Channel are causing acute problems in the UK. Honda and Jaguar have had to halt production temporarily because of parts shortages, and it emerged on Friday that Ikea had been besieged by complaints because of what it called “operational challenges” as shipments of its flatpack furniture are held up at clogged ports.
Eurotunnel said it believed delays on the British side would continue for the next three weeks. Its contingencies centre on the worst-case scenario of a no-deal Brexit involving up to 7,000 lorries queuing in Kent.
The delays have been matched by long tailbacks at the Eurotunnel, caused partly by a reduction in the number of ferries because of Covid and the number of empty lorries returning to the continent after their stockpiling deliveries. Queues sometimes stretching back at least five miles have formed almost every day for the past two weeks.
The drive to stockpile flows from the fact that customs, regulatory and agrifood checks will be introduced deal or no deal because the UK is leaving the single market. Further disruption is expected over the weekend in Kent with a live test of Operation Brock, the no-deal traffic contingency plan for the M20, put in place on Friday night.


There are also reports of 12-mile tailbacks into Dover today. This was the scene on 9 December:


Liam Jesson

Brexit hasn’t even happened yet and this was the queue for Dover - Calais sailings this morning ⁦@simoncoveney⁩ ⁦@BorisJohnson⁩ #BrexitShambles #BrexitReality ⁦@Nigel_Farage⁩

[Twitter video]

That clip works. So does this one:

"Perkins, I want you to lay down your life. We need a futile gesture at this stage to raise the whole tone of the war."

Is this COVID Derangement Syndrome or Brexit Derangement Syndrome?

Or do they overlap?



Gavin Williamson tells LBC the UK approved a Covid vaccine first because ‘we're a much better country’ than France, Belgium and the US.

[Twitter video]

When you need to confirm you're not a robot (Twitter video)


Johnson is an immediate spur, yes, but

he's just the latest and most blatant Westminster leader to be utterly tonedeaf and arrogantly dismissive of not just Scotland's, but the (especially northern) English regions', Wales's and Northern Ireland's concerns as well.

Because of population distribution, MPs from southern English constituencies will always heavily outnumber those from outside England and its other regions. This may not matter as much if a UK government is sensitive to the needs of the areas outside the southeast of England, nearer London, but few have done more than offer lipservice in recent times. Especially with the current government, Westminster acts as the English parliament and the Tories have enough MPs to override pretty much any opposition.

The drive for Scottish independence isn't new. It was behind the precursor to the Labour Party that sprang up in Scotland early last century.

It was a minority movement for many years, but eventually the tensions of the UK's uneven government led to two referendums on devolution and the establishment of a national assembly for Scotland. The first referendum was sabotaged by English MPs who changed the rules to effectively give the dead votes (and was one factor in the demise of Callaghan's very troubled Labour government that ushered in the Tory Thatcher years). Pressure from the EU led to the second referendum, which voted convincingly yes to devolution. Wales and Northern Ireland later gained their own devolved assemblies, but Scotland's has most powers.

Initially, the Scottish assembly was envisaged as little more than a sop and a talking shop, like a glorified local council. As it began to hit its stride and gain powers, the SNP's vote share rose until it eventually managed to win a majority of seats in the Scottish assembly (which had been believed impossible because the proportional representation system of voting had been set up to avoid one party, especially the SNP, taking power and to encourage coalitions). The SNP has been in power in Scotland since, sometimes relying on coalitions, as it does with the Green Party at the moment.

It was hard to gain agreement from the UK government for the 2014 referendum on independence, and it was then hard fought. Initially, support for Yes to independence polled much lower than No, but over the course of the lengthy campaign, it grew until it caused serious alarm in Westminster. One major focus for the No campaign was EU membership and the argument that if Scotland became independent, it would not be welcome in the EU, not least because what was left of the UK would do its best to make sure that was the case. SNP debaters did point out that there was the possibility of a referendum that might take the UK out of the EU, and also that the laughable at the time figure of Boris Johnson might become UK prime minister. Both these prospects were heavily pooh-poohed as ridiculous.

You'll know enough of the UK's recent history to understand how that all panned out after the independence referendum went 55%/45% No. Scotland then voted resoundingly 62% to remain in the EU in the subsequent referendum.

The argument now is that the UK leaving the EU is a fundamental change of circumstances that warrants a fresh Scottish independence referendum to take account of the new situation. On top of that, promises were made in the post-referendum settlement for more powers for the Scottish parliament that have not been honoured (Labour figures tend to want to talk about federalism in the UK as a solution, but there's no serious support for it and power tends to be centralized under any UK government), and there's a constant buzz from Johnson and other high-up Tories to strip powers from the Scottish parliament, or even abolish it altogether. Meanwhile, Scotland's SNP MPs, who form the third largest party in Westminster, are routinely abused, belittled and patronized by the Tories. They don't seem to grasp that when they do that, they abuse, belittle and patronize those of us who voted for them as our representatives.

Opinion polls over the last year have shown support for independence in Scotland rising to consistently around 60%. This has been driven partly by the ongoing Brexit debacle, partly by the mismanagement of the COVID crisis by Westminster, partly by the perception that Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has done a far better job of communicating and marshalling resources and heeding scientific advice on the pandemic, but not least by the lack of respect from the Tories and their incompetence and blatant corruption in handing out contracts for PPE etc. The main counter-argument from those who oppose Scottish independence at the moment is that the first independence referendum was described by SNP politicians at the time as a "once in a generation opportunity". They want to focus on the words "once in a generation" and ignore the context of "opportunity", and want to define a generation in this case to extend up to 40 years.

Johnson's the obvious figurehead for all that dysfunction. I don't think he and his cabinet are capable of charming voters in Scotland after the experiences of the last few years, even if they had any inkling to try to do so.

Donald J. Trump Presidential Library online

Enjoy. Don't forget to exit through the Grift Shop.

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