inequality‘Stained glass windows keep the cold outside while the hypocrites hide inside.’ 

This week we start with the Met police who, like the government, lurch from one crisis to the next. 

Readers may remember that two officers, Jonathan Clapham and Sam Franks, were sacked for lying over the stop and search of Commonwealth Games sprinter Bianca Williams, 29, and Ricardo dos Santos, a 28-year-old Portuguese Olympian, as the couple had been returning to their west London home after training. 

As both of the accused were black, the officers opted for the default option; two-black people in a nice car equals drug dealers.  

Their former colleagues clearly have misplaced sympathy with the miscreants as they have raised £130,000 for them. But, adding insult to injury, black Met officers have been put under pressure by white colleagues to donate. 

Andy George, the president of the National Black Police Association, said he had received multiple accounts from black officers who felt pressed to give money. The pressure included an email sent to every member of one of the 12 basic command units – into which the Met police is divided – in which all officers were urged to hand over money for the sacked men. 

Meanwhile the government just trundles on, blindly ignoring ongoing strikes, hunger, homelessness, a crumbling NHS, and continues to make matters worse wherever it can. 

‘the government just trundles on, blindly ignoring ongoing strikes, hunger, homelessness, a crumbling NHS’

The TUC has accused them of promoting a ‘greed is good‘ culture among bankers, who it said would be able to ‘cash in on unlimited bonuses‘ after a cap on payouts was lifted. 

The TUC said that while ministers had repeatedly called for pay restraint for most workers, they had been ‘silent over excess in the City‘. 

The cap had originally limited bonuses to 2x bankers’ salaries, giving the average City worker an opportunity to pocket as much as £120,000 in extra payouts, the TUC said. 

That is equivalent to about seven times the average pay of a care worker, who earns about £17,780, and almost four times the salary of a median earner, who is paid about £32,400. 

What I find fascinating about Tory governments in their unfailing ability to prioritise the ‘haves’ over the ‘have nots’. 

In addition to making highly paid bankers even wealthier, they are proposing a manifesto pledge to cut stamp duty, which will achieve little other than a pointless short-term surge in house prices. 

Of the reported 28.2 million households in the UK 8.5 million are renting, C.30%. Within the rental sector, 4.6 million rent privately, the balance being social renters (local authority and housing association). On average, rental costs are 2x higher for private renters than social renters. 

It is often said that moving house is among life’s most stressful events, but for renters in some English property hotspots it’s now almost a permanent way of life. 

New research from the property tax consultancy Cornerstone Tax finds that 19% of renters have had to move at least 5x in 5-years because of rising rents or landlords selling up. 

‘19% of renters have had to move at least 5x in 5-years because of rising rents or landlords selling up’

Research for the flat-sharing website SpareRoom shows that this applies to mainly young people; 25% of gen Zs and millennials have already moved more than 10x since leaving their family home. However, a survey by Shelter, shows that 25% of renters over 55 were worried about potentially being evicted, which had negatively affected their mental health. 

In addition to uncertainty, there is the increasing cost of renting. Housing allowance has remained frozen for 3-years whilst rents have shot up. As a result, only 5% of private rentals on ‘Zoopla’ were affordable for those on housing benefit or universal credit, forcing ever growing numbers of people who can’t find anywhere affordable to rent to turn to council housing services. This has become so bad that some councils are warning that they risk going bust. 

I highlight the three events above as they have almost certainly been overshadowed by events in Gaza, and this week’s main domestically event, Covid enquiry. 

The enquiry, even in these early stages, has already encompassed the gamut of emotions from A-Z, from depressing to amusing, via distressing. There has been some truly jaw dropping revelations:    

Matt Hancock told officials that he, not the medical profession, ‘should ultimately decide who should live or die‘, if the NHS was overwhelmed during the pandemic.  

So Matt thought he could play God; remember God is only dog written backwards!  

Chris Whitty referred to ‘Eat out to help out’ as ‘Eat out to help out the virus‘. This was the Treasury scheme subsidising meals out in August 2020. Rishi Sunak launched the scheme to boost the hospitality industry, but subsequent evidence showed that it encouraged the spread of the virus. 

‘Matt Hancock told officials that he, not the medical profession, ‘should ultimately decide who should live or die

In reality, the enquiry is only telling us what we all knew; an incoherent, incompetent government, allied to a chronically underfunded / understaffed health services was always going to end badly. The Tories determination to continually shrink the state, allied to ignoring warnings such as Sars, inevitably led to avoidable deaths. We can add to this the gay abandon of lockdown-breaking parties, and an atrocious procurement procedure designed to enrich their friends. 

Capping it all was a PM so out-of-his-depth that it is hard to visualise. Johnson’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, told the enquiry that the PM was routinely described as ‘the trolley‘ – a reference to his erratic nature and chaotic changes of policy direction. 

The blame for a man so incapable being at the helm lays solely with the Tory party, both MPs and party members. They were so dazzled by Brexit and so desperate to stay in government that they saddled the country with an incompetent after-dinner comedian. They lost their moral compass and should hang their heads in shame!  

In the lead-up to lockdown in mid-March 2020, the government clearly didn’t understand, and did take the pandemic risk seriously. Cummings’ referred to ‘Potemkin’ meetings, conducted for show and little else; ‘pop-ins‘ to the prime minister’s office by civil servants eager to influence him. Then there was the hiatus in mid-February, when the PM and numerous others went on holiday. 

Brexit, of course, had a role to play. Lord Bethell, who was appointed a health minister in March 2020, said this week that Johnson treated the pandemic as secondary to Brexit. ‘I know [Boris Johnson] found the prospect of a pandemic personally very difficult to focus on, it was bad news of a kind he doesn’t like to respond to, and he did everything he could to try to avoid the subject,’ he said 

It was put to us there were other priorities including Brexit. I personally found that completely unexplainable and baffling,’ he said. 

The government clearly couldn’t resist their libertarian impulse to ‘let the virus rip‘. 

‘so dazzled by Brexit and so desperate to stay in government that they saddled the country with an incompetent after-dinner comedian’

Sir Patrick Vallance wrote; ‘He says his party ‘thinks the whole thing is pathetic and Covid is just nature’s way of dealing with old people… 

Cummings has previously said that in October 2020, as the bodies were piling up, Johnson wrote: ‘I must say, I have been slightly rocked by some of the data on Covid fatalities. The median age is 82 – 81 for men, 85 for women. That is above life expectancy. So get Covid and live longer.’ 

Along with denial, and total stupidity, there was a dangerous mix of libertarian and macho behaviour. Sir Gavin Williamson, then the education secretary, was said to have rejected mask-wearing in schools on the grounds that he ‘didn’t want to give an inch to the unions‘ – a bullish approach endorsed by Matt Hancock and Grant Shapps. 

Even at this early stage the enquiry is revealing an institutional failure in a system of government, and above all in the UK state, that did not work when faced  with such a crisis. Whilst Messrs, Johnson, Hancock, et al, have gone, the flawed system remains. 

In her evidence, the former deputy cabinet secretary, Helen MacNamara, laid bare some of the structural failings. The contingency plans for governing during an all-consuming crisis, such as Covid-simply did not exist. Nor did those for responding to the public health needs caused by a global pandemic.  

‘Covid is just nature’s way of dealing with old people…

What was missing were the requisite plans and tools, that had been stress-tested and regularly reviewed. There was no clear strategy and a comprehensive set of jobs, meetings, and messaging in-place. Instead we had to make it up as we went along. In many ways we owe a debt of gratitude to people such as the government’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance, chief medical officer Chris Whitty, and Kate Bingham of the vaccine taskforce, not to mention the thousands in the frontline staff. 

Of course, Tory gratitude is a very thin veneer, they still despise the NHS front-line staff. All they got for putting their lives on the line was a Thursday evening ‘clap’ and derisory pay offers. 

I am not surprised that one of the few people who grasped the situation was Dominic Cummings. The fact that he is basically a sociopath with colourful language leads people to underestimate him, but he was the one in government who realised that the pandemic was the moment when only the state can provide the necessary protection or remedy. Unfortunately in 2020, 10-yrs of austerity had the left state too badly damaged to play the role that was expected of it. 

In many ways the entire Covid debacle is a fitting eulogy and summary of the last 13-yrs of Tory mis-government. 

‘Truly a country has rarely been so ill-served by those it elected’  

Many of the population were down at heel, worse off than when the Tories assumer power in 2013, whilst a minority became ever wealthier. As a result the country was riven with unnecessary fault-lines 

An unnecessary and cruel pursuit of austerity left the country ill-prepared, and vital services underfunded. Their obsession with shrinking the state now only added to the lack of preparedness, but came at a time when people needed government intervention and help. 

Their obsession with Brexit led to many competent ministers being sacked or resigning in despair of the carnage wrought by Brexiters. We were left with a well-educated bunch, who were seemingly incapable, unconcerned, or just evil. They, collectively, offered nothing other than gung-ho libertarianism, and get rich quick schemes for their mates. 

Truly a country has rarely been so ill-served by those it elected.  

‘There’s no time to cry, happy, happy 
Put it in your heart where tomorrow shines’ 


Diving straight in Philip says: There is no editorial, my summary says everything! And he’s not wrong.

With seismic geo political and climate events around the world, some of the ‘lesser’ stories closer to home may have been in danger of slipping under the radar; but not with Philip on the case.

The Covid enquiry looks like it may be the gift that keeps on giving; or perhaps taking, because we are all poorer when our democracy is so denuded and trust and belief in politics so justifiably shot.

Lyrically, we start with “Religion” by PIL. If Matt Hancock thought he could play God, this song is a fitting tribute. We play out with REMs “Shiny, Happy People” because nothing stays shit forever. At least it shouldn’t. 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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