ANDREW PIERCE: Don’t panpanic! Tony Blair’s risky way to tackle a virus
Matt Hancock is furious. Tony Blair, the Health Secretary alleges, has been pinching his ideas for dealing with the pandemic and passing them off as his own.
In December, Blair published a paper arguing there should be a 12-week delay between the first and second doses of the coronavirus jab so as to give as many people as possible some immunity. Hancock was outraged as he maintained this was his idea, which he had previously discussed with Blair.
A decidedly huffy Hancock — already breathless from his eccentric workouts in the park, captured by photographers — has been telling friends he will no longer return Blair’s calls.
Blair is continuing to insist the delay was his idea, but should we be listening to him anyway?
For all his frequent recent interventions from the political sidelines, Blair (pictured) must be secretly relieved he wasn’t Prime Minister during the Covid-19 outbreak
Over the weekend, eagle-eyed readers took down Blair’s lengthy memoirs from their shelves and referred to his government’s handling of the bird flu outbreak in 2005.
‘I’m afraid I tried to do the minimum we could with the minimum expenditure,’ writes the ex-PM in Tony Blair: A Journey.
‘I understood the risks but it didn’t seem to me the “panpanic” was quite justified. And in those situations, everyone is so risk-averse that unless you take care, you end up spending a fortune to avert a crisis that never actually materialised.’
Panpanic? For all his frequent recent interventions from the political sidelines, Blair must be secretly relieved he wasn’t Prime Minister during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Feathers will be flying soon, Rishi
Sunak (pictured) may have avoided too much hissing last week. But with income-tax thresholds frozen for five years, many taxpayers will soon be discovering that they have been well and truly plucked
Did Chancellor Rishi Sunak follow the advice of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, finance minister to France’s Louis XIV, before announcing his budget?
Colbert is credited with saying: ‘The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing.’
Sunak may have avoided too much hissing last week. But with income-tax thresholds frozen for five years, many taxpayers will soon be discovering that they have been well and truly plucked.
Poet Pam Ayres on Boris’s road map out of lockdown:
‘For many months now, we have felt on the skids;
We can’t meet our friends and we can’t hug the kids,
But friends, be emboldened! All may not be lost,
For the crocus of hope, she has poked through the frost.’
Tory MP Tim Loughton’s weekly Facebook update on the vaccine was shared by 92 people. ‘By way of comparison,’ he says, ‘the photograph of my home-made sausage rolls, which I was rather proud of … has now been shared 263 times.’
Talk about pork-barrel politics!
Proof the lib dems never learn
The Lib Dems’ foreign affairs spokeswoman Layla Moran (pictured) told the BBC that the Government should have pooled resources with the EU
Few now dispute that the EU’s vaccine scheme has been a shambles. The woman who has presided over the calamity, Ursula von der Leyen, increasingly finds her old nickname ‘VDL’ stands for ‘very damaged leader’.
Even diehard Eurocrats such as the Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt have been forced to praise Britain’s vaccination programme.
Yet some people never learn. The Lib Dems’ foreign affairs spokeswoman Layla Moran tells the BBC that the Government should have pooled resources with the EU.
‘If we were part of that … maybe it wouldn’t have happened in the way that it did,’ she insists.
Meanwhile, fellow Lib Dem MP Daisy Cooper last week asked Boris Johnson whether he had sought ‘scientific advice’ in agreeing to let Dominic Cummings travel to Durham last March.
Give it a rest, Daisy! Cummings is gone. Voters have moved on.
After Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer appears in the Commons sporting a natty new pair of spectacles, waspish Tory MPs could not resist making jokes at his expense. My favourite?
‘Starmer has gone from Captain Hindsight to Captain No Sight.’
And with a YouGov poll giving the Tories an astonishing 13-point lead, Labour’s ex-leader Ed Miliband did no favours for his boss. The shadow business secretary told the BBC: ‘There is an inevitable and understandable rallying round the Government.’ Doh!
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