Sunday 13 December 2020

No-deal unleashes a raft of economic opportunities, Tom Harwood

More Telegraph guff, this time from Tom Harwood. He excoriates Ireland for its low tax rate for the Amazons of this world then says the UK can attract such businesses by, er, cutting our corporate tax rate to below Ireland's. The rest is Vote Leave bulls**t and ignorant tosh.

Read on for the full text of Harwood's strange little article.

Saturday 12 December 2020

Ben Wallace on Michael Gove

July 2016 and Ben "Loose Lips" Wallace gives us his thoughts on Michael Gove, rather amusingly.

Ben, a fighting man who didn't get many medals, was and is a Boris groupie and still quivers with righteous anger when Gove's name (or that of his good lady wife) is mentioned. Read on for the Telegraph article Wallace produced all those many years ago.

Thursday 10 December 2020

Boris must stop weaving a web of deception and deliver a clean Brexit

"Boris must stop weaving a web of deception and deliver a clean Brexit," says Ben Habib in the Telegraph, and "Now is the time for the PM to break free of his past false promises."

Strong stuff, one thinks. Read on as Ben produces the sort of guff that passes for informed opinion in the once-respected Telegraph, before they fired all their proper journalists.

Wednesday 18 November 2020

A Doctor Writes (it's Toby Young)

"Day by day, the coronavirus edges ever closer to extinction. Time to get back to normal"

Yes folks, Toby Young, noted medic and epidemioligist, mathemetician of distinctiveness, has just tweeted another idiocy, made in a Daily Mail article (so I haven't read it).

The 0.1% is a repetition of a dubious claim made in a Telegraph article of 25th June 2020 where nork-loving Tobez told us that "It's becoming clear that the social distancing rules – even if the new one-metre rule – are unnecessary."

Friday 13 November 2020

We have one last chance to stop Britain's descent into a post-Covid socialist nightmare

Allister Heath, editor of the Sunday Telegraph, channels Senator Joe McCarthy in one of his rare but always naff editorials.

The man who gave us "America’s class war election should be a wake-up call for Boris Johnson" a fortnight ago goes full commie dogwhistle with his latest effort. Splendid stuff, reproduced below for your entertainment.

This ought to be a time for hope, for optimism, for celebration even, and yet it is hard to shake off a sense of impending doom. The end of the Covid emergency is finally in sight, but that doesn't mean that all will soon be for the best in this best of all possible worlds.

Yes, the vaccines may allow Britain to return to a society with most of the trappings of normality, hopefully by the spring. But that is where the Panglossian vision ends. It is never possible for a traumatised country entirely to turn back the clock, vaccine or no vaccine, and any politician presuming otherwise is in for a terrible shock. We will emerge from lockdown a permanently scarred country. The old Britain is gone, replaced by a jaded, poorer, more indebted, more risk-averse and, above all, more collectivist economy.

The story of the past nine months all over the Western world is one of state failure on a colossal scale, ended only by the extraordinary capitalist miracle that is Big Pharma: the script could almost have been written by Ludwig von Mises or Ayn Rand. Yet this risks not making any difference to the Left-wards, socialist shift triggered by the virus and our response to it.

Swept up by a tornado of unintended consequences, we are on course for permanently higher taxes, more red tape, greater paternalism and less freedom. This will apply across the developed world, of course, with the national debts of France, Spain and Italy all soaring by roughly the same amount as ours. But the difference is that Britain, as the least social-democratic and the most culturally entrepreneurial and risk-taking of all the large European nations, has the most to lose from the trend to higher taxes and less individual responsibility.

The British economy may well return to the size it was before the virus struck by late 2021 or early 2022, but that would still leave it 2-3 per cent smaller than it would have been in the absence of the coronavirus and the accompanying lockdowns. That missing growth will never be caught up, punching a permanent hole in the public finances.

The answer, as far as the Resolution Foundation, a purveyor of the centre-Left technocratic consensus in economic policy, is concerned, is eye-watering tax hikes, a move which would further depress long-term growth. In time, at that rate, we would become a self-governing version of Italy: a country that has stagnated for two decades.

The dream of a dynamic, post-Brexit buccaneering Britain would be dead and buried: there is no path for the UK to thrive, no combination of other ingenious Tory policies that can save us if our tax and spending levels end up at Continental levels. Forget about levelling up: we would end up dragged down to the level of the worst-performing European nations unless we begin to react very differently.

There is sadly as yet no sign of that. The report from the Office for Tax Simplification on capital gains tax (CGT) is predictably grim: it was commissioned by the Treasury and calls for a large increase in the tax's scope, including on owners of small businesses and private investors. A raid on the petite bourgeoisie and capital in general can only reduce Britain's performance further. It is true that the current system is broken, and unfair in many ways, but there are ways of fixing it that don't lead to the double or triple taxation of some income and that don't chase billions of pounds out of the UK.

The 2020 Tax Commission, an optimistically named body that I chaired and which published a comprehensive report eight years ago, recommended the total abolition of capital gains tax, replacing it (and several other levies) with a flat tax of 30 per cent on all income from capital (dividends and rents) and labour (pay and bonuses). That is the sort of reform we should be looking at after Covid, but it would require public spending to be forced back down (the Tax Commission called for 35 per cent of GDP.)

It's not just the spectre of post-Covid tax hikes that threatens to finally destroy what is left of the Thatcherite-Blairite-Cameroon consensus. The scale and duration of furlough – a necessary policy given lockdown – means that millions are now addicted to free money. There is widespread lockdown Stockholm syndrome: a JL Partners poll finds that 48 per cent of the public don't want restrictions to be lifted even when a vaccine is rolled out.

The culture has changed: Britain now loves and expects a bailout. Welfarism has gone mainstream, as has the idea that the Government doesn't have a budget constraint, and that the Bank of England can simply print money. Lockdown has made self-employment and small business creation less attractive, and working for the state a lot more so.

At some point, the Government must remake the case for self-reliance. In the meantime, it is struggling to fend off ever-louder calls for an extension of the welfare state. First it was free school meals, next it will be unemployment and then every other kind of benefit. Other reforms are also under threat, including the drive to increase standards in schools.

But while the situation is grim, both Right and Left should avoid descending into a defeatist declinism of a sort last seen in the Seventies. Remainers believe that Britain is doomed because of Brexit, and many Brexiteers that we are doomed because of Covid, a social-democratic drift and the Government's environmentalist obsession, all of which they fear will prevent us from leveraging our strengths and making the most of our newfound independence. Both sides can and must still be proved wrong.

But that requires the Government, next year, to come up with an entirely new economic strategy that goes further than simply spending borrowed money on Northern infrastructure. It must seek to undo the damage from Covid and to bolster our competitiveness.

We need a plan to reboot all of Britain, to reignite our animal spirits, to attract foreign investment, to create millions of new firms, to increase our trend rate of GDP growth and, above all, to cut the state down to size. The Government may not wish to call this austerity, but it is Britain's last chance to fight off the spectre of post-Covid socialism.

Sunday 25 October 2020

Liz Truss: Post-Brexit trade deals can help 'turbocharge' the economy

Here's some guff from Liz Truss, printed in the Telegraph just before a UK-Japan trade deal was announced. The deal will turbocharge our economy, apparently, by boosting UK GDP by, er, 0.07%.

Wednesday 7 October 2020

The French are right to be worried, warned Liz Truss in 2015

A Telegraph interview from 2015, in which then Environment Sec Liz Truss reveals her favourite potato and tells us that Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh were the Liam Fox of their day (I paraphrase).

Wednesday 23 September 2020

Ridiculous Covid rules are hurting the young: Allison Pearson

Allison Pearson's latest Telegraph column is a thing of beauty, celebrating that her university-going son has Covid-19. She goes on to explain that 99% of scientists and doctors are wrong, mainly on the grounds that her friend Diana is upset.

Article reproduced below, including all the original's typos. DT, hire some sub-editors back, please!

My son has Covid-19. Good. Everyone in his student house has it as well. Even better. Typically, the infected ones have had a rough four or five days featuring at least one forlorn phone call home to Mum (Experience teaches us that only self-pity or the need for sudden cash injections will cause the young adult male to ring his mother). Already everyone is much improved although the virus's trademark loss of taste and smell (the one symptom those geniuses on SAGE forgot to put on the list) has lingered.

There is no cause for alarm. On the contrary, I am glad that my boy will now form a tiny tile on the vast human shield which will protect his grandparents and other endangered citizens as our country acquires community immunity. Apart from a vaccine (unlikely to show up any time soon), allowing Covid to run through the healthy population is the only way out of this loathsome epidemic which kills our old and murders the futures of our youth.

While unveiling a package of new restrictions which may delay the epidemic, but will never defeat it, the Prime Minister told the Commons that "the fight against this virus will continue ... we will not listen to those who say let it rip". I feel more disappointed in him by the hour. We thought we voted for Winston Churchill and we got King Canute.

Boris really needs to start listening to Sunetra Gupta, professor of Theoretical Epidemiology at Oxford university and a world authority on infectious diseases. "As many young people as possible need to get the virus before winter," says Professor Gupta. Not that chaps like Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Whitty are listening to her. Their Scientific Advisory Group is an echo chamber.

Consider that grim press conference given by the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser and the Chief Medical Officer. Talk about an odd couple: imagine how Bill and Ben would have ended up if neither had got off with Little Weed. What was made all too clear by Whitty and Vallance is that SAGE is still giving credence to the madcap guesses (Oops, sober mathematical models) of Imperial College's Professor Neil Ferguson, he of the "500,000 Covid dead" forecast.

Sir Patrick put up a now-infamous slide which showed almost 50,000 cases a day by mid-October if cases kept doubling every seven or eight days. "This is not a prediction," insisted Sir Patrick disingenuously. Make no mistake, Bill and Ben were fully aware that this implausible viral trajectory (witnessed nowhere else in the world, certainly not in France and Spain as they claimed) would be the main headline on every news outlet. Sure enough. Our boffins and their worst-case-scenario-on- steroids guaranteed that the British public was both primed for another lockdown and scared Whittyless. I saw the proof for myself. By 3pm, the loo-roll locusts had cleared the Andrex aisle in Waitrose.

As a mother, I detest Professor Ferguson and his recklessly inaccurate model for laying waste to my children's prospects. I despise those senior civil servants who have secure pensions and nothing to fear from the economic danger their myopic safetyism has wrought. And I am coming to hate the men in Downing Street who are so busy eliminating risk (mainly to their own reputations) that they condemn the elderly to wither in loneliness and treat students like cattle with foot and mouth.

University term starts this week. It's the ideal time for freshers to socialise, swap mobile details and microbes. Far from relations who may be vulnerable to Covid, they live in promisingly fetid halls of residence where they can easily get the virus during Match of the Day and be rid of it in a week.

Alas, far from seeing uni as the perfect Petri dish in which the virus can be cultured – and ultimately curbed – the authorities have imposed restrictions so draconian you wonder why any young person would want to be there at all.

Glum reports reach me from Exeter and Edinburgh where freshers have to stand two metres apart in a queue for the dining halls and then – get this – sit on their own at an exam-type desk far away from their nearest neighbour, a cordon sanitaire marked out by hazard warning tape. "My daughter hasn't done this yet," emails Diana, "as the thought of standing on your own followed by eating on your own is far too anxious-making. Our other daughter, who is in the second year, tells us the dining hall was the chief place to make friends. How is this going to work for our youngsters?"

"All Edinburgh courses are online," says one dad who is worried that his shy son is isolated in distant lodgings – after

Rank, as my own son would say. Totally rank. St Andrews has taken the higher-education leper colony to its logical conclusion and invited students to "voluntarily isolate". Amazing value for their £9,250 a year, I'm sure you'll agree.

Do Bill and Ben the Pol Pot Men care about the effect their exorbitant graphs and terrorising models are having on actual people, both young and old? I'd like to see Professor Whitty, a monkish bachelor, try and reassure a tearful eighteen-year-old for whom Freshers' Week, never the easiest experience, has turned into a socially-distanced ordeal.

"I am feeling so upset and cross about the whole thing and am not alone amongst my friends," says Diana, who describes herself angrily as an ex-Tory voter. "We are on the verge of marching or chaining ourselves to some railings!"

Believe me, Diana, I feel like chaining myself to some railings with you. How dare our PM say that "nothing is more important than the education of our young people" when our offspring are having their studies wrecked by wholly disproportionate measures. Covid cannot harm students but adult paranoia about Covid certainly can.

How dare the Government's chief scientific adviser show people who are just starting to rebuild their confidence a graph indicating a possible massive spike in Covid cases which has no credible basis in fact. It's garbage. Insulting, manipulative, cruel garbage.

Whitty and Vallance have shafted science by turning it into spin. They should be replaced immediately on SAGE by Professors Gupta and Carl Heneghan, two superb scientists who have dared to challenge the conspiracy of dunces and this week signed a letter to the Prime Minister requesting a new, evidence-based approach to the epidemic.

I predict that Professor Gupta will turn out to be as right as Professor Ferguson was wrong. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the virus is now passing rapidly through 20- to 29-year-olds like my son, but there is much less incidence in the vulnerable 70-plus age group. Grandparents are using common sense to assess their own risk while their beloved grandchildren take one for the team.

Forget panicky politicians. Do our senior citizens really want youngsters to be confined and made miserable on their behalf when Covid makes up just one per cent of all UK deaths and they are 10 times more likely to perish from flu? I know from your defiant letters and emails that you want no such thing. Nor do you want a Conservative government which punishes the next generation in your name.

Instead of forcing students into sterile silos, we should rejoice when they do what comes naturally. The virus poses least threat to their age group and many are in the perfect position to protect rather than kill their Gran. Let Freshers have their fun and to the virus we say, Go forth and multiply! Community immunity can't come a moment too soon.

Saturday 19 September 2020

Boris Johnson’s zing has well and truly zung: Matthew Parris

Like sheep without a shepherd, voters who trusted the PM have grown confused and resentful at his lack of leadership, says Matthew Parris.

This may be another shot in the early Murdoch campaign to replace Johnson with Oiky Gove but it's quite accurate in its criticisms.

Article text below:

Thursday 17 September 2020

I was wrong to back Boris, says Toby Young

Toby Young (cough, spit) has given us his thoughts on the reign of Boris Johnson. On the basis that even a smashed cock can be right once in a while, here's the liquid prose of nork-loving Mr Young, failed school entreprenour.

Be warned, the article is in Young's usual style - smarmy, egotisitical and sometimes wrong in fact or conclusion.

Sunday 13 September 2020

Stop banging on about Brexit and defeat Covid: Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer's Telegraph (!) article on Brexit and Covid. Mixed metaphors and lack of power. Typos are, I assume, the DT's own.

Disappoining? Yes. The strategy of not being too nasty to the charlatan PM is beginning to wear thin, more appeasement than attack. Knee to the groin, Keir, he'll think he's back at Eton.

Saturday 12 September 2020

Boris Johnson's Mendacious Moonshine

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (and it galls me to type those words) has, in his inimitable manner, posted another propaganda piece in the Telegraph.

His usual bombastic lies? Of course. Credit to him though for not mentioning Francis Drake or Wellington. Read on and weep.

If you'd prefer something that's actually truthful, here's Professor Steve Peer's thoughts on how the Internal Market Bill breaches the EU Withdrawal Agreement.

Saturday 5 September 2020

Here is the magic key to unlock the path to a win-win post-Brexit deal

Barnabas Reynolds has, at the eleventh hour, discovered a "magic key" to solve all our Brexit negotiation problems. "Whizzo," I hear you say, and "Why has no one thought of this before?" A good question indeed.

Still, Steve Baker MP, chair of the European Research Group before handing over to Mark Francois (whoops) thinks it worth publicising the Daily Telegraph article in which Barnabas explains the magic key and how to find it under the Bridge Of Trolls (I paraphrase). On the other hand, Chris Grey, Emeritus Professor of Organization Studies at Royal Holloway, calls it "delusional drivel". It is difficult to know whose opinion to trust - a Brexiteering ERG eedjit or an enormously intelligent and learned professor who forms his judgement on knowledge and fact.

Anyway, for those who can't read the Telegraph's restricted content, here's the text of Mr Reynolds' article.

Friday 28 August 2020

I cannot stress too much that Britain is part of Europe – and always will be

"I cannot stress too much that Britain is part of Europe – and always will be ," said Boris Johnson in July 2016, in a Telegraph article as is his wont.Then followed his usual lies and guff. His claims have aged badly - read the article below and curse him.

Saturday 15 August 2020

Hancock axes ‘failing’ Public Health England, says leak

The Telegraph is going big with a fantastic account of the proposed scrapping of Public Health England (PHE) and the formation of a new body, probably to be run by Dido Harding of Test and Trace notoriety.

PHE, you might remember, was set up less than ten years ago under Jeremy Hunt as a misguided attempt to alleviate some of the disastrous and disastrously expensive consequences of Andrew Lansley's NHS butchery.

Tuesday 11 August 2020

It's time to declare an emergency in the Channel, says Farage

Nigel Farage, deprived of his radio gig by the demonic forces of the Left, has taken to plastering images of dinghies all over Twitter. These show an immigrant invasion on a par with, well, the last such invasion Nige dreamed about.

"In the face of the kind of unwarranted abuse to which I have become accustomed," says St Nigel the martyr, it's time to go with the Australian method of putting brown people on an island and denying them medical help (I paraphrase). Given the only suitable island we have is the Isle Of Wight, Farage might find his natural constituency a little miffed.

Still, read on for the wit and wisdom of the great statesman. Or check out the rather more truthful Don't be fooled by the myth of a 'migrant invasion' by Daniel Trilling.

Also read the story of Zhena by Cole Moreton.

Sunday 2 August 2020

Panic over rising Covid-19 case numbers is as irrational as it is dangerous says Ross Clark

The Telegraph's Ross Clark explains why testing for coronavirus is a waste of time (citing Donald Trump, that well-known expert) and why it's hospital deaths that matter (he seems to recognise no other, which might surprise relatives of 25,000 care home dead).

Ross's piece might have worked better if he'd just surrendered to his inner demons and said, "They are weak, let them perish."

Sunday 26 July 2020

If the EU wants a deal the solution is simple: fire Michel Barnier: Matthew Lynn

More reality-defying nonsense from the Telegraph, in which Matthew Lynn explains that it's all the fault of that pesky Frenchman who smells of garlic (I paraphrase). Matthew is the chap whose greatest hits include "It is time to get tough with the anti-business arts elite" and "Wales and Scotland will fall further behind England if they insist on lifting lockdown later."

Here we go with his exceptionalist tripe:

Wednesday 15 July 2020

Jan 13th 2018: Patrick Minford In Fine Form

Patrick Minford is the Telegraph's favourite economist for there are no figures he cannot find in his endless quest to demonstrate British economic exceptionalism. Here he is in Jan 2018 - let's see how his sums have stood the test of time.

Sunday 12 July 2020

ERG Headbangers Are Back(ing Britain)

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, up pop the slightly foxed idiots of ERG with A Report (they do like labelling their nonsense as "reports").

Wednesday 8 July 2020

Oh dear. I feel a rant coming on: Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer

A Daily Telegraph poll Tell us what you think about the Government's coronavirus response prompted a reaction on Twitter by Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer, an eminent GP and CEO of Cambs LMC. I've reproduced that Twitter thread here, with minor edits to remove Twitter artefacts.

Wednesday 24 June 2020

The scrapping of Dfid is good news in Westminster. The attack on Churchill's statue is not: Norman Tebbit

Norman Tebbit showing that he has lost none of his abilities to lie, smear and insult. Pub bore fascism.

Setting aside the risks that the recent street protests over the death of an American black man might spark off a new wave of coronavirus deaths, the suggestion that Winston Churchill's statue should be torn down brought a sense of disgust and despair.

Sunday 21 June 2020

Conservatives can't win the culture wars while Blair and Brown's legacy remains intact: Nick Timothy

Dogwhistle bombast at its finest by Nick Timothy, the man who buggered Theresa May, covering everything in the Tory book of hate bar foxhunting.

Monday 15 June 2020

Boris Johnson and his straw racist man arguments

Boris Johnson's paywalled provocations on statues and BLM, Telegraph 14/06/20

Rather than tear some people down we should build others up

Monday 25 May 2020

Daily Telegraph: Cummings' Secret Contract

Dominic Cummings asked Boris Johnson to sign a contract giving him special powers in Downing Street, The Telegraph has learned.

Although employed under the lowly title of "assistant to the Prime Minister", Mr Cummings is understood to have a special agreement, believed to carry Mr Johnson’s signature, spelling out his authority over special advisers (SpAds).

Wednesday 13 May 2020

Daily Telegraph: Confidential Treasury Assessment

The Daily Telegraph, though it has kicked out or forced out most of its real journalists and replaced them with Polly Fillers, bigots and golf club bores, does seem to have excellent access to confidential government documents. It is a mystery.

Monday 11 May 2020

This Roadmap Has Ceased To Be

A customer enters a Zoom chat.

Laura K: 'Ello, I wish to register a complaint.

(The Prime Minister does not respond.)

Laura K: 'Ello, Miss?

Prime Minister: What do you mean "Miss"?

Saturday 9 May 2020

UK Government to fly 50,000 coronavirus tests to US

Britain has been secretly flying tens of thousands of coronavirus tests to America as it struggles to lift the daily testing rate over 100,000 a day in the UK, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose.

The Department of Health admitted last night that 50,000 test samples were sent to the US last week as problems were reported in laboratories in the UK. The samples were airlifted across the Atlantic in chartered flights from Stansted airport.

Sunday 19 April 2020

PPE shortages, Chris Hopson, Chief Executive of NHS Providers

On the PPE shortages, Chris Hopson, Chief Executive of NHS Providers, said:

“No-one in the NHS wanted to be where we now are on gowns, with a significant number of trusts reporting critically low stocks.

Friday 17 April 2020

Labour Leaks, The Aftermath

Dear Points Of View, I have just watched Crimewatch and I think it a disgrace that Kirsty Young and Matthew Amroliwala should be talking about crimes and criminals. They should be investigated immediately.

Yours faithfully,

Sir Keir Starmer

Dear Points Of View, I have just watched Points Of View and I think it a disgrace that Keir Starmer is grassing up Kirsty Young and Matthew Amroliwala. He should be investigated immediately.

Yours faithfully,

Iain McNicol

Dear Points Of View, I have just watched BBC News and I think it a disgrace that Jon Ashworth is grassing up Grandma. He should be investigated immediately.

Yours faithfully,

Emilie Oldknow

Dear Points Of View, Perhaps your last correspondent could explain why I've just had to tell our daughter not to call her sister a "bitch face cow". She didn't get it from me. Ms Oldknow should be investigated immediately.

Yours faithfully,

Jon Ashworth

Wednesday 18 March 2020

Donald Trump and the Coronavirus Cant

NBC have helpfully looked through Trump's masterly pronouncements on the coronavirus crisis. Or not crisis, depending on what Fox News told him five minutes previously.
Jan 22: "It’s going to be just fine. We have it totally under control."

Jan 24 (tweet): "It will all work out well."

Jan 30: "We think we have it very well under control. We have very little problem in this country at this moment"

Feb 7 (tweet): "… as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone."

Feb 10: "I think the virus is going to be — it’s going to be fine."

Feb 14: "We have a very small number of people in the country, right now, with it. It’s like around 12. Many of them are getting better. Some are fully recovered already. So we’re in very good shape."

Feb 19: "I think it’s going to work out fine. I think when we get into April, in the warmer weather, that has a very negative effect on that and that type of a virus. So let’s see what happens, but I think it’s going to work out fine."

Feb 24 (tweet): "The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. … Stock Market starting to look very good to me!"

Feb 25: "You may ask about the coronavirus which is very well under control in our country. We have very few people with it & the people that have it are getting better. Theyre all getting better. As far as what we’re doing with the new virus I think that we’re doing a great job"

Feb 26: "Because of all we’ve done, the risk to the American people remains very low. … When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero. That’s a pretty good job we’ve done."

Feb 28: "I think it’s really going well. … We’re prepared for the worst, but we think we’re going to be very fortunate."

Feb 28: "It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear."

Feb 28: "This is their new hoax."

Mar 4: "Some people will have this at a very light level and won’t even go to a doctor or hospital, and they’ll get better. There are many people like that."

Mar 9 (tweet): "So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!"

Mar 10: "And it hit the world. And we’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away."

Mar 11: "I think we’re going to get through it very well."

Mar 12: "It’s going to go away. The US, because of what I did and what the administration did with China, we have 32 deaths at this point … when you look at the kind of numbers that you’re seeing coming out of other countries, it’s pretty amazing when you think of it."

Mar 15: "This is a very contagious virus. It’s incredible. But it’s something that we have tremendous control over."

Mar 16: "If you’re talking about the virus, no, that’s not under control for any place in the world."

Mar 17: "I’ve always known this is a, this is a real, this is a pandemic … I’ve felt that it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic."

Tuesday 10 March 2020

The Four Streets by Nadine Dorries

The Four Streets by Nadine Dorries, reviewed by Christopher Howse.

If you enjoy advertisements for the NSPCC this is the novel for you. The Cinderella Law might have been made for little Nellie, the heroine of Tory MP Nadine Dorries's first novel The Four Streets, who is mistreated by her emotionally stunted stepmother. Little Kitty, her friend, is abused, by a priest of course. If she told on him, they'd call her "mad Kitty".

The setting is a block of streets of Irish dockers' families in Liverpool in the Fifties. The author's axiom is that, though poor, they "had everything of any real value: family, good neighbourliness and friendship". So the evil necessary to make the saga suitably miserable must come from without: the stepmother is English and the priest is in league with paedophile NHS hospital porters, Stanley and Austin, token characters, like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

This makes the novel sound more interesting than it is. "Heartbreaking, gripping, life-affirming" are the qualities promised on the back cover. But these uneasy bedfellows are strangers to The Four Streets. Perhaps, if the story had begun at page 289, on which something happens, it might have stood a chance. As it is, the action repeatedly falls from the author's grip, like a sticky dummy from the lips of a fractious, sickly child in an old pram.

Even a car ploughing into a crocodile of children fails to liven things up. The wicked stepmother falls into the background, comforted by Valium, when a dea ex machina blows in from the Ould Country in the form of Nana Kathleen , a sort of Mrs Brown from the telly, only wiser and warmer. Oddly, since secrecy made the horrors for the kiddies in the novel possible, she is called approvingly "the keeper of all secrets".

The author, who boasts of a background similar to her characters', though now a Bedfordshire MP, seems curiously ignorant of Catholic practice. The Pope certainly did not favour coitus interruptus.

She tells the halting story in often vacuous language. A father's patience with his children "bore testament to his temperament", though he saw his twin boys as "testament to his virility". When Nellie's father protects her, "like a lion, he roared". Anyone surprised is "in shock", which happens "on a regular basis".

If all this weren't bad enough, flame-haired Bernadette, Nellie's mother who died in childbirth, makes periodic ghostly interventions. This is the worst novel I've read in 10 years. Only with imaginative effort might some readers of a mawkish disposition like The Four Streets. A sequel, may the Holy Mother protect us, is due in the autumn.