Liquidity and solvency

Offering money to companies to see them through a couple of months when they are not by law allowed to trade was necessary. It was right for the government to pay the wages of staff who have jobs but are not allowed to do them, so that the workforce is available to start up again as soon as the lockdown is lifted. It was right to offer money to the self employed who were also banned from earning a living.

Government now needs to handle the return to work well. The state cannot afford to carry on paying out large sums to companies that do not have enough turnover. The only way to sustain our living standards is to get everyone back to work. There are will  be some businesses that were declining before the shut downs. They may need to make a bigger adjustment now as the shut down probably accelerated their decline.

There will be other businesses that had a great business model prior to the lock down that will now  be damaged by the changed conditions created by the anti virus policies. Travel and hospitality will have to change the way they work for as long as social distancing remains, and plan for reduced workloads for sometime after lifting of the shut down.

There are then a range of businesses which gained market share out of the shut downs and who may continue to grow well even after the  end of the exceptional times for on line retail, internet conferencing, remote working service and supplies, home entertainments and other technology winners.

What we do not want is to search for some top down government led model of backing winners, interfering with customer choices and deciding who to subsidise and what changes to lifestyle they require.

The danger is some companies that were short of cash owing to lock down end up insolvent because they do not experience a surge of returning business once the lock down is lifted. The government does not have the resources to keep all companies going that lack a strong business offer for the new conditions post shutdown. The private sector has the means to lend money and to buy shares. Large companies have access to low interest rates on bank finance and bonds, and can raise additional capital from shareholders. They can and are conserving cash by not paying dividends or buying back shares where they need to be careful with the money.

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  1. Tabulazero
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    Yes but does Dominic Cummings agree with this or not ?

    Politics is the ability to effect change. He is clearly the man in charge of the UK since Boris Johnson fly to the rescue of his “idea man” as any good spear carrier should.

    So please tell us what is Dom’s view of the above.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

      Politics should be the ability to give an environment where everyone can perform.

      We really do not need those who want to effect their changes again.

    • Michael McGrath
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:59 pm | Permalink


      • hefner
        Posted May 28, 2020 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

        Almost 20:00, time for the little ones to go to bed.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 28, 2020 at 2:08 am | Permalink

      to affect not that I can spell – one imagines his view like most sensible people is that we should all get back to work as soon as practically possible. Except perhaps those many people in the state sector who do more harm than good. They should be released to get a real jobs.

      Have they found out who did this civil service tweet yet?

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 5:17 am | Permalink

    Why have the government not allowed business owners to borrow from their private pension funds to assist their businesses as they have in Australia? What is there to be lost from this?

    I caught a little of the new BoE chap yesterday. He did not seem very impressive . The last organisation he lead seems to have encourages ‘one size fits all’ overdraft rate of 40% is was (78%) at one bank disguised as OD fees. Why in a supposedly free market are banks able to get away with charging 40% on all overdrafts while paying 0.2% or less on deposits? You pay 200 times what they do. A shame he did not do maths or physics at Queens College Cambridge instead of history. His PHD thesis was The impact of the Napoleonic Wars on the development of the cotton industry in Lancashire: a study of the structure and behaviour of firms during the Industrial Revolution. Might come in handy perhaps?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 5:18 am | Permalink

      The questioning of him was not very good either.

  3. formula57
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    Clearly, the Government must be alert to unfair competition faced by British businesses from foreign firms enjoying subsidies and bail-outs extended by foreign governments.

  4. Mark B
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    Government never backs winners, only losers. The winners it uses to extract monies from their profits. This money goes into grand schemes and various benefits to buy votes. Winners and workers do not need such patronage.

    The problem for the government is, how is it going to pay back all the money it has borrowed ? Taxing will just slow down the economy. My fear is, that there will be more money printing to inflate the debt away.

    What a mess.

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    The excess death figure were released again yesterday. They are now down to about 4000 excess deaths per week, which is now little worse than bad winter week. Though it must be a total circa 70,000 excess deaths up to today’s date.

    Certainly time to get back to work though.

    • zorro
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

      Really, just look at some of the comments you made at the start of this ‘crisis’??


      • APL
        Posted May 28, 2020 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

        zorro: “Really, just look at some of the comments you made at the start of this ‘crisis’??”


  6. Bob Dixon
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    If a business lacks working capital then the owners must put in the money required. If the business is a ltd company then it’s the shareholders who must provide the funds.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      Yep – but there haven’t been many rights issues of late, which surprises me.

    Posted May 27, 2020 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    Let’s conveniently ignore, for political convenience of course, the criminal destruction of financial resources in all State run, public organisations. It’s a pity the Tory government and their MP’s in Parliament choose to ignore the wholesale abuse of captured, unionised, taxpayer funded public organisations.

    And here we have another Conservative MP directing his advice to the private sector about how they should conduct their affairs

    Maybe Sir John should turn his attention to public sector reform or is he concerned he may stir up a hornet’s nest from the now increasingly aggressive Marxist unions?

    The private sector is an EASY target. We can’t fight back so getting a kicking from so called Conservative politicians is the norm but it does display the new socialist mindset of the leftward leaning (leftward for political convenience) party that now finds itself genuflecting and praying at the altar of Unite’s (Labour) client state

    I’ll say this again. The unions have Johnson by the cojones. This is what happens when a Tory party capitulates to the left and their activists.

    Do us all a favour and change the name of your party to something more appropriate

    • Mark B
      Posted May 28, 2020 at 4:56 am | Permalink

      Edward Heath v2.0 ?

    • APL
      Posted May 28, 2020 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      DOMINIC : “Do us all a favour and change the name of your party to something more appropriate”

      Vichy party.

  8. Sea Warrior
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    But I do want government to be alert to any signs of China making opportunistic acquisitions of Western companies weakened by the Coronavirus crisis. If that means taking equity stakes, or even nationalisation, then so be it. BE ALERT!

    • Anonymous
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 11:21 pm | Permalink


      I also think they have a nerve *selling* us PPE. They should be giving it to the world.

  9. Nigl
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    Yes and the newspapers are filling their pages with opinion pieces quoting crud from this or that alleged expert so the public is completely baffled.

    Crucial to our recovery is confidence because there is a lot of pent up demand But many people are still very nervous.

    To allay this the government need to stop their scattergun information approach and hone it down to a simple message, am I/where can I be safe? Where and how are people still catching it so I can avoid that? Tell us the truth re masks, Not the current BS designed to protect their supplies. Testing zillions of people, why and so what? How close are we to a quick diagnostic tool,That tells if a person has it (obviously showing no symptoms)

    Your message management especially the coconut shy that is the daily briefing, in my view, has been inept and the Cummings episode, I see now more of your MPs are putting themselves before the country, no change there then, an unfortunate sideshow. Close it down. Any questions, give one collective answer. We gave covered it extensively, we have nothing more to add.

  10. Will Jones
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    End social distancing now. There is no evidence that it works or is necessary to stop a catastrophic spread. Covid-19, which is relatively not that deadly anyway, runs out everywhere of its own accord. It wasn’t and isn’t worth destroying the economy over.

    • glen cullen
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      fully agree with your assessment

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

      The case you have made is unanswerable. Ferguson and Imperial Must lose all public funding. Neither ever to darken the door of nr 10 again!

    • zorro
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

      It is just a comfort blanket to cover the embarrassment of the huge misjudgement they made in March. End this nonsense now or suffer more stupid rules for time immemorial!


  11. Ian @Barkham
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Good morning Sir John

    We already see Countries wishing to leverage advantage brought about by the situation we find our selves in. Out of a need and desire to ensure something is left Countries are being drawn in to trade protection. You cant disagree with some of it.

    The main problem is not the bailout but the leveraging the situation by Countries that feel the need to dominate.

    Lufthansa as we see have been given a 9 billion euro bailout, which gives them significant market clout. More importantly they have been given protection from takeovers.

    With that in mind the UK needs to protect ALL UK enterprise from any sort of takeover by foreign entities, other wise the UK will be stripped bear of what is left.

  12. M Hopkins
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    The government has chosen to be led by the science of the scientists they have chosen to place around them, but ignored the hundreds of other scientists who disagree with that science. Time to take a much broader look at ‘the science’ and end social distancing now. Enough is enough and it’s getting ridiculous.

    • glen cullen
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      same with climate change

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

      They keep choosing losers, the same ones, repeatedly! That is what is unforgivable.

    • Andy
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

      Not true. This is not how it works. The scientists do not tell the politicians what to do. Instead they give the politicians a range of options. It is the politicians who decide which of the options to go with.

      For example the scientists will say a full lockdown is between for health. But ministers have to weigh up the impact on the economy and decide whether it is appropriate.

      I don’t doubt that our scientists gave all the appropriate options. It is not surprising this incompetent government selected the wrong ones.

      • Edward2
        Posted May 28, 2020 at 7:17 am | Permalink

        That’s not correct.
        SAGE gave their recommendations as a group.
        Those recommendations were published.
        You would the first to complain if the Government failed to act on the experts advice.

        • hefner
          Posted May 30, 2020 at 8:52 am | Permalink

          Unfortunately, that’s not true.

          The government released on Friday 29/05 fifty documents including the minutes of 34 SAGE meetings. Whatever was published by the Government was clearly not the recommendations of the SAGE meetings (where in fact not all scientists were having the same view and were anyway only producing advices) but whatever the Government decided was expedient at the time.

          Further proof of it is that since the PM’s last briefing (where he prevented the CSO and CMO from answering questions) there are now at least three SAGE members (Prof John Edmunds from LSHTM being the most visible) who have been taking their distances from what the Government is saying.

      • Alan Jutson
        Posted May 28, 2020 at 9:31 am | Permalink


        For once I almost agree with you, the choice of Scientists was the governments, but it should also have used plain undiluted common sense to temper their opinions.

        A scientist will never give an absolute definitive point of view, so whilst their input is necessary, no one should regard it as 100% correct.

        The biggest failure was to allow thousands of flights to come into the UK from known high risk areas with any form testing isolation plan, etc etc

        In my opinion I believe It was hinted, only hinted, by one of the scientists yesterday at the Downing street daily conference, that perhaps up to 10,000 people could have landed here with the virus without perhaps showing symptoms.

        With a multiple infection rate of 3 that could account for thousands of people admitted to hospital if that was fact.

    • zorro
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

      He who pays the piper calls the tune


  13. Sharon Jagger
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    I agree wholeheartedly with this statement, “What we do not want is to search for some top down government led model of backing winners, interfering with customer choices and deciding who to subsidise and what changes to lifestyle they require.”

    We have enough interference from government as it is.

    Yesterday, in the supermarket, I was actually pleased to see people not adhering to the arrows on the shop floor. There were few people in the aisles so plenty of room to move safely without being too close. And I felt glad that people weren’t just shuffling about like sheep, or in North Korea, but were showing a bit of spine and using their common sense!

    • Mark B
      Posted May 28, 2020 at 5:00 am | Permalink

      I’ve never followed the arrows. If anything I go in the opposite direction 😉

  14. Bryan Harris
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    Survival of the fittest then – sounds harsh but it’s how this universe works.

    If the majority of businesses are going to survive then the best help the government can do is to reduce taxes heartily all round – That will help their survival.
    Start raising any taxes and you might as well pull the plug on UK LTD, because that will just stop the UK dead.
    WE need to remember the severity of this lockdown, and the adverse effects – it can never be allowed to happen again – ‘Experts tell us to expect a second wave of CV… Well, now is the time to prepare for … Make our businesses strong… Make the people stronger – there are ways to make immune systems better at surviving CV.
    Now is the time to review all successful medical actions in handling CV, so that they can be in place ready.
    Spending £Millions on untested and controversial vaccines is not the answer, and neither are health passports.

  15. Steve Reay
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Some self employed aren’t, too keen to return, why would they, they getting 80% of income. Government will have a problem to get some of these people back to work.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      Same with furloughed workers and those working at home – “it is too dangerous to return goes the cry”.

      With government backing saying it is dangerous who are bosses to argue?

  16. Cynic
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    The Government should move quickly to a Swedish style lockdown.
    It is doubtful whether a lockdown is the righ t way to deal with this type of virus. I hope that the evidence for it is carefully examined.

  17. agricola
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    The dilemma for travel and hospitality is that social distancing is not economically sustainable for a lengthy period. The answer , though not a perfect one, is testing and a health visa. Knowing that everyone on your flight or next to you at the hotel pool has been tested negative could be very reassuring, though not perfect. A further test at the mid holiday point would also reassure. It is in the interests of airlines and hotels to have this done independently. How good such a scheme could be is a matter of how long it takes , test to result. If it can be like litmus paper it solves a big problem. Do not sub contract it to any agency whose origins make it open to corruption.

    • zorro
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

      LOL I wouldn’t trust this government to run a bath!


      • Fred H
        Posted May 28, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

        meanwhile we are all taking that bath….

  18. Richard1
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    Indeed, but Unfortunately there is a strong element in the Conservative Party which seems to think that in order to keep the red wall voters we need to adopt socialism in all but name. Big spending on questionable or even fatuous infrastructure, higher taxes, gorging the NHS with money with no hint of reform, perpetual green crap and now it seems perhaps open ended bailouts.

    I think it is not true. Red wall voters like other right of centre voters would like to see a calm return to normality, a restoration of growth and public finances, sensible FTAs with the EU and others, and simpler and competitive taxes. It is patronising – and a political misjudgement – to treat red wall voters as dim leftists.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

      I’m a red wall voter. I’m a Conservative but my labour supporting neighbours are conservatives with a small ‘c’.

      • Alan Jutson
        Posted May 28, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink


        I think a huge majority of labour voters are, that is why they voted for Boris against the possibility of left wing Corbyn.

        Starmer is another matter (in comparison to Corbyn), so it may not happen again, at least not to the same degree.

        A great deal depends upon Boris delivering on what he promised at the election, he needs to do no more.

  19. Mike Wilson
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    To summarise: our society, both people and business, is far too reliant on debt and cannot withstand any disruption.

    Every government since the war is guilty of relying on an endless increase in consumer debt to keep the house of cards from collapsing.

    Will we ever get a government that wants house prices to fall so people don’t have to be in debt for most of their working life just to buy some bricks, timber and plasterboard?

  20. Adam
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Govt, in its pursuit of goodness, does tend to back some & discourage others.

    Taxes such as those increased on smoking and reduced on green energy moderate consumer behaviour. Govt spurs finest performance with awards. At the other extreme, it reduces supplier and consumer behaviour with imprisonment for drug trafficking.

    However, the notion of a Govt-led model ranking for winners is too raw. Competitive markets rapidly sort out what is wanted, bought and sold, and at what price. When conditions change, forcing loyalty to conform to former habits is tantamount to quaint reminiscence. Businesses need to adapt to the new now that emerges each day. Delivering mail by mule could save jobs but doing nothing useful just wastes.

    Govt does need to help lead in pursuit of moderating behaviour, intelligently, helpfully but only gently.

  21. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    -Overseas bank shares seem to be paying dividends, so these and other UK shares which are prohibited by government edict or frowning from paying dividends will knock UK stocks and therefore future investment.
    -I’m not certain how much the state can pay for consequential losses to businesses prohibited from trading. Legislation always moves and provides for and against business opportunities. -Prudent business will have 3-6 months cash to see them through, and if they are worth saving, they will get round this thing somehow.

    More at issue is that the rules for what is happening seem to be vague – vagueness which led to the Cummings situation and many others personally and for business. e.g. some cycle shops open scooping up all the business, others closed financed by government presumably- where does that leave us?

  22. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    The only way to sustain our living standards is to get everyone back to work.

    And here is the issue. After 10 years of Conservative government we still have a client state, reliant on handouts and provided services. Not only this but living costs are inflated by having a population that has artificially grown.

    Having trashed the economy by scaring the population into hiding there is no longer enough turnover to go round and therefore get everyone back to work. What will the solution be? To import more GDP are we have been doing since 2001?

    It may be that saving on travel and office lunch costs plus not socialising means that there is a pot of savings in existence that people will spend once they are allowed out. Again your government and the media has scared the population into not going out so how are they going to spend this money.

    I certainly have no desire to queue to get into a shop where I may or may not buy something, also my housing costs (due to the number of people looking for housing) are such that I can’t make large vehicle or white goods purchases so my contribution to increasing GDP will be limited. There is also insufficient public transport to get me to the shops to make any purchases because we have all been told to avoid it.

    I suspect that I am not unique

    • Mark B
      Posted May 28, 2020 at 5:10 am | Permalink

      Narrow Shoulders

      I followed my own advice that I have here right from the beginning. I kept calm and just carried on. I suggest you start doing the same and stop following bad advice.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted May 28, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink


        I am extremely calm – I just object to the inconvenience this is causing me and will continue to cause me as the British follow their queuing mentality

        But thank you for your advice it is the way of enlightenment.

  23. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    The private sector has the means to lend money and to buy shares.

    Your government and the media has created an environment of fear and anxiety. There is not the confidence, even in robust businesses, to invest or lend.

    Government has created this situation by its intervention and actions. Turn the printing presses on but change the furlough scheme so that employees can be used productively full time to grow and change businesses until confidence returns (which having people going to work daily can only help).

    Do not borrow this money and do not make us pay it back.

    • zorro
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

      The government have grossly over-exaggerated the danger of this disease and its subsequent response to it has ruined the nation. They have distilled fear into power and have not the slightest clue how to shut the Pandora’s box they have opened….


  24. Everhopeful
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Off topic…but how can anyone think about anything else?How on Earth has govt let all this happen?
    If they get rid of D.C. then Boris will cave in to an extension.
    SURELY after the country helped the tories get a wonderful maj, surely the govt to owes it to us to behave? To put personal dislike aside.
    What next? No confidence in Govt?
    Is it all a joke or a death wish?

    • Everhopeful
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      Where is the empathy for D.C.??
      He had a HORRIBLE virus experience.
      Child in hospital.Uncle nearly died.
      Where’s the touchy, feely Leftwing viewpoint now??
      Has the Tory party ever read about French Rev?

      • hefner
        Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

        I would have thought that the Complete Works of Edmund Burke was compulsory reading for any prospective Conservative candidate.

        • Edward2
          Posted May 27, 2020 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

          How is that a relevant reply to Everhporful hef?
          Perhaps you might give us the benefit of your huge and mighty IQ

          • hefner
            Posted May 28, 2020 at 6:44 am | Permalink

            Don’t you know that? ‘Reflections on the Revolution in France’, Edmund Burke, 1790.

          • Edward2
            Posted May 28, 2020 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

            Yes I know the book thanks.
            I was asking what real relevance it was to Everhopefuls comment.

        • hefner
          Posted May 29, 2020 at 9:55 am | Permalink

          Everhopeful had written ‘Has the Tory party ever read about the French Rev?’. That might have escaped your eagle eye?
          But you are so keen on snuffing out any comment that does not fit with your vision of the world that you are at times simply ridiculous.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

        Uncle did die! Mr Justice Laws. The southerners think that visiting Barnard Castle is a beauty spot. It’s a town! If Cummings had different priorities he could have ‘gone home to the parents in law’s castle’ – Chillingham Castle. But he travelled the least distance he could, did not endanger his parents or parents-in-law. Managed to recover and returned to work.
        He and Frost prove that Boris can pick winners.

  25. Anonymous
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Boris is not up to it.

    Possibly the worst Prime Minister in British history.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      I think May still has that title. He got off to a good start, securing a Brexit after having been brave enough to fight an election. But he needs to get back of the path of fiscal responsibility, be more Conservative and less Liberal, and sort out the shambles of his No 10 operation. He also needs a re-shuffle to clear out the deadwood that’s been exposed by this crisis.

      • Anonymous
        Posted May 27, 2020 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

        We have committed economic suicide on Boris’s watch.

        He is not up to it. He has not recovered from a very bad illness and is father to a new son born of a lady who is very left wing.

        He is now a liability and the worst is yet to come.

    • Andy
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

      He is clearly the worst PM ever.

      He is incompetent, he is not on top of events, he is surrounded by fools and he is dishonest.

      Of course we knew all this before a few thousand old people elected him to lead their party.

      • Edward2
        Posted May 28, 2020 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        Conservatives are still ahead in the polls.
        Not that it matters.
        Next election 4 years away.

    • Backtiming
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

      Boris. Something happened to him. He now is like someone pretending to be him, badly, and in reverse.

  26. Stephen Priest
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Just so you know Sir John, my wife and I want this Dominic Cummings bashing to stop

  27. Andy
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    We shouldn’t worry about this stuff. The Cummings government will decide for us.

    Thank God we threw off the shackles of the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels so we could literally be run by an unelected bureaucrat of our own.

    Meanwhile it is amusing to see the headbangers now try to argue that the Daily Mail, Julia Hartley-Brewer, Peter Bone and Steve Baker are all left wing.

  28. Everhopeful
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Let’s not forget whose money it actually is! Whether taken in tax now or by way of future debt.
    Having said that once govt had taken the bizarre action of closing down the country what else could it do but print money to pay for the whole Great Reset exercise?
    (“Green“ Was once a word used to describe naivety…now it is something that is foisted on a naive population).
    I don’t suppose it even flickered across the leafy suburban consciousness that this lockdown would turn some lives into even more of a nightmare. Work and pay taxes and then be locked down with the anti social “winners” of the welfare state we pay for. Once a nice area devastated by by to let ( another great govt idea).
    Why didn’t the newly “nice” Tory Party include a Virus Bill clause alluding to “fairness and respect for neighbours during incarceration“?

    • Everhopeful
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      No more I promise…
      But listen, listen…they won’t stop here. A bunch of Tory idiots useful to the Left in govt.
      However much you appease the Left they won’t stop.
      If they get rid of D.C. they will go after Mr Frost….really!!
      Can the 40 odd MPs ( one only elected in last election….gratitude??) baying for DC’s removal have ANY sense?

  29. Ian @Barkham
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    I had forgotten about this – Labour MP Stephen Kinnock for travelling hundreds of miles to see his parents during the lockdown. The opponents of the Government says that is of course OK

    He had no reason to travel, yet others doing it within the rules get crucified. Our MsM gives the country a seriously bad name. They believe they are our rulers and pick and choose , re-interpret in the name of a story

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted May 28, 2020 at 9:15 am | Permalink


      Indeed, and Starmer has just promoted him, double standards or WOT !

      I see many others who have been critical of DC have been removing lots of interesting information and photographs from there mobile communication services and websites of late.

      So, So many Hypocrites about.

  30. ukretired123
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    We are in uncharted waters. Most businesses need an accurate forecast of both the economic climate and short term weather to prime them but without this will have to gamble on getting their core beliefs right.

    There will be few winners in the short term but hopefully the general public will gain an insight into who in the economy produce the golden eggs and treasure them as was the culture in the USA years ago.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

      Then cheap at the price. John Bull was thinking of emigrating!

      • Fred H
        Posted May 28, 2020 at 9:00 am | Permalink

        John Bull lost his farm to BSE, then diversified and lost his investment. Tried to export to the EU but found rules, damn rules. Then he threw the remaining £ to the Stock market in the 2000s — and since BREXIT delays he topped himself.

  31. glen cullen
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    I will only believe that our government lacks resources when it decides to pull the plug on foreign aid

    One can only conclude that we are cash rich to be able to spend so much money every on foreign aid

  32. Johnny Dubb
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Sir John. A government, none of whom have run businesses, expect people to resume economic activity when they click their fingers. “Shops can reopen”. Queue outside, then shuffle round the in-store one way system, unable to touch or test merchandise before buying. No thanks. Shops may reopen briefly before closing permanently. Retail is handed to the online giants. PS. If Mr Cummings is such an indispensable genius, why is Britain apparently still run by Sedwill, why was Ferguson allowed to impose this lunacy and why is Tugendhat trying to keep our military linked to the EU and not have our own satellite system?

    Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    We would have more respect for both you and your party if you stood on a platform and declared your new found loyalty to all that’s been created since 1997.

    Like Labour, the Tories have become a deceit. London-centric Labour no longer represent white, working people. Indeed they actively despise them and seek to replace them as they seek a new robotic bloc vote.

    And the Tories are without question a most repugnant presence as a result of their abhorrent capitulation to the politics of the progressive authoritarian left. Offensive, morally bankrupt and a festering sore on this nation.

    It is the detriment of this nation that voters wrongly believe that there’s a choice and that both parties offer opposing programs. This is nonsense and explains why the Tories work hard to protect Labour from harm and protect their sub-State. The Tories are in effect protecting the 2 party consensus with their tedious Punch and Judy arrangement.

    The Tories great fear is the rise of a true conservative party to replace Labour. A party that would replicate Thatcher’s program based on morality, de-politicisation, liberty of thought and speech and values that reject the poison of cultural Marxism

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

      Well we know for sure that that Party will have no connection to Mr Farage!

  34. kristin
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Hope you’re not writing this stuff in the FT- can guarantee you won’t keep that gig for very long

    • hefner
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      K, Don’t worry, the average reader of Sir John’s investment column in the FT knows how much they can trust the man with his ‘advices’ generally given a few weeks after essential events. But it certainly often fun to read. You should also have a look at the BTL comments after his monthly Sermon on the Mount.

      Reply It is based around a Demonstrator fund I run Where the FT of course receive real time dealing reports as changes are made.

    • hefner
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

      A couple of days ago we had on this very blog the ineffable Edward2 asking where the mythical neoliberals are/were? Could it be they are/were those who have accepted the death/sale of these companies not only without lifting a finger to help them but even encouraging, at different stages of their career, the whole process.
      And it is likely the same one(s) today explaining the details on how to come out of this crisis. What a joke.

      • Edward2
        Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

        Still having a little dig hef.
        You cant resist it CSN you.
        Were you the school bully decades ago?
        What a joke indeed.

        • hefner
          Posted May 30, 2020 at 6:30 am | Permalink

          What have David, Stephen, Graham (and Neil?) got to do with it?

  35. Peter Ryder
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    To get the economy functioning again the State must move away from the centralised direction (with enforcement ) of peoples activities. Further, people must be encouraged to take back control of their lives and take responsibility for their own actions. For his to happen it is imperative that Dominic Cummings be maintained in place – a high profile example of someone who uses intelligence and initiative to take decisions pertaining to his particular circumstances. If he gets thrown to the wolves who will dare interpret rules according to need in the future? Also where will the wolves (media) go looking for their next meal? I see ghosts of 1930’s Germany looming in the intolerance (hatred even) and fear that I see around our world.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:19 pm | Permalink


  36. Know-Dice
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Off Topic – With regard to “State Aid” it certainly seems like Germany is going to fund Lufthansa and France will put money in to its automotive industry.

    Of course it’s not new for France to get away with giving state aid to French companies – think Honeywell Bull…

    • hefner
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

      Yes and Bull still exists with one BullSequana X supercomputer used somewhere within the Reading suburbs.

      Where are the Acorn, Sinclair, Amstrad. Apricot, Dan, RM, Vigen, Akhter, Evesham … of yore. More or less disappeared from the surface of the earth. And the last recent bit of British computer technology (ARM holdings) is now Japanese.

      So what is the best way to go, the French or the British way?

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

        More importantly where is ICL? Destroyed by Wilson who promised to buy it regardless whether they put in a stroke of work again. They didn’t! We British invented the Computer and lost the whole industry to the USA because of state patronage and ‘support’ – socialism – everything it touches turns to ashes!

        • hefner
          Posted May 28, 2020 at 7:12 am | Permalink

          Lynn, the support for the nascent computer industry in the early 1950s USA came from the National Bureau of Standards, MIT, U.Pennsylvania, Princeton and IBM. Do you really think of these places as hotbeds of socialism?
          If Turing had started developing his ideas in 1936, Packard and Hewlett were at it in the USA from 1939, the ENIAC was running from 1943 …

          ICL was only started in 1968 from previous British efforts (ICT, Marconi) as part of Wilson’s Industry Expansion Act.

          Aren’t you a bit revisionist?

          • Fred H
            Posted May 28, 2020 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

            Although Packard & Hewlett developed electronic testing equipment that early – certainly not computers.
            Babbage developed the first machine you could describe as a computer ( mid 19th century).
            Bill Tutte and Tommy Flowers (early 1940s) were denied from receiving due recognition as pioneers of the modern computer.
            “Bill Tutte was a most astonishingly brilliant man,” “He was a 24-year-old mathematician, and by sheer iron logic he worked out how the [German high command’s Lorenz cipher] system worked.
            “When you consider there were three levels of encryption, it was an extraordinary performance,” he says. “It has even been called the outstanding mental feat of the last century.”
            Tommy Flowers was a senior GPO electrical engineer.

      • John E
        Posted May 27, 2020 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

        If you are referring to the ECMWF Atos BullSequana then I’m not sure it’s commissioned yet and while by any normal view of the map it’s on the outskirts of Reading, thanks to the vagaries of the Westminster boundaries I believe it falls in the Wokingham constituency.

        • hefner
          Posted May 29, 2020 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

          John, you’re right. They still rely on two identical Cray XC40 clusters. The Atos BullSequana is being set up in Bologna, Italy and the switch between the Reading and the Bologna sites is supposed to happen early in 2021. Most of the staff is to stay in Wokingham/Reading.

      • Mark B
        Posted May 28, 2020 at 5:26 am | Permalink

        These are just brands. The people and The brains are still out there.

      • Know-Dice
        Posted May 28, 2020 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        Acorn turned into ARM, used in most mobile phones and sold to the Japanese 🙁

  37. Caterpillar
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    It might have been right for the Govt to pay wages of furloughed staff for 2 or 3 weeks as this was indicated to be the quickest response to operationalise. It is wrong to extend this from a few weeks, to at least four months, a timescale over which more equitable options that also allow resources to reallocate could have been implemented. The Govt has picked (vote) winners, those it allowed to continue to work and those it treated vastly preferentially to those already unemployed / economically inactive. If the benefit system is not supportive of the economy readjusting then an improvement or swap to UBI should have been implemented. Sunak’s distorted and judgemental logic is essentially that those people who were doing OK before the lockdown are more valuable (presumably for votes) and worthy than those who were not. The desires of Sunak (to choose the worthy) and Hancock (to retain and hence internationally validate authoritarian power to lockdown and punish individual towns/cities) are definitely wrong. Why decent Conservative MPs would support a PM and Cabinet with these distasteful policies is bewildering to me.

    The Govt should unlock immediately, and certainly reduce the distancing to 1 metre. It should publish and publicise the risks vs age and condition to show the majority are not endangered (even if the Home Secretary claims everyone is endangered). It also needs to show the calculations (using several models) of how many (quality) life years have been saved through lockdown compared with how many are expected to have been lost (again using several models).

    Despite releasing limited antibody study results, the Govt remains unclear on how immunity and cross-reactive immunity in the community effects the epidemiology. It does not demonstrate an ability to question its advisers. Early in the epidemic the Govt indicated the desire to push the peak back to the Summer, so that it didn’t overlap with winter seasonal illnesses. Bizarrely the Govt now indicates its policies are to stop a second peak in the Summer – there are several possibilities here (i) the Govt knows that community resistance is now quite high and risk for the majority is very low, (ii) there is wishful thinking about a safe, mass vaccination, (iii) there is continued need to justify its authoritarian powers, (iv) incompetence (there is limited community resistance and the vulnerable are hard to protect but push the second peak back to Winter).

    Whether focussed on the economy or epidemic the Govt seems to be hanging on hoping for some success to claim. It would be better to get back to some objective reality.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      Well, just seen that it is now 8.4 million on furlough alone. That is a lot of bought votes to lose, I cannot see who in the Govt has the ability and integrity to get out of this mess. There is no way for the country to regain a developed status through any of the existing parties.

  38. Javelin
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    The reality is that the Government made a judgement call to prolong the lives of people already being kept alive by life saving drugs by shutting down companies RATHER than than putting ill people in lockdown and letting healthy people get on with keeping the economy running.

    The Government made this decision because the civil service are incapable of sitting down for a few days and coming up with short term tactical solutions.

    This decision means the Government must put those companies back to a place before the pandemic and the cost must be borne by the civil service.

    For example pension payments to civil servants by the Government must be eliminated and paid into a fund to help the private sector. UK income tax must be paid by outsourced workers who fit the IR35 criteria. Foreign work visas must not be renewed so that British people can get those jobs. The salaries of Government workers must be frozen for five years.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely! Not hard to persuade JR of this.

  39. jerry
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Sir John, you appear to be writing with regards only for the larger and multinational companies, who have shareholders and/or collateral to put up as securities for (commercial) bank loans etc.

    Now would you be so kind as to suggest how sole traders & SMEs might survive beyond govt grants, backed loans, or SE/Furlough schemes when apparently, under current govt TTT plans, their businesses might get put into a (minimum?) local 14 day local lockdown at any moment – I now many traders who simply would not get any business under such trading conditions, their customers (some of them other businesses) simply can not afford have their property or equipment sat moribund, perhaps half-repaired.

    • Ex-Tory
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      A very good point, Jerry.

    • jerry
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

      Listening earlier to, and reading about, the govts track and trace procedure, who thinks these systems up? But then again this was obviously rushed out by No.10 to deflect from other matters.

      The idea that a health official can simply phone someone up to tell them they need to self isolate is asking for problems, from the simple idiotic practical jokers to a scammers charter – worried, shocked and possibly frightened members of the public, having been told they might have a deadly virus, in the heat of the moment being asked if they can confirm some personal details, full name, address DOB etc. even perhaps bank details …. ID theft by govt decree and diktat…

      The great thing about the Apple-Google app was that it was all done within the smart phone, meaning that a scam would require a major hack of the system, not just plucking names and numbers out of a telephone directory!

      • zorro
        Posted May 27, 2020 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

        It’s utter lunacy, surely designed not to work and hopefully get us back to normal as soon as possible, as we lampoon its deficiencies mercilessly!!


  40. Mark
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Totally agree.

    Unfortunately I doubt our woke body politic will grasp this particular nettle, and will instead try to be all things to all people.

    I really don’t think people have grasped the scale of the disaster that’s coming.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

      I really don’t think Boris has grasped the scale of the disaster that’s coming.

      • Fred H
        Posted May 28, 2020 at 8:55 am | Permalink

        to the country or to his career?
        Possibly both?

  41. James Bertram
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Very sensible post. Agree – and particularly: ‘What we do not want is to search for some top down government led model of backing winners, interfering with customer choices and deciding who to subsidise and what changes to lifestyle they require.’
    Less government interference is needed in many areas of our lives.

  42. Turboterrier
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    The danger is some companies that were short of cash owing to lock down end up insolvent because they do not experience a surge of returning business once the lock down is lifted.

    It doesn’t help companies and business in general when it has been announced that on Friday constraint payments of £9.3 million was paid out to wind turbine. Reported in the Telegraph

    When is the government and politicians, in general get a grip and end this madness? I would have thought the country needs every penny no matter where from and who it upsets to get us on the road, out of the situation we are now in.

    • Turboterrier
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      wind turbine operators.

  43. JoolsB
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    As someone who has or rather had a healthy business, I don’t want a handout, I just want to be allowed to open up and start working again. Also, wouldn’t this be a good time to start talking about purging the bloated, protected, costly public sector? And I include politicians in that. No doubt if they had to suffer the same as the private sector have – furloughing, loss of income, being laid off etc. we’d all be back by now.

    • Mark B
      Posted May 28, 2020 at 5:30 am | Permalink

      Today’s Tories are simply not up for the fight. Clueless and gutless.

  44. Turboterrier
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    JLR massive employer and is the flagship in many ways of the brilliance of the British car industry.

    If you cannot or will not lend it money then try another way.

    Reduce /remove all the high taxes on the vehicles in the showrooms. This will send a clear signal and generate new business. Keeps tens of thousands working and paying taxes.

    JLR when they are producing and selling more vehicles, that is the time to claw back the taxes that have been removed or placed on hold. It is a Business as Usual model to help them sell their existing models and invest in new technology.

    All this has been bought about not by the virus because two politicians opened their mouths before realising the full implications of what they were saying. Diesel engines are evil and bad for which the country must commit to zero CO2 by 2040.

    The infrastructure is not in place and diesels will be around for another 25 years lets use them as their emmissions are very low and keep the skill base in companies such as JLR. The government has got to be realistic in what it is trying to achieve. Under promise and over deliver. Rocket science it is not

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

      A very good idea

    • Mark B
      Posted May 28, 2020 at 5:32 am | Permalink

      One good way would be for the government to place a large order of vehicles.

  45. Mike Stallard
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    One of the main beneficiaries of the furlough scheme is the people who are working for government organisations but not “on the front line.
    Did you know, Sir John, that in Universities more people are actually employed in administration and fund raising than there are teachers? The number of professional, full time staff is about a third of the number of people on the payroll? The figures of the NHS I suspect are very similar. I am talking off the top of my head without figures but would like to ask about the MOD too.
    All these people, I understand, are on full salaries.

    • Fred H
      Posted May 28, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink


  46. Bob
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I sincerely hope that the govt will de-criminalise non payment of the BBC Licence due to the BBC’s continual breaches of the Royal Charter and abuse of their dominant position in the broadcasting business.

    Also, I think it’s time that the Balen Report was made available to the people who paid for it – the general public!

  47. William Long
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    What you are saying is no more than common sense, but of course will be perceived as the opposite by all interventionists who will urge on the Government the vital necessity of backing winners. The Government really must not fall into this trap which is clearly already being laid for it and it would be particularly futile at this juncture and in the circumstances we face, precisely because of the changes in business models that as you highlight, are now taking place around us.
    One real benefit of difficult times should be the cathartic destruction of failing businesses and the revival of valuable new ones.
    Though painful while it is happening, the only way for the process to be successful is to let the market place decide. To leave choices to the Government or its agents has always been to guarantee failure when it has happened in the past, and there is no reason to suppose that this time would be any different.

  48. Lifelogic
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Indeed the sooner we get back to work and companies adjust to the new condition the better. Many people will need to get new and different jobs again, the sooner the better.

    It will all be very much assisted by easy hire and fire, a bonfire of red tape, cheap on demand energy, a massive slimming down of the bloated (largely inept and unproductive) state sector (and the universities sector) and the cancellation of many other government lunacies HS2 or gender gap pay reporting.

  49. bigneil(newercomp)
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    I see yet again Nigel has found illegals being escorted by the French into our waters. Wasn’t it Priti who said she was going to stop it? But conveniently didn’t say by what date or century. Traitors to the country and its people – who also happen to be the voters.

    • Bob
      Posted May 28, 2020 at 7:02 pm | Permalink


      “Nigel has found illegals being escorted by the French into our waters.”

      Clearly they are not asylum seekers, because France despite all the things we hear is really not that bad. The food isn’t to everyone’s liking and their cars are a bit weird, but that’s not sufficient reason to flee across the Channel in small boats.

      These people have heard that the UK is a soft touch for anyone wishing to avail of it’s welfare system. Send them straight back from whence they came.

  50. Ex-Tory
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Yes, in order to revive the economy private capital will need to be injected into viable businesses. We must make sure this is not discouraged by excessive regulations or taxation.

  51. Little Dragon
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    “Travel and hospitality will have to change the way they work for as long as social distancing remains…”
    Let us hope ‘social distancing’ ends as soon as possible. I’m preaching to the converted when I say an olde worlde English pub now lacks British spirit. This spirit cannot be killed, is in your cellar, in your walls, is impatient

  52. villaking
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Sir John, the key thing is to fight hard against the absurd social distancing rules. As you rightly note, the travel and hospitality industries can not function fully with these rules in place. Every pub and restaurant in the land will have to operate with the same rents and overheads (albeit with less staff) but with a fraction of the turnover and all because of an inhuman and degrading government decree. Those sectors, so vital to civilized society and human enjoyment, have the right to taxpayer subsidy until the rules are lifted. As the cost mounts, perhaps that will provide motivation to remove the tyrannical laws and allow a free society again.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      The venues I use most certainly can cope with a 2-metre SD limit. But given that, I have to ask why they aren’t allowed to open now?

  53. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    David Jamieson Police and Crime Commissioner for West Midlands and Labour Party Member trying to pretend on the BBC World at One that the Police are struggling to explain the difference between travelling for critical childcare and kids driving to play football.

    Are the police really this stupid?

    • Caterpillar
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      I live in a not quite benefit street area … Lower lower lower lower working / middle class. It is bordering on impossible for people to work from home due to incessant cranked up sound systems (that comes from double glazing), screaming near-feral kids, chemical and wood barbecue smoke. It is quite exasperating to know that the authoritarian Govt has the police wasting time on its misdirected rules whilst it hasn’t even considered the environment needed for people to work from home … Haaa noise complaints are a council responsibility. Noise is now something that the authoritarian PM needs to shift to a criminal issue acted on by police immediately with zero tolerance. Home as workplace needs this.

      • Away to work!
        Posted May 27, 2020 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

        “Home as workplace needs this.” A good reason no-one should work at home. Not all but many find they never actually ‘leave’ work.
        It can be stressful especially for the hardest workers. They have the ability to work overtime and no-one to tell them to get out of the office such as the cleaner.
        Stress death awaits the unwary. Kids do not like being ignored especially when they can see clearly nothing of value or interest their parents are doing . Think like a child!!!Live!

        • Caterpillar
          Posted May 28, 2020 at 9:27 am | Permalink

          Away to work!

          A completely reasonable view

  54. Ian Wragg
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    O/T John, most right minded people know that the hounding of Cummings is a smokescreen to stop Brexit.
    Why aren’t the press camping outside Stephen Kinnocks house or the liebour mp who attended a funeral with 200 others, oh wait, he’s a Muslim so not subject to the same rules.
    I really hope Boris sticks to his guns because we don’t want rule by tabloid.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      So Barnier has written to the leaders of the opposition parties saying the EU is willing to extend the transition period by 2 more years as long as we continue to follow EU rules and agree our financial contribution. Is the man mad or just plain stupid.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

        He thinks the leaders of the opposition parties are Mad and or plain stupid. He may be right! Starmer however is in shock. I think he has and inkling of the cost of this CV19 fiasco. He knows we can’t afford the EU any more, or the Commonwealth, UN and others assorted beggars.

      • Mark B
        Posted May 28, 2020 at 5:38 am | Permalink

        No. This is a Remainer plot. And it is our lot that are the stupid ones. That is why they like EU governance.

      • Bob
        Posted May 28, 2020 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

        @Ian Wragg

        “Barnier has written to the leaders of the opposition parties saying the EU is willing to extend the transition period by 2 more years as long as we continue to follow EU rules and agree our financial contribution. “

        Why is he writing to the opposition?
        Shouldn’t he be dealing directly with the British govt?

        • Fred H
          Posted May 28, 2020 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

          In desparation he hopes Boris will be gone soon, and he will run rings round the rag, tag and bobtail opposition.

  55. Rhoddas
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Yes and interesting to see Germany are intent on giving “state aid” to Lufthansa, against their own EU rules; handily EU have suspended that particular law, hypocritical I call it.

    Now we have the slippery Barnier writing to Remainiac Opposition MPs (D Mail) about being happy to offer a 2 year Brexit delay…. damned disrepectful to HMG I would call it.

    Still we live in countries where freedom of speech is still “sorta like” allowed, so Monsieur Barnier I will say this to you – time you moved on and your replacement given a mandate to make a proper FTA, not hellbent on a servile/colonial agreement. Democratically speaking of course 😉

  56. Ian Wilson
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    One of the biggest threats to our recovery has to be the insane drive towards zero carbon, particularly now there is mounting evidence a climate COOLING phase may have started.
    Why on earth has the COP26 climate conference been reinstated, albeit for 2021?

  57. Ian @Barkham
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    If anyone was un-sure of the motive behind the attacks on Mr. Cummins, just take note of the recent letter from a group of SNP, Lib Dem, Plaid Cymru, SDLP, Green, and Alliance Members of Parliament to Michel Barnier. Requesting his help in extending the UK’s membership of the EU.

    • ed2
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

      This Mr Dominic Cummins must be a wizard or something to stir the whole kingdom up. Please ignore this rubbish and stick to the real issues here. We have just been on lockdown based on a 14 year old girls middle school thesis, opposed by the entire Medical Establishment at the time (2006).

      This should be headline news on the BBC if we had a real media not just a bunch of children.

  58. Yossarion
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    John of piste I know and delete after reading but would it not be a good time to up the premium bond allowance to say 50k. people could then have money with a chance of earning something rather than the ,1% interest rates on offer and it might be a good way for the government to raise a few quid almost war bonds.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

      0.1% in many cases. But many banks are still charging 40% on overdrafts!

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

      PBs are more expensive, for the government, than issuing gilts.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

      It is £50k already.

  59. Bed Chamber Maid
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    BBC “Schools and workplaces may face local lockdowns”
    The Chief Medical Officer rubbished the idea, with also a dismissive smirk ( the smirk as seen in my eyes opinion) on TV, weeks or even months ago of “Regional assessment and ethnic analysis” in determining action to beat the coronovirus.
    The Government insisted it is “following scientific advice” Then b.well do so! You the Government made your own deathly bed so continue to lie… it!

  60. hefner
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Somewhat O/T: Starting with the 2011/12 tax year, the state pension was set to increase every year by the greatest of the average earnings growth, consumer prices index inflation or 2.5%. People of working age (of which I am no more) should now be prioritised as they are likely to carry the bulk of the efforts at sorting out the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis. These people may/might have lost/lose their jobs. As we are likely to enter a world of low growth, reduced demand for many services, and higher taxes, these people may have to face reinventing themselves and creating a new life for their family. Keeping only the first two conditions for a state pension increase (the bigger of average earnings growth and consumer prices index inflation) would send a signal that ‘we are all in this together’.

    In addition ending the current pension tax relief tax structure and setting a unique rate (20% or less) tax relief on (private) pension contributions would show a similar will. If present higher (40% tax relief) and additional (45% tax relief) rate earners were to find themselves with extra funds, why could they not invest in shares, funds, investment trusts and ETFs without further tax benefits. Provided they invest in UK-related assets, that would show true ‘patriotism’.

    • Edward2
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

      Did you proof read that hef?
      Seems a bit odd.

      • hefner
        Posted May 28, 2020 at 7:30 am | Permalink

        As far as I can see, there are no spelling mistakes. You might not like the content and you are obviously free to disagree. But given the impact of the present crisis on working people, the idea of cutting the potential 2.5% growth in state pension or of cutting the higher rate tax relief on pension contribution does not sound so OTT. A quick calculation taking account the recent CPI/real average earning growth would save about £8-9bn on state pensions, limiting the HR tax relief another £20bn (based on 2017-18 HMRC and OBR figures).

        • Edward2
          Posted May 28, 2020 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

          It would have a big impact on those poor pensioners living off the State pension.
          I’m surprised you want to hit one of the poorest grouos in society.
          What’s your next big idea?
          A tax on food banks.
          Reductions in Universal Credit benefits?
          Reductions in child benefits?
          Reduction in the minimum wage?
          I had you down as liberal lefty.
          How wrong I have been.

          • hefner
            Posted May 29, 2020 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

            Well, I doubt that these poor pensioners pay 40 or 45% income tax.

        • hefner
          Posted May 29, 2020 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

          Year. — CPI. — Aver.Earn.— Increase
          2012. — 5.2. — 2.7. …… CPI.
          2013. — 2.2. — 1.5. …… 2.5
          2014. —2.7. — 1.2. …… CPI.
          2015. — 1.2. — 0.6. …… 2.5
          2016 — -0.1 — 2.9. …… AvEarn
          2017. — 1.0. — 2.4. ……. 2.5
          2018. — 3.0 — 2.3. ……. CPI
          2019. — 2.4. — 2.6. …… AvEarn
          2020. — 1.7. — 3.9. …… AvEarn
          (UK Gov’t)

          So in the nine years, the triple lock has been active, it is only in 2015 that it made a real difference. In both 2013 and 2014, the differences with the 2.5% were respectively 0.3 and 0.1% corresponding to 53p and 18p per week (based on the present £175.20/week). In 2015, the difference was more sizeable but still only £2.28/week.

          So … did you know these types of order of magnitude as well as the content of the ‘Reflections on the Revolution in France’?

          • hefner
            Posted May 29, 2020 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

            In both 2013 and 2017

  61. George Brooks.
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Off topic.

    This Cummings fuss is the ardent anti- Brexiteers trying another ruse to delay or de-rail our leaving Europe. If they remove Cummings they will put direct pressure on the PM who, without that advisor, might be persuaded to yield a little bit and request a short extension.

    That would create far greater damage to the government and in effect you would be allowing the media to influence or worse dictate who works in No 10

    Cummings must stay regardless of pressure. Most of what the media are shouting about is a badly edited story that they have largely concocted.

    • everyone knows
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

      The Cummings fuss is just a distraction to stop us asking the big question about this lockdown and social distancing madness.

      • Owems
        Posted May 27, 2020 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

        That could have been a rare government intelligent strategy but likely as not it was just an accident

    • Andy
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

      You left the EU in January. Farage had a party for a few hundred old people and Mark Francois failed to ring Big Ben. And remember – that was the Brexit high point.

  62. Fred H
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    off topic.
    Barnier getting anxious?

    Dear Honourable and Right Honourable Members of Parliament,
    Thank you for your letter of 15 May 2020. I remain keen on and interested in hearing the views of British political parties and stakeholders in order to appreciate all dimensions of the national debate.
    The European Union remains determined to build a new and ambitious partnership with the United Kingdom in the short time that is available, given your government’s repeated statements that it will not agree to an extension of the transition period.
    I take note of your views on a possible extension of the transition period. Such an extension of up to one or two years can be agreed jointly by the two parties. The European Union has always said that we remain open on this matter. Any extension decision has to be taken by the Joint Committee before 1 July, and must be accompanied by an agreement on a financial contribution by the United Kingdom.
    Regardless of the extension issue, please rest assured that the EU side will continue to do its utmost to reach an ambitious and balanced partnership agreement with the United Kingdom, along the lines agreed with the Government of the United Kingdom in the Political Declaration in October 2019.
    My team and I remain at your disposal for any further exchanges.

    Yours sincerely,
    Michel Barnier

    • Andy
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

      No. He is not get desperate.

      He was responding to a letter they wrote to him.

      He was being polite. Brexiteers should try it. You’d get a better deal.

      • Fedupsoutherner
        Posted May 28, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

        Andy as far as I can see our negotiating team have been nothing but polite.

    • Fred H
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      go forth and….

  63. Javelin
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    I think the science on the virus DNA needs to be followed.

    I have written software for a charity to simulate DNA for clinical trials with the help of senior clinicians and geneticists, so have a very good grasp of this subject.

    1. Back in March two Indian geneticists found 4 sequences (of 10-20 base pairs) of DNA in the virus closely matched the HIV virus. Two sequences were identical to HIV and 2 sequences were slightly different. The two Indian geneticists were forced to withdraw their paper.

    2. Last week an Australian geneticist said that covid was highly optimised for human transmission and poorly optimised for animal transmission. The exact opposite that you would expect. This strongly implies that this virus “evolved” in human cells and not animal

    3. Yesterday another Australian paper was submitted that said that the covid virus used the same strategy to block the immune system as AIDS. What this means is that one of those HIV sequences in the virus floats around in cells then attaches to human DNA and triggers the production of human proteins to block human immune cells. This is very important because it is a second sequence that is human-centric. Animals don’t get AIDs.

    This last point means covid is an airborne human AIDS like virus that mutates slowly enough that humans can build immunity. A key difference is the AIDS virus has a constantly mutating spike protein (some researchers say HIV is actually a changing species) whereas covid mutates so slowly that humans can build an immunity.

    Given the virus has a human optimised spike protein and is also optimised to trigger the production of human proteins to block human immune cells it looks almost certain that this virus has been made by scientists and was optimised in human cells and a vanishingly small chance that this virus evolved in animals.

    • Javelin
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

      I think this implies the Chinese were developing an airborne HIV virus as a weapon that leaked. Statically the odds of having not one but TWO very specific key human optimised DNA sequences (one for transmission and one for immune resistance), and not animal optimised, in a novel virus is just too great a probability. Millions to one against.

      • hefner
        Posted May 29, 2020 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

        When and where have these papers on the various pieces of research you talk about, been published? Thanks in advance.

  64. mancunius
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    The business subsidy is grossly unequal: state and corporate employees continue to be subsidised, but from June the self-employed – sole traders or freelance entrepreneurs will lose all support. I know of very many who will be losing their entire living and stand to lapse into abject poverty because the government cannot get people back to work.
    Some self-employed get no government grant at all – even though their income has plummeted by nearly 50% as a result of covid. When forced to default on their rent, the landlord is then shorn of income.

    This may well all be unavoidable: perhaps the entire self-employed sector will vanish for ever. But what is very provoking is the furloughed sector’s constant refusal to alter a thing. Teachers who refuse to teach (so preventing parents from being able to go back to work); local authorities providing 10% of their services but insisting on being paid 100% of council tax; Sir Humphrey making no savings at all. This is not an even load.

    While many state /LA /corporate employees are sunbathing and playing beachball all day at home, the SME sector is in danger of being permanently strangled. The Treasury (and politicians) are making decisions to whose effects they are immune. Is that wise?

    It certainly makes the Tory MP squabbling so clearly aimed at weakening the PM and re-fighting the remainer wars of last autumn look frivolous and grossly out-of-touch. Please tell your colleagues to put a sock in it: we can see who they are, and what they’re doing. They are just persuading anyone at all – merely fostering horrified resentment. It is quite enough that the media are constantly inviting all the remainers (e.g. just now on R4 PM programme ex-MP Sarah Wolleston) to bang on and on about Mr Cummings, without Tory MPs cheerfully throwing the government’s majority away.

    • mancunius
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      Typo – ‘They are just not persuading anyone at all’ etc

  65. Roy Grainger
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Companies who are perfectly capable of paying dividends have stopped them too – it is a political decision – used to pay bumper bonuses for the board no doubt. When Ed Milliband asked a FTSE 100 CEO “Why do you have to pay dividends ?” it wasn’t such a stupid question after all was it. In due course shareholders (the owners) will have their say.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

      Alas the shareholder rarely get enough say in things.

      • Bob
        Posted May 28, 2020 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

        “Alas the shareholder rarely get enough say in things.”

        Joe Public is forced by the tax system to hold his shares through nominees, which means that he doesn’t get a vote at the AGMs, the fat cat fund managers get to vote for him instead and when it comes to voting on remuneration packages for their fellow fat cat golfing chums guess how they vote?

  66. glen cullen
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    The French Navy are still escorting illegal migrant boats into British waters. Brexit Party Leader Nigel Farage catches them trying to cover it up

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      Indeed. Well done Farage yet again.

  67. M Brandreth- Jones
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    I am not sure how Barnier’s offer of a two year extension toBrexit would help the UK but I would be glad of any input.

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

      For God’s sake hasn’t the Brexit saga gone on for long enough?

      • M Brandreth- Jones
        Posted May 28, 2020 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        Yes ,but we have been manipulated , how can we use that to help us out of the financial mess we are experiencing? We are looking at a different playing field now ( with no players)

  68. Oscar wildebeest
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou has had bad news regarding extradition today in a Canadian Hearing.
    She has been under house arrest since December. It must be awful under house arrest, one can’t imagine

  69. Turboterrier
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    With all the toing and froing over Cummings there is a simple solution.

    All the PM has to do is:

    Tell the 40 odd back benchers who are looking for their 15 minutes of fame, that Cummings will resign, but he expects all 40 of them to resign and leave it to the electorate to make their decision. With an 80 seat majority I’am sure that the PM could survive with 40 should the worse happen.

    • rose
      Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      The daftest thing was the way the Labour ones and the media thought the matter should be referred down to the Cabinet Secretary. You would think everyone was agreed he had more than enough power already, but apparently not. He must hold control the PM’s advisers as well.

    • oldwulf
      Posted May 28, 2020 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      So ….. according to the Telegraph .. Durham Police say “Investigation concludes Boris Johnson’s most senior aide did commit a ‘minor breach’ of the lockdown rules when he drove to Barnard Castle”

      Maybe Mr Cummings should express his disagreement/disappointment with this view but, in the spirit of compromise, make a £10k donation to NHS charities…. so that we can all move on.

      At least Mr Cummings has flushed out a number of disloyal Tory MPs. maybe that has been his plan all along ?

  70. oldwulf
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    “The government does not have the resources to keep all companies going that lack a strong business offer for the new conditions post shutdown” = redundancies.

  71. ed2
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    he only way to sustain our living standards is to get everyone back to work.

    Thanks for trying with the common-sense approach, but it never worked with TM.

  72. a-tracy
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Coronavirus test and trace, if the government want to lock people up for a fortnight because they may have had the misfortune to work or come near to someone who has covid19 for 15 minutes then you should pay them two weeks furlough not two weeks ssp! Change this or it won’t happen.

    You will close an entire business will you? Will you close an entire hospital or care home and just send all the workers home immediately if one of them is tested with covid19 – you can’t do that, test immediately and if you are positive then isolate for 14 days but this is just silly.

    I actually admired Cummings for not just ditching his job when colleagues were diagnosed with covid19 the night before, I thought he was being responsible closing the office down, allocating work, putting his job before his families welfare whilst he had no symptoms and was the last man standing. All the other MPs just cleared off all over the Country the day before sod the rest of us carrying this virus on public transport and back to their family homes, and now these very people bay for blood it’s truly pathetic.

    Are you honestly saying a positive test for a care home boss and everyone working with them has to down tools immediately and leave the residents to their own devices all on SSP. Don’t be stupid. Say a security guard gets it at number 10 do you all have to close down? What if you work with ten people you are all 2m apart but you use the same toilet 🚽 washing hands after each use etc. Does everyone still go home for 14 days? You public servants on full sick pay haven’t got a blimin clue. Get a grip of them John please.

  73. Yossarion
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Why can you fly halfway around the World but you can’t self isolate with your Family in an empty property on your Fathers farm, what am I missing.This plague did not come in through Weymouth on a rat infested ship it came by international air travel that is still on going on a daily bases?.

  74. Chris S
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    Finally the BBC have had no option other than to reprimand Newsnight and its presenter, Maitlis personally, for the biased way she hosted the programme on Tuesday evening, including an opening rant which she personally wrote and in which she was grossly partial, making no effort to be even-handed.

    The subject was, of course, still the Dominic Cummings non-story which the Corporation seems unable to move on from.

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

      I sincerely hope that the govt will de-criminalise non payment of the BBC Licence due to the BBC’s continual breaches of the Royal Charter and abuse of their dominant position in the broadcasting business.

      Also, I think it’s time that the Balen Report was made available to the people who paid for it – the general public!

  75. M Brandreth- Jones
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Business and science.Whose science is put forward? It is offensive to calculate risk with R numbers. If it was your child wife ,husband mother etc included as a number , how would you feel? Every individual is important.

    I read a paper which stated a scientist tested for Covid and there wasn’t any response whatsoever, however after 90 days it was self limiting, so distancing does help the spread and hopefully if there are fewer people with infections the self limiting process will take effect. Other virus are also similar as is some wart virus’s, however this does not mean immunity is in place.

  • 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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