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A shot in the arm?




With the Covid caseload creeping up, to the alarm of many, there are genuine concerns we may be teetering towards another dose of draconian restrictions. So far the government’s saying this won’t happen. But as our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, while Boris Johnson’s still relying on the jab to do the job, he wants more boosters administered sooner.

The first full trial has shown the third injection gives what boffins are calling ‘excellent’ renewed protection, as Covid immunity provided by the first two starts to wane.

It’s currently on offer six months down the line, but the pressure’s mounting to make that five months.

Very much a race against time, as any move towards what’s been touted as Plan B would get everyone’s eyeballs rotating, and, it’s argued, probably wouldn’t help all that much.

It would involve a series of measures including vaccine passports, and reintroduction of compulsory face masks and working from home.

There’s even dark talk of a secret Plan C, which would mean a ban on household mixing. A significant step towards another lockdown.

But while the doctors’ union says the government’s approach is ‘wilfully negligent’, the increased caseload isn’t translating into more hospitalisations and deaths.

However, there are widespread concerns about the coming flu season, because earlier lockdowns have weakened our immune system. Our bodies have got lazy.

Little wonder an advertising blitz is on its way to get as many of us as possible to take up offers of each and every inoculation that’s offered.

Nonetheless, views in this area remain polarised. Intensely so.

Sky News is reporting how thousands of anti-vaxxers and lockdown protesters are setting up online groups to intimidate MP’s.

One, accusing them of ‘evil actions’, is sharing tips on exactly how to find them. As a result one MP ended up calling the police after his home was targeted.

There’s even been the suggestion that the extra protection now on offer to politicians in the wake of the murder of Sir David Amess is part of a conspiracy to get them.

Bit of a stretch that, as it’s looking increasingly likely the fatal stabbing was driven by ideological and or religious motives.

At least no one can object to one extra security measure, put in place last week in the wake of the rape and murder, by a then serving police officer, of Sarah Everard.

In future lone plain-clothed officers who approach a woman on her own will have to make a video call to base. A top cop expressed this hope:

‘Being able to see and speak to a uniformed colleague in what will very visibly be a police operations room .. will provide the reassurance that we understand is necessary.’

Better late than never, it could be said. The same, less emotively, might also apply to the posthumous granting of Sir David Amess’s long-held wish.

Southend-on-Sea, hitherto just a town, can now rejoice in the enhanced status of being a city. Her Majesty has willed it.

At the same time the nation will doubtless rejoice that the Queen has recovered from whatever indisposition it was that landed her in hospital one night last week.

Not really a marm thing. Notwithstanding her advancing years she hasn’t had an overnight clinic stay since 2013. Pretty good going.

She’s also been on the throne for just over sixty-nine years, and, by common consent, barely put a foot wrong.

Compare and contrast with Spain’s former ruler Juan Carlos, exiled last year following a multimillion-euro corruption scandal.

According to former police commissioner José Manuel Villarejo, the secret service injected him with female hormones as his sex drive was a danger to the state.

It’s been suggested Donald Trump too has had his moments in that direction. Likewise, oh dear oh dear, our own beloved Bojo.

Makes you wonder if the ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes had a point in his play Lysistrata. If women ruled the world it’d certainly be a better place.

Scroll forward to now, however, and you wonder how long the world is for, er, this world.

On the grounds ‘global warming’ doesn’t really cut it, given the pace and intensity of climate change, the Oxford English Dictionary has added the term ‘global heating’.

And only a week or so back our ever-marvellous monarch was overheard complaining about those who ‘talk but don't do’.

This was widely interpreted as a reference to world leaders who either won’t go to the upcoming climate change conference in Glasgow, or who won’t take it seriously.

Indeed, a huge leak of documents spotted by eagle-eyed hacks at the Beeb suggests some are actively lobbying to get the whole thing watered down.

It shows Saudi Arabia and Australia are among countries trying to get the United Nations to go soft on quickly moving away from fossil fuels.

By extraordinary coincidence, Saudi Arabia is the one of the largest oil producers in the world and Australia exports shedloads of coal.

Boris Johnson, at least, is all in favour of achieving net zero carbon emissions targets, though critics say he’s more into the ends than the means.

His line last week was we’ll get there ‘without so much as a hair shirt in sight’.

By 2050, he proclaimed, we’d ‘still be driving cars, flying planes and heating our homes’. But in electric cars, zero emission planes, and homes heated by planet-friendly power.

As a start, homeowners in England and Wales will be offered five grand next year to help them replace gas boilers with heat pumps, which work like a fridge in reverse.

The slight snag being, critics say, is that the money the government’s set aside will be well under a sixth of what’d be needed to actually do the job.

Could this subject crop up in debates following this week’s budget? Quite possibly.

Likewise the government’s promise to quadruple offshore wind farm capacity, and step up investment in onshore wind, solar and other renewable energy sources.

Not to mention its pledge to sort the financing of a huge new nuclear power plant in Suffolk by the end of this parliament.

Time was when things like that were considered a Bad Thing, but fashions change. Though the march of science can take us in odd directions.

Take the case of David Knight, who couldn’t for the life of him understand why he got a fine for driving in a bus lane more than a hundred miles from where he lives.

In accordance with proper procedure, best said in a funny voice, that, the penalty charge notice included photographic evidence to prove his guilt.

But he got off when his wife called the council call centre and explained, to use an old Private Eye gag, there’d been ‘shurely shome mishtake’.

Instead of her husband’s van with its personalised number plate KN19TER, the pic showed a woman wearing a T-shirt bearing the motif ‘Knitter’.

Oh how they laughed.

Still, it does call to mind the neurologist Oliver Sacks’ book The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat.

Clue’s in the name. The case study in question concerned a fellow who got in a muddle with seeing things. Basically, a bit bonkers.

Point taken?


Peter Spencer has 40 years experience as a Political Correspondent in Westminster, working with London Broadcasting and Sky News. For more of his fascinating musings on the turbulent political landscape, follow him on Facebook & Twitter.



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