Investing in modern government

The public have had an enforced home course in doing much more on line. During the lock down you had to pay bills by electronic means, buy non food items over the net, talk to friends and family by phone or video conference. I had to do most of my  contact work by video or phone link, and everything else by email or blog. Many people have got used to working from home, linking to their colleagues, employer , clients and in my case constituents by the web.

This experience provides opportunity for government to make more progress with its digital transition. Much of government is about taking money off people and giving money to people who need state assistance. Road fund licence, congestion charges, many parking charges and other vehicle taxes are now collected electronically. Many people do now fill in on line tax returns, and VAT is paid often without people realising it when they settle a bill with a credit or debit card. There has also been substantial progress with paying benefits through on line claims.

The two large employers of the state, health and education, are likely now to adopt more of the digital revolution as a result of their experiences during the CV 19 crisis. Patients are being encouraged to go for on line or video based consultations. These can be adapted so the GP who might need an expert opinion can use the pictures to engage  a specialist colleague rapidly when the symptoms are shown over the video link. Use is already made of remote technology for  ordering follow on prescriptions.

Schools have been learning about remote teaching and the electronic assistance to receiving and marking home work. This can be useful when things have returned to a more normal pattern. Remote technology could allow more pupils to access exceptional lectures or lessons as state schools build a library of great lessons from their filmed activities.

Many service businesses already offer digital only services which are often better value because they only use individual employees to do the things that require judgement and differentiation. They  can standardise and automate the rest. Opportunity presents to government and state services. On line is usually more efficient and cheaper offering economies to government as it adopts these methods.

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  1. Adam
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    It is evident that many folk who were previously content without seeking change, have learnt to do better by having less choice to do worse.

    Posted July 28, 2020 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    Yes, it does seem the CV19 event has delivered western governments a most delicious reason to destroy our freedoms and reset our world along lines that make tracking every aspect of our lives much easier.

    Pushing activity online makes tracking very simple, makes life easy for our downtrodden public sector employees as they struggle to turn over in the garden to catch the last ray of sunshine and exposes us all to a world in which cash becomes pointless. We can see the ‘buttering up’ taking place even in this article. You must think we’ve popped over on the proverbial.

    The private has been destroyed and replaced by a most ruthless State machine in which the majority will be controlled

    And yet the cost of government continues to accelerate upwards no doubt in direct response to your party’s refusal to confront Marxist Labour’s client state and slash the cost of it, abolish its powers and cut its parasitic grip over our lives

    Both parties in collusion with one another have brought us to this point. Less freedom, explosion in State debts, no doubt massive rises in taxes, more social conditioning from the liberal fascists that your party’s now embraced with gusto

    We can smell and see the plan at work. One can only hope that the British voter recognise this at the next GE

    • Stephen Priest
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:07 am | Permalink

      I suggest you lose 5lbs and save NHS England 0.01% of its budget over the next 5 years. They need that money to recruit Diversity Officers and Entertainment Managers, as they continued to do when the Lockdown was at its height. (Check Guido Fawkes)

      • Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

        So is the NHS going to refund the ‘saved money’ to Government?

        • Mark B
          Posted July 28, 2020 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

          And the government in turn will refund the money to us ?

          I like you Lynn do not hold much hope of that.

        • Fred H
          Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

          Since the services we all thought were available are now certainly NOT, I suggest the NHS budget is cut – and management told they may cut jobs – starting with those thousands still at home being paid. If the management protests we should then enforce they are sacked, unable to do the job.

    • Gordon
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:45 am | Permalink

      Whilst I agree with your analysis of the situation I have to say that relying on an election to bring different politicians in to save us is delusional. The time has long past where blind faith in a ruling class that has utterly failed at every level and is now actively seeking to do all the things you mention is anything but fatal.
      The best possible outcome for hope is that the entire financial system collapses along with the entire establishment. This would bring disaster, famine and financial ruin to billions but it is the best outcome. We have brought it on ourselves by believing in government and by allowing ourselves to be brainwashed. Alleviate the end of this awful system by not following their rules, by using crypto currency and buying real money- gold and silver and lots of food.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:54 am | Permalink

      I use cash whenever possible and the shops that refuse don’t get my business. It’s up to us not to be coerced.

      • glen cullen
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

        same here

      • Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

        +1 and I never take any mobile devise with me. Govt website allows you to download an exemption from wearing a mask (if you are asthmatic etc.) if you were nit before wearing a mask brings on a lot of medical problems pretty smartly.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:18 am | Permalink

      Agree..such a clever, convenient virus!
      And note reference to schooling online.
      There will be no return in September unless Boris sacrifices the kids to the Marxists. And literally kills them with masks.
      Is he even more weak-kneed than May?
      Brexit is wobbling so the holding of noses at last election will have been in vain.
      How effective the Marxists of Labcon have been in wiping out any opposition.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

        Just a note to ordinary people.

        This poster is entirely serious.

        • Dennis Zoff
          Posted July 30, 2020 at 10:12 am | Permalink

          “This poster is entirely serious”

          Somewhat like yours Martin?

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      “You must think we’ve popped over on the proverbial.” – would that be the proverbial dinghy from Calais? Plenty doing that – gets a free life for them.

    • Oh Danny Boy
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      “We can smell and see the plan at work. One can only hope that the British voter recognise this at the next GE”

      Do you honestly think we have a choice in this? Look at the big three parties. What meaningful difference is there between them? Can you offer any examples? I don’t see any. As each day goes by I become more fearful of what this country (and the west) will become and there appears no way to step off this path, yet the overwhelming majority couldn’t appear to care less as long as they have their football and takeaway apps.

      • glen cullen
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

        well they all seem to be in bed with green issues, HS2 and electric cars

      • UKQanon
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

        Oh D B – your final sentence ….yet the overwhelming majority…… That is what the globalists rely on. So simple!!

    • DavidJ
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      I share your concerns but who are we to vote for at the next General Election?

      Tories (with apologies to our host who is clearly not one of the present bunch) have been pretty useless in freeing us from the EU in a timely manner.

      Labour would destroy the economy in short order whilst pandering to all except native Brits.

      LibDems truly incompetent in all matters.

      Brexit Party showed promise until Farage bailed out.

      The promised replacement for Useless Ukip that seems to have fallen apart before launch.

      A stark choice indeed!

      • glen cullen
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

        Its sad that most people now vote for the least bad and not the best

        • Posted July 29, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

          It’s always been the least bad – many times it’s a ‘vote against the worst’ rathe than a ‘vote for’..

      • Sea Warrior
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

        The Brexit Party’s website has an air of the Marie-Celeste about it – but I suspect that the donate function still, er, functions.

        • Dennis Zoff
          Posted July 30, 2020 at 10:25 am | Permalink

          Sea Warrior

          Indeed, functions and donations continue….and trust Boris will continue to execute the Brexit plan to the letter?

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      Get a private VPN if you are bothered about being tracked.

      • Al
        Posted July 29, 2020 at 7:14 am | Permalink

        VPNs are not a solution. Not only can cookies cut through them (analytics or ad cookies on your machine will ID it to the third party network no matter what IP it thinks you are at), but widespread analytics can fingerprint you from online behaviour, and your machine’s details e.g. memory, OS, browser, sites you visit often…

        Most VPNs require credit card and personal information to sign up, and several log individual user’s traffic. Like Onavo, which was found to be owned by Facebook and sending logs of all users’ traffic direct to them.

        • Dennis Zoff
          Posted July 30, 2020 at 10:39 am | Permalink

          Nothing is completely hidden..if you have the right equipment and time…

          VPNs are a good solution, but are at a cost. Free browsers such as Tor are effective (though you do get a lag in performance due to the nature of propagation delay, multi-layer international servers)

          However, if you are to be found, then Deep Packet Inspection Techniques (DPIT can be used and are used to keep us all safe)….but comes with very high price tag.

          Cleaning out cookies on a regular basis is beneficial for many reasons…there are many free good cookie cleaners out there.

  3. Everhopeful
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    And what happens when “The Machine Stops”?
    We have a dystopian blueprint for the world described above.
    Any back up plans?
    Given the players…not really very likely.
    Shame on them.

    “But I can see you!” she exclaimed. “What more do you want?”
    “I want to see you not through the Machine,” said Kuno. “I want to speak to you not
    through the wearisome Machine.”
    “Oh, hush!” said his mother, vaguely shocked. “You mustn’t say anything against the

    The Machine Stops
    by E. M. Forster

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      +1 – Oh how true

    • acorn
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      Sounds like the ultimate “gig” economy, slaving for the machine. Who owns the machine? How do you get to be one of the owners? For instance, how does an Uber taxi driver ever get to be CEO of Uber?

    • JimW
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      Brilliantly prescient novella written 111 years ago.

    • Dennis Zoff
      Posted July 30, 2020 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      “We are all prisoners”…..ask Number Six?

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    “The two large employers of the state, health and education.”

    A great shame that health and education should be run by the state using state employees. By making them free at the point of use and funding through taxation the state kills most competition and innovation in these areas with hugely damaging results. Can we please have fair competition, a level playing field, real freedom and choice in these areas and elsewhere please. Not fairly dire, virtual state monopolies protected by tax funding and free at the point of delivery.

    • jerry
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:36 am | Permalink

      @LL; “A great shame that health and education should be run by the state”

      The bigger shame is, that in a modern world, some people still think children and, even more so, health should be a source of private profit, and to think some call the current Leader of the House “Mr 18th century,”, yet his views are considerably more modern than many expressed by commentators to this site!

      • formula57
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        @ jerry – it is a shame too that in a modern world those who by their endeavours are able to offer a product or service that users value should be denied reward or spurned for earning such.

        Profit of course is just a financial measure of commercial success and acts as a constant and sensitive measure of user appreciation. The public sector not being commercial typically lacks such a measure and usually has been unsuccessful in devising metrics to inform itself about user satisfaction. The result often enough is that services are then run for the convenience of those providing them rather than to best meet the needs of users.

        If better, more appropriate provision can be made to users where providers are spurred by a profit motive than with a system that only recognizes spending, why should that be a shame?

        • jerry
          Posted July 29, 2020 at 5:55 am | Permalink

          @formula57; “those who by their endeavours are able to offer a product or service that users value should be denied reward or spurned for earning such.”

          I’m sure many a educational book/software supplier or those who build schools, those who equipped schools, all made a profit. Same with hospitals, just as companies still do when supplying the MOD.

          I’m not against profit and wealth, just were and how profit and wealth is made.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:00 am | Permalink

        Education and Health care existed well before the government nationalised them.

        I am not saying the state should not have some involvement in funding provision for those who really cannot afford it for themselves. Just that they should not run dire state monopolies that kill competition by being “free” at the point of use.

        • jerry
          Posted July 28, 2020 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

          @LL; Well yes, if you call charity “free”…

      • matthu
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:17 am | Permalink

        If a state-run organisation ran diagnostic testing inefficiently and with only 75% accuracy, while a competitively priced privately run organisation produced more immediate results, with much greater accuracy and made a profit at the same time, which service would you recommend the state invested your taxes in?

        • jerry
          Posted July 28, 2020 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

          @matthu; I would contract out the service to the private provider, not expect the patient to buy it direct, that way the commercial companies charge a fair price, not a price they and their competitors can get away with – did you not take note of the speech given by the POTUS a few days ago, pledging to lower the cost of drugs to the end patient?…

          It was the “A great shame that health and education should be run by the state” part of Mr Life’s comment I was replying to, I made no comment as to how the DHSC or DfE provides a free at the point of need service.

      • NickC
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink

        Jerry, As you know, the Remains on here churn out standard Remain propaganda with which we’re all familiar, and which is easy to refute. Apparently we only voted Leave because we are:
        – pining for the British Empire;
        – thick;
        – old;
        – xenophobic;
        – pining for the 1950s;
        and other such self-serving Remain tripe.

        You are the only commenter on here who does actually seem to pine for the 1950s. The idea of a socialist state run by wet Tories is not appealing to most Leaves, not least because of the top-down EU government we’re (maybe!) just about to escape from.

        Of course it’s possible to have fair, equitable, good quality service provision supplied by profitable companies, including education and health. Whatever next, Jerry? – nationalise crisp manufacturers?

        • jerry
          Posted July 28, 2020 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

          @NickC; You on the other hand appear to pine for a world were you tell others what they can have, not what you yourself have benefited from, in effect the equal but opposite swing of the pendulum away from communism…

          As for Brexit, those socialists you crisis would have taken the UK out of the EEC back in 1983, probably never have joined in 1973, unlike you hero who backed our joining, campaigned to stay in 1975, and supported SEA in the mid 1980s calling for the creation of the Single Market -or was she to ‘wet’ for you too?!

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

        Well, yes, Jerry.

        The clamour for “people’s courts” is none other than for a return to the Ducking Stool.

        • jerry
          Posted July 29, 2020 at 6:07 am | Permalink

          @MiC; “a return to the Ducking Stool.”

          Off on one of your ‘own goal’ tangents again Martin…

          So why does the hard left always clamour for retribution, rather than just allowing the legal system to have a fair & balanced trial, the left is always to the fore whenever there is any perception of injustice, often calling for the evidence or procedures to be ‘weighted’ in favour of the accuser/prosecution to achieve their required number of convictions.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted July 29, 2020 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

            Please cite a hearing where what you claim has happened.

            Judges would not tolerate such disruptive representations.

          • jerry
            Posted July 29, 2020 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

            @MiC; Did I say in court, no, but parliament is full of people trying to weigh legal procedure to achieve their political goals – you don’t need to nobble the judge if you have nobbled the law…

            One of the more recent Left-wing absurdities was when a bunch of Labour MPs spent some considerable time last year dragging TV executives across hot coals because a daytime TV show had used Lie Detectors, after all we were told the technoligy is not reliable enough to possibly destroy a relationship (or worse…), but many of the same MPs were in support of an amendment that would make the police to use Lie Detectors on those accused of domestic violence.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:02 am | Permalink

      Would GPs be shut to patients if they had to work under competition?
      Would schools be shut if they had to compete other than with private schools where customers are paying twice?
      Would hospitals have closed to non virus patients if they were truly competitive?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

        Would GPs be shut to patients if they charged a fee to patients and that was the only income they got – clearly not!

      • Sea Warrior
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps the old ‘School Voucher’ policy idea should be revived – and maybe a ‘Medical Voucher’ idea touted as well.

        • Posted July 29, 2020 at 8:24 am | Permalink

          Too true. The customer needs a ‘note’ in his hand with which to pay – or to take when he walks away.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:36 am | Permalink


      There is a subtle difference between Political Direction and Political Control. If the taxpayer is to pay, the taxpayer should know their money is yielding the best result. If its not through the ballot box they can change it. Taxpayer contracts, schooling health should be awarded to were the best results come from. The Political Class show how useless and redundant they are at running anything directly.

      PHE has demonstrated how bad they and the NHS are at being controlled centrally in a one size fit all approach. Local, regional demands are always different. We are lead by the demands of the London Metro Socialist as if they know best for the whole of the UK at any one time.

  5. Bob Dixon
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    So we are now to be able to buy a subsidised electric bike to encourage older people to take to the roads.what can be done about the cycle lanes and roads which are dangerous to ride on?
    Televised programmes such as 24 hours in A and E and helicopter rescue show a good percentage of injured cyclists.
    If the government want to scatter tax payers money around then encouraging cyclists should be way down the lists.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:36 am | Permalink

      Cycling per mile can be as high as 50 times more dangerous than going by car (in busy areas). Also cycling is fuelled by human food which is a very inefficient fuel in Carbon terms especially for meat eaters. Not that C02 is really much of a problem despite all the BBC & Government propaganda to the contrary.

      • Dave Andrews
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

        An overweight person needing to lose a stone and with an hour cycling each day (to work and back?) will find their excess weight lasting 3 months.
        After that they will need to take on more fuel to maintain bodyweight, so at least the first 3 months is free.
        I’m sure there is plenty of excess body fat in the country to be mined before one has to be concerned about renewables.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 28, 2020 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

          Except they will probably just eat more to make it up!

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 10:59 am | Permalink

        Electric bikes do however have the advantates that at least some of the fuel does not from human food (which is hugely inefficient in both Carbon and Energy terms – if that concerns you). Also they cause less congestion and pollution from other vehicles (as they go up hills and on the level rather more quickly thus holding up other traffic rather less.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

        You are really grasping at straws suggesting food for humans is inefficient in carbon terms. Mind you, I have often thought we would be doing the planet a favour if we, as a species, disappeared.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 28, 2020 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

          Well it may be “clutching at straws” but it is certainly completely true. Human food is a very inefficient way of fueling transportation. Especially for people who eat steak au poivre, chips, veg and a good bottle of claret as I sometimes do. Cooking, freezing, plastic packaging, transport, growing the gress, feeding the cows, butchery, digestion, storage as fat and glycogen in the human body then converted to kinetic energy in the muscles.

          If this is “efficient” than perhaps we should run cars and trains on steak au poivre, chips, veg and red wine using artifical muscles. But no it is not remotely efficient or low carbon. But then ministers seem to read PPE and Law in the main science, reason and logic not really their strengths.

          • Mike Wilson
            Posted July 29, 2020 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

            I am not disagreeing with you – I am sure you are right that eating food and then walking to work is not very carbon efficient. But you generally use examples such as this to back up your argument that we should all be driving 6 litre cars that do 9 mpg and that the petrol should be 20p a gallon.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted July 29, 2020 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

            “all be driving 6 litre cars that do 9 mpg and that the petrol should be 20p a gallon”

            I have never suggested this at all. But keeping on old car can certainly be better than buying a new one (that requires new manufacturing energy). I get about 50 mpg out of my 2.5 litres ancient volvo V70 and a bit less out of my ancient petrol golf cab.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:59 am | Permalink

      The lockdown was a control test on how many people would ride given safer roads and sufficient time. Well people can make time at the weekends etc. but the roads are far from safe. I don’t know but I guess nobody has sat down at Oxford CC and worked out how cyclists get from A to B without at some time riding down dangerous roads. They could easily allocate these roads solely for cyclists and the parallel roads for cars on say Sundays. There would be no queues, it would just separate cars from cyclists to the benefit of both.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:43 am | Permalink

      Here in Wokingham. The Pedestrian is kicked off and excluded from the Pedestrian footpaths just so the local council can say they are on message. The Lycra Taliban get to dictate.

      In London, were all this doctrine is emanating from the rules are different. The Cyclist do not get to dominate the public footpaths. For the most part Cyclists obey the rules of the road. Elsewhere in a desire to just be ‘SEEN’ to be on message its a case of penalize one section, in a retrograde step to the whole community.

  6. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    I am sorry – I have to comment off topic: £50 FIX YOUR BIKE VOUCHERS on a first come first served basis.

    How is this targeted at the obese (even assuming that it is a good move which it isn’t). The obese won’t have a bike and if they do it will require more than £50 of repairs. You have just handed £50 to people who would have spent the money anyway as they ride regularly as their hobby. I run, where is my £50 for a pair of trainers? No, so why pay for MAMILS’ bike repairs?

    Bikes prescribed on the NHS? Just change the “body positive” culture and promote a “normal” body shape that doesn’t have squidgy lumps bulging out over clothes.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:30 am | Permalink

      I did not hear about this latest lunacy. What is the point in over taxing people hugely than wasting much of the money in collection and distribution costs and then giving a little bit back. But that you can only spend on bikes, insulation, dinners out ….. Please stop this economic, socialist lunacy now.

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:53 am | Permalink

        Just a little more control and before we know where we are they take all your assets and give you back just enough to keep you alive and working for them.

      • glen cullen
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 8:31 am | Permalink

        But in their eyes its not lunacy its sensible social engineering……hard hats next

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:30 am | Permalink

        L/L. Yes, it’s crazy isn’t it? Littlejohn is pointing all this out today.. A child could see through it all. Honestly John, this government is such a disappointment in that common sense seems to have been lost forever.

      • NickC
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:32 am | Permalink

        Lifelogic, It’s called government by wheeze. It’s designed to distract you. Distracted people are easier to manipulate. And it’s easier to hide things the government wants to hide. In this way the Boris government is aping the EU.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 28, 2020 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

          Aping the EU indeed he is.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:48 am | Permalink

      I have just been on the website for this initiative, it has not been targeted kin the slightest so will be used by existing cyclists.

      The cycling industry is already booming due to measures taken by public transport providers as a result of Covid-19, it does not need any help, it is at capacity.

      You want to give people £50 support your local greengrocer to sell fruit and vegetables with a negative VAT rate for small businesses on healthy food or pay for weightwatchers classes. Those are targeted measures

    • jerry
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:03 am | Permalink

      @Bob Dixon; I have no problem with dedicated cycle routes, paths and even (were practical) on-road cycle lanes, there just needs to be a law that requires cyclists to use them, and have some way to positive ID cyclists who don’t.

      To bring this back on-topic, just, in this day and age of IT way can’t bicycles have their own system of index marks that have to be clearly visible just as with motorcycles, after all cyclists have no more right to use the roads than motorists or even those on horse back.

      How about making all cyclists apply for a licence too, part of the process being an on-line Highway Code course, enhanced to cover the physical realities that only learning to drive a motor vehicle imparts, for example large turning circles.

      I would have though loaning a stationary exercise bike, at least in the first instance, might be a better idea, less likely to fill A&E up quite so fast!

    • Caterpillar
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      The Govt seems to be full of a bunch of very young children (with apologies to children who may actually do better) competing for silly ideas of how resource should be directed and who should benefit.

      I have genuinely just had a conversation with someone who has been regulating body weight, increasing muscle mass and trying to save for a rainy day – the conversation – perhaps its just better to give up and spend the savings overeating and boozing – an act of free will in a reckless dictatorship going downhill rapidly.

    • Excalibur
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      I concur, also with DOMINIC above. Not only does this idiocy add to NHS costs it reinforces the arbitrary, totalitarian power of the GP. He will decide who has a bicycle and who doesn’t.

      I recently wanted to see a specialist of my choice at a hospital of my choice but was denied by my GP. This despite the fact that I have to visit the hospital frequently for my wife’s cancer treatment. The whole referral system requires a review. We are no more free than the Chinese.

      • Qubus
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

        I always thought that the patient had a legal right to a second opinion.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      It’s further proof that there is no matter of personal responsibility that the Johnson government won’t make a responsibility of the public purse. I am now in the situation of being a thorough Conservative but hating the Conservative government and Conservative Party with every breath in my body. Johnson is leading us to fiscal disaster. He has to go!

      • Sea Warrior
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        Sir John, thank you for being kind enough to publish my post. There are some who would have modded it!

      • Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        +1 and his childish Cabinet with him.

    • Mark
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps it will keep Halfords in business. I bought my bike in the Netherlands for commuting in reasonable weather. It could do with new tyres and a service. Spruce it up for sale, as I am unlikely to ride it in the future given the spontaneous pneumothorax that caused me to stop riding some years ago.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

        @mark if you had tried to buy a bike during the period since March, you would know that Halfords does not need saving. You can not source a bike at present for love nor money the bike industry is at capacity.

        Halfords is a really good company (in my opinion) but it does not need help at present.

  7. davews
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    I am deeply upset that we seem to be going into a virtual world where everybody sits at home pretending to work and face to face meetings are history. What is more upsetting, as suggested by John, is that all GP consultations will be done by phone triage and video. This is exemplified by my local surgery locking fast the entrance gate since March, a clear sign that we patients are not welcome. I refused to clap for the NHS, the bolting shut of surgeries is a clear sign GP care has ended. There are already cases of misdiagnosis and wrong prescriptions made over phone triage and it won’t be long before there is a disaster.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:38 am | Permalink

      The way GP are paid gives them every incentive to make it as hard as possible to see them and to do the minimum they can get away with. So many do exactly that.

      • Qubus
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

        I can’ t help but contrast the difference between nowadays and when I was a lad, just before the NHS. Our GP was single-handed but he would turn out in the middle of the night if you called him. He actually knew the family, would stop me in the street and ask how I was going on at school.
        The present surgery has about five doctors plus about another five locums. If I ever go to the surgery there are at most three patients waiting, but strangely it is almost impossible to get an appointment, you just get fobbed off seeing a nurse, who often has less idea than the man in the moon. However, they are very much on the ball about ringing up and asking you to go in for a flu jab as that affects their payments. Still at least the GPS should have good golf handicaps.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 30, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

          Or indeed the difference from NHS GPs to VETs where you pay!

          • Lifelogic
            Posted July 30, 2020 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

            You do not get VET saying we cannot see you for three weeks and only at this time. Or ring again tomorrow to see if we can fit you in endlessly.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:50 am | Permalink

      Yet nail bars are open for business, and hairdressers.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      And note how over the years the greedy, commie NHS has made illegal all alternative medicine.
      And now they have shut up shop we are left with nothing.
      Not even a travelling tooth puller!

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

        The NHS cannot make anything illegal.

        Only Parliament and the Court can do that.

    • The Prangwizard
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:43 am | Permalink

      And maybe someone could set out the risks to individual health from the constant wearing of masks. There will I daresay be an increase in throat and lung infections.

      Maybe Boris will tell us, maybe he can get the three lecturns out and think up a slogan for us all to repeat daily. Will he demand we wear them while on the bikes GPs will prescribe?

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

        Oh, you’re such a whimpering, risk-averse snowflake.

      • Dennis Zoff
        Posted July 30, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        The Prangwizard

        Masks covering the mouth and nose are unhealthy, no expert can deny this principle body function! Note: Used in surgery to ensure saliva is not sprayed across the patient…not to stop infection entering into the staff’s mouth!

        …..but if you are on the other side of the narrative, there is nothing to be afraid of?

        Let basic common sense decide, not ” I need more Research funding experts”

    • Caterpillar
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 8:50 am | Permalink


      Totally agree. The Govt’s policy of protecting the NHS via abandoning patients is vile. For example, I doubt the Health Secretary even knows the number of elderly people struggling to change dressings that nurses used to do at the local GP’s (and indeed the struggle to get more as phones go unanswered or yelled down, with GP doors locked and we don’t care signs up). As for rolled over prescriptions of interacting drugs, I shudder to think.

      • Caterpillar
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:06 am | Permalink

        And I should have added, seeing poor elderly essentially forced to pay hundreds a year for broadband they don’t want, to be disoriented by the technology, opened up to the threat and stress of cons, so that real human contact with their wealthy GP can be justified is absurd. How much is nastiness of the Govt, how much is just not caring, how much is just uninformed stupidity is hard to tell.

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      An acquaintance with a quite serious eye problem had his appointment cancelled at the local hospital ( he can see it less than a mile from his house ! ! ) and was told he’d get a phone call – not even a Skype call.
      Yet those ferried in from Calais have NO problem seeing someone from the NHS do they? Translators supplied as well – -ALL free, no taxes paid.

      We are clearly seen as 3rd class citizens in our own country. Work, be taxed, die as soon as possible.

    • DavidJ
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      You are probably right but I did get an appointing to see my GP in person today!

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

        DavidJ. My God, that’s a novelty.

        • glen cullen
          Posted July 28, 2020 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

          as novel as a dentist

    • roger
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      Not just your local surgery but mine also where, when my wife injured her back on the first day of lockdown it has taken fifteen weeks to reach a specialist person to person by phone but she has yet to be physically seen by anyone.
      Needless to say there has been no clapping at my house for a service that closed at the drop of a hat and has yet to show signs of reopening in any meaningful way.

  8. agricola
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    The aspects of remote electronic working you mention are progress , however there are aspects of it that are just the opposite. There are commercial organisations that use the system to hide from their customers. They do not answer telephones or bombard you with electronic music while intermittently telling you how busy they are. This is a euphamism for saying we have not employed enough staff to cope. Yet another cop out is to give you a choice of answers to questions you have no wish to ask, but no means of asking the question you do wish to ask. Unless of course it is an expensive phone line which they get a kickback from by prolonging the conversation with lots of recorded info you do not require. Another failure is that of communication within the company or government department such that your second call becomes a repetition of the first. As an MP I’m sure you don’t have the same trouble with HMRC that the rest of the population do, having by repute a dedicated department for your affaires in Cardiff.

    In law any government organisation or commercial company should be forced to prominently publish email contact points for all their departments so that instant communication can be established, and a mandatory list of all their directors and top executives. There should also be a legal statutary response time for a relevant answer. It should be illegal to hide behind a computer automatic respone or acknowledgment that cannot be in turn responded to. Too many companies hide behind their so called contact systems, adopting the mantra that customers sre there to sell to not to speak to. The progress you highlight is a potential dawn, but above I draw your attention to the downside which a Parliament full of lawyers is well placed to correct. Please do so.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:42 am | Permalink

      Indeed no company should keep you hanging on the phone for longer than a few minutes. If they cannot answer the phone they should give you the option to leave a number and call you back when get to the front of the queue. The banks had queues of over an hour in many cases and often the call was then lost mid way or you were then put into another queue.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        HMRC equally bad very often too.

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:04 am | Permalink


      Agree absolutely, and Banks and Local Authorities are one of the worst, hanging on for hours on a central telephone number, when all you want to do is fix an appointment with the local bank, or resolve a local Borough service.
      Got a problem of any sort, then you need to go through the same system time and time again, with different people who tell you they cannot get all the information you need because they are working from home, they then want (certainly the bank) to ask you security questions to prove who you are, but refuse to give you their own name.
      Eventually had to write to the Chairman of a huge international Bank (one of the UK’s big Four) with a registered letter of complaint to get any movement after 4 months of total and utter inaction and frustration.

      I wonder just how secure are all these systems when we have so many people working from home using a simple connection.
      Must be a potential hackers dream., you no longer have to break into a complex head office security system, but a simple home PC.
      Cyber crime was growing fast before the pandemic, its growth will speed up yet more afterwards.

    • Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:04 am | Permalink

      You make some very good point points.

      Recently I decided to change internet provider and got some quotes off a comparison website. I then called a provider who had a good customer relations rating to ask if they could match the price of a cheaper competitor. They salesman gave me his best rate, which was not as low as the other provider, but said ”look, the competitor doesn’t even have a telephone helpline”. I checked, it was true…if you had a problem with your internet connection you were supposed to contact them…over the internet! I signed up for the slightly dearer provider.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:33 am | Permalink

      Yes..all true but to have what you describe they’d have to employ people.
      The self employed used to be able to go into town, park easily and cheaply and then go into the tax office and SPEAK FACE TO FACE WITH A TAX INSPECTOR.
      Then they “centralised” ie got rid of staff and sold off buildings.
      Now you are lucky to speak to a rude, know-nothing on the phone.
      Or probably you are lucky to speak to a human being?
      Yet they are quick enough with daily fines when things go wrong!

      • Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

        I have been speaking to ‘crime prevention’ officers today after an attack by vandals who also surrounded 2 of my tenants in their cars taunting them and bashing the cars. Terrorising them in effect.
        The Crime prevention officer gave me advice (which I can’t implement because of a series of cases awarding trespassers considerable damages for the losses they sustained from said measures, have resulted in my insurance company refusing to cover me for said situation).
        The Crime Prevention Officer refused to give me his advice formally in writing, thereby taking responsibility for it. He specifically told me that I would have to take responsibility for consequences of implementing his advice. One case I cited to him was an award of £1 million to a trespasser who fell off a roof – the judge specifically demanded handrails on the roof so trespassers could hang on more effectively while they destroy the roof.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      Ah. So you want more Red Tape.

      Some people need to make up their minds, I think.

    • Al
      Posted July 29, 2020 at 7:25 am | Permalink

      “In law any government organisation or commercial company should be forced to prominently publish email contact points for all their departments so that instant communication can be established, and a mandatory list of all their directors and top executives. There should also be a legal statutary response time for a relevant answer”

      I completely agree. Email counts as a written response, and I have found several companies that like to use phone contacts or “in-house apps” that don’t keep records to avoid having promises in writing.

      Email requirements also prevent them harvesting phone numbers, which reduces risk of data harvesting during a hack, and removes the third party of a phone network as a point of security failure.

  9. jerry
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    “During the lock down you had to pay bills by electronic means, buy non food items over the net, talk to friends and family by phone or video conference.”

    No, many did no, many could not as many have no computers, and many who do have computers want to have involvement with internet banking and/or shopping (certainly not if they only have bank debit cards [1]), that is why even at the hight of the virus and lock-down it was common to still see elderly people doing their weekly shop in the supermarkets. Some people do not even have mobile phones, hence why systems such T&T and other ideas that rely on mobile devices are bound to fail when push comes to shove.

    Funny how our host lectures us on how the citizen should, or will have to, embrace the digital world but MPs are still lining up like they did 200 years ago to vote and still, in the middle of a viral epidemic, crowding into the Commons to speak when video conferencing clearly works, social distancing clearing being seen to brake down live on TV.

    Come back and tell us plebs how we should shop, work, pay bills etc. when MPs are sat at desks on the floor of the Commons or in their offices, pressing a button or logging-in to a secure voting system – oh hang on, MPs had such a system during the lock-down, the leader of the House got rid of it…

    [1] the govt should legislate to give debit card holders the same legal protection as credit card holders have, even more so when often the same bank is the payee for both types of card – ie. there is no third-party payee

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      The HoC and its attendees are not part of society. They reflect what is happening in their Metro London Bubble and believe that translates well in the rest of the Country.

      It is the rest of the Country that will get penalized, held to ransom and pay the cost of ensuring this single very small bubble thrives. The very expensively taxed TV box in the homes of the rest of the Country gets to turn out the drivel ‘of we know what we are doing’ on a regular basis.

      • jerry
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

        I@B; Indeed, and that is a very good reason why MP’s should spend more time in their constituencies working from their offices and contributing to debates via video conferencing and secure voting. Necessity, due to Covid-19, has proved it can be done, sure the process wasn’t perfect but heck it was set-up in very little time, most of the problems can be solved.

    • James Bertram
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 8:08 am | Permalink

      Agreed, Jerry.
      I don’t have a mobile phone, and am thoroughly sick of the intrusion of technology on our daily life. People would be much happier without it. Efficiency is for machines; humans have a soul.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

        If you don’t have a mobile phone, then you should have relatively little such intrusion.

        • jerry
          Posted July 29, 2020 at 6:28 am | Permalink

          @MiC; I take it Martin you do not have a land-line telephone, thus you do not understand how frustrating computer aided call centre dialling is, inward calls to your home/office, sometimes silent but always unverifiable, at any time of day.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted July 29, 2020 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

            I said “relatively”.

          • jerry
            Posted July 29, 2020 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

            @MiC; There is no “relatively” with unwanted cold calls, sometimes they cause considerable annoyance and even a health risk in certain circumstances.

    • Old person
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      The first voting in the Commons with social distancing was embarrassing to watch.
      All the MPs had to do was…

      1. Keep 2m distance
      2. Walk to the dispatch box
      3. Stop
      4. State your name
      5. Say how you were voting

      To describe it as chaos would be kind: some MPs kept walking; some MPs thought they were too important to state their name; some MPs followed the MP in front to the other side’s dispatch box much to the whips excitement.

      It would have been better performed by primary age pupils.

      Thankfully, I note, Sir John voted correctly.

      • Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

        They don’t say how they are voting, they go either to the ‘Aye’ or ‘No’ lobby, It is critical to ensure it is the MP voting and not ‘A stand in’. Therefore they must turn up in person – same principle as Habeas Corpus.

        • jerry
          Posted July 29, 2020 at 6:37 am | Permalink

          @Lynn Atkinson; ” [MPs] don’t say how they are voting, they go either to the ‘Aye’ or ‘No’ lobby”

          Oh dear…. Try reading the comment you replied to (again)…

          “Therefore they must turn up in person – same principle as Habeas Corpus.”

          Never heard of secure pass-words or code, without which no internet shopping could ever happen.

          What if an MPs identical twin were to turn up – not aware any such incident has ever taken place but in theory it could.

    • Will in Hampshire
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      “[1] the govt should legislate to give debit card holders the same legal protection as credit card holders have, even more so when often the same bank is the payee for both types of card – ie. there is no third-party payee”

      Why so? With a credit card the card issuer is a lender who is taking risk on extending a loan to the cardholder. It may or not get repaid. Whereas with a debit card the bank is just the place where the cardholder keeps their money. The two situations are different and the bank is taking on real risk when it issues a credit card.

      • jerry
        Posted July 29, 2020 at 7:00 am | Permalink

        @WiH; But what if a banks systems allows a Debit Card to cause the account to become overdrawn, is that not the same risk?

        The banking industry is trying to have it both ways, treating Debit Cards as electronic cash, except the transaction is actually being preformed by the bank, akin to the retailer presenting a cheque, if the retailer presented a forged/altered cheque and the bank/clearing house were to make payment it would be the banks fault NOT the customers.

        The card payment system has been weighted against debit cards because the banking industry (and govt, for other reasons) want people to take out debt as their is a source of income from those who fail to pay off their debts whilst losses are passed onto the customer base via bank charges.

  10. Nigl
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Indeed. I suppose better late than never. Typically well behind the curve on this, the dead hand of BTs legacy that no one challenged and over regulation and now you are struggling to catch up.

    And as you do you put us back umpteen years with your decision to kowtow to the Americans re Huweii putting 5G which is what is needed to truly digitalise the country.

    Typically everyone only thinks of gaming speeds albeit a large industry but greater capacity, every patient’s vital signs could be monitored remotely, indeed anything that needs monitoring, lower latency giving real time experience, no lag allowing remote surgery, data capture, enhanced manufacturing etc worth in the hundred of billions to our economy that you have trashed because of politics.

    The geo political atmosphere is different elsewhere so apart from holding us back you have given other countries an advantage where we once led the world.

    Following a survey Nokia report that once they understood what it can do, 80% of respondents want to switch because of it’s benefits.

    It’s typical of a government that announces an anti junk food drive a few days before it starts giving away vouchers to spend on, you’ve guessed it, junk food.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      There is to much spying by those that wish to gain and advantage. Huweii is there to spy. That is not excusing the others they are all as bad as one another.

      The Internet has become corrupted instead of an aid to societies advancement, its user have become the crop to harvest by others as profit. The Chinese and the Russians use to gather technology and IP’s. Social media by their own admission is their to harvest their crop for information to sell – its just the ones getting this information are obscured.

    • jerry
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      @Nigl; No, not the dead hand legacy of a state owned not-for-profit monopoly but the very active hand of a commercial company that has to by law make dividend payments to its shareholders, or make a profits warning to the Stock Markets, rather than plough the operating profits back into the business for the benefits of a largely captive (wholesale) customer base.

      As for 5G, if we actually need it, I would prefer to wait 5 years to get a secure and stable system rather than have it tomorrow but then find I’m either leaking data or having to kowtow to China – but then I’m just the customer, not a stakeholder, YMMD…

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

        All your data will now go to the US NSA and others there, if they want it.

        They admit it.

        • jerry
          Posted July 29, 2020 at 7:14 am | Permalink

          @MiC: Given a choice between a high chance of my data turning up in China or the lower chance of my data ending up in the USA, I’ll accept the latter thanks! YMMD… 😛

          But then, if Brexit is found to be the mistake you and others say it is, that the UK can not be a sovereign country in its own right, I would have no problems with the UK becoming the 51st State – even if i have go off the current POTUS – rather than subservient to either China or the EU.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted July 29, 2020 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

            I know.

            Most Leave fanatics are of exactly the same mind.

          • jerry
            Posted July 29, 2020 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

            @MiC; Except I’m not a “Leave fanatic”, I voted to Remain, but have since changed my mind because of the way the EC (and people such as yourself and Andy) have behaved since the referendum, the 2017 and 2019 General elections that all gave a clear mandate to leave.

            If there was any support for Remain the LibDems would have gained MPs, not lost them, including their leader in 2019!

            The only “fanatics” are those who want to Remain…

    • glen cullen
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      Obesity policy yesterday and cycling repair policy today….you’d think the government was trying to edge the media away from the covid-19 news….smoke & mirrors gentlemen

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      Nig1 It’s typical of a government that announces an anti junk food drive a few days before it starts giving away vouchers to spend on, you’ve guessed it, junk food.

      That is so funny it should be used in a comic sketch. Honesly, does Boris really know how ridiculous this government has become? The rest of the world must be laughing their heads off. I am not amused that I will have to pay higher taxes on junk food that I only indulge in perhaps a couple of times a month to pay for people who cannot stop stuffing food into their mouths and must be loving the fact that it’s so much cheaper now.

    • Mark
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      I suspect that patients might react like Apollo 13 astronauts, and rip off the bio monitors.

  11. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Sir John, you are correct that much delivery can be moved online especially where form filling and ordering are involved. Anything repetitive can be digitised in some way.

    However social interaction is not served well over video. A phone call requires imagination which stimulates a connection between the two parties. Video calls are soulless, the quirky picture or bookshelf behind your correspondent are no substitute for the ticks and fidgeting that goes on in a live social interaction. On a video screen, while they try to stay in the camera’s focus and stay still, meeting attendees are reduced to robotic automatons. The personality is removed.

    So yes, doctor’s appointments for routine matters can be moved online, but if I have a lump that I am worried about, I want the doctor to squeeze it, not look at it over a video link, similarly my raised rash. If you have ever tried to self diagnose athlete’s foot using Google you will know that looking at pictures on a screen does not provide clarity.

    In short, I commend any attempt to digitise government where it is productive and saves money but avoid government’s usual overreach and unintended consequences as a result of any transformation.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:31 am | Permalink

      Additionally many GPs appointments provide company and social interactions for otherwise lonely souls who may self harm or wither without that interaction.

      • Andy
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

        I thought our GPs were full because all those immigrants were taking the appointments. But you seem to suggest that the real cause is that lonely gran just wants a chat.

        Perhaps she could chat to someone else to free up space at the doctors for sick people?

        • Edward2
          Posted July 28, 2020 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

          You need help.
          Have some decency.

        • fedupsoutherner
          Posted July 28, 2020 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

          Andy, why do you assume lonely souls are old people. Quite often they are young with mental problems and people who find it hard to go outside their own doors. There are many young and old who are shielding at the moment. God, you are so biased against the elderly. I can’t wait for it to happen to you.

        • Narrow Shoulders
          Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

          What was it your wrote the other day Andy? – oh yes the individual contribution is small so can be disregarded. Lonely people take up a small portion of the whole.

          Many is not most (especially when looking at the entirety of GP consultations).

          There are capacity issues that have been exacerbated by population growth, please don’t deny it that will cause it to get worse.

  12. Mark B
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    Much of government is about taking money off people and giving money to people who need state assistance.

    Socialism : “From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.”

    Government uses various means to tax the hard working so that the State can justify its bloated existence and cement its position as a ‘fair distributor’ of wealth. But in truth what will happen is, the Middle Classes will be taxed to pay for both the rich and and the poor, making everyone poorer. It is not so much leveling up, as dragging people down. This is what is meant by ‘One Nation Toryism’.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:10 am | Permalink

      That does indeed seem to the what both Labour and the Conservatives have done all my life. Wilson, Heath, Wilson, Callaghan, Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron, May and now nanny state Boris it seems too. Even under Thatcher public spending and waste failed to fall significantly. Thatcher made some of the right noises but real and sensible action was very limited. Nothing was done to deal with the state monopolies in Education, Health Care and elsewhere. Thatcher herself as Education Minister and then as PM even destroyed many fine Grammar Schools (rather than introducing real and fair competition to the sector).

      Tax, borrow and piss down the drain, rig most markets, bloat the state at every turn and try to bribe the voters near to election with various lies and fake promises of tax cuts and higher benefits.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink


    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      ” its position as a ‘fair distributor’ of wealth” – With the mother of (a terrorist ed) getting over £2000 a month from the system for doing nothing except get here – and people, born and bred here working a full week getting nowhere near that – then the govt’s idea of a “fair distributor” has some VERY big faults. The govt clearly welcomes freeloaders with NO intention of working/contributing to what they want to live in. Shame the govt don’t care about the people who DO work and contribute.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      Socialism : “From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.”

      Who descides what are people “needs” the state one assumes a bowl of rice if you a lucky perhaps.

      Take from the hardworking, productive and those good at making and managing money and give to the feckless, alcoholics and the likes. Thus destroying the incentives for this people to bother to work at all. Then give money to these feckless (and the state sector bureaucrats) so as to augment these people futher. So hugely damaging destroying the economy and killing jobs in no time at all. A great plan to make everyone almost equally poor – works every time.

  13. Sharon Jagger
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    Well I don’t know about anyone else, but I was hoping this virtual way of life was only going to be temporary…

    I also find it incredibly irritating that anything and everything is online. When one has a query or complaint, you can’t beat a good old human being to help sort that query or complaint.

    This increasing use of online has been enforced – even before lockdown. Yes, it can be timing, but is a very solitary way of living life.

    But hey, ho that’s ‘progress’! Or not.

    Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Now all life is online does the morally bankrupt Tory party support the abolition of cash transactions in which that most private of transactions free from the prying eyes of this most authoritarian of political State’s is taken away from us?

    Does the Tory party that now no longer represents the moral majority support woke fascism in which the majority are exposed to vile propaganda informing them that they are to blame for the resentment and hate that now permeates every public discussion?

    What is it with your party’s Parliamentary reps that they belong to a party they no longer believe in?

    The US is a tinderbox and If Biden is elected we will see widespread cultural Marxist strategies being applied to the majority.

  15. Nigl
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    80% of Start ups in artificial intelligence, something compared with the invention of steam and electricity come from China and the US.

    Europe doesn’t even compete for the bronze medal.

  16. Rhoddas
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    We have to live within our means and so should Government, by transforming in the ways you are suggesting.

    Every project with a capital spend budget should produce an operational saving, so we can do more for less.

    Still have to cut our cloth though, some of us are old enough to remember the IMF bailouts incl. 1976 for this country too.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      Turns out that the IMF bailout was not needed.

      The then government were fed exaggerated figures by politicised civil servants and BoE staff, it appears.

      • Edward2
        Posted July 29, 2020 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        Interesting rewrite of economic history there Martin.
        Odd that all the bail out money Labour got was spent.

  17. Everhopeful
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    So odd.
    Govt quaking in boots about CO2
    Must be GONE by 2050?
    Yet no fear whatsoever regarding hypercapnia.
    To the extent that govt. is quite happy to risk any number of claims by masking schoolchildren.

  18. Alan Jutson
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    Amazing how decades ago Local Authorities used to resurface and sweep the roads and paths, service the street lights, lop the trees, clear out the ditches and drains, tend to the parks and pitches, maintain their own housing stock and school buildings, had the capacity to clear snow and a host of other sensible tasks which were completed on a regular schedule, all for a simple and manageable one off payment of rates.

    They still do some of the above, but not really it would seem from experience on a scheduled or planned basis but as a form of crisis management.
    Now they seem to spend most of their time collecting money from a vast host of means, including fines, ready to distribute to another vast number of causes and individuals through a complex system that few understand.

    I wonder which system the public would prefer.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Permalink


    • Andy
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      Councils also used to get block grants from the government- so they had enough money to provide the services you pine for.

      But the Conservatives have repeatedly cut the grants and have effectively frozen cpu council tax too.

      Councils have far less money to do things. The first things to go are parks, grass cutting and street lights. Libraries. Then pavements and roads become full of potholes. The elderly do not get the care they need.

      None of this is rocket science. If you vote for a party whose main policy for the last four decades has been to help the very wealthiest by screwing over everybody else you should not be surprised when everybody else is screwed over.

      • Edward2
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

        Spending has risen every year.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

        It’s also ideological.

        Council Tax is at its core still a form of Poll Tax. The puritans on the Right would fund everything in this way if they could too.

        The less that council services are funded by general taxation, and the more by CT, the nearer this objective becomes.

        There are others. For instance, users of privatised services pay the franchises for the operators on a quasi poll tax basis.

        • Original Richard
          Posted July 28, 2020 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

          “Council Tax is at its core still a form of Poll Tax.”

          Council tax is nothing like a poll tax as it is levied on a property rather than on people and taking no account at all of the number of people living in the property or the council services used.

          In fact it is closer to a wealth tax because the amount paid depends only upon the value of the property.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted July 29, 2020 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

            It is, because the owner of an ordinary detached house pays the same as the Duke Of Devonshire does for Chatsworth and for a large part of Derbyshire.

            The scale is only at the very low end of property values, and in which only a few people may live.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 29, 2020 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

            No they dont.

        • Edward2
          Posted July 28, 2020 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

          It seems fair to me that local people should pay for local services.
          Currently local businesses that have no vote pay in.
          And people who pay no tax locally get a vote.

  19. fedupsoutherner
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    Very appropriate post today John. I have literally just come off my GP’s digital appointment app to find that yet again there are no appointments available. This is the second day now. There is no facility to book an appointment for later in the week and nothing to tell you when they think they may have appointments. I am not happy. It’s alright saying to people to get appointments if they feel they need one as it is safe but when you come to do this it’s not possible. I am going to use the old fashioned way and phone the surgery or failing that don my mask and go in and ask. I will have to use the car to do that as it is too far to get the bike out.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      Here the GP sends you to the local pharmacist for advice if you want face to face.
      Presumably pharmacists can’t catch the virus.

  20. Ian @Barkham
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    “Much of government is about taking money off people and giving money to people who need state assistance.”

    I have to disagree with you there Sir John, Much of this Government is about virtual signaling. Those that can afford electric cars are funded by those that need state assistance. The small business ( Those are the ones that can contribute more to getting us out of this mess) are the ones subsidizing the larger primarily off shore taxpaying business. Tax isn’t proportionate, it is paid by those that are sitting targets.

    Government red tape and overbearing administration, creates an disproportionate burden an the smaller guy. It is only there to trap the people that know how and have the money to avoid it in the first place.

    I could go on and on, this Government as with previous ones is tinkering, virtual signaling and controlling. All its action so far are just the PR of we know best, we are in charge, we will protect you, when in reality they are pretty useless at all the above. The People of this Country generally will do a better job they just need the chattering overlords of their back.

    Our Political Class lack ‘Trust in the People’

  21. SM
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    The prospect of an all-electronic future terrifies the wits out of me (with many of the disadvantages already outlined by previous posters).

    If I did not live with my children (who happen to have always used computers for their careers) I could not manage any but the simplest tasks online. Most modern technology -whether it’s computers, remote controls or white goods’ operating buttons/dials – assume excellent eyesight and a knowledge of symbols that may appear obvious to some, but definitely not all of us.

    And in case certain commentators make disparaging comments about age, I would point out that we all have differing skill sets – for instance, I am still capable of planning, cooking and hosting a lavish meal for 10, including vegetarians and those with food allergies!

    • Mark B
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 3:49 pm | Permalink


      The solution to those nasty prople is to do what I do – ignore them ! Do not read what they write and do not ever reply to them. They may not go away but, you will feel better.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      SM. I really couldn’t begin to think who you are talking about when you say some commentators make disparaging comments about age. Tongue in cheek!!

    • Al
      Posted July 29, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      “The prospect of an all-electronic future terrifies the wits out of me (with many of the disadvantages already outlined by previous posters). ”

      I’ve mentioned the older gentleman shutting down his business because of making tax digital, but I ran into another case at the shops yesterday: an older lady who needed to produce a tax return only to get a letter from the government telling her to go online and print one. She doesn’t have a computer or a phone because on the state pension she can’t afford one. Due to Covid, our libraries and computer shops that could help are closed.

      Surely the government could at least include a freepost envelope (or even just a contact address) to request a paper return for people in this situation?

  22. Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    If government is really operating on this basis: “Much of government is about taking money off people and giving money to people who need state assistance” Then they have truly lost their way…!

    Government is about helping to create an environment in which we can flourish and prosper — be secure from harm — be free to follow our own potential — be free of threats — with justice.

    Government should not be about: Telling us what to think — Wealth transfer — dogma

    It’s hard to say exactly when our governments lost their way. What is real is that we need a brand new contract with those that propose to rule us… which again is the wrong attitude — Government should be there to facilitate but never to run our lives as though we were brainless zombies

    • Mark B
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      This is what is meant by levelling up. We will take from those that have and five it to the have not’ s. Pure Socialism.

    • formula57
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      “Government is about helping to create an environment in which we can flourish and prosper — be secure from harm — be free to follow our own potential — be free of threats — with justice.” – Dear oh dear! I think we have got a trouble-maker here Sir John!

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      You are very naïve Bryan.

      Government, for the Tories, is about their being in power.

      The end.

      • Edward2
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

        Despite your disapproval the Conservatives got a huge 80 seat majority.
        Your Labour Party had their worst results since the 1930s

  23. nhsgp
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Investing in modern government?

    Google translate comes back with “More tax more spending, no return”

  24. Irene
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    I get the feeling that we are being conditioned here. Shaping and moulding us to accept the Brave New World being created behind our backs by a tiny proportion of the population who inhabit the Westminster bubble. (I almost wrote ‘being designed behind our backs’ but there’s not much design in sight.) One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them. Prepare for the revolt against servitude.

    • Irene
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      Being left waiting in moderation is almost as bad as being in lockdown.

      • Fred H
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        are you serious? You are taking Sir John’s Diary too seriously.
        You’ll be blaming him for your tortured mind next…

    • Everhopeful
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      You mean like on the govt’s Mindspace website… “Influencing behaviour through public policy“?

  25. margaret howard
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Amusing to see the regular contributors here vent their spleen on modern technology rather than the EU!

    • Andy
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      They are all stuck 50 years in the past Margaret.

      They think of the England of The Damnusters and Enid Blyton novels.

      That England was never real of course but it has never stopped them.

      • Martyn G
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

        Twaddle again, Andy. England was ever in the lead opposing and overcoming Napoleon, Kaiser Bill and Hitler, those dictators determined to rule Europe, and in the last case, the world. England actually united the rest of the world against these dictators and thus determined the way Europe and the world moved forward. Clearly, you have no knowledge of history or how England shaped the world in which we live today. Maybe your view is behind the reason the England alone is the only country to have been removed from the map of Europe and the world. Don’t grow old, Andy, or you will become one of those whom you currently despise…

        • margaret howard
          Posted July 29, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

          Martyn G

          I think you should follow your own advice and study history not a la Daily Mail but the REAL version.

          You might learn that Napoleon was defeated by a coalition of European nations who shed much blood in their cause.

          And we may have been the ones who declared war on Germany in WW1/WW2 but we certainly did not defeat them and they too were brought down by the effort and shedding of blood of nearly the whole world.

          Your version of events is an insult to those nations.

          Furthermore our own excessive empire building in the last few hundred years contributed to a lot of unrest and turmoil across the globe in our attempt to take over much of the world.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 29, 2020 at 9:16 am | Permalink

            Straight out the Guardian book of history.
            I just hope you’ve never had the opportunity to teach your views to impressionable young people.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted July 29, 2020 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

            OK, what was the “truth” then, Ed?

          • Edward2
            Posted July 29, 2020 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

            Not the extreme left world view presented by Margaret.

      • Edward2
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

        Your fantasies.
        Not mine.

    • Know-Dice
      Posted July 29, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      Margaret, would say that it’s refreshing rather than amusing….

      • margaret howard
        Posted July 29, 2020 at 12:49 pm | Permalink


        Yes -:)

  26. Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    If electronic deliver is possible, no problem. What are we going to do when all delivery vehicles have to be electric (and have a range of basically nothing) and we have no shops?
    Maybe all goods delivered by the Postal Unions? Because we have not learned that lesson yet have we? We need bodies piled up and rubbish 10 foot high in the streets to remember Mr Callaghan don’t we?

    • David Brown
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      Amazon are starting to use Drones
      I love Amazon

  27. Ian @Barkham
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Brexit was needed to bring control and democracy nearer the people. But is clear this Government doesn’t understand the meaning of democracy, they are so into being in power they punish the people that put them there. It looks like ‘bring on the revolution’, lets have a real clean start.

  28. Posted July 28, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    The government have just published guidelines to handle obesity.

    It is truly a nanny charter that blair would have been proud of.

    All it will do is add more costs to food producers so that products get more expensive — and achieve absolutely zilch…!

    Attack the real target FGS — Never mind high does of salt/sugar etc in food – what about the great list of chemicals added – what about the inferior components that go into food? — Why are cheap items like wheat added to everything?

    If good honest food is available then it will be bought over poor quality food — Talk to food producers, get them to comply.

    Give people the prospect of a better future without lockdowns.

  29. The Prangwizard
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Fat chance of anything sensible when we have a PM who when he wakes each morning probably thinks ‘what gimmicky nonsense can we foist on the plebs today?’ Same goes for the Chancellor. So we have a ban on ‘junk’ food promotion a lot of which is perfectly satisfactory, linked with a 50% off deal on eating out, ‘junk’ food included.

    Then we have a bollarded ‘popup’ cycle lane for schoolchildren which will narrow our village street turning it into single file – and for cars only, as it will not be wide enough afterwards for anything wider – unless all parking is banned. This is probably planned too. Trouble for everyone but it is encouraged by this government with an offer of money.

    We are led by idiots and ideologically driven zealots. Do we need to take to the streets to deter such oppression.

  30. Chris Dark
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Using the internet for more and more procedures is all very well, but there is this assumption that everyone has (a) a computer (b) understands how to use the Internet and (c) actually has a decent fast connection—I don’t, and never will be able to unless BT pulls its finger out and provides fibre in my area. The private company that has offered us fibre is rip-roaringly expensive and beyond my pension capability. Until those are addressed, many will be socially excluded. The Net is supposed to be an assistant, not a total replacement for all human interaction. The doctor’s surgery is an example of how physical interaction is essential, especially where infections and problems in the more “delicate” parts of the anatomy are concerned….do you really want to video that on a live link?
    I accept that bill-paying and food shopping etc is certainly easy enough to do, but some things cannot be digitised. The country needs to be careful what it wishes for.

  31. Nigl
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Off topic but good news re wind farms hopefully putting to bed the moaners about subsidies, wind not blowing etc.

    A report from Imperial College states that by 2025, generation costs will under cut fossil fuels and it is likely it will go to negative subsidy, ie we get money back. Indeed we lead the world giving great opportunity to export this knowledge.

    Vast arrays off the Dogger Bank for instance could be linked to hydrogen production further moving towards our green goals.

    Now for HMG to accelerate investment and planning approvals for battery farms to capture this energy and ‘smooth’ out the inevitable peaks and troughs.

    • RichardP
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      I think the wind will still have to blow.
      Let’s hope your batteries can cope with a long, cold, still winter that has more troughs than peaks!

    • Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      Imperial College! 😂😂😂 not that nice Prof Ferguson again is it?

  32. glen cullen
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    I was involved in the DTI programme to ascertain the viability of online learning between FE, Higher Education and Industry back in 2000, the conclusions after a 2 year study found that online learning just didn’t work….again we aren’t learning from earlier studies and work already undertaken

    It also takes just as long to pays household bills and car tax online as it does going into a bank or post office

    Apart from politicians and journalists, in the real world I would suggest that 80% + jobs (non-managerial) can’t be done from home, and its just silly to suggest that working from home could be the norm

    • ChrisS
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

      “It also takes just as long to pays household bills and car tax online as it does going into a bank or post office”

      Sorry, Glen, but you are just plain wrong on this.
      The DVLA website is about as efficient as it could be. I can tax any of our cars online in the time it would take to walk out to the car, start it up and leave the drive on the way to the post office.

      The biggest mistake by the DVLA was doing away with the tax disc. Traffic Officers I know, tell me that since the disc was abolished, the number of untaxed vehicles has rocketed. In many cases, it is simple forgetfulness. In most it is deliberate.

      • glen cullen
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

        I agree it might be more convenient online and the DVLA website efficient but the process is faster at post office (paperwork handed over, checked and payment taken in less than 60 seconds)….I use both methods

  33. formula57
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Indeed plenty of opportunities arise now for the Government to embrace.

    Can we expect similar recognition on its part that other changes wrought by the pandemic (notably much more home-working) are here to stay such that it ceases to misdirect resources in trying to recreate the past ?

  34. Nigl
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Re your changes yet again about quarantine etc. Is the Grand old Duke of York running your strategy/communications?

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      No, he’s running scared.

  35. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    All true and, as a result, demand for transport has nosedived. Whither HS2 and Heathrow extension?

  36. Iain Moore
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    UK Social welfare budget £254 billion , half of that will be pensions, nevertheless we are chucking a whole load of money into social failure. Government investment in technology, our future, looks to be less than couple of billion. We are spending vast fortunes in social failure, and precious little in our future , that is the stark reality of our priorities.

    PS When I thought the Government couldn’t think up more barmy ways to waste taxpayers money, low and behold I hear this morning spendthrift Boris has thought up a few more ways. Bicycles on the NHS ….bicycles on the NHS? for goodness sake, and then there is the £50 bung to get your cycle serviced. As a country we must be rolling in money, and all the reports of us borrowing 100s of billions just fake news.

  37. Roy Grainger
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    You would have thought one benefit having one single monolithic health service would be IT standardisation within it. However as it is state-run the NHS is notoriously bad at IT with countless massively expensive failed projects. Individuals’ health records are not even available on-line in a central location that can be accessed by all hospitals – some patients being transferred for specialist treatment to a hospital outside their region may have to carry paper copies of their records with them. Of course no government will ever fix this because the only changes to the NHS that are politically acceptable are to throw more money at it. The government still parrot the line that the NHS is the “envy of the world” when it plainly isn’t, and its recent performance shows that starkly, for example I doubt anyone in Germany is casting envious glances at it.

  38. Ex-Tory
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    As you imply, many central and local government services are now dealt with electronically. But this hasn’t made them any cheaper: in fact the opposite.

    • glen cullen
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      well my council tax bill hasn’t been reduced, its actual gone up every year

      • Ex-Tory
        Posted July 29, 2020 at 9:37 am | Permalink


      • Fred H
        Posted July 29, 2020 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

        and for months there has been no library service, really difficult to book a ‘Tip’ visit and 1 week ahead. There continue disruptive road works, almost unbelievable distancing signage and physical disruption of roads and pavements. I’m really happy with the new ‘service’. NOT!

  39. BJC
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    The reason digital is so attractive to business is that it saves vast amounts of money and adds massively to their bottom line. However, whilst they trouser their profits the side-effect for the country will be a dramatic increase in serious health problems caused by a static and isolated lifestyle, where people don’t even have to raise their expanding buttocks from their chair to reach their place of work. Our bodies are machines and must keep moving to work properly. Unless we’re prepared to spend 99% of our revenues on health related matters, government needs a more rounded strategy that doesn’t set up serious problems for the future and doesn’t simply subsidise those who already enjoy a specific form of exercise.

    Meanwhile, Mr Sunak’s commitment to use taxpayers’ money to subsidise private enterprise until October, has actively encouraged them to “rationalise” their businesses by running down the clock on their costly leases and throwing employees away like an old sock. I do wonder whether the back-slapping hard-left teaching unions will share any of the responsibility for helping to keep people trapped at home and empowering these businesses? Have they even heard of the Butterfly Effect?

  40. Christine
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    I worry about the loss of social interaction. Many of us have met our partners and friends through work. Are our children destined to live alone in a virtual world? This can’t be healthy.

    • Bill B.
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      Of course it isn’t healthy. All this has nothing to do with our health.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      Interesting idea. Perhaps we should look out for a dip in marriages in about a year’s time. And for Boris to issue £50 tokens for any marriage ceremony performed, Monday-Wednesday, at a venue with a restaurant on-site.

  41. Caterpillar
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    “Remote technology could allow more pupils to access exceptional lectures or lessons as state schools build a library of great lessons from their filmed activities.”

    The majority of school leavers do not achieve level 5 GCSE in English and Mathematics. They are from backgrounds that do not have a contact with a culture of learning, enquiry, investigation. Expecting them to be transformed by a great recorded lecture or lesson when their is no support for their (hopefully) developing executive functions is horrendously misplaced wishful thinking.

    Moreover, in the state model, if a teacher happens to produce a resource that miraculously has a transforming effect on many lives the teacher receives nothing. There is no IP for that teacher who creates even under an environment of stress, assumed guilt, violent pupils etc.

  42. Ed Hirst
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    I never thought that a Conservative government would preside over the dissolution of society as this has done, destroying Edmund Burke’s “little platoons” and replacing them with a central government behemoth, which we are required to obey without question. I can’t see any compensating benefits arising from this.

  43. Caterpillar
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    ” digital only services which are often better value because they only use individual employees to do the things that require judgement and differentiation. They can standardise and automate the rest”

    The concept that increasing productivity is a fundamental good assumes the assumption of scarcity is true, if true that the desired demand is justifiable/ethical, and that labour is mobile to respond to replacement by capital. Given all this, there are then questions of ownership of capital and returns to both L and K.

    Given a decade of ZIRP and a low income immigration policy, I have my suspicions.

  44. RichardP
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Yes, it’s now a scammers paradise.
    Many people have no idea about how to keep their tech secure or how to work safely online.

    We are being inundated with scam calls about problems with our Amazon account, credit/bank card fraud, tax credits/rebates, computer viruses and now, thanks to the Government’s home insulation “initiative”, loft insulation and double glazing. Please thank your Government for arranging this for us!

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      RichardP. Only the other day my husband’s computer was taken over by scammers who told him not only his computer was infected and his online banking was at risk but that all other computers in the house and our mobile phones would also be at risk through the modem. I phone my son in law who is really up in computer skills and he said what a load of tosh. If a computer was affected it would only be that one compter and no way would it spread to other devices in the house. He said straight away it was a scam. The scammers had managed to put a ‘helpline’ phone number on the screen which was completely bogus and wanted £100 to get rid of the so called virus. What scum they are.

  45. William Long
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    I am all for the digital revolution, so long as it really makes things cheaper and more efficient. The commercial world, as you would expect is making good use of all aspects in the service and interest of its customers and shareholders. The State, however, as usual lags behind and its agenda is very different: how can it best manipulate and extort more from its subjects? And it cannot even be bothered to ensure that its systems work or are cheaper, or at least no more expensive to use, before imposing them, as illustrated by Smart Meters and the Making Tax Digital processes.
    As for the National Health Service, I had a graphic illustration of the room for improvement there, at the weekend when I needed urgent, though not emergency, help with my invalid wife. Let me first say that I have nothing but praise for and gratitude to the people who arrived to help. The thing that surprised me was the number of times that I had to explain what I wanted to different people, including basis details such as my address, wife’s name, date of birth, registered surgery, medication, diagnosis, all of which are already held centrally and in any commercial organisation such as a bank or insurance company would be immediately available on line to any authorised employee. Finally, before they left, all these details were taken down again by one of the paramedics on her laptop, including our address, and I wondered how, if they had not got at least that recorded already, they had ever managed to get to us!
    There are hugely important shortcomings in existing systems that need putting right, before any further action is contemplated by Big Brother to inflict more on us.

  46. NickC
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    JR, I reckon that much of the “judgement and differentiation” will be done by AI, not humans, online in the future.

    The biggest problem for an online life for me is the woke censorship of the service providers (Google, Twitter, Facebook). Landline phones aren’t censored, why should social media be?

    • Al
      Posted July 29, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      “The biggest problem for an online life for me is the woke censorship of the service providers (Google, Twitter, Facebook).” – NickC

      The problem is with things like Google AMP where they are effectively republishing third party content through their own AMP systems and not taking responsibility for the content. (And it is Google’s AMP because it integrates with the Google search pages to pre-render the search result in cache before users click any link.)

      If they want to publish content, they should be held accountable for it in the same way the BBC or other providers should be accountable.

  47. Peter Parsons
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    MPs currently take 15 minutes to take and count a single vote, something which is done in seconds in many other parliaments around the world. Modern government?

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      Presumably, modern voting would reduce the ability of the whips to whip.

      • glen cullen
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

        You presume wrong….the whip will be used whether the MP votes electronically, remotely or via the lobby

  48. a-tracy
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    What are governments going to do about the excess people in this new modern world? Will Covid19 or Covid21, Covid22 polish more off each year like the Sandman?

    I suppose with your new video appointment with Doctors out of hours could be done by Doctors abroad in different time zones, what protections will people have that our records won’t be shared on the Spine like this?

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      There would be no need to import doctors who have done their medical training in schools that do not feature in a ‘Top 100 Medical Schools list’.
      P.S. More seriously, I don’t see how virtual examinations can compete with the ‘hands on’ variety.

  49. mancunius
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    “buy non food items over the net”
    John, your memory is very short: we had to buy food online – or rely on the kindness of neighbours to do so on our behalf – when stores had no supplies as a result of the panic-buying the government made no attempt to halt.

  50. Mike Wilson
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    On line is usually more efficient and cheaper

    What isn’t more efficient is the now ubiquitous ‘web chat’. Doing this it can take 15 minutes to deal with a simple query which might take 2 minutes on the phone.

    The NHS, it seems to me, has made itself pretty invisible to ordinary, non-covid people needing its services. My wife’s regular 3 monthly treatment ( and loads of other people I have spoken to) was simply cancelled. We had to pay for private treatment.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      Mike Wilson,

      Second paragraph +100.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      In fairness to the NHS – and I’m no adoring fan – my family has noticed no great reduction in service.

      • Fred H
        Posted July 29, 2020 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

        Everybody we know complains of no appointments at GPs, no operations, no referrals, no clinics – wards cleared ‘just in case’ , even nursing staff sent home, due to wards being emptied.
        Perhaps living in Berkshire near major hospitals is the problem, would we be better off in the wilderness?

  51. XYXY
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    All true, good piece… I await the howls of protest from the unions. The teaching unions will be going nuts, seeing the job of teaching automated by a library of excellent lessons and lectures.

    However, that would be wrong, because there will still need to be teachers to do the marking, helping struggling students etc.

    The other problem is that although online is better in many spheres of working, there’s the age-old problem of managers “needing to see everyone’s nose at the grindstone”. In reality, it’s simply an adjustment – they need to check that work is being done to plan (or good reasons are given, such as a key input not being available), they do not need to constantly monitor that everyone is operating at 100% efficiency, 100% of the time.

  52. RichardP
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps if the Prime Minister digitised the back of the envelope that he uses for policy making, his ministers might be sufficiently informed to avoid wasting money on foreign holidays.

  53. David Brown
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Remote teaching has been done in Australia for years.
    Patient needs much more work sadly its a very poor basic web portal
    Amazon has started to use Drones for delivery the company also uses a wide range of self employed people for delivery basically any one with a van – actually I love Amazon
    I can check how many people are in my local gym on my phone and choose a quiet time
    The list of on line bookings etc is endless
    I do recognize that London is the world leader in special effects Animatronics industry – bigger than USA
    Overall I feel in many respects its early days we are not at the sharp edge of technology with electronic sales like Japan we are still learning and in the slow lane. A lot more needs to be done – even Romania has faster broadband than Britain. There needs to be more incentives to get broad band speeds much faster a hell of a lot faster.
    On line theft and hacking is like getting your house broken into, people who use quality security systems and back up never get hacked. I load all personal data on to a portable hard drive separate from my main computer and covered by security programme and I change my password weekly, I use peoples car registration numbers with a few ~~## added.
    A previous topic was about transport – well to me the internet is a form of transport and sadly Britain is still using horse and cart by comparison to many countries.

    • Al
      Posted July 29, 2020 at 7:02 am | Permalink

      “On line theft and hacking is like getting your house broken into, people who use quality security systems and back up never get hacked.”

      If you are using online services, you are at the mercy of their security, and that of your base OS, and (because of UK logging requirements) the security of every link in the ISP chain for the next ten years. This means being very careful about which companies you open accounts with.

      During one audit I discovered a certain company was receiving customer’s external data securely. Then a certain department was emailing it to each other in plain text spreadsheets through their mail server and external ISP.

      Complacency is the enemy of security, and I sincerely hope you did not just disclose your genuine password pattern to the internet.

      • David Brown
        Posted July 29, 2020 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

        Very good points:

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted July 29, 2020 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      I live in the sticks. The only television I watch is via my 35mb broadband connection. This manages to deliver live video without any problems. Why on earth would you want anything faster. My PC, which I admit I only really use for software development but accessing remote servers and development boxes, is as fast as if i were using programs locally.

    • Fred H
      Posted July 29, 2020 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

      – – ‘Remote teaching has been done in Australia for years’.

      Where? For a few thousand in the remote stations in the outback?
      We had grandsons being taught in 3 different schools in Oz while they were there for a few years. On visits we were made welcome to go into the schools, meet teachers, ask questions. etc

      Talking to lots of friends of our son none ever mentioned remote of any sort, certainly no means of teaching was available where they were – a major city.

      • Fred H
        Posted July 29, 2020 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

        in fact almost everybody warned that returning to the UK would mean the boys would find they were 2 years behind achievements in England.

  54. ukretired123
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    Sad to say the French tax systems have been decades ahead of Britain’s long delayed digital revolution in central govt due to luddite Civil Service unions opposed to change. Heads should roll and many systems streamlined to take advantage of the digital wave.

  55. M Brandreth- Jones
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    I am as an Advanced Nurse Practitioner finding it very difficult to consult patients over the telephone . I ask the pertinent questions but many of my patients only speak ‘holiday English’ and cannot answer.I ask for a description of their problems and they cannot provide an answer. For example there are literally hundreds of types of rashes and answers can be “‘you know a ‘normal’ rash, I ask the exact location of pain and some will answer in the kidney region ( when it is nowhere near) the type of pain , e;g griping ,stabbing, bloating , expanding, tenderness , pain building to a climax and they cannot distinguish ,,, it is so difficult . I for one feel that these consultations are too risky for the patient and practitioner.

  56. Freeborn John
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Remainers are claiming the U.K. has agreed to remain permanently in the ECHR. Supposedly this concession has been made for the dubious advantages of staying under the EU Judicial and Home Affairs policy! Why would this government want either of these things ? We voted to leave the EU not remain permanently under its thumb!

    If these rumours prove true you are going to lose the next general election.

    • Mark B
      Posted July 29, 2020 at 5:15 am | Permalink

      The ECHR does not come under the EU but membership of the ECHR is a condition of membership.

  57. Iain Gill
    Posted July 29, 2020 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    problem being that Government Digital Service has thrown resources at thin pretty veneers on the same (and worse) spaghetti back ends. Together with religious wars over methodologies like “agile” which produce anything but in business terms. And the incestuous way the public sector hires itself into senior roles, and once retired via consultancies, with particular discrimination in favour of public school output no matter how poor their performance.

    nobody in the political bubble has a clue how to improve this including the great Dom.

    shame they never bother asking those of us who have had to dig them out of their own mess repeatedly.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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