Bumbling Bullies, Burney and Bog-snorkelling Bingham

Bunter J has blundered his way through this coronabug crisis – but his decision to invest in four different vaccines while ordering over two hundred million doses to protect the nation against the virus was a masterstroke – I wonder if he made it himself. He takes the credit but in reality it must lie eslewhere.

Mind you it won’t cancel out the depressing fact that the UK will probably see up to a hundred and fifty thousand people lose their lives from the bug and many will have died as a direct result of governmental indecision.

Bunter was late on lockdowns, faffed around over tiers and continued to issue contradictory and confusing advice for months on end. Education – in the hands of cretinous Gavin Williamson – has been put on the back burner and care homes are still seeing residents die alone, deprived of human contact and family visits.

For all that,  we cannot ignore the fact that the roll out of the vaccination programme is finally protecting the people who need it most. By yesterday over eight million people – including myself – have received their first dose.

But the story across Europe is very different. Contrast our detailed vaccine plan and steady rollout (even with local hiccups and shortages in supply) with the bumbling bureaucracy within the EU. France – the home of the great micro-biologist Louis Pasteur – has failed to produce a single home-grown vaccine, much to the embarrassment of President Macron.

Across Europe, there is not a single vaccination plan to rival that of the UK, and now the battle for access to supplies is really getting nasty. Threats of litigation and blocking of exports were issued and to give Bunter J his due, he stood up to those threats and it was the EU who backed down – just as they had in the Brexit negotiations and just as bullies usually do.

 Last year, the UK decided not to join the EU procurement scheme. There was a lot of remainer-type tut-tutting at the time – including from Keir Starmer and his deputy – but it turns out to have been possibly the single most effective decision Bunter has made since this crisis began.

Instead he set up the UK Vaccines Taskforce, led by former financier Kate Bingham – of whom more later. Bingham then invested millions in the research and development of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Vaccine and many others, hedging our bets over which would get past the post first.

While the EU dithered, the UK put its money on the table and was the first country to approve a vaccine last December – developed by Pfizer/BioNtech. Since then three more have been tested and approved, with a fourth – Novavax, likely to be approved imminently.

Now, the EU is reduced to squabbling over access to vaccines which the UK has already paid for. Having taken three months longer than the Britain to place an order for their member countries, they find themselves at the back of the queue for supplies.

I had my jab last Friday and will it be less than a hundred per cent proof? Only time will tell. There has already been controversy over the decision to delay the second dose for twelve weeks so that more people could be vaccinated quicker, and hopefully slow down the rate of infection.

In spite of reassurances, some older people will be wondering whether they are getting fobbed off with vaccine that may not offer sufficient protection. But what is the alternative? There isn’t one I am afraid. We must accept that we are luckier than most nations, particularly from that corrupt and inefficient cabal of unelected European chancers that we finally left a few weeks ago.

In this volatile situation, the last thing we need is the Poisoned Dwarf from north of the border exploiting a difficult situation by threatening to publicise the number of doses Scotland receives each week.

Furious that Boris dared to visit ‘her’ country the other day, she has been stung by criticism that only four hundred plus Scots have been lucky enough to secure a jab, when there are rumours that the authorities are sitting on one million doses.

Exploiting a lethal disease for political gain is not good politics at any time and if the English trashed the Scots as much as Ms Sturgeon does the Westminster government, we would be accused of rampant racism.

This fanatical little woman is determined that every decision she makes will reinforce her mantra that an Independent Scotland within the EU would be better for everyone north of the Border than being part of Britain. So does it matter what she tells them? Let her go and join them if that is what her people want.

But according to our ‘Revered Leader,’ revealing how many doses of vaccines are being sent out within the UK each week will only result in extra pressure being put on factories in Europe. Whatever the truth, the European Commissioners are furious they have been blindsided by Bunter and the Brits yet again. The ‘harmony’ and truce declared over Brexit has vanished and there are strident calls across the Union for Ursula Von de Whatever to resign.

As for Wee Burney, at a time when millions of Brits in every part of the Union are desperate to receive a dose of vaccine, playing patriot games to score points with your voters, stinks.

And ordinary Scots voters might reflect that if they were part of the EU, rather than the UK, right now they would be at the back of the queue for jabs along with the hapless French and Germans.

For once I can say thank the Lord for Bunter J and Brexit.

One other person I have ranted about in the past when it seems I was probably wrong is the ‘Vaccines Tzar’ Kate Bingham. It turns out that this good lady was a pioneer of bog snorkelling, the ultimate test of stamina and endurance amid unforgiving Welsh landscapes.

And the lessons Ms Bingham thus learned about triumphing in the face of adversity have helped make her the figurehead of Britain’s internationally envied pursuit of vaccines to tackle the coronabug epidemic.

Ms Bingham’s appointment last year to lead the UK Vaccine Taskforce was initially mired in claims of cronyism and inexperience, but there are now calls for her to be awarded a damehood. Sir John Bell, Oxford University’s regius professor of medicine, said: ‘She was really ruthless and really tough. It’s not a given that the UK would have ended up where it is now without her.’

And a former colleague adds: ‘She’s brilliantly bonkers – she fills all the space in a room.’

Bunter J rang Ms Bingham last April to ask her to take on the unpaid role. Her task, he said, was to ‘stop people from dying.’ There were claims that as a school friend of Mr Johnson’s sister, Rachel, and the wife of Tory MP Jessie Norman, she was part of a ‘chumocracy’ that saw friends of senior Conservatives parachuted into the top jobs. She was also criticised – and I was among the critics – for spending £670,000 on public relations companies, with one Government Minister saying the work could have been done ‘in-house.’ She claimed to be ‘completely shocked’ by the criticism and claimed that it was sexist. I certainly was not being sexist; I was merely appalled by what appeared to be a huge waste of public funds.

A day after accepting the position, offered by Bunter J – which incidentally ended last month – Ms Bingham had assembled a committee of experts from big pharmaceutical companies, science and logistics businesses. Within a fortnight, they had a shortlist of twenty three vaccines from four different vaccine technologies.

Britain has now placed orders for three hundred and sixty seven million doses from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Valneva and Novavax at an expected cost of almost three billion pounds.

Ms Bingham’s husband, Jessie was an Eton contemporary of Bunter J and has been the MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire since 2010. He serves as Financial Secretary to the Treasury and the couple spend their weekends in Wales, where Ms Bingham pursues her hobbies – horse riding, mountain biking and bog snorkelling. In 2004, she came nineteenth in the bog snorkelling championships and nine years later, pioneered mountain bike bog snorkelling, which involves riding a lead-filled bike through a water-logged trench.

I love being adventurous but not that much!

I take back my criticism even though I still cannot understand the reasons behind that incredibly expensive PR campaign. This lady really is quite a gal and although the coronabug led to the cancellation of last year’s bog snorkelling championships – with no small thanks to Ms Bingham – there are hopes that it will be back later this year.

You need to bring her back Bunter. She can probably do the combined jobs of at least four of your senior cabinet ministers – and you can bet your life those European desk jockeys will be terrified of her.

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