Reviewing the extent of the state

Government activity has expanded massively as a result of the decision to lock down the country to combat the virus. It is time to roll back many of these areas to bring budgets back towards balance after a huge borrowing splurge.

 9 million people are now effectively additional employees of the state thanks to the Furlough scheme. Most of their wages are paid by taxpayers with the express requirement that they must not work for their employers whilst being so paid.  It is important as the government  has indicated that rapid progress is now made with getting these people back into full time or part time working with their employer, to save the jobs and slash the costs to government.

The state has paid to control the workload and actions of the private health sector. During the height of the crisis there was an understandable surge in NHS spending, but there was also a drop in health output.  Most private sector medicine stopped altogether, and most  non urgent treatments stopped in the NHS. As a result health GDP fell. We need to get health output up to at least the levels it was at in January, and return to a system where private money as well as public comes  in  to cover the costs.

There are also an number of other areas where the state procured resources and capacity by contract to deal with the emergency, where it could now review those contracts, save some money and free capacity for others.

The state has taken upon itself paying to sustain  the full level of costs of public transport when it was carrying three or four times as many people as it is today.  There needs to be some thought of what demand for the next two or three years is likely to be and what level of fare revenue is likely. It would be unrealistic to carry on recruiting people to the railway for example when the forecast demand is going to be so much lower than last year. Current loss levels are unsustainable for any length of time, and thought needs to be given to a pathway for winning back lost passengers.

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  1. Andy
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    A shocking sight in Beirut. A lovely city which has endured many tough years – and now this.

    It looks like this was a blast at a factory storing chemicals. A type of fertiliser.

    It demonstrates the importance of proper regulation for substances which can be dangerous.

    The UK chemical industry is facing a billion pound bill to duplicate regulation after Brexit.

    Is this the sort of red tape you all want scrapped?

    If so, better tell the neighbours if they have a chemical plant next door.

    • agricola
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:35 am | Permalink

      As usual, disinformation for a lost remain cause.

      Beirut in the distant past was a thriving city, a centre of commerce with a good quality of life. Since those halcion days it has been a war zone as is Lebanon that contains it. Religious terrorism is at the heart of it, combined with the proliferation of the same in the countries surrounding it. Western and Russian involvement has not helped but the middle east is inherently rotten.

      Fertilizer is great for terrorist bomb making. Do we know whether it was an accident caused by a lack of a raft of EU regulation or was it a terrorist act mistaken or deliberate

      To then connect it with the UK chemical industry , its potential lack of regulation post Brexit, and a vast sum of money plucked from the ether is worthy of Pravda. Pure “Bovine Skattology” as is your norm.

      Your final attempt to spread fear poses the question , who are you working for beyond your own ego.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:18 am | Permalink

        It does not require “a raft” of any regulation, to prevent the storage of huge quantities of explosive or potentially explosive material, as a single mass, in populated areas.

        However, this is an object lesson, as to what happens when it is either absent, or when it is not enforced.

        • MPC
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:59 am | Permalink

          Nobody on this site is suggesting a bonfire of Health & Safety Regulations, that would be stupid. Mr Redwood must be very patient to allow posts like this.

        • Mike Wilson
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:12 am | Permalink

          However, this is an object lesson, as to what happens when it is either absent, or when it is not enforced.

          Storing potentially dangerous chemicals in a potentially dangerous way is … potentially dangerous. Who would have thought that? I blame Brexit, of course.

        • Lynn Atkinson
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

          Well the Greeks proved that when they stored explosives in the Parthenon – complete before the explosion. Luckily Elgin had already bought and saved the marbles, or they would be pea-shingle on the soles of tourists too.
          No wonder Greece joined the EU – one rubbish decision after another!

          • JohnK
            Posted August 6, 2020 at 11:20 am | Permalink


            You should surely know that it was the Turks who used the Parthenon as a powder magazine. It was blown up by a Venetian shell. The Greeks had nothing to do with it, they were occupied by the Turks.

            All this took place in the 17th Century, well over a hundred years before Lord Elgin bribed the local Turkish officials and took the Parthenon marbles.

            Don’t let the facts get in the way of your anti-Greek prejudices will you?

      • Fred H
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:46 am | Permalink

        just one element in sedition.
        But it gets published.

      • Everhopeful
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:08 am | Permalink


    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:48 am | Permalink

      From reports is seems that this Ammonium Nitrate was confiscated from a ship and then being incompetently stored by an arm of the government.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:21 am | Permalink

        Yes, it’s very strong evidence, for the absolute need for competent government.


        • Lifelogic
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

          Competent yes – but far, far smaller. Doing the rather few important things they can do better than individuals or businesses can.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:00 am | Permalink

      You beat me to it, Andy.

      It’s not just the regulations, but the resources allocated to inspection and to enforcement.

      If these were done properly in the UK then we would never have had the disaster at Grenfell Tower, nor horse meat being sold as beef by an abattoir in Todmorden, nor plenty besides.

      Councils have been forced by Tufton Street doctrine – which dictates much in the UK – to out-source building regulation to private “consultancies”, which are often tied up with for-profit construction themselves. A similar thing happened in the US with airworthiness certification.

      If people fail to make certain that bad things cannot happen, then they will – ALWAYS.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:34 am | Permalink

        Well you will!

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink

        Grenfell Tower was incompetence by the state sector from start to finish.
        It was idiotic to clad the building anyway (to save trivial heat losses – the climate alarmist religion) and certainly to do it totally incompetently and very dangerously. The building control inspectors and fire regulators clearly failed, the fire brigade failed to fully put out the initial fire. Then perhaps the worse error of all fire chiefs idiotically send people back to their flats when it was perfectly clear just from the from the early TV pictures that the fire was totally out of control.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:30 am | Permalink

          Utter rubbish.

          • Jiminyjim
            Posted August 5, 2020 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

            I have pointed out before, M i C, that you show your complete ignorance of the Grenfell Tower incident through posting your uninformed nonsense. The tragedy had multiple causes, as you’ll find out if you ever bother to await the expert report.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:33 am | Permalink

          Yes, all crimes are the fault of the police for failing to stop them.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted August 5, 2020 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

            Well a huge number of crimes occur due to the total lack of any real deterrents in the system. This is the fault of the government, the WOKE diversity (rather than results) driven police, the government, the courts and the criminal justice system.

            The police even announce they are not remotely interested in shoplifters to egg them on and augment them one assumes.

      • Fred H
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

        You found a kindred spirit. Accident or design?

        • Everhopeful
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:10 am | Permalink

          The latter I have no doubt!

      • graham1946
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

        Horse meat? Fancy bringing that up and trying to pass it off as a purely British problem. That started in the EU. There were flaws in EU regulation for tracing. Mostly Romania Netherlands, France, Ireland and Poland if I remember well. Didn’t think it important to mention the EU part for some reason? Todmorden was small fry.

        • margaret howard
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 3:42 pm | Permalink


          So how does the far worse Mad Cow Disease scandal fit into your scheme of things?

          Can’t blame that on anybody else but our own industry poisoning herbivore cattle with the ground up remains of their own species.

          And unlike the horse meat episode millions of animals had to be incinerated and countless people died a horrible death.

          • graham1946
            Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

            No good trying ‘whataboutery’. That could go on for ever. Why would mad cow disease fit into my scheme of things? It was wrong and I don’t defend it, anymore than whatever was the cause of foot and mouth – usually human greed or error. You are so blinded by the EU religion, you cannot even accept that the EU can do any wrong can you?

          • gregory martin
            Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

            It fits into this conversation because you are ignorant of the facts. The material in question originated in a Dutch processing plant. It was processed in the UK to lower Euro regulated standards of temperature. The disease was not found in Europe as they did not test for it.The animal incident you relate regarding ‘millions’ of animals incinerated’ was an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001 (of dubious origins, some say it was political diversion.Etc ed)
            The total incidence of vCJD is 177 cases to date, not the ‘hundreds of thousands’ predicted by Prof Ferguson, of virus fame. It is not proven that even these deaths result from meat eaten.

    • Richard1
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:24 am | Permalink

      Yes all over the world (outside the EU) industrial premises are exploding left and right, only in the EU are there never accidents. The collapse of the Turin bridge must have been fake news for example. The US has much lower incidence of food poisoning from salmonella and campylobacter than the EU (ie from chickens). How can this be when they chorine wash chicken (like the EU does for salad) and we have all those protectionist regulations? Must all be Tory fake news. Etc

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

        Yes 33,000 die of food poisoning in the EU every year. Amazing as their ‘government is so competent’ 😱

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      Andy you need to move to the EU where you will be happy. So will we be.

      • Andy
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:23 am | Permalink

        I can’t. Free movement has ended. Tory MPs voted to scrap it.

        Free movement was not just the right of Europeans to come here.

        It was our right to go to live, work, study, retire there.

        It was taken from us against our will by a government elected by a minority of voters.

        The vast majority of Europeans can choose which of 30 countries they want to live in.

        Britons, uniquely, have lost this right. Taken from us by the Tories.

        • dixie
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

          But you said you 0wn two houses in France (January 26, 2019 at 8:56pm).

          Have you been forced to sell them, or were you lying then or now?

        • gregory martin
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

          Rubbish, of course you can go. If needs must, just jump in a rubber dinghy and go. No doubt the French navy will escort you in.
          I can guarantee that .

        • Lynn Atkinson
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

          Any go to your longterm French homes in a rubber dingy if necessary – I’ll pay! Take Martin with you, he needs some first hand experience of 50% youth unemployment delivered by the ‘competent EU government’- and that was in the good times!

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:35 am | Permalink

        If I could have my time over again then I would have taken full advantage of the wonderful opportunities offered by the UK’s membership, certainly.

        And my family would not be speaking English as a first language.

        • Fred H
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

          turned your back on Welsh, then?
          Yaki Da!

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted August 6, 2020 at 6:35 am | Permalink

            I’m not Welsh, Fred.

        • Lynn Atkinson
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

          You had 47 years! What was the problem? Couldn’t find the Severn Bridge?

      • beresford
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:20 am | Permalink

        One suspects that with some Remoaners it is more a case of sulking because they lost and teacher told them that there are no winners and losers, rather than a genuine desire to live in the EU.

    • Edward2
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      As each day draws us closer to finally leaving the EU, I notice you Andy getting more unhinged and extreme in your posts.
      Even the slightly more reasonable Martin with his twenty five posts a day seems to be descending down the same path.
      Conflating the explosion in Beirut with exiting the EU can only be described as BDS (Brexit Derangement Syndrome).

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      Is this the sort of red tape you all want scrapped?

      It is difficult to imagine quite how twisted the wires that make up your brain must be to come up with crap like that. But, no, you are right. I voted to leave the EU because I HATE the way that dangerous chemicals are stored safely and I want the regulations REMOVED IMMEDIATELY so that we too can have terrible explosions like that in Beirut.

      I looked at some footage this morning on the BBC – there seemed to be a load of smoke in the air before the explosion, suggesting the place was on fire before the bang. Pesky fire regulations eh? When we are finally out of the EU we can, presumably, get rid of them! Or could we? Maybe we could have our own, for safety’s sake!

      • Andy
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

        This is my point exactly. You did not vote to leave the EU because you care about chemical regulation. Providing chemicals are regulated you don’t mind how it is done. The UK chemical industry says what we have is fine and that replicating it is costly and pointless. And yet the UK government has chosen to interpret your leave vote as a vote to scrap existing shared regulation and to replicate it at considerable unnecessary expense.

        The same applies to aviation safety. Nuclear safety. Medicines regulation. We still need all this stuff after Brexit but we now pay their entire bill ourselves rather than splitting it 28 ways. Companies have to duplicate all regulation.

        The same also applies to CE marks, student exchanges, Galileo – you did not vote to leave on the basis of any of this stuff. The government has chosen to chuck it all away. Pointlessly – and in every case against the advice of industry and experts.

        You probably voted to leave because of immigration. Though some of you like to pretend it was about sovereignty. Not a single one of you thought it through. And none of you will get what you voted for. But you will get a monumental – and pointlessly costly – bureaucratic mess.
        Reply We did vote to make our own decisions including on laws. We can keep the good ones and dump the bad ones- bring it on.

        • Edward2
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

          You obviously completely lack industry knowledge andy, and are getting overexcited as Brexit approaches.

          Health and safety laws and quality requirements and other regulatory laws connected to the industries you mention were developed in the UK way before the EU took over in the 1990s.
          The UK government has never said it wants to scrap safety regulations for UK industry.
          Neither have the industries you mention.

          All these industries currently meet all the regulations and requirements that apply in every market they trade with in the world.
          There is no extra cost
          We just carry on.
          As an independent nation.
          Like the 150 other nations.

        • graham1946
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

          Splitting the bill 28 ways – you should be on the stage with wit like that. You forget 19 are takers, not contributors.

          • anon
            Posted August 11, 2020 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

            19 takers not for long and watch the politics change.

            We would do well to have proper offshore processing of illegal immigrants.

    • Anonymous
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Of course, bridges have not collapse in Italy whilst in the EU.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      How much regulation does a chemical need? I’d be surprised if your £1 bn figure was accurate.

  2. Mark B
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    And what of all those extra powers it gave itself. Will the government be repealing those ? Somehow I doubt it.

    • BOF
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      +1 What meaning does democracy have now as law is made by Ministerial decree and statutory instrument?
      Citizens rights have been trashed.

  3. Stephen Priest
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    We need Docklands Light Railway trains for all local services across the UK

    • Adam
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      Local Light Railway tracks arranged in a figure of 8 shape could run permanently in the same direction without obstruction.

      Everyone living within the figure 8 shape, and many of those outside, would be within close range. Walks and bikes would assist reach. Cars would be less-needed.

    • jerry
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      @Stephen Priest; How does the DLR keep passenger safe, any more than any other overground railway system, has the rider-ship of DLR been any better than other overland railway systems during the Covid-19 crisis?

      • a-tracy
        Posted August 6, 2020 at 7:42 am | Permalink

        Well you could say the DLR keeps the drivers safe.

        Do you have any facts on attacks on passengers on the DLR from March to July this year?

        • jerry
          Posted August 6, 2020 at 8:46 am | Permalink

          @a-tracy; Stop trying to troll, anyone with a single clue understood the context, Covid-19, our hosts to which we are all replying was dull of it.

          But yes there is evidence that DO or Driver-less trains are physically less safe for passengers, in the same way as compartment stock had become in the early 1980s.

          As for the ‘driver’ of driver-less trains, in other words those who monitor the system from offices, are probably at more risk of CV19 than a driver cocooned in their driving cabs at the front of the actual train…

          • a-tracy
            Posted August 7, 2020 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

            troll? eh

            I was asking you a question, do you have any facts on attacks on passengers on the DLR from March to July this year and for comparison purposes attacks on overland trains or buses in the same period would be interesting don’t you think?

  4. Nigl
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    Do not wear masks

    Do not suppress the virus too much

    Track and trace stopped in March.

    Wear masks

    Lockdown to suppress the virus

    Track and trace is essential.

    Thus the diametrically opposite views of the scientists you are deferring to.

    Yesterday I went to the dentist for my appointment cancelled by you early in May. A problem was found that potentially could mean a lost tooth. Had I been allowed the original appointment this would have been mitigated. The dentist told me there was no reason for the shutdown what they are doing today, they could have done then. The toilets are still shut although I can use them in a garden centre. The receptionist ignores that saying that for people with, for instance prostrate problems the decision is in humane.

    Thank you government. You haven’t got a b****y clue.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      Open schools, shut pubs. What’s the connection.
      Tell us John why is the government putting the RFA ships up for international tender because of EU rules when in 21 weeks time we will no longer be bound by EU rules.
      Still the civic Serpents can’t come to terms with the referendum.

      • Everhopeful
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:24 am | Permalink

        The connection is.
        The Marxist teaching union has Boris by the wotsits.
        And the pub thing is basically ( cleverish) moral blackmail.
        “Oh you teachers won’t go back to work“ ( which they don’t want to do anyway in order to complete the destruction of capitalism).
        “But you are happy for the PUBS to be open. You prefer working class hot beds of iniquity and right wing politics to children’s ( bleat, bleat) edyooocashun!”
        Will it work though?
        Methinks the far, extreme, commie Left has already outwitted Our Dear Leader and he will cave as ever.No school in September!
        Has he already agreed to suffocation if they go bemasked?
        Look, he has imploded everything because of pressure from the Left.

        Surely NOW is the time for true conservative MPs to stand/speak up?
        Do we have to beg?

    • Everhopeful
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      And I’ll tell you what.
      MY dentist KNEW about the coming shut down.

    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      Mr.Johnson is a political one trick pony, ideal for promoting London and perfect for the Olympics. He joined the Brexit bandwagon late and the terms of our exit are far from clear or satisfactory. Dominic Grieve’s opinion is looking stronger. The virus has found him out along with others. An inappropriate phrase comes to mind.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      for instance prostrate problems the decision is in humane.

      Andy has a prostrate problem. He prostrates before the EU at all times.

    • John E
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      +1 on the dentist. Mine said exactly the same.

  5. agricola
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    The key to a return to some form of normality is the roll out of the 90 minute, test to result, test for Covid19. Combine it with the use of face masks in places of work, and anywhere indoors where contact with strangers is necessary, to increase confidence levels high.

    Under the above circumstances a return to places of work should be mandatory combined with a government supported recognition that working from home has many peripheral benefits, so do it where possible, fully or in part.

    Whether the PC adherents like it or not, special attention should be given to the BAME areas of our country for testing, living habits etc, because they have been proved to be particularly vulnerable. Additionally we need testing at all points of entry to the UK to end the importation of Covid19.

  6. JayGee
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    How about rolling back the powers that your government has taken over our lives?

    Stop fiddling, stop interfering, stop hurling out half-baked ideas that have got us in the mess we’re now in. Stop the arrogance and ignorance of your government.

    As Nigl said – “Thank you government. You haven’t got b****y clue.”

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:40 am | Permalink


      • JoolsB
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:18 am | Permalink


        • John E
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:22 am | Permalink


          • Lynn Atkinson
            Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:52 pm | Permalink


    • Nigl
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:19 am | Permalink


    • Anonymous
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink


      It was “Flatten the curve – save the NHS.” which we did. (Let’s have some praise.)

      Now it’s “Zero CV-19” with no end date.

      This is an assault on basic human freedoms by a Tory government of all things and it’s in danger of being permanent.

    • James Bertram
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:39 am | Permalink


    • glen cullen
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      They the government believe we the people can’t even blow ouir own nose without there help……well guess what, we the people have been using hankerchiefs and getting through the winter flue for centurys

    • Timaction
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:59 am | Permalink


  7. Freeborn John
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    The government needs to create certainty for a British business that we will be trading with the EU in WTO terms from Jan 1. It is irresponsible that uncertainty can persist until October.

    It is unacceptable for the U.K. to give the EU a veto over British economic policy through the “state aid” provisions it is seeking. Continuing to discuss obviously unacceptable measures to the last minute is simply counter productive encouraging EU intransigence, creating business uncertainty and blocking trade deals with non-EU states who perceive that we are not acting like an independent state they can do business with.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:39 am | Permalink


    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:38 am | Permalink

      This is absolutely CRITICAL. I can see no more long grass. Deal with this now for crying in a bucket.

    • beresford
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      Anyone would think they were stalling to postpone the evil day when a climbdown is announced, in the hope that something will happen in the meantime to curtail the backlash.

      • Timaction
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 3:44 pm | Permalink


        • a-tracy
          Posted August 6, 2020 at 7:45 am | Permalink


  8. Ian @Barkham
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Good morning Sir John

    I am disturbed by the phrases the State and Government paying for this that and the other. It seems a deceitful ruse by those that have grabbed power.

    The UK does not have a Sovereign Wealth Fund i.e. there is nothing Government does to generate money(printing aside) for its own use. All they constantly do is take out another loan and charge against the taxpayer.

    If an individual went out to a bank, took out a loan in my name, grabbed the money and had a nice time, leaving me to pay for it when the authorities caught up, that would be fraud. If the Police and the Courts caught up with the perpetrator they would find a new home in jail. Yet every day our Governments do this to every individual in the UK, nowadays it is not to fulfill manifesto promises, or keep us safe – but to Virtual Signal. For the most part it would appear this VS is to do nothing but say we are here and let the MsM know they are following their agenda.

    Politics in general has become corrupting on those that are said to serve.

  9. Nigl
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Inexplicable failure to quarantine allowed 10000 infected passengers into the U.K. in March.

    Only in politics and the civil service are people who frankly have caused the death of people and assisted us into penury allowed to continue, even worse having the hubris to think they are capable of solving problems they have contributed to.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:38 am | Permalink


    • Anonymous
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink


      I commented yesterday in response to Martin in Cardiff that many successful CV-19 countries are near monocultures.

      This was not to sound racist but to point out that border closure can only be done in a country that does not care about being called racist or knows it won’t be called it.

      We have so many different cultures here that international travel is vitally important.

      PS, If I wanted to live in a white country I’d be living in one. I had a job opportunity in Australia ten years ago but (being a London boy at heart) prefered the UK and its diversity – for all its faults.

    • beresford
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      Not merely ‘allowed to continue’, promoted or given honours or peerages.

  10. Nigl
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    And in another triumph for our politicians senior conservatives are complaining that the WDA could cost us up to 180 billion pounds.

    And who voted for it? Err. They did.

  11. davews
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    Will the new 90 minute test be any more reliable than the current PCR test which has an unknown false positive rate and we are basing current policies on these false positives? Hospital admissions and death rates are now in single figures. Masks have not given people confidence, far from it, everybody is now walking around like scared zombies thinking wearing a mask keeps them safe. It does nothing of the sort, evidence of using them remains marginal at best. Oh. I will be a train passenger today, doing my bit to help that sector.

  12. BW
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    If it is difficult to recruit for the railway without demand. Why, at a time when millions are losing their jobs, is it perfectly ok to stuff the House of Lords with a further 36 completely unnecessary peers and enormous cost to the tax payer? There is absolutely no demand whatsoever for more peers. It tends to ruin any economic argument put forward. And now IDS tells us about a further 160 billon EU bill. Maybe some more peers will solve that.

    • Adam
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:03 am | Permalink

      It is also wrong to recruit for a railway without demand.

      Adjusting a railway to what the population needs would be a more appropriate objective than one of winning back lost passengers. Restoring to normal should involve assisting people when a new norm dawns, rather than discouraging change from an alternative path solely to revert to what they were previously doing wastefully.

      Similarly, we don’t need more HoL peers wasting. Fewer and better would be more efficient.

      • beresford
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:34 am | Permalink

        There is ‘low demand’ for railways because the events that people attended have been cancelled due the virus restrictions. Few people travel on the national railways for fun, particularly in a stuffy facemask. Before the lockdown I was a regular traveller, for beer festivals, steam railways, theatre and cinema, or just a day at the seaside.

        • Adam
          Posted August 6, 2020 at 5:52 am | Permalink

          beresford: The leisure activity you describe is good fun that supports rail demand for both to exist.

    • Timaction
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      What idiots signed us up for that? Oh yes Boris and his party.

  13. Ian @Barkham
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    The main fault line that has now been highlighted is that big isn’t better. The NHS has a corrupting influence on how things are managed, what is right for London, isn’t automatically right for Harrogate.

    Yes it is good we all pay our NHI (as in national health Insurance), but as an insurance how it is spent is better served by the market offering the best most efficient service for OUR money.

    The NHS as with a lot, and I mean a lot of Government Dominated businesses, doesn’t offer value for money as it is insular and aloof in its management. There is an imbalance in the nature of government control that becomes not only disingenuous to those that use the services, those that pay for them and those that work in them.

    When we hear of a bad practice at one outlet it then paints a picture of untruths for the whole service. That is not good.

    This happens in every corner of society were Government directly runs a service. Governments cant run a ‘piss up in a brewery’ and even they should recognize that. As I keep saying one size cannot be made to fit all.

    Government advise based on real challengeable peer reviewed facts is all that is needed. In pandemic terms most of the Country would have adjusted moved on and created a direction through this situation, if only Government hadn’t been so authoritarian, nannying and stupid.

    It is right to remember we have a small corner of society that does not adhere to advice rules and laws. They have carried on oblivious to a need of their fellow man and are perpetuating the situation, this isn’t there concern so why should they care. But why also should Government punish everyone else, as that is what it is with this ludicrous top down form of dictatorship. This approach cannot make a difference.

    Bearing in mind what we have to accept as science whether UK or from WHO, this virus cannot live out side a Human host for more than 7 days. So after 28days of lock down and social distancing measures, with everyone playing their part – this virus no longer exists. Go figure!

  14. Ian @Barkham
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    I think its right for to me to ask, how come when I voted for Conservative in the expectation of the return of low tax, free enterprise, law & order and a reduced State I finished up with a Socialist Dictatorships?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:04 am | Permalink

      Certainly no sign of sensible economic growth policies from Boris and Sunak yet. The first Budget was tax increasing, he axed 90% of entrepreneurs relief to further destroy incentives. More costly and damaging red tape everywhere too – like making tax digital and attacks on the self employed.

      The stamp duty holiday is sensible but why just a holiday? Up to 15% is absurd. Relaxation of planning is sensible too.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:46 am | Permalink

        There are tens of thousands of sites with pp and no build. I own one. Why? There is no demand for housing from people with money! Plenty from boat people of course, if they deign to leave their 4 star hotels where they are ‘creating serving jobs for native British people’.

        • Ian Wragg
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:31 am | Permalink

          if you build on there the government would probably buy to give to one of the professionals that have recently been taxied over the channel.
          They are all professionals so we are assured.
          We are staying in a 4star hotel on the south coast and its a pleasure as all the staff are British. They are every bit as professional as any other nationality.

        • Ian @Barkham
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:01 am | Permalink

          It is said that the each major House Builders (and they from a business perspective should have) have a 10 year land bank already secured with PP.

          They only move when they see a market uplift to maximize profit.

          • Lynn Atkinson
            Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

            To get a profit, for decades there has been no housing market outside the south east, for ‘second hand homes’. I know of dozens that have been for sale for 10 years.

    • Bryan Harris
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:16 am | Permalink


      There wasn’t much of a choice was there…. But yes, I also voted for a non-socialist party

      Unless the Tories resume their right of centre politics, we are going to start voting for any party that comes close to that.

  15. Sakara Gold
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    The Chinese plague virus pandemic is not over – every country (possibly excepting Italy) that has relaxed their lockdown has experienced a “second wave”. The government has just re-imposed travel restrictions on Luxembourg – home of the European Parliament – as their number of cases has spiraled again.

    Local authorities are still complaining that the “health” minister Matt Hancock is still not providing them with sufficient information (postcode, NHS number, details of contacts etc) of those who have tested positive, this is still hampering the test and trace effort. Why does the government continue to restrict access to this critical information? It is causing conspiracy theories online about the true number of cases.

    Considering the panicky and unbelievably incompetent government response to the virus crisis in the spring, we should be accelerating our planning for the probable winter flu/virus resurgence here and not cutting funding.

    Currently, we cannot even agree on exactly how many unfortunates have perished due to the Chinese plague virus. The BBC website publishes three sets of figures; take your pick.

    Cutting back healthcare spending and ending fulough support for those who have lost their jobs will cause further damage to the economy and risks more disruption to the NHS. Stockpiling PPE and the new fast testing kits seems a sensible precaution.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      There was no ‘first Wave’ never mind ‘second wave’ – the only wave I’m looking forward to is the one we are all going to give Boris as he retires to a care home!

  16. Steven
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    We are now living in a totalitarian socialist state where any and all of us can be subjected to house arrest on the whim of a politician, forced to wear mask that are far more of a threat than a protection and reliant on state aid which can be withdrawn with no appeal. Meanwhile the alleged democracy that existed is gone and the remaining wealth of the country is looted wholesale by enormous bailouts for the rich, money printing and the transfer of most economic activity to a few large corporations. How long before cash is ended and compulsory tracking and vaccinations are instituted?
    In a few short months we will have gone from the ilusion of living in a free country to propagandised, vaccinated, half starved prisoners.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:40 am | Permalink

      softly, softly, catchee monkey ?

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      Boris seems to have lost his mind. Where are the men in the grey suits! He MUST go, one way or the other.

      • Anonymous
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:20 am | Permalink

        His buffoon-ish manner is now looking like it’s real.

        It’s extremely irritating to see when one’s country and one’s own livelihood and home is at risk.

        An old Etonian will never know that queasy and unsettling feeling.

        I don’t want a jolly-japes manner right now.

        I want a Churchill.

        Yesterday I was upbraided for saying the young had no future. And the person who upbraided me said she’d come through WW2 and helped rebuild Britain.

        The difference being that (without wishing to sound callous) Britain had many different advantages then including factories and industries but a depleted workforce.

        We’re going through an economic crisis of war time magnitude without the population deficit at the end of it – to enable full employment and rebirth. And the people are not being toughened up but having their confidence to go out destroyed by their own government and institutions.

      • Iago
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:29 am | Permalink

        It is appalling that under the virus emergency regulations, the signature of only one doctor is needed to certify someone!
        Unfortunately for the country, Boris is not mad, but bad.

        • Lynn Atkinson
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

          I can find Three Doctors who disagree with you. – Boris has suffered cognitive problems after his illness.

        • Fred H
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

          Covid clearly has a very wide ranging effect.

    • Anonymous
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      We were told that this was temporary to ‘flatten the curve and save the NHS.’

      Well we’ve done that.

      Now the mission has changed to Zero-CV-19

      Without a vaccine this oppression is permanent and people are getting used to it.

      • glen cullen
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        Who told you it was temporary, even with a 3 week review the new regulations are in force for 12 months

    • James Bertram
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      Well said, Steven

  17. Lifelogic
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    Paying people not to work is clearly daft, the economy needs to adjust to new circumstances as soon as possible and get back to work. The state only has the money is can be extracted from these same businesses and individuals in the end anyway.

    What is needed is a large reduction in the size of the bloated and largely unproductive (often anti-productive) state sector, cheap reliable energy, real competitive freedom and choice in health care, education and the likes, a bonfire of red tape, abolition of the climate alarmist agenda, abolition of soft student loan for anyone with less than 3Bs at A levels and doing a proper degree in a sensible subject, large tax cuts and tax simplification.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:58 am | Permalink

      We have far too much of paying people not to work with the benefit system already and the absurdly restrictive employment laws.

    • Anonymous
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      Paying people NOT to make things is what got us into this disaster in the first place.

      We have also help create a military giant which does not think like we do.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      What is needed is a large reduction in the size of the bloated and largely unproductive (often anti-productive) state sector, cheap reliable energy, real competitive freedom and choice in health care, education and the likes, a bonfire of red tape, abolition of the climate alarmist agenda, abolition of soft student loan for anyone with less than 3Bs at A levels and doing a proper degree in a sensible subject, large tax cuts and tax simplification.

      Sorry, just trying out ‘cut and paste’.

  18. Bryan Harris
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    While people are forced to wear masks on public transport we are never going to see full trains or buses.

    Masks and social distancing cannot be allowed to be the new normal – That will be the death of us.

    With less traffic, perhaps now is the time to push ahead with badly needed railway improvements, because if the virus ‘suddenly goes away’ travel requirements will go back to what they were.

    • Anonymous
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      We are reaching a point where health is becoming the only purpose in life. Ironically most people choose to be unhealthy by being overweight yet all of a sudden health is so precious to them we can’t have fun anymore.

      There is no fun in this situation. Fun has been taken away. No indoor activities, no swimming, no comedy club, no pub gigs, no meeting with friends in pubs, no country pubs, no parties (insert your own here) – the things many of us used to love.

      Walking around freely on a sunny day or sitting on a train watching the view go by with the face uncovered and a coffee – FRESH AIR.

      I do not wonder that the young are growing impatient that their prime in looks and health is being wasted for as long as Martin in Cardiff wants – until Zero-CV19 which may be sometime never (and which was never the aim when Boris promised us that totalitarian restrictions imposed on us were temporary – those of us that warned they weren’t are looking more right by the day.)

      I doubt rail is ever going to go back to what it was but the situation on the railway will be this with the proposed flexible and one or two day weeks:

      – You can guarantee that everyone will want to travel to the cities on the same day, that’s just Sod’s Law.

      – You can also guarantee that major calendar events will still demand high volumes of traffic and probably on the same days and coincide with the above peaks in office traffic. That’s double Sod’s Law.

      This is a lot to demand from a transport system that has lost its bread and butter commuter payments. Unpredictable peaks with permanent slump.


      The railway is stuffed but we will still be paying for it – the Government (aka taxpayer) has put a lot of money up front for improvements and new rolling stock which is yet to be paid. A bit like mortgage defaulters putting their keys through the building society letter box – ex commuters think they’re saving on rail cards but they’ll soon be paying for them through taxes whether the railway exists or not.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      Masks and social distancing cannot be allowed to be the new normal – That will be the death of us.

      Yeah! Wearing a mask will kill loads of people. And, as for keeping away from someone who might have an infectious disease, what a potentially lethal idea that is.

      The mind boggles.

      • Bryan Harris
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        The lack of comprehension that so many like you have of the consequences of government policies and a 2nd lockdown are truly mid boggling…

        • Mike Wilson
          Posted August 6, 2020 at 12:12 am | Permalink

          The lack of comprehension that so many like you have of the consequences of government policies and a 2nd lockdown are truly mid boggling…

          Talking about a mind boggling lack of comprehension … I didn’t want the first lockdown – let the virus run its course has been my position. I think most of this government’s policies are absurd.

          That said, when there is an infectious virus about, wearing a mask seems pretty logical to me. I’ve seen people wearing them in operating theatres. There must be a reason for that. And, likewise, if I find myself in a room with someone who appears to be ill – sneezing and coughing all over the place, I tend to keep my (social) distance because (and I know you’ll find this funny) I don’t want to catch what they have. Weird, eh?

          • Bryan Harris
            Posted August 6, 2020 at 6:38 am | Permalink

            You put too much faith in masks – which are there in hospitals to protect against bacteria — Our virus is 1000 times smaller than bacteria and easily penetrates most masks..

            Still feeling safe following ill thought out ideas?

  19. Sea Warrior
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Sir John, what is the truth behind allegations here that the WDA might be costing us very much more than the £40 bn that we were told was our ‘divorce bill’?

    • Nigl
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:24 am | Permalink

      You won’t get an answer. I suspect too embarrassing politically and they are desperately looking for a way to hide it in the long grass. After Covid if there is a hint of a sell out on Brexit. Political toast.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:28 am | Permalink

        After Covid if there is a hint of a sell out on Brexit. Political toast.

        I do wish you folks would stop writing nonsense like that. At the next election you will vote Tory on the ‘anyone but Labour’ basis that most Tory voters adopt.

        None of you can seriously support the ‘party of government’ which is actually the ‘party of high immigration, high debt and big state’.

        It is seriously puzzling. You might as well vote Labour. What is the difference?

        • glen cullen
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 11:26 am | Permalink

          I agree – we really do need a new 3rd party

        • Fred H
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

          often the difference is between educated idiots, and ignorant idiots.
          Quelle Différence.

    • ChrisS
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Like Sea Warrior, I too would like to hear your view on the likely full cost of our eventual bill for leaving the EU. To my mind, this should be absolutely minimal considering the huge contributions we have made over half a century and it must include the full return of everything we have contributed to the Galileo project.

      Reply I have argued to the government t that we shoudd not [pay anything after December this year and unilaterally legislate for that.

      • Nigl
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        To your reply. Did you vote for Boris’s WDA that had the potential 180 billion liability in it. I thought so.

      • margaret howard
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 4:10 pm | Permalink


        “it must include the full return of everything we have contributed…”

        After we begged to join the EU and were finally successful, the EU spent 25% of its regional development fund to bring us up to scratch as we were then known as ‘sick man of Europe’.

        Will we have to pay that back as well?

        • Chris S
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

          We must have paid in net at least 100 times the amount they spent back then.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      We have already paid the £40 billion through delay in walking away. Do politicians really not understand that they have no locus, they are under direct orders from the Sovereigns?

      • glen cullen
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

        If the news about the committments in the WA are true….thats another £180bn

        • Lynn Atkinson
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

          You know Glen, an American once said ‘a Billion here, a billion there, pretty soon your talking big money’. The `uK is going to have to go bankrupt like continental countries regularly do, and we need to adopt the Italian attitude – so long as they are individually OK they don’t care whether the country is bankrupt. Traditionally we invert that and make personal sacrifices. A friend has today closed 38 shops, a business that took 3 generations to build. Quantify that cost.

          • glen cullen
            Posted August 6, 2020 at 8:32 am | Permalink

            Sad but true and yes I do blame this government

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      Who voted for the WDA and which party had it in its manifesto. Surely it died when the EU didn’t sign a trade deal before we changed our Government.

      Or was it democracy that died?

      • glen cullen
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

        I vote against what was on the ballot paper – nothing more nothing less

  20. Philip P.
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    That’s a good survey of the damage, Sir John. And yes, it is criminal damage – well said, Ian@Barkham!

    But why should we believe that the people that caused it are the ones to repair it?

    A lot of Cabinet resignations are now called for. We need a new team, people with plenty of previous government experience.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      what did it used to be a career out of Church, Military or Politics – Eton?

      • glen cullen
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        with a part-time job employed by another state

        • Fred H
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

          A loyal comrade, brother glen!

    • James Bertram
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      A new team, but proper Brexiteers also [IDS, Redwood, yes; May and cohorts NO].

    • Nigl
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      There is no certainty that other people could do a better job. Jacqui Smith resigned as Home Secretary in a rare moment of political honesty saying she wasn’t up to the job. Begs the question, why did she get it in the first case.

      Nevertheless surely there is bigger debate to be had as Dominic Cummings indicates vast swathes of the Civil Service are not fit for purpose, the question is, under the relentless glare of the media, mainstream and social, are our politicians similarly fit for purpose. I guess our contributors will have a view and what should we do about it.

      Certainly I have long thought that Politicians joining post university with PPE degrees, no other experience allowed to climb the greasy pole is the main reason for our travails. No project, people management, questioning skills etc has allowed the civil service to be what it is.

      Training is a crucial element in any business and HMG is rightly promoting it but zero for its Ministers, one rule for one etc again.

      We should get Insead or one of our renowned business colleges to devise a modular development programme that Ministers are mandated to attend with CPD at its heart.

      Until that happens we will have to rely on luck that we get a ‘good un’ Or put up with the shoddy, inefficient not thought through outputs that we sometimes get today.

      Boris’s cycle vouchers and calorie initiatives are prime examples of well intentioned, but not thought through ‘money wasting’ ventures inviting ridicule.

      • a-tracy
        Posted August 6, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

        “We should get Instead or one of our renowned business colleges to devise a modular development programme that Ministers are mandated to attend with CPD at its heart.”

        This has merit especially if the MP wants to become a Minister or Shadow Minister.

  21. Richard1
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Take this opportunity to get rid of HS2. It is even more of a white elephant now it’s clear people aren’t going to rush daily into city centres in the way they did. It’s a great excuse for a U-turn with no loss of face and the £100bn could be spent on something more useful – like not spending it at all.

    • James Bertram
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      Agree fully.

      • glen cullen
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 11:30 am | Permalink


    • Caterpillar
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 1:33 pm | Permalink


      HS2, a rare sensible Govt policy.

      • Mark
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

        How many will ride it in masks?

        • Caterpillar
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

          Zero. Timescales are different.

    • Chris S
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      Spot On !

    • anon
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

      HS2 is an excuse to build lots more house on the route. Builders make money from building etc. Immigration indirectly pushes demand for housing as the state pays the expensive rent and the private sector borrows to supply the box, but only if they like the risk return.

      Who is in favour of HS2? Who favours high illegal/legal immigration fro decades? Who favours mass building? Who benefits and who loses?

  22. JoolsB
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    At least the 9 million furloughed are temporary. It’s the other 6 or 7 million that work for the state permanently that bother me. When is any Government going to have the guts to cull the bloated pampered overpaid state employees many of them jobsworths on their gold plated tax payer funded pensions.

    Stop the furlough scheme if you want the private sector to get back to work. But first get your pathetic craven Government to lead by example and stand up to the unions and order the public sector, teachers etc. to get back to work immediately or else don’t bother. And of course that includes 650 MPs. Cancel summer recess and GET BACK TO PARLIAMENT. As many above have said your Government John haven’t got a bl—-dy clue.

    • The Prangwizardp
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      It’s time that in England we started to organise. Study the strategies, tactics and methods of XR and BLM. We need to start a campaign of civil disobedience, and I don’t mean refusing to wear a mask in Tesco.

      We must make life very uncomfortable for those who spend their time spitting in our faces, ignoring us, patronising and eroding our liberties and treating problems as they can be solved in quiet debate.. I’m not talking about the virus, but our fundamental Freedoms.

      • Iago
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:35 am | Permalink

        We are being betrayed in every direction, that is why they are taking our history away from us.

        • glen cullen
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 11:32 am | Permalink


    • Iain Moore
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      We are in a terrible situation, the private sector who used to be able to get on with their thing, if necessary work around the bureaucracy of public sector, is now being held hostage by that bureaucracy and inefficiencies of the state. The private sector needs the state to deliver on test and trace, and they aren’t. We seem to have empire building at PHE, and a turf war breaking out between them and local councils. Meanwhile, while pettifogging bureaucrats fight it out, the economy goes belly up.

  23. John E
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Could you remind us how long the Emergency Legislation will remain in force?

    It’s always easier to surrender our freedom in a panic than it is to prise it back from our rulers.

    • glen cullen
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      The new regulations expire in 12 months (there was written into the first SI a 3 weekly review – never seen one)

  24. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    It seems clear that the current Conservative government is very happy with extenduing the extent of the state. We have daily diktats taking more and more control and reducing our liberties and freedom. In the process, people have lost their lives prematurely as a consequence of the government’s actions, education has been disrupted and the economy has been trashed. We now read that Sunak is considering raising Business rates. The madness seems to have no end. One thing this virus has done seems to have been to addle the brains of those meant to govern us.

    • James Bertram
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink


  25. ChrisS
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    It seems to me that printing the money and accepting that eventually, this may lead to a short term spurt of inflation, is the only way we can deal with the cost of the pandemic. Taxation cannot be increased to the level required to repay it.

    Various suggestions have been made : One is that older people should have their homes and assets taxed to repay it. As they have mostly not been recipients of the money the government has spent, that hardly seems fair.

    Another has been that the Bank of England could issue some bonds at very low interest rates without an end date. This might be sensible as long as a future government has the right to buy them back at cost price at some point, if they are ever able to.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      One is that older people should have their homes and assets taxed to repay it.

      That suggestion would be met with a revolution.

      • Chris S
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

        Any Conservative Government that chooses to go down this route will never be re-elected. We have to hope that the two residents of Downing Street are sensible enough to realise it !

        I’m not holding my breath…………..

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      This isn’t tricky. All you need to do is increase immigration. Let’s face it, the Tory Party is the party of high immigration. Why do they do it? If you increase the population, you increase GDP. This increases the amount of tax collected. If you can keep spending even mildly under control, gradually you can get on top of things and pay the debt down.

      • glen cullen
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        When they said down to ‘tens of thousands’ they meant for one week in Dover by small boat

        • Fred H
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

          hundreds of small boats and dinghies in a compound near Dover. Bargains to be had when coming up for auction.

          Unless you don’t want to clean resulting sea-sickness, human waste, rotting food matter, gull droppings, abandoned dirty clothing, wet screwed up IDs, possibly smell of maritime flotsam, diesel, seaweed etc?
          Strong stomach required.

          • glen cullen
            Posted August 5, 2020 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

            Surely we’re keeping them in tip-top condition for the return to the French

      • Caterpillar
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

        The issue is that the high population increase ! with vertical, connected and innovative cities. This requires a switch to high quality (tall) rental to get the return from the land. The Govt though remains wedded to house ownership and sprawl. As the population moves to 75 million over the next 15 years, the sprawl model requires converted to houses, tarmac and e-car parks – how terrible the numbers you get are depend on how many square metres per head you estimate. It is not a good model as environment, farming etc.lose out. It is not a good model as emergency services have to cover large areas. It is not a good model as GDP per capita does not tend to increase, only GDP. Vertical, interconnected cities do not have these problems. If the ctd population increase model is the answer (and it will be whatever anyone says), it requires Conservatives not to think meddling with planning laws to encourage sprawl is the answer, it needs a switch to high quality tall rental.

        • graham1946
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

          We tried that in the 1960’s. Many people were taken out of pre-fabs and put into high rise flats with all the latest mod cons as were then available. Many had never had an indoor bath and none had central heating. People don’t want to live like that in the main and those places became slums and were or are being knocked down. Grenfell was one such. Too many people means we need population control, not trying forever to get a quart into a pint pot. Shame no government has any intention of doing it.

          • Caterpillar
            Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:56 pm | Permalink


            There will not be population control. Patel has already confirmed the low income threshold for immigration, it isn’t even above current GDP per capita. Conceptually one can think of an offspring/immigrant trading scheme analogous to carbon trading but people would be in uproar. However logical your call for population control it will not happen. The vertical route is then the reasonable way to go. Yes there are UK errors from which to learn, as well as some foreign city successes. The learning will indeed be needed to ensure that it is a high quality rental model embedded within mixed use, culturally rich cities.

            a slight aside:- During PM Thatcher’s years population looked like it was going to stay pretty constant in the mid 50 million level, right to buy and selling off council land seemed reasonable then. Since then the UK has committed to a population growth model and this will continue, whether you or I like it or not.

    • Mark
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      Undated low coupon stocks will likely fall sharply in price as interest rates start to normalise. It will then be easy to buy them back at a substantial discount later, as happened with 2 1/2% Consols and 3% War Loan. The losers will be those who invest in them: Consols got down to around £25 per £100 of stock if I remember correctly.

    • David Brown
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      Chris +1

  26. Adam
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Labour were daft to abolish tax relief on private medicine in 1997. Conservatives are usually more sensible, but not enough to restore it.

    Those who pay for private medicine continue paying to keep the NHS healthy, without using it as much, if at all. Now, people who need the NHS queue behind more others without choice, and pay more both for them and themselves! Why?

  27. Everhopeful
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Yes..but ALL the things that Covid enables were always in the commie blueprint.
    There for anyone to see. But people thought it was all a conspiracy theory.
    One rule was to make the state huge and get everyone dependent on it via basic income ( happening in a town near you…furlough!) and various others that if mentioned will get me deleted…involving “divide and rule” anyway.
    The question is…how to now stop the furlough (!).
    IDS said something about “dogs and bones” I believe…how very true.
    Unless of course the payments continue…….

  28. Nivek
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    “Government activity has expanded massively as a result of the decision to lock down the country to combat the virus.”

    I thought you were about to discuss the current state of our freedom – and I don’t mean the freedom to choose between brand-name baked beans and supermarket own labels.

    • glen cullen
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      Government activity expands in direct proportions to the decrease in civil freedoms

  29. BOF
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    With unnecessary quangoes, over staffed local government and bloated government at every level, including Parliament, the Lords and devolved government, the downtrodden taxpayer did not need to be forced to fund furlough as well.

    The unions are now firmly in charge. Teachers do not wish to return, CS’s enjoy being at home on full pay doing nothing and doctors surgeries are almost out of bounds to patients as doctors ‘shield’.

    It is all an utter disgrace. We have nothing to thank this Government for.

    • glen cullen
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      Unnecessary quangoes and unnecessary civil leaders – we have a lord mayor, a mayor, a regional mayor and a queens representative, there’s probably many more that I don’t know about

      (not forgetting The Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) for North West England and The North West Regional Assembly (NWRA)

      God the list goes on and on and on

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      Ah…but, they are doing a lot of Virtual Signaling following the agenda set by the MsM

  30. RichardP
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Sir John,
    Apologies for this being slightly off topic but I am concerned about the number of people I see driving whilst wearing face masks. It’s not just car drivers but also some bus and HGV drivers haven taken to wearing masks. I understand some driving lessons now last three hours, because of the cleaning regime required on the school cars, and I believe face masks are mandatory for driving schools.

    I know the possibility of hypoxia has been airily dismissed by face mask enthusiasts but with anything covering the mouth and nose this must surely be considered a risk. Face coverings are being made from a range of materials to a huge range of designs so safety testing is not a possibility.

    When promoting the use of face masks an analogy was regularly made with car seat belts, the only difference of course is that car seat belts have been thoroughly safety tested. Would it be a good idea for the Government to urgently assess the use of face coverings whilst driving before disaster strikes?

  31. BOF
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    OT This morning on R4 we (again) had Prof Ferguson. The same one from Imp. Col. whose record of crystal ball gazing (aka computer modelling) has always been no better that Gypsy Rose Lee.

    He finished with the now familiar mantra on vaccines. Only a matter of time before they become compulsory then?

  32. Iain Gill
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Re the trains, well London is empty BUT the train services carrying commuters into the capital are regularly tweeting that “This train has been reported as reaching social distancing capacity” others that were turn up and go are now demanding reservations the day before (when often commuters have little control how long it will take to get through traffic to the station). So I am not convinced the demand is not there, I am however convinced that the train companies cannot cope with even new reduced demand.

  33. Lester the Cynic
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    I’ve had an email from Priti Patel asking me for my views on the Free Movement of people…. the only problem with that is that I’m only able to answer Yes or No to a series of questions to which it would be impossible to answer No to
    Thereby giving the Government a thumbs up, I wanted to ask just when the flood of illegal immigrants being collected mid-channel and housed in 5 star hotels was ending, I’ve been of the opinion that Boris Johnson is a total disaster for some time, we need a Leader, people mock Donald Trump but we need someone similar and we need him NOW
    I speak as a lifelong Tory voter
    You Sir John need to do something! No doubt this will be waiting for moderation ‘til Kingdom come?

    • glen cullen
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      Agree – its an utter disgrace and voting Tory’s have had enough

    • Andy
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Free movement of people is a right for EU citizens. It does not apply to asylum seekers or migrants from outside the EU. It also no longer applies to Britons – meaning you have lost your right to live in Spain if you choose.

      Farage told you the refugees Mrs Merkel allowed in would all come here. In reality virtually none of them have the right, or will ever have the right, to. The migrants crossing the Channel have zero to do with free movement. Sorry.

      • Fred H
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

        Andy – – you may be shocked to the core, BUT – We have not the slightest inclination to move to Spain. Having said that, do feel free for you and family to emigrate yourself. Ensure you buy a one-way ticket.
        Hasta la vista.

      • graham1946
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

        They seem to have moved pretty freely through the EU from the extreme south to the north without documents. Not freedom of movement? Why weren’t they stopped then? Those Mrs Merkel invited in will eventually after 5 years gain EU citizenship and get freedom of movement, but you are right, they have no right to come here, yet they do.

        • beresford
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

          I agree with Andy (aaarghh). The movement of migrants through the continental EU is via the Schengen zone, which is different from having the ‘right’ to live and work in any particular country.

  34. Caterpillar
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    “9 million people are now effectively additional employees of the state thanks to the Furlough scheme”

    If 9 million people were additional employees of the state, I would expect more services not fewer. This massive increase of the state has produced nothing.

    If the PM doesn’t get rid of Hancock and Sunak, then it is clear that the Conservative party needs to get rid of the PM. If the PM doesn’t re-free No 11 from No 10, the PM needs to go.

    As I have said for months, and I’ll repeat again. The job retention scheme (furlough) was reasonable for a short sharp 3 week lockdown, but thereafter it is unethical and ineffective. Mr Sunak’s policy introduces an arbitrary differential in the value of people and encourages resources to be immobile. After it was clear that the lockdown would not be short (even though hospital deaths peaked about 2 weeks after the lockdown started), UBI was clearly the ethical approach and does not discourage resource mobility. Perhaps Mr Sunak could have redeemed himself by stopping furlough, but no he extended it. Perhaps he could have identified other more sensible and strategic policies, but no, he came up with burger benefits and a stamp duty holiday.

    Given the requirements that were put on Mr Sunak that were too much for Mr Javid to accept, then perhaps the PM should shoulder some blame and not just the inexperienced Chancellor. I think this is probably true, but to make quicker progress on saving the country dumping Mr Sunak, resetting the PM’s mindset and freeing the Treasury may well be quicker.

  35. Bryan Harris
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 9:53 am | Permalink


    Ahh but not if your MOT is due in August….. WHAT AN ABSOLUTE FARCE

    It was a sensible thing to delay MOT’s, but it should have been for all dates! — Which is what the original announcement suggested.

    Now I find out I only have a few days to get an MOT to remain legal…!!!

    • hefner
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      This was announced on 25 March 2020. I guess that was plenty of time for people to get organized. Maybe spending less time spouting sweet nothings on this blog would have helped you checking what priorities should be?
      I have got my MOT appointment for this coming Monday.

      • Bryan Harris
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        Amazing how you can spot the socialist mindset on here just by how they insult without contributing anything worthwhile…

        • Edward2
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

          Well said Bryan
          Those on the left are condescending and think their views are morally superior.
          They dislike anyone who challenges their world view.
          Also they dislike poor people and those they feel are less clever than themselves.
          You read it on here every day provided by the usual suspects.

        • hefner
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

          Sorry, my contribution is that this MOT postponement decision and its modalities had been available on the website since the 25/03.
          I was in the same exact dire situation as you, looked around, called my garagist who told me to look at
          What is happening to you is unfortunate, but I certainly cannot feel any pity for your lack of curiosity. This thing has been announced more than four months ago.

          • Edward2
            Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

            An example of what I said above.

            I do hope you never taught others.
            You would have sucked all the enthusiasm out of them

    • Caterpillar
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

      Bryan Harris,

      I agree. It is odd that the Govt wished to create a period in which delayed and current demand overlap. charitably I think it is an attempt to contribute to the same calendar year’s GDP.

      In the case of the housing market where demand and supply had been pent up for 3 months, the Govt seemed to want to bring forward demand to overlap that which was already delayed. In the burger benefit case in which the Govt could have been arguing that it was levelling demand through the week for social distancing reasons, it didn’t seem to make this argument.

  36. Mike Wilson
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    If we leave on WTO terms – i.e. with the fabled ‘NO DEAL’ – does the Withdrawal Agreement still apply? Didn’t it include some fatuous, vague nonsense about ‘the future’?

    Reply I say we should leave with no special trade deal and legislate to end all further obligations and payments, other than new contractual payments volunteered in the normal course of business as an independent country.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      reply to reply….sadly Sir John it has been clear reading your articles/viewpoints for so long that the Government takes not a jot of notice of you, nor us -the ELECTORATE!

      It can only be re-elected if millions of voters suffer dementia, or ‘it can only get better’ mantra voiced by a Boris successor persuades/frightens once again.
      I really think with every passing week the chances of a Conservative ‘Hold’ get less and less.

      • glen cullen
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        Sadly I have to agree with your comments Fred H….and to rub our nose in it our government doesn’t even realise there’s a problem

    • Andy
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      The withdrawal agreement is an international treaty. It applies whether or not there is a trade deal. And, because it is an international treaty, it cannot be changed by MPs alone – the EU would have to agree to any changes. And they don’t.

      The Brexiteers did not tell you this when they signed you up to it – did they? Bless. Well now it turns out that many of them also didn’t read what they were signing you up to. Awkward.

      I see that whether there is a trade deal or not (there will be one eventually, just not a very good one) – the government is now consulting on whether or not lorry drivers should be required to apply for a permit to drive on main roads in Kent. The Kent Access Permit. There will be £300 fines for those breaking the rules.

      This all appears to be going really well – don’t you think? PS – the lorry parks are required whether or not there is a trade deal.

      Reply The Uk can legislate against obligations after December as it will mean the EU has not negotiated in good faith as set out in the WA so we can make our own decisions.

      • Richard1
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

        The most important term in the WA was the EU’s agreement to negotiate a best in class FTA. Their ludicrous demands for political control of the U.K. (which they will probably drop at the last minute) are a clear breach of this. If they do finally renege on that commitment To an FTA the UK shouldn’t be bound by anything else in it.

        As it happens I don’t think the UK has committed In the WA to anything which is any great problem, as being a treaty between equals it is subject to interpretations and court rulings etc. The EU and it’s organs such as the ECJ are no longer supreme.

      • Edward2
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

        If it cannot be changed, why are we involved in lengthy negotiations?

      • David Brown
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

        Andy, I totally agree with your comments.
        Im sure that within 10 years we will be either back in the EU or in the Customs Union, the next generation of voters will enure this happens. Job losses may make this sooner.
        We need to keep ALL the EU regulations in British law when we temporarily leave the the EU in Jan.
        The EU will win any legal battles I’m very confident of this.
        I’m also not convinced the UK can legally prevent EU fishing rights within UK waters and this will be subject to International ruling. Scotland can also have its own fishing arrangements with the EU

        • Edward2
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

          12 miles are an integral part of international laws.

        • beresford
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

          That’s if there is an EU to rejoin, of course. You would have to make the case for the enormous disruption caused by abandoning the new status quo and trade agreements with our friends around the world. The EU would certainly win every case if we agreed to let them be heard by the political ECJ. Not sure why you think that we should be the only country in the world not allowed to determine fishing rights in our own waters.

        • Mike Wilson
          Posted August 6, 2020 at 12:21 am | Permalink

          Andy, I totally agree with your comments

          Even though THEY ARE WRONG! From the Political Declaration ….

          In that context,
          this declaration accompanies the Withdrawal Agreement that has been endorsed by the

          And …

          In that spirit, this declaration establishes the parameters of an ambitious, broad, deep and
          flexible partnership across trade and economic cooperation with a comprehensive and
          balanced Free Trade Agreement at its core, law enforcement and criminal justice, foreign
          policy, security and defence and wider areas of cooperation.

          So, if the EU does not agree ‘a comprehensive and balanced Free Trade Agreement’, the accompanying Withdrawal Agreement does not apply either.

          Heaven knows our politicians are useless, but even they are not that useless.

  37. Ian @Barkham
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    This time next year, I will point the finger using the benefit of hindsight.

  38. nhsgp
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Why are you overcharging us 30%?

    That’s the government profit it makes out of us. ie. cost of services compare to cost of taxes is a 30% profit margin .

  39. mancunius
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    ‘See the bucket coming, going,
    Water, water, overflowing,
    Water, water everywhere,
    Stop now! Halt! – Stay as you were!
    What can I do? it’s too absurd –
    OH WHAT’S THE BLOODY MAGIC WORD??!’ [after Joh. Wolfgang von Goethe]

    And that, Sir John, is what happens when you put a bunch of untutored Apprentices in charge.

  40. UKQanon
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    There was absolutely no need to “lock down” the country. The original synopsis by “Professor” Neil Ferguson of The Imperial College , London (The same Imperial college, London funded by THE BILL GATES FOUNDATION ) was responsible for developing the mathematical pandemic computer models for the COVID-19 PLANdemic and proven to be grossly overstated and misleading. And the government were not aware of the UCL background??????? Also Remember the USA Center for Disease Control CDC is strongly influenced by Bill Gates – MONEY. The common cure for the “so called” virus HCQ, hydroxychloroquine is CHEAP and can be bought over the counter/doctors prescription. Hence there is no money in it for Big Pharma. Recently the head of Astra Zeneca revealed they have immunity should the so called vaccine being developed cause side effects or otherwise? Remember vaccines make MONEY.
    Open the schools, Yes but do not subject the children to masks and social distancing. It is unnecessary, they do not need it and it is mental cruelty. Children need interaction with others especially at a young age. Unfortunately the schools are run by the left wing liberal teachers and the N.U.T. and do not want to go back to work unless their demands are fully met.
    The myth that the NHS was overloaded should be checked by everyone by visiting their local hospital. Most are /were empty.
    Your last paragraph regarding public transport makes a good reason to CANCEL HS2 NOW.
    Side note re comments on Bierut blast – people, do your own research.

  41. Mark
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    My dentist told me today she can do the fillings I was due back in April next week. Unless, I suppose the government capriciously changes its mind, like it has for a local beauty salon which has had to cancel 80% of its appointments because, despite having made considerable investment in PPE, staff training, extra hygiene etc., it is banned again from offering facial treatments and restricted to pedicures – while the barber up the street may trim a beard without hindrance. The owner is distraught, with costs that can’t be financed on so little turnover.

    Government is dictating which businesses survive through its edicts. Perhaps they should consider whether railways deserve to survive, or whether the assets couldn’t be better redeployed providing dedicated routes for automated vehicles. After all, to all intents and purposes they are now completely nationalised.

  42. David Brown
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Sir JR – Reviewing the extent of the state – overall I agree with your comments
    I would not want to see any more public sector austerity measures and if the GOV needs to find money then go for a asset wealth tax, this will not affect the vast majority only around 3% of the population

    • Edward2
      Posted August 6, 2020 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

      Extra taxes, but not any that affect you.
      Sound typical.

  43. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted August 7, 2020 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    Your point about public transport is well made. To comply with one metre spacing, public transport carriages should carry one seated passenger either side of the aisle on alternate rows plus a few people standing. That’s at most 30% of normal capacity. Surveys are currently suggesting occupancy is running at 40% of normal, which is higher than is prudent.

    My suggestion is that emergency parking areas are identified in cities and towns and that only electric card may use them. There could be no surer way of giving a boost to the electric car market. If we don’t do something like this, our towns and cities face a bleak future.

    The number of new COVID-19 cases per day (7-day moving average) has been rising since 7th July but the number of COVID-19 deaths per day (again, 7-day moving average) is still – very slowly – declining. I would quite like to know the explanation. Is it that new cases are now occurring among a lower age group than before? Is it that too many indoor gatherings are occurring?

  • 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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