21 February 2021

Yawn. Another week.

Many of you are Facebook friends with my sister Sallie who lives in Park City, Utah. (I think there are only twelve people in the world who are not Facebook friends with Sallie). Many of you also know that she is an exceedingly creative and talented seamstress. At the beginning of the Covid pandemic she started to sew face masks which she sold in aid of the Christian Center of Park City who do tremendous outreach work with the community in Park City. The CCPC posted this on Facebook the other day.

Park City local Sallie Rinderknecht had a vision to sell 100 masks at the start of COVID-19. She has blown that number out of the water, making and selling enough masks to raise roughly $15,000 for CCPC. Hear her story in this video.

As Jessie would say, “We are super proud of you!”

And, while we are congratulating Sallie on her marvellous achievements, let’s also congratulate this young lady.

Apparently, when you want to learn how to do something you just need to do what Jessie did – “I practiced and practiced and then I could do it, Grandma!”

I ran across the following in Private Eye – a government Covid graphic adorned with some additional graffiti by Matthew Musset to illustrate just how stupid and incompetent were the government’s relaxation of lockdown restrictions for Christmas.

Just to put some baubles on the Christmas tree, in the week before Christmas there were 28,507 new cases of the coronavirus each day. Two weeks after Christmas, i.e., just about the incubation period for the virus, there were 68,053 new cases each day. 489 deaths on 18 December, 1610 deaths on 19 January.

Not surprisingly, almost all the Covid-related news from the government and its friends in the media is about the success of the vaccination programme (run by that tired excuse for Socialised medicine, the NHS).

A good article in the Guardian this week by Nick Cohen asking why the opposition is not making more political capital out of the calamity that is Brexit.

I can see why Truss, Johnson and Gove hope no one will notice that their hard Brexit has seen the people of Northern Ireland suffer the consequences of a border in the Irish Sea, Amsterdam overtake London as Europe’s largest share-trading centre and businesses drown in paperwork. They lied to the nation and to themselves and don’t want to suffer the consequences. Their spinning and diversionary tactics are to be expected.

For the life of me, however, I do not understand why Labour and those parts of the broadcast media outside the control of the political right play along with the deception and pretend that the world as it is does not exist. It’s as if Britain were a Victorian family keeping up appearances. As if not just a government with every reason to conceal, but the opposition and media are bound by a promise to never wash Britain’s dirty laundry in public – even as its stink becomes overwhelming.

Nick Cohen – The Guardian

Indeed – “even as its stink becomes overwhelming.”

I follow and support the activities of the Good Law Project, a group of clever individuals who are taking the government to court for its failure to publish the details of contracts they have entered into during the Covid pandemic. I recently had the following from them.

You may remember the tale of the jeweller from Florida and the Spanish intermediary who profited to the tune of tens of millions of pounds from vast PPE contracts, paid for with taxpayers’ money. Well, there have been developments. 

The government continues to fail to publish details of contracts within the legally required timeframe, but we have learned of another contract it entered into with the jeweller Saiger, worth £36 million, for face masks.

The contract was for FFP2 masks – which protect the wearer, unlike the ones we all wear to the supermarket. But to protect the wearer they need to be adjustable – which means head straps – and all of these masks have ‘ear loops’. Ear loop masks, Government has admitted in other cases, can’t be used in the NHS because they don’t give a proper fixing. We expect these £36 million of masks will also be unusable.

Not only did Government buy PPE that can’t be used. It also appears to have paid well over the odds. For one type of mask, Government paid $2.93 per unit. The prevailing price paid by Government at the time it entered into the contract was about 60p per unit: more PPE, paid for at a premium, that can’t be used by the NHS.

But that’s not all.

Saiger was awarded a contract worth £70.52 million to buy 10.2 million sterile surgical gowns. We are challenging this particular contract in court. Almost all of the gowns supplied under that £70m+ contract are unable to be used as such because they are wrapped in such a way that their sterile quality can’t be maintained.

At this stage, you might be wondering: shouldn’t a responsible Government just put up its hands and say “we got this wrong”?

Instead, it is spending, quite literally, millions in public funds trying to defend the indefensible. And what we want to know is, who is this spending for – is it in your interests? Or is it to avoid political embarrassment? If you would like to support our attempts to deliver transparency, you can donate to the legal challenge here.

Jolyon Maugham QC
Director of Good Law Project

Stop Press: Update

I just received an update from the Good Law Project with the result of their first court case against the government. In short, the government was found to be in breach of its legal obligations to publish details of contracts awarded. So, instead of putting their hands up and admitting that they’d got it wrong, the government spent hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money trying to hide the details of who they had awarded contracts to and for what.

Much more of this to come!

Meanwhile, keep happy, keep smiling, keep isolating as much as you can, wear a facemask when you go out and keep your distance. And keep safe.

Lots of love to you all,

Greg

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