Mr Johnson must deliver. It’s about time!


I’m getting married in the morning. Ding dong, the bells are going to chime. So goes the well known, cheery refrain from My Fair Lady. Never mind the bluster and bluff of our PM kidding us that the nuptials were bookmarked for 2022; – it was of course all ministerial smoke and mirrors, as we discovered when the press released the story of the new Mrs Johnson and husband. It was confirmed that the bride borrowed her dress, and went barefoot in the gardens at their low-key affair, but it is not known whether Dylan or Wilf were in attendance. ‘Three times a lady’ is a well known song by the Commodores, often played at weddings. Let’s hope BoJo stops at three though, as membership of his ex-wives club comes at a hefty price.

At least the wedding was a welcome distraction from the Dominic Cummings farce, during which multiple fronts of attack were lobbed at Johnson and his government. Now, I’m not saying everything was all sunshine and roses in Downing Street, but it is so easy to have the 20/20 gift of hindsight, and as Cummings said with unusual perspicacity, he [DC] ‘should never have been in charge of anything.’ On that count, I’m sure the PM will certainly agree.

Sir Kevin Collins, the government education recovery commissioner, has drawn up a plan to provide all children with an extra 100 hours of education each year from 2022. The additional hours would average out to an extra 30 mins in each school day, bringing class time for students to a minimum 35 hour week. In a document leaked to The Times, the proposals also included a suggestion that an extra year of sixth form could be available for those struggling to complete studies in the conventional 2 year window. However, the estimated £15 billion cost of all this is giving the Chancellor pause for thought, especially as it would create financial ramifications for teachers, whose contracts would need to be changed to reflect additional hours. Gavin Williamson has confirmed that disadvantaged children will get tutoring to catch up, but stopped short of pledging a longer school day.

According to a survey English voters are not prepared to provide more funding for Scotland as a price for keeping the UK together. 25% were in favour of giving more funding, but 35% were opposed to any further financial incentives to preserve the Union. The Barnett formula is very unpopular with English voters, as it allocates proportionally more generous monies to Scotland. On the matter of Scottish separatism, they reported that 20% of English people strongly opposed independence. The Nationalists have been regularly complaining that they feel short changed by the central government, resulting in bickering over Brexit, road and rail transport and particularly over Scotland’s share of the national UK wealth. When have we ever heard the Scottish agenda being fundamentally about anything other than independence? Perhaps they forget that the Kingdom of Great Britain was established in 1707 when James VI of Scotland became King of England, subsequently making a decree that the title of King would refer thereafter to the joint Kingdoms of Great Brittaine. Boris Johnson is now trying to impress upon us a new term ‘Global Britain,’ whatever that is. But the United Kingdom is a title that requires no introduction, no explanation or apology, whereas a new-fangled descriptor of our country would need all sorts of explanations. If all continues to go badly in Scottish negotiations, Global England may be all that is left.

Following the debacle of last week’s air piracy, a meeting between Lukashenko and Putin saw the former hand a briefcase to Putin, saying it contained some documents to ‘show you, so that you understand what really happened.’ Maybe it was just a little thank you gift for borrowing some KGB agents or for sending up the MiG? European countries have since banned the air carrier Belavia Belarusian Airlines from entering their airspace, following a fierce row over the recent hijacking. The principal purpose of the meeting at the Black Sea resort of Sochi was to secure the backing of Russia against the Western nations who have issued sanctions and flight bans. Lukashenko said the information in the case would indicate ‘what kind of people they are’, referring to Protasevich and his partner. Dominic Raab, the Foreign secretary intended to give Putin a slap on the wrist when they met at a Nato summit earlier this week, although Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defence minister, said more troops would be sent to the Russian West, in response to what (he claimed) was a growing Nato threat. This ‘threat’ likely referred to Nato operatives running drills for thousands of troops, dozens of aircraft and warships across the Atlantic. Nikolai Patrushev, chairman of the National Security Council indicated Russia could use force in response to ‘hostile actions.’ At the end of the day, Britain is great at rhetoric and hot air, but to a die-hard Soviet, actions speak louder than whispered sweet nothings, and Putin has shown he is fearless.

Stsiapan Latypau (41), an activist, tried to committ suicide when attending court in Minsk – he attended with obvious signs of a beating. A 17 year-old died by suicide the previous week, and an opposition politician also died in mysterious circumstances. Andrei Pivovarov (39), a prominent Kremlin critic, was forcibly removed from a plane in St Petersburg, headed for Warsaw. It’s an indictment on a security state when a person is so terrified of their captors, and prison conditions so bad, they would prefer to end it all. We have no current news on Navalny. Murders and attacks have happened aplenty on UK soil without meaningful consequences; think of Litvinenko (polonium) and Skripal (novichok). If anything the perpetrators often come out looking more terrifying and ‘untouchable…’ Maybe we are just too polite and conservative!? Any political weakness will always be exploited, and Lukashenko has proven that. Regardless, the EU has now publicly pledged to provide Belarus with €3 billion in grants and loans, as soon as the country ‘changes course and transitions’ to democracy, implying Lukashenko’s potential resignation. I don’t think that’s going to happen any time, ever.

In the medical press, a patient died after she was dropped off an operating table during surgery. Jeanette Shields (70), was receiving treatment in Cumberland Infirmary for gallstones. Her husband told the BBC that his wife had broken her hip after leaving her bed to visit the bathroom, after getting no response to her buzzer. Two days later she underwent surgery to repair this, after which he was then called by the hospital to say, ‘the surgery had been successful, but unfortunately they dropped her off the table after surgery…’  He said his wife had a big bump on the back of her head and just deteriorated. Mrs Shields died 6 weeks later on May 21st.  Her husband was initially told there would not be a post mortem but North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust said ‘an investigation was underway,’ and a spokesman said the outcome will also ‘determine any further action they may need to take.’ In a separate story, two young men in Aberdeen decided to remove a sofa from their flat, via a window. The two men had checked the coast was clear before dropping the sofa 5 metres to the ground, but unfortunately it hit Edita Butkeveiciute (31), causing her severe injury. She spoke for them in court, and after sentencing said, ‘they know it was a stupid thing to do, and they have to live with that.’ The men were spared jail, but ordered to pay compensation totalling £15,000, and each given 150 hours community service.

Zolgensma is not a drug we are familiar with, but it has recently been approved as an NHS medicine for a condition called SMA {Spinal Muscle Atrophy}. Zolgensma, a gene therapy drug which has shown effectiveness in babies born with Type 1 SMA, comes in at a ticket price of £1.8 million per shot. Arthur Morgan (5 months), has just been treated with this at Evelina Children’s Hospital, and Dr Elizabeth Wraige, consultant at Evelina, said ‘this revolutionary treatment will bring new hope to families.’ Some children treated with it have reached 5 years old. Now I am well aware that PCTs will frequently refuse to authorise specific proprietary drugs, instead forcing the public to accept cheaper – and sometimes less effective – generic equivalents. It’s all about cost saving…. As with IVF treatments amongst individual PCTs, exactly how they choose to disburse their budgets seems to be anybody’s guess. Still in the news is the ongoing saga of the GPs. Matthew Trotter, FRCS, writes [Telegraph 31 May]…’there may be a role for virtual appointments, but by removing the ability to see a doctor, one is removing a central tenet of good medical practice. The effects will be seen when complications, mortality and litigation become apparent.’ There, you have it from the doctor’s mouth. Death rates from covid reached zero this week, out of a daily figure of 1,500, but we must still do our bit to encourage vaccination uptake. Dr Sue Pavord, who leads an expert haematology panel advising the government, has said that people are at extended risk of clots from the AZ jab. There have been 332 cases of vaccine induced thrombosis and thrombocytopenia in the UK.  Just as a side comment, I mentioned many months ago I had the AstraZeneca vaccine, and as I’ve now developed another lung embolism, so I will not willingly have a repeat dose of AZ.  Let’s see how that goes!


Jacqueline x