Operation Dead Meat.

Boris Johnson’s game plan is quite clear. Brass it out. Throw as many underlings under the bus as possible. Try to appease his Party’s right wing – who are the force behind trying to defenestrate him now with a series of increasingly wild policy pronouncements.

The Morning after the night before.
  • Go to war with Radio 4. As if the BBC weren’t right wing enough, with their long succession of lead political commentators who either were or might as well have been Conservative activists (Nick Robinson was in FCS in the 80s at the time they demonstrated in support of Nicaraguan terrorists and sported Hang Nelson Mandela T shirts; Laura Kuenssberg has often seemed to act as a straight conduit for the latest line from Tory central office). Perhaps the success of GB News is what they have in mind. A channel with very little appeal outside the Alt Right bubble.
  • Deploy the Royal Navy in the Channel against refugees seeking safety. This is either bluff – sounds decisive, means nothing – or murderous. What are they going to do? Heroically open fire on dinghies full of desperate people? Or ram them? Leave people to drown or save their lives?
  • Lift Covid safety measures early. Having learned nothing from every other time they’ve done this in the pandemic. Latest government measures have all had this finely tuned “not quite just in time” quality. Cutting the isolation period down to five days from seven means that a third of the people concerned could still be infectious. But, what the hell, it gets more people back to work. Being “past the peak” is not the same thing as being in a sufficiently safe space to open up. Just as “endemic” does not mean that an epidemic is any less lethal – its just means you’ve given up on trying to control it. Current safety measures – however half baked – have case numbers and hospitalisations going down. Deaths are a lagging indicator and still going up (38% up from the previous week on Sunday). Letting them go early means that they will have less effect, which means that the rate of decline will slow and more people will die. A small price to pay for the PM’s political career.
  • Push a Red Scare. The bizarre allegation’s from MI5 that Christine Lee has been conducting “illegal” attempts to “influence” legislators in the interests of the Chinese Communist Party – coming from the team that brought us the Zinoviev Letter, Spycatcher and Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq – without specifying what she did that was “illegal” nor charging her with anything. In fact, Priti Patel has admitted that Lee’s behaviour is currently below the criminal threshold to be prosecuted. In other words, what she is supposed to have done was not, in fact, illegal, as claimed by MI5. How it differs from lobbying by other countries, some of them supposed to be allies, has not been defined. Nor why this sort of thing is illegitimate in this case, but not in theirs. All part of developing a Cold War politics of paranoia. Yvette Cooper has, of course, gone along with the government’s approach. Priti Patel has warned that we can expect more of these announcements and floated a change in the law. I doubt any of this will target attempts to “advance the interests” of the United States which are part of the warp and weft of the UK establishment – from the Trilateral Commission to the 5 Eyes Intelligence alliance – which makes the UK security services a local auxiliary of those of the USA – to the Henry Jackson Society and Uncle Sam Cobbly and all. This appears to be an attempt to make it impossible for anyone in politics, academia or the media to suggest that maybe China gets some things right, without being accused of being an agent or a spy; thereby closing down the range of debate and setting up anyone raising awkward facts to be howled down by enraged mobs rather than acknowledge them. The decline of once unchallengeable US dominance really sets us up for a delirious period of irrational politics.

It also beggars belief that, at precisely this point, Keir Starmer and Wes Streeting think that the thing to do is to ride to Johnson’s rescue on Covid.

Streeting – in an article on Labour List – put forward “Labour’s Plan to live well with Covid”. Yes. he really did write that. A real contender for the backdrop for Party Conference, or billboards at the next election. Possibly more memorable than Starmer’s latest “This, That and The other”. The irony of this is that Streeting is putting this forward as part of a plan to show that Labour aims to win the next election on its own merits, not simply be the lucky beneficiary of the Tories falling apart. Clearly, the statesmanlike thing is to show how fit we are for government by being as much like them as possible.

At the same time Starmer’s speech to the Fabian Society echoed the government line. “We need to learn to live with Covid. He went on “I don’t want a government ever again to have to place tough restrictions on our lives, our livelihoods and our liberties.” Ever again. From here. Regardless of what happens? Close your eyes and it could be the Covid Recovery Group speaking. Restrictions (which might also be called safeguards) only have to be put in place when the virus is left to run riot). An active Covid suppression policy saves lives and allows economic recovery. Let the virus evolve into a new variant – as it will – and we’ll once again have picked up the card marked “Return to Hospital. Do not pass Go. Do not collect an economic recovery”.

To be fair to Streeting, his proposals actually spell out that constant safeguards (restrictions) are the price of accepting that “the virus is here to stay”. Some of this proposes a sensible wholesale roll out of a serious testing and tracing system, ventilation systems in schools, support for worldwide vaccination, proper sick pay for those having to isolate – which concedes that people will have to – and but also requires a permanent volunteer “jabs army” to relieve pressure on Health Service workers – instead of recruiting workers that will have to be paid (?!). All of this concedes that pressure will be constant from here, as will waves of jabs.

By contrast, a serious position that rejects complicity with the government and sets a course towards active Covid suppression has now been adopted by the Socialist Health Association, and this should be discussed up and down the Party and through the unions too to push a change of course and defy this fatal fatalism.

Coronavirus Pandemic

We note that:

1. The Tory Government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has led to one of the highest per capita death tolls in the world, as well as causing thousands to suffer with long term health problems.

2. Its incompetence, corruption, repeated failure to take timely decisions, reliance on just vaccines and herd immunity, on top of its ideological neo-liberalism mean that it has utterly failed to protect the health and well-being of the people of the UK.

3. In October 2021, Parliament’s Health & Social Care and Science & Technology Committees’ joint report on the lessons learnt from the UK’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic described it as one of “the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced”; and the Public Accounts Committee report on the government’s flagship test-and-trace system said that it had failed to achieve “its main objective” to cut infection levels and help Britain return to normal despite beinghanded an “eye-watering” £37bn in taxpayers’ cash.

4. The Government continues to delay its promised independent public enquiry.

We recognise that:

1. Vaccination, while essential, can be only one tool in the struggle to control Covid-19.

2. Those countries which have aimed at maximum suppression of the virus have the lowest death tolls and are suffering the least negative economic consequences.

3. There is no reliable evidence that it is possible to live safely with this virus as it mutates, and more dangerous variants emerge.


We call on the SHA and Labour Party at all levels to:

1. Reject the Tories’ ‘living with the virus’ approach, and instead support a comprehensive strategy to keep community transmission of the virus as close to zero as possible and ultimately to eliminate it entirely from particular geographic areas, based on tried and tested public health principles, including: An effective public sector local and fully-funded Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support (FFTIS) operation run by the NHS and local authorities, providing comprehensive financial, psychological, social and health care support and practical assistance to all required to self-isolate or shield. Continuing personal protection and mitigation measures including social distancing, handwashing, mask-wearing and good ventilation. An obligation for workplaces, educational places, hospitality, venues and other indoor public spaces to adhere to and publicly display Covid protection standards (especially for ventilation).Vaccine passes where appropriate. The right to work and study from home where possible and no requirement to attend the workplace unless strictly necessary.

2. Actively support campaigns and international efforts to tackle the pandemic on a global level through facilitating speedy vaccine deployment and production in all parts of the world In order to effectively campaign for this essential life-saving elimination strategy, we resolve to support Independent SAGE, to affiliate to the Zero Covid UK campaign, and to work with those campaigns.

Would Priti Patel want to turn them back?

At a time in which our current Home Secretary is trying to change the law to require sea rescue personnel to turn back boats of vulnerable refugees in mid channel and make it an offence to rescue them – and 27 people have now drowned – at Liverpool Street on Saturday, I came across the memorial to the Kindertransport. There is an understated plaque on the wall behind it, but a superficial glance at it would leave most viewers thinking it was a memorial to the domestic child evacuees that were sent out to the countryside early in World War 2 to avoid the much feared impending bombing offensive.

Around the base of the plinth are the names of the German cities from which Jewish refugee children were rescued from the Nazis, between Kristallnacht in November 1938 and the outbreak of war in September 1939.

The statue is at Liverpool Street, because most of the children arrived there after getting across the North Sea by Ferry to Harwich from Rotterdam.

It is a rather bland statue, the children’s faces showing little anxiety or distress. Normalising somehow. Just enough to remind us that something relatively good was done. But not enough, either in the sculpture or the plaque, to drive home the horror they fled, nor draw out why it was that their parents and so many others were left behind to be murdered en masse in the concentration camps, let alone draw any parallels with refugees today. Nothing to disturb the thoughts of the thousands of passing commuters on their way into the City of London.

Self congratulation about the Kindertransport in Britain serves to obscure the harsh reality that all other refugees from Nazi Germany were locked out; including after the war started.

British immigration policy in the 1930s was extremely tight with the door slammed shut, including for refugees. This was compounded by campaigns in the right wing press.

“The way stateless Jews from Germany are pouring in from every port of this country is becoming an outrage. The number of aliens entering the country through the back door is a problem to which the Daily Mail has repeatedly pointed” Daily Mail, 20 August 1938

How little that paper has changed.

Although former Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin had gone on the Radio after Kristallnacht and said, “Thousands of men, women and children, despoiled of their goods, driven from their homes, are seeking asylum and sanctuary on our doorsteps, a hiding place from the wind and a covert from the tempest” the then Conservative government gave no consideration to providing such asylum and sanctuary for the thousands of men and women who were the parents of the children they did let in, who were left to deal with “the tempest” the best they could.

Just under 10,000 were able to use the temporarily relaxed visa regulations that only applied to children up to 16 years old, with the costs of accommodation and fostering footed entirely by the “Movement for the Care of Children from Germany”; a united front of Jewish, Quaker and other refugee support groups who had assured the Home Secretary, Samuel Hoare, that none of the refugees would become “a financial burden on the public”. Nevertheless, this did not prevent the government from trying to claim credit. Hoare commented that the Home Office “shall put no obstacle in the way of children coming here to show that we will be in the forefront among the nations of the world in giving relief to these suffering people”; so long as the tab was picked up by someone else of course.

During the afternoon, the statue was surrounded by a little group of anti vaxx demonstrators. They were middle aged or older, seemed quite quiet and subdued, not talking to each other, almost invisible. Sombre. Middle class in a brittle sort of way. Dressed darkly, with darker thoughts in their heads and paranoid placards.

In the evening, passing it again, it was a Saturday night and the whole station concourse was a setting for a seething bacchanalia of edgy crowds dressed up, seemingly pissed up, shouting, pushing past each other, consuming without noticing; everything at once intense and meaningless. The statue was surrounded by people waiting. No anti vaxxers this time, but bored and aimless consumers of the night who carelessly decorated the plinth with discarded milkshake cups and burger boxes; the disrespect of those that do not look.