Someone in Whitehall must have been watching the 1976 sci-fi movie Logan’s Run, starring Michael York and Jenny Agutter.
The film is set in a dystopian future where everyone is killed when they reach 30.
It’s the kind of radical, outside-the-box policy which would probably appeal to a blue-skies thinker like Dominic Cummings.
Drop Dead. Protect The NHS.
After all, practically no one under 30 is in mortal danger from Covid-19. But the risk increases exponentially the older you get.
Maybe that’s why ministers are considering a plan to quarantine everyone over the age of 50 in the event of a second wave this autumn. With the over-50s confined to barracks for ever, the chances of anyone catching coronavirus would be drastically curtailed.
In time, the Government could whittle down the cut-off to 30, Logan’s Run-style. That way, nobody would ever die of Covid and ministers could finally declare total victory over the virus.
Of course, the very idea is rip-roaring bonkers. But we’re told authoritatively it has been ‘war-gamed’ by Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, along with locking down London by closing all the slip roads on the M25. Perhaps they intend to station armed guards on motorway bridges with the power to shoot anyone trying to escape.
When the news of the over-50s lockdown leaked, ministers started backpedalling and insisting that it wasn’t being ‘actively considered’. But the fact that it was even being considered at all, actively or otherwise, is disturbing evidence of the madness and panic which has engulfed this Government since March.
Ministers have been so spooked by the pandemic, they have lost all sense of proportion. How else would they even begin to entertain the notion that millions of people 50-plus should be put under house arrest indefinitely?
Most of us were happy to give them the benefit of the doubt at the beginning because nobody, including the so-called ‘experts’, was quite certain of what precisely we were dealing with.
Since then, however, the messages coming from Government have been increasingly incoherent and inconsistent. There appears to be no joined-up thinking at all. For weeks, this column has been highlighting the absurd contradictions — for instance, Dishi Rishi subsidising hamburgers and pizzas, while at the same time increasing spending on gastric-band surgery to combat obesity.
Ministers urge people in the private sector to get back to their desks, but cave in cravenly to the Civil Service and teaching unions who refuse to tell their members to go back to work, citing bogus ‘safety’ concerns.
Yesterday was supposed to be the day Britain got back down to business. But office blocks and transport hubs were practically deserted, while restaurants and fast-food joints were doing a roaring trade knocking out half-price meal deals, courtesy of the Chancellor hosing them down with money we haven’t got.
For weeks, this column has been highlighting the absurd contradictions — for instance, Dishi Rishi subsidising hamburgers and pizzas, while at the same time increasing spending on gastric-band surgery to combat obesity
The suburbs are teeming with people spilling out of pubs and cafes, yet city centres still slumber, as if in permanent hibernation.
As long as the Treasury continues to top up the salaries of some nine million people on furlough, there’s no incentive for anyone to go back to the office.
Perhaps it’s time ministers and private employers followed the example of Charlie Mullins, the boss of Pimlico Plumbers, and started sacking anyone who refuses to return to work.
Instead, they’re considering a crazy scheme to force everyone over 50 to stay indoors, just to be on the safe side.
Speaking as someone who won’t see 60 again, let alone 50, I think I’ve probably been around long enough to work out for myself the inherent risks or otherwise of catching Covid.
My Generation may well have sung along with The Who, hoping to die before we got old.
But we’re not all decrepit just yet. We may not be the full Miss Jean Brodie, but some of us still think we’re in our prime.
Yes, we are well aware, thank you, that the older we get, we’re another day closer to death. And we realise that age increases the chance of succumbing to coronavirus. But the same goes for any illness, from heart disease to cancer — none of which are currently being treated properly by Our Amazing NHS, which has all hands focused on the Covid pump.
We certainly don’t intend to shut the door and throw away the key until the Grim Reaper comes a-knocking.
For ministers even to be contemplating locking down the over-50s is proof positive that this Government has lost the plot on an intergalactic level.
It would be economic suicide, at a time when the country is already teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.
The over-50s are substantial taxpayers, and relatively big spenders on everything from leisure to financial services.
We are the backbone of Britain; the Bank of Mum and Dad; the carers for elderly relatives; babysitters for grandchildren. Many of us are running our own successful small businesses, creating wealth and much-needed employment.
All this, the Government appears willing to put into deep freeze because of an irrational fear of a virus we are learning more about each day.
That’s not to diminish in any way the early impact of Covid or the devastating effect it has had on the frail elderly (by which I mean the over-85s) and those who are morbidly obese or afflicted with serious underlying health problems. Sorry to sound callous, but many of these people would have died sooner rather than later anyway.
Looking at the international league table of new Covid infections yesterday, Britain is way down the list. Most of those contracting the virus now are asymptomatic.
So why has the Government gone into another blue funk, cancelling at the last minute plans to reopen everything from beauty parlours to casinos and considering a ludicrous proposal to quarantine millions of allegedly vulnerable over-50s?
From the outset, ministers have given too much credence to the ‘science’.
They have been unwilling to challenge the assertions of tunnel-vision experts like the Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, who appears to have been our real, unelected Prime Minister these past few months.
My fear all along has been that some of the more contentious decisions are based not on what is best for Britain, but what will protect individual politicians and their advisers when the inevitable public inquiry is held.
Risk-aversion is the order of the day. There is no boldness, no willingness to trust us with detailed information so we can assess the dangers for themselves.
Much of the nonsense coming out of Whitehall now seems to have been made up on the hoof, such as the stupid suggestion that if the schools are to reopen in September, then the pubs will have to shut.
Why? Who is asking these questions within government? Nobody, from what I can gather.
Covid has infantilised the nation. Policy is made in private, by unaccountable committees and scientists.
They have been unwilling to challenge the assertions of tunnel-vision experts like the Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, who appears to have been our real, unelected Prime Minister these past few months
With most MPs content to stay home in their constituencies since March, Westminster has become a ghost town. There has been no proper scrutiny of the Government’s handling of the crisis.
And now, after the exertions of all those Zoom sessions, Parliament is in recess as MPs enjoy six weeks’ paid holiday.
The Commons should be recalled immediately. If it’s safe for holidaymakers to sit cheek-by-jowl on aeroplanes, and for diners to enjoy cut-price piri-piri chicken and chips in state-subsidised restaurants, it should be safe enough for socially distanced MPs to reoccupy the green benches at Westminster.
Politicians should be leading by example, not relaxing on the beaches while our increasingly erratic leaders tinker with deranged schemes such as placing everyone over 50 under house arrest.
In the end, we’re all going to die of something. We can’t spend the rest of our lives trying to postpone the inevitable. Short of an effective vaccine, we will to have to learn to live with corona, in a grown-up fashion, for the forseeable future — not keep stumbling from one emergency lockdown to another.
Britain needs a serious plan to get us out of this catastrophic Covid-induced coma right now.
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Trump says it was a ‘beautiful thing’ when MSNBC journalist Ali Velshi was struck by a rubber bullet
Floyd died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer on May 25. In the days following his death, protests erupted across the US and eventually the world.
On May 30, Velshi was covering a peaceful protest when he was injured by police.
During Trump’s Friday night rally, he brought up Velshi’s injury while speaking to a crowd in Minnesota.
‘I remember this guy Velshi. He got hit on the knee with a canister of tear gas and he went down. He was down. “My knee, my knee,’ Trump mistakenly recalled.
President Donald Trump (left) aid last week that it was a ‘beautiful thing’ when MSNBC journalist Ali Velshi was struck by a rubber bullet during a protest in Minnesota following the death of George Floyd
Velshi was actually struck by a rubber bullet and not a canister as Trump claimed.
Trump continued: ‘These guys didn’t care. They moved him aside and they just walked right through. It was like the most beautiful thing.’
‘It’s called law and order,’ Trump said to the cheering crowd.
The next day, Velshi tweeted about Trump’s remarks and questioned the president about what his injury had to do with law and order.
‘So, @realDonaldTrump, you call my getting hit by authorities in Minneapolis on 5/30/20 (by a rubber bullet, btw, not a tear gas cannister) a “beautiful thing” called “law and order”. What law did I break while covering an entirely peaceful (yes, entirely peaceful) march?’
In a statement, MSNBC slammed Trump for his comments about Velshi.
The next day, Velshi tweeted about Trump’s remarks and questioned the president about what his injury had to do with law and order
Velshi was covering a protest in Minneapolis (pictured on May 29) when he was struck by the rubber bullet
‘Freedom of the press is a pillar of our democracy,’ the statement reads.
‘When the president mocks a journalist for the injury he sustained while putting himself in harm’s way to inform the public, he endangers thousands of other journalists and undermines our freedoms,’ the statement continued.
During the rally, Trump then took aim at Rep Ilhan Omar, who is Muslim American.
He asked the crowd if they were ‘having a good time with your refugees’.
‘How the hell did she win?’ Trump asked.
He then claimed that Minneapolis would’ve been destroyed had he not called in the National Guard.
‘You wouldn’t have Minneapolis,’ Trump said.
Trump also predicted victory in Minnesota in November despite the state’s long history of backing Democratic candidates.
‘Forty-six days from now we’re going to win Minnesota and we’re going to win four more years in the White House,’ Trump told thousands of supporters at the regional airport in Bemidji.
Since narrowly losing Minnesota in 2016, Trump has emphasized the state in hopes that a victory this year could offset losses in other states.
He has visited regularly and kept a close eye on issues of particular importance to rural corners of the state. He’s reversed an Obama administration policy prohibiting the development of copper-nickel mining and has bailed out soybean, corn and other farmers who have been hurt by trade clashes with China.
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‘He’s dangerous’: Tory MP’s wife Sasha Swire renews attack on Michael Gove
Ex-minister’s wife Sasha Swire has described Michael Gove as ‘dishonest with his ambition’ in her latest comments about her upcoming memoirs.
Lady Swire, who describes the minister for the Cabinet Office as ‘bonkers’ in her book, has said she believes he is ‘dangerous’.
In an interview with the Observer, she said: ‘I love Michael. I can forgive anything if they’ve got colour. The more dangerous, the more alcoholic, the madder they are, the better.
‘Where Michael is slightly dishonest is with his ambition. He’s always lied about that. He’s a typical hack.
‘He loves being at the scene of the crash. I think he’s quite dangerous.’
Lady Swire, pictured with husband Hugo, has described senior Tory minister Michael Gove as ‘dangerous’ and ‘dishonest with his ambition’ in an interview ahead of the release of her book
Lady Swire describes Gove, pictured, as ‘bonkers’ in her soon-to-be-published memoirs
At one point, after a meeting of the National Security Council, her husband Hugo tells her he is ‘starting to think Gove is ever so slightly bonkers’. She adds that William Hague looked ‘exasperated every time Gove spoke’.
Cameron ‘gave Gove a b*****king’ and ‘went ballistic’ when the Scotsman publicly attacked the ‘preposterous’ number of Etonians in Cameron’s inner circle.
Gove’s aim in saying this was to wreck Boris Johnson’s chances of succeeding Cameron, declares Lady Swire, who adds: Gove is a ‘loose cannon’ and, as an ex-journalist, ‘mistakes headlines for achievements’.
She describes Gove’s close ally Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s No 10 chief of staff, as ‘one of those odd amoebas you find in jars in school science labs’. Cummings is a ‘stark raving mad Rasputin’.
Teaming him up with Gove, the ‘most volatile member of the Government, was always an explosion waiting to happen’.
Lady Swire accuses Gove of ‘lying through his teeth’ and says that when he fell out with Cameron over Brexit, Cameron was so angry he said he would never have Michael or his wife Sarah Vine — a Mail columnist — or his children in his house ever again.
She says Gove also upset former Tory leadership contender Rory Stewart, who looked set to ‘punch’ him when Gove made a joke that backfired about a jihadi kissing Stewart’s wife. It was ‘nutter Michael in a nutshell’.
David Cameron thinks it is ‘hilarious’ to joke with Lady Swire’s husband about the size of Michael Gove‘s manhood — and the former Prime Minister is drawn to Lady Swire because she is ‘lewd’.
Lady Swire told the Observer that she was ‘terrified of causing trouble’ and says she is glad to be out of politics.
Her husband Hugo, who was knighted in David Cameron’s resignation honours, stepped down as MP for East Devon last year.
She also doubles down on comments made about others in the book including ‘stark raving mad’ Dominic Cummings of whom she says: ‘It will all go tits up with him, it always does. He’ll explode.’
She also says that Theresa May ‘didn’t have an original idea in her head’.
In Lady Swire’s tell-all memoir, she reveals how David and Samantha Cameron drowned their sorrows following the Brexit vote.
She tells how, in the wake of the 2016 referendum, she visited the Camerons for a weekend at their Oxfordshire home. She claims that the then-Prime Minister asked her husband to bring ‘two fat Cohibas [Cuban cigars] and plenty of booze’ and was ‘chomping on cigars’ over ‘endless bottles of wine’.
And she adds that Mrs Cameron had to muster up some Dutch courage before joining her husband for his resignation speech, feeling unable to do so ‘without drinking a large negroni’.
She also says that Mr Cameron told her former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had a two-way mirror in his bedroom.
‘I sit next to Dave at dinner,’ she writes. ‘He gives us wonderful vignettes of the Sarkozys’ fake marital displays and of being given a tour around Rome’s equivalent of No 10 by Berlusconi.
‘When they come to his bedroom he points at a Renaissance two-way mirror above the bed and with his characteristic grin says, ‘Well, they didn’t have porn channels in those days, did they?’ ‘
Boris Johnson is described as ‘His Blondness’, adding that he used to be a ‘political calculating machine’ with ‘no political identity or proven ability to grasp difficult questions and decisions’
She describes Gove’s close ally Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s No 10 chief of staff, as ‘one of those odd amoebas you find in jars in school science labs’ and says he is ‘stark raving mad’
Of Boris Johnson, she is withering, writing: ‘It scares the s*** out of me that people don’t see [Mr Johnson] as the calculating machine he really is,’ and she describes Mr Johnson’s fiancee Carrie Symonds as his ‘hot young vixen’.
Meanwhile, Mrs May is Mrs ‘Glumbucket’, the ‘Maybot’, ‘Old Ma May’ or ‘old bat, crippled by her lack of intellectual confidence.
Nor does Lady Swire, 57, spare the blushes of the Royal Family in her book, Diary Of An MP’s Wife. She says the Queen ‘fixed her beady eyes’ on her at a dinner at Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland when Sir Hugo was an Ulster Minister in the Cameron administration.
Prince Philip ‘ranted’ about how ‘appalled’ he and the Queen were that guests used laptops during Palace banquets. And Sir Hugo is distracted at a meeting with Prince Charles by his ‘thick Hanoverian hands’.
Lady Swire’s reaction to Prince Harry’s engagement to Meghan Markle in 2017 is to predict ‘trouble ahead’. The future Duchess of Sussex is ‘eating the redhead for breakfast’, she declares; he is ‘clearly not as clever as she is’.
Lady Swire claims her book is a modern version of the highly acclaimed and outrageous Alan Clark Diaries in the Thatcher era.
Like Clark, she gives a riveting insight into the political skulduggery and sexual high jinks of the Tory elite.
She also pokes affectionate fun at her husband Sir Hugo, or ‘H’, as she refers to him and candidly talks of their marriage problems.
The book — the most indiscreet political memoir in decades — claims Boris Johnson was driven by jealousy of Cameron.
He saw Cameron as a ‘fee-paying squit’ at Eton in comparison to his own status of King’s Scholar at the school.
Mr Cameron has admitted the diaries, due out next week, were ‘kind of embarrassing’.
Diary of an MP’s Wife by Sasha Swire is published by Little, Brown on September 24.
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UK hospitals record another 12 coronavirus deaths with no fatalities in Scotland and Wales
UK hospitals recorded another 12 coronavirus deaths, amid warnings from the Health Secretary the country is at a ‘tipping point.
Health authorities today said there had been 12 fatalities in England, but none in Scotland or Wales. The figures for Northern Ireland have not yet been released.
The victims were aged between 62 and 98, and all had known health conditions, NHS England said.
The dates of the deaths were between April 30 and September 19, with the majority on or after September 18. Three other deaths were reported with no positive Covid-19 test result.
It comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned Britain is at a ‘tipping point’ as he refused to rule out a second national coronavirus lockdown if the public fails to follow social distancing rules.
Pictured: staff at a Coronavirus testing centre in Leicester today. Health authorities today said there had been 12 fatalities in England, but none in Scotland or Wales. The figures for Northern Ireland have not yet been released
With cases rising across the country, Mr Hancock said there was a danger the numbers could ‘shoot through the roof’ unless effective action was taken to halt the spread of the virus.
His warning came as the Government announced anyone in England who refuses an order to self-isolate could face a fine of up to £10,000.
The Health Secretary said that hospital admissions for the disease were doubling ‘every eight days’ and would be followed by an increase in the number of deaths.
‘This country faces a tipping point,’ he told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show.
‘If everybody follows the rules – and we will be increasingly stringent on the people who are not following the rules – then we can avoid further national lockdowns.
‘But we of course have to be prepared to take action if that’s what’s necessary.’
During a round of broadcast interviews, Mr Hancock said the Government had taken the decision to impose a legal duty on people to self-isolate if instructed as the data showed some were failing to do so.
At the same time ministers have said people on benefits in England will be eligible for a one off support payment of £500 if they face a loss of earnings as a result of being required to self-isolate.
Mr Hancock told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: ‘We will support people who do the right thing and we will come down hard on people who do the wrong thing.’
Boris Johnson has been desperate to avoid another nationwide lockdown amid concerns about the economic damage it will inflict just as activity was beginning to pick up again.
Large groups of walkers enjoy the warm sunshine as Police patrol Hyde Park in London on the first weekend of the Rule of Six being in place
However, as of Tuesday, around 13.5 million people across the UK will be facing some form of local restrictions as the authorities grapple with the disease.
Second wave of Covid cases in Europe is not causing deaths to spike compared with the peak in spring
A second wave of coronavirus cases in Europe is not causing deaths to spike.
Although cases in Spain have soared to almost 15,000 a day – leading to a new lockdown in parts of Madrid – the number of deaths remains relatively low compared with the peak in spring.
There were 240 deaths in Spain on Thursday – much lower than the 929 daily deaths reached in late March when there were a recorded 9,000 cases a day.
In France, another 13,498 cases were reported yesterday. But the latest 24-hour death toll – 154 on Friday – is much lower than in mid-April when there were 1,400 deaths but 5,500 confirmed cases.
The difference may be explained by an increase in testing in the countries in recent months, but could also be a sign that the virus is mainly infecting younger, healthier people who survive the illness.
Sweden, which did not impose a lockdown, continues to have a significantly lower rate of cases and deaths from Covid-19.
On Tuesday, Sweden had its lowest number of new cases since March. In April, Covid deaths in a single day in Sweden peaked at 115. Now, some days, that figure is zero.
Reported infections have been climbing steadily across most of Europe over the past two months, with more than half of countries seeing an increase of over ten per cent in the past two weeks.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan is now pressing ministers to extend the controls to the capital, which he believes may be just ‘two or three days’ behind the hotspots of the North West and North East of England.
Mr Hancock said he was ‘very worried’ about the latest data which suggested Britain could be on the same path as Spain and France – where deaths and hospitalisations are increasing – without effective action.
‘I am very worried about this second wave. We have seen in other countries around Europe how it can absolutely shoot through the roof,’ he said.
‘When the case rate shoots up, the next thing that happens is the numbers going into hospital shoot up.
‘Sadly, we have seen that rise, it is doubling every eight days or so – people going into hospital – then, with a lag, you see the number of people dying sadly rise.’
Among the measures being considered by ministers is a temporary two-week ‘circuit break’ with tighter restrictions across England in an attempt to break the chain of transmission.
However, the Government is facing resistance from some senior Conservative MPs concerned that ministers are taking increasingly stringent powers with little or no parliamentary scrutiny.
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the powerful Tory backbench 1922 Committee, said he intends to table an amendment which would require the Government to put any new measures to a vote of MPs.
He told The Sunday Telegraph that he would take the opportunity to seek to amend the legislation when the Government comes to renew the emergency powers in the Coronavirus Act 2020.
‘In March, Parliament gave the Government sweeping emergency powers at a time when Parliament was about to go into recess and there was realistic concern that NHS care capacity might be overwhelmed by Covid-19,’ he told the paper.
‘We now know that the NHS coped well with the challenge of the virus and Parliament has been sitting largely since April. There is now no justification for ministers ruling by emergency powers without reference to normal democratic processes.’
Under the latest rules, from September 28 people in England will have a duty to self isolate for 14 days if they test positive for coronavirus or they are instructed to do by NHS Test and Trace because they have been in contact with someone with the disease.
Sir Keir Starmer said Labour would support the measures but warned that a second national lockdown was becoming more likely because the Test and Trace programme was in a state of ‘near collapse’.
‘Because the Government’s now effectively lost control of testing, it doesn’t necessarily know where the virus is. So if I was the prime minister, I would apologise for the fact that testing is all over the place,’ he told the Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme.
Mr Hancock, however, said he was not prepared to apologise, saying: ‘I will endlessly defend my team. They are doing amazing work day-in-day-out.’
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