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HP Source: Populism days of reckoning beckons

 

‘I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change..’

 

As was the case last week I intend to maintain a commentary on BLM, and to do this we have to include the US.

Last weekend, Trump held the first political rally of his re-election campaign. We know Donald is an insensitive beast, and his decision to hold the rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on the anniversary of the Oklahoma Massacre was only to be expected during the current BLM protests. After much complaint he switched the date but not the venue.

Like many I had never heard of the massacre, which took place on the 31st May 1921, when a mob of white people raided the prospering black neighbourhood of Greenwood, firing indiscriminately on hundreds of black civilians and torching businesses, homes, hotels, churches and cinemas in what was then known as ‘Black Wall Street’.

Most of those black bodies, up to 300 people murdered in one of the most horrific single acts of racist violence in American history, have never been found.

300 people murdered in one of the most horrific single acts of racist violence in American history

The cause were clashes between a white lynch mob outside Tulsa’s county jail demanding custody of a 19-year-old African American named Dick Rowland, who was falsely accused of sexually assaulting a young white woman, and a small group of armed black people who came to defend him.

It ended after 24 hours of bloody chaos, with a thriving community of about 10,000 black people seeing their lives and livelihoods destroyed by conscripted whites acting on behalf of the state.

No black American was ever compensated for their losses. No white American was ever charged over the incident. It was referred to as a ‘race riot’ rather than a massacre until last decade.

Today, Tulsa is a hyper-segregated city, where Greenwood now marks the borderline between the poorer northern section, i.e. mostly black, and the most prosperous, white, southern sections.

 

  • Thirty-four per cent of black people here live in poverty, compared with 13% of white people, according to Human Rights Watch.
  • African Americans are more than twice as likely to be arrested than white people.

 

I tried to think of a comparator and came up with Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, a pogrom against Jews carried out by SA paramilitary forces and civilians throughout Nazi Germany on 9–10 November 1938.

Rioters destroyed 267 synagogues throughout Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland, over 7,000 Jewish businesses were damaged or destroyed, and 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps. The final death toll is still unknown but, at the very least, reaches into the hundreds.

We went to war to stop the Nazi’s, why then do white people still condone racism?

And from one populist to another, and from one set of numbers to another. This weekend it emerged that more than 1,000 people died every day from Covid-19 in the UK for 22 consecutive days, a number far in excess of those announced by the government, for example:

 

  • On Monday 6 April, Dominic Raab announced that the death toll in the 24 hours to 5pm on Sunday 5 April had risen by 439, whereas the Official figures show that in fact 1,210 people had died.
  • The worst day came on 8 April when a record 1,445 people died.
  • On 9 April Dominic Raab, said the death toll had increased by 881 on the previous day. The actual death toll was 64% higher

 

In just over three weeks between 2 and 23 April, 26,566 people died – more than half the total death toll of 52,161 deaths to 5 June – and drove the UK to the status of the worst affected country in Europe.

Somehow, I find myself immune for the governments lies and half-truths, it no longer surprises me, it not just disappoints me.

As other countries such as Germany and New Zealand are experiencing the second phase of the pandemic our government has sounded the ‘all clear’ and its back to the pubs, etc, etc. I am glad not to be the only person to see this as foolish; Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, cautioned the crisis is not over:

 

‘If people hear a distorted version of what’s being said, that says ‘this is all fine now, it’s gone away’ and start behaving in ways that they normally would have before this virus happened, yes, we will get an uptick for sure. It is absolutely critical people stick to the guidance that has been given; it’s a changed guidance for there are still very significant restrictions socially and there are very significant restrictions on business of different sorts. I would be surprised and delighted if we weren’t in this current situation through the winter and into next spring. I expect there to be a significant amount of coronavirus circulating at least into that time and I think it is going to be quite optimistic that for science to come fully to the rescue over that kind of timeframe.’

 

The reality is stark, the virus hasn’t gone away, infection levels are in-line with where they were shortly before lockdown, returning to business as usual will undo the sacrifices of the last three months.

During this time, the public largely obeyed the lock-down restrictions despite considerable hardship for many, this adherence appears to have surprised the government

returning to business as usual will undo the sacrifices of the last three months

The problem with relaxing lockdown, particularly the reduction of the 2-metre rule, is that people tend not to abide by restrictive rules if they think that the danger has gone away.

The issue with reducing the proximity rule to 1-meter is that in the UK this is roughly the distance we ordinarily maintain with others, therefore the reduction has the effect of removing any restrictions from distancing, effectively signal we are back to normal.

Anyone who knows how a pub or bar functions on a warm and alcoholic evening will appreciate that any semblance of restriction vanishes in a linear fashion to the drinks consumed.

It is difficult to see how the relaxation can succeed without an effective testing system to drive down infection rates, a key part of which is track and trace (‘TNT’).

A proper TNT system need to decentralise responsibility for testing and tracing to local authority public health teams. Speed is critical, rather than waiting for them we need to actively seek out people who may be infectious and encourage them to be tested.

we are 6x more likely to die from Covid-19 than the German people

The sooner cases are identified, the quicker they can be quarantined, and the fewer contacts there will be to trace.

This is how countries such as Singapore and Taiwan succeeded, they went looking for the virus implementing rigorous screening programmes in airports; proactive not reactive.

Germany did the same, testing anyone with symptoms and using a public information call centre to direct people to 400 local testing decentralised teams.

Whereas we centralised operations and compounded this mistake by decoupling testing from contact tracing, and then outsourcing it to private sector companies.

Finally, we became fixated by a mobile phone contact tracing app before establishing a functioning TNT system.

The results below prove the superiority of the German response:

 

  • By 23 June, according to official figures, Britain had sustained 306,210 confirmed cases of Covid-19, compared with Germany’s 190,862.
  • In Britain 42,927 people had died from the virus.
  • In Germany the figure on the same day stood at 8,895 deaths.
  • In Britain, according to Johns Hopkins University data, the current death rate per 100,000 people stands at 64.27. In Germany, the rate is 10.73.

 

Put simply, we are 6x more likely to die from Covid-19 than the German people. In addition, to a responding better there is also the fact that:

 

  • The UK’s health spending level per head of $4,000 is only approximately two-thirds that of Germany. In addition, their health spending had risen in real terms for most years since 2000
  • Germany was quicker to lock down: most German schools closed from 13 March, shops and restaurants closed from 16 March, a week before us.
  • Contact tracing was also well developed across the German health system prior to the pandemic.
  • Germany had many more intensive care beds; 28,000 to our 4,000.
  • German testing worked: we abandoned mass testing in March, whereas Germany conducted 160,000 tests a week that month, rising to 360,000 tests by mid-May.

 

Question need to be asked; why are we obsessed with centralised control? With outsourcing everything? Why do we put private sector interests ahead of the public interest?

Once again this only highlights our mis-placeD national pride and refusal to learn from other who do things better. We aren’t world beaters; we are trailing badly.

We aren’t world beaters; we are trailing badly

Now, any ‘little Englanders’ who have mistakenly stumbled on this article, stop reading now!

We continue to be a rather pathetic non-entity, led by a half-wit, spending all our time dreaming of a glorious past; ‘two world wars and a world cup’.

Whereas, the Germans learn from history and their mistakes and continue to march relentlessly forward, oh, and they have won the world cup 4-times

 

‘I was in a crater
Pockmarked fields on either side
I was meant to be all safe
How did I die?’

 

And, from TNT we move neatly into PMQs (PM Question time). Boris, the half-wit was yet again outplayed by the leader of the opposition, Kier Starmer, he started in denial when questioned about the failings of TNT which he then blended with feigned indignation.

Despite the histrionics and lies, and ‘What me Guv?’ innocence, he still seems to believe that lies, if they are repeated often enough, will osmose into the truth. Unlike the side of buses, PMQs leave no place to hide especially during the greatest health crisis for a century.

Johnson was fortunate that social distancing kept many Tory backbenchers away, but they all read the newspaper and watch the news, it must be dawning on many of them that Johnson just isn’t up to the job.

A former cabinet minister from the previous government was reputed to have said, ‘If we were in normal times you would be hearing talk by now about removing the prime minister.

It is that bad. But you don’t get rid of leaders in a crisis like this.’

He went on to suggest that a batch of cabinet ministers including education secretary Gavin Williamson also deserved to be sacked and that the No 10 operation was ‘totally dysfunctional’.

If we were in normal times you would be hearing talk by now about removing the prime minister

Even the press which usually fauns all over Johnson and his mob are waking up. The latest U–turn ditching the tracing app hailed by Boris Johnson only weeks ago as ‘world beating’, prompted the Daily Mail to run the headline on Friday asking: ‘How many more Corona fiascos?’

When Johnson announced the lockdown on 23 March, Jeremy Corbyn was still the Labour party’s leader and Johnson was still soaring in the polls.

Johnson even enjoyed an initial post-lockdown surge in ratings, likely from little Englanders desperate to rally round the flag, and ideal for a man who modelled himself on Winston Churchill. Jane Churchill might be more apt!

This has now reversed itself, what was a 26-point lead over Labour (54% to 28%) with Johnson enjoying a personal approval rating of +29%, now sees Labour neck and neck with the Conservatives, with Johnson’s approval ratings and those of his government having gone through the floor.

Johnson’s approval ratings and those of his government having gone through the floor

So much so, that on Monday evening the party’s concerns were aired at a meeting of the executive of the 1922 committee of Conservative backbenchers. Senior MPs were furious that No 10 was blundering on while refusing to listen to advice offered by them on how to avoid more disasters.

Their problem is simple; they nominated a man totally unsuited to the job, and for one reason; to ‘get Brexit done’. Johnson is incapable of change and, will ultimately, self-destruct.

 

‘I wear this crown of shit
Upon my liar’s chair
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair..’

 

In the interim, like true populists, they will give their ‘public’ something to shout about.

When more than 20 police officers were injured in south London overnight after they attempted to break up a street party triggered violent clashes.

The home secretary, Priti Patel, described the clashes as ‘utterly vile scenes’. I can’t help but wonder what words she would use to describe the Oklahoma Massacre?

And, we can add Brexit to law and order. David Sassoli, the president of the European parliament, warned that he had not been imbued with confidence the prime minister was ready to do what was necessary to secure agreement before the end of the transition period on 31 December.

‘Together, we are very worried because we don’t see great enthusiasm from the British authorities and we don’t see a strong will to get to an agreement that satisfies all parties,’ he said.

‘Obviously as an agreement, it has to satisfy both parties that it cannot advantage one over the other. And this puts us in a situation in which at the moment we are frankly a little bit worried.’

Like Johnson, Trumps greatest enemy is himself, added to which Trump is an evil racist. Throughout the recent BLM protest Trump has sought to fuel the fire, which, ultimately could be his undoing. A smarter president would have defused the situation which is why police brutality and racism continue to thrive in the US, Trumps action might just be the watershed moment that changes this.

Only the great unwashed of middle America stand behind him now.

Both leaders embody populism claiming to represent the unified ‘will of the people’. They stand opposed to a perceived enemy giving the populace a target for their frustration, this seems to require a perpetual state of crisis, a need to constantly be on the offensive.

Populism is essentially based on negatives, anti-politics, anti-intellectualism, or anti-elite.

Populism is essentially based on negatives, anti-politics, anti-intellectualism, or anti-elite

It is versatile, and can adapt, mainly because it has no ideological basis or policies.

Populist politicians win support by being the first to make offers, or to promise change, however these are often hollow words as the progenitor lacks the ability to drive these changes through, and often does not understand that the promises are not feasible.

Johnson and Trump are like pub politicians they shout loudest and longest, belittling anyone with the temerity to question them.

Sadly, it has taken a global health crisis to expose Johnson, Trump has been exposed by the same crisis and more racist murders.

 

‘The old get old
And the young get stronger
May take a week
And it may take longer..’

 

More powerful stuff from Philip this week, starting with Trump’s provocative stance in Oklahoma and then moving to the misinformation (lies?) that we have been fed in the pandemic.

With beaches packed to the gunnels and some very questionable behaviour as the thin blue line is once again very much in harms way, there is  a stark reminder that ‘it’s not gone away’; who could estimate the damage that could be done if we got it so wrong again, but its becoming a stark choice between the economy and lives.

The contrast between the way the UK and Germany responded to the pandemic could hardly be greater and the difference in outcomes more stark; needless to say the country without a ‘world-beating TNT app’ came off worst.

The knives are out for Boris, who must be cursing his luck when all he wanted to do was ‘get it done’; it feels like an inflection point on either side of the Pond.

Lyrically, we’ve got a mixed bag again and ‘might just be the hardest yet’; I’ll get my coat. A generous 24 pts up for grabs, with social distancing strictly observed for hand deliveries.  

In each instance it’s three for the artist and three for the song; first ‘a stand-out track from an artiste many regard as the greatest, me excluded! Michael Jackson and ‘Man in the Mirror’.

Next ‘I just loved this band, they took it to the extreme’ – very well earned points for Einstürzende Neubauten and ‘How Did I Die?’ (just wow). Then ‘a first appearance for this post-grunge outfit. Hard and uncompromising’ Nine Inch Nails and ‘Hurt’.

Last up a band that ‘so terrified America that the singer was reputed to be on the FBI’s most wanted list’ The Doors and ‘Five to One’. Philip informs that Jim Morrison joined the ’27 Club’ – look it up, that’s something else I’ve learned. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Philip Gilbert 2Philip Gilbert is a city-based corporate financier, and former investment banker.

Philip is a great believer in meritocracy, and in the belief that if you want something enough you can make it happen. These beliefs were formed in his formative years, of the late 1970s and 80s

 

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