It’s the sex, not the money: a small political scandal hits Britain

Nothing’s as delicious as a scandal unless it’s a scandal involving a government you dislike. So forgive me, but I’m enjoying the resignation of Britain’s former secretary of state for health. 

What brought Matt Hancock down was sharing a kiss with an aide. Or more accurately, sharing a kiss with an aide within range of the office CCTV, which an anonymous someone released to the press. Or even more accurately than that, sharing a kiss with an aide within range of the office CCTV during LockdownLite, when people weren’t supposed to even be hugging people outside their household (or “bubble,” in pandemic-speak), nevermind trading long and apparently passionate (CCTV can only tell us so much) kisses with them.

It was the pandemic hypocrisy that gave it resonance. Lots of people wouldn’t have minded making physical contact with a wider range of humans, but they were sticking to government guidance and here was the person allegedly responsible for that guidance conducting an extensive germ exchange with someone he was supposed to stay two meters away from. Because the health of the nation was at stake. 

Irrelevant photo: a rose.

Both Hancock and the aide are both married. To other people. So it’s a safe bet that their bubbles burst at the point where they wedged each other inside.

And just to give the story a bit more resonance, in the early stages of the pandemic Hancock criticized a scientist on the government’s scientific advisory board for breaking lockdown by getting together with someone he was in a long-term relationship with. Hancock said at the time that it left him speechless. 

The scientist resigned, taking his expertise with him. 

The real scandal, though, is that Hancock had appointed his aide to a (well paid) position as a non-executive director of the Department of Health and Social Care, which ever so incidentally oversaw his performance as secretary of state for et cetera. Without either of them mentioning their relationship. But that’s less fun than two people playing grab-ass in the office, so although it gets mentioned I doubt it’s what brought him down. 

How well paid is well paid? For 15 hours of work a year, the position pays £15,000 pounds. Unless I’m hallucinating, that’s £1,000 an hour. The aide has now resigned too. 

The role of the non-executive directors is to challenge the government as well as provide oversight, and fifteen other people with tight connections to the Conservative Party hold the positions in various departments. They include donors, former Members of Parliament, and peers. Let’s say it all gives the appearance that it wasn’t their expertise that got them their jobs.

But that’s nowhere near as much fun. 

 

A report from the Not out of the Woods Yet Department

One of the world’s most highly vaccinated countries, Israel, has reimposed indoor mask rules as the Delta variant becomes Covid’s dominant strain. The number of Covid cases was doubling every few days. Admittedly, it was starting from a low number, but so does any spike. 

And the same thing’s happening in other highly vaccinated countries–and even more so in largely unvaccinated countries. Delta has raised the stakes in the herd immunity poker game. People who’ve recovered from earlier Covid infections–the kind caused by other variants–seem to be vulnerable to Delta. 

A good news/bad news study shows that while two doses of the vaccines that Britain’s using are 96% effective against hospitalization and 79% effective against symptomatic infection, one dose is only 35% effective against Delta. 

Delta is so contagious that over 80% of a population would need to be fully vaccinated in order to contain it. So far, only 1% of Africa’s population has been vaccinated, and the Delta variant has been identified in 14 African countries. 

In spite of all the promises to get vaccines to poorer countries, contributions to the Covax vaccine program have dried up. “The world is failing,” a spokesperson for the World Health Organization said. “Just give us the vaccines.”

*

Six cases of the Lambda variant have been identified in Britain. That’s a variant that the World Health Organization has labeled a variant of interest, which translates to Don’t panic yet, but we’re watching it. It was first identified in Peru and has now been found in 26 countries. 

Don’t panic yet. At this point, it’s just something to know.

 

And a counter-report from the On the Other Hand Department

In the US, according to a study, almost all Covid deaths are of unvaccinated people. Breakthrough infections–the ones that happen to people who’ve been vaccinated–are 0.1% of the total hospitalizations. Of the Covid deaths recorded in May, 0.8% were among people who’d been vaccinated.

If I’m not mistaken (and I can’t be trusted with numbers), the second percentage is larger than the first, which does seem odd. I’m guessing here, but it could be because breakthrough infections happen in people whose immune systems are in one way or another out of order, so they’re not only vulnerable to infections in spite of vaccination, but having once gotten infected, are more vulnerable to the disease–again, in spite of being vaccinated. But that comes with a wild-ass guesswork alert. If anyone has some solid information on that, I’d love to hear it.

52 thoughts on “It’s the sex, not the money: a small political scandal hits Britain

  1. I don’t typical read stories about Covid, but you caught me with sex (clever of you).

    “In the US, according to a study, almost all Covid deaths are of unvaccinated people. Breakthrough infections–the ones that happen to people who’ve been vaccinated–are 0.1% of the total hospitalizations. Of the Covid deaths recorded in May, 0.8% were among people who’d been vaccinated.”

    As I read this, and I may be reading it wrong, what I see is that 0.1% of vaccinated people are being hospitalized because of breakthrough infections. The 0.8% is of Covid related deaths of people who were previously vaccinated, but that doesn’t mean that they were hospitalized. Nor, in America, does it mean the they died of Covid, only that it was present in them at the time of death. When my son passed way, several years go so not Covid related, there was a long list of “contributing factors” along side of what actually caused his passing. Here, if you get hit by a truck (laurie?) while crossing the street your cause of death is listed as “severe impact trauma”, if you happen to have Covid present in your blood stream (or lungs) then it is listed as a “contributing factor” and so ticks off as another Covid-related death. I’m guessing those two reasons (death but not hospitalized, and “contributing factor”) are why the death percentage is higher than the hospitalized number.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hard to say since I have no details. Every country has a different way of determining Covid deaths. Not one of them is entirely accurate. It seem to fall into the category of Best We Can Do at the Moment. But I can tell you it’s a lorry, not a laurie.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t think there’s anything to enjoy when two wronged spouses and six young children are involved. I gather that Hancock’s now left his wife – which is a shame, because it would have been better if she’d thrown him out, like he deserves!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I certainly agree about throwing him out, and on a human scale I agree with you about not enjoying the spectacle. But when people go into politics, and when their personal lives overlap with their political lives, I do have a habit of tossing all that out the window. Not as far as their families are concerned, but for him? Let him squirm.

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  3. The Hancock scandal has the layers of an onion. There is just so much hypocrisy and corruption involved. I might personally find the fact he is in engaged in an extramarital affair to be gross but what consenting adults do in their own free time is absolutely no business of mine. That is something for all of the legally bound adults to figure out. It becomes relevant and incites me ire only because his extramarital shenanigans are related to and expose all of the other moral vacuum stuff he is embroiled in. I cannot say I am surprised by politicians having a “do what we say and not what we do” attitude to such things. This particular UK government in fact seems to be hell bent on that being their motto.

    I knew vaccination efforts in African nations were slow going but 1%!?!?!? That’s truly shocking to me. I already felt anger and frustration that the international community were not doing more to assist countries struggling with aspects of vaccination but I am staggered by just how abysmal the situation is. A pandemic is, by its nature, global and it takes a global effort to contain it. None of us are safe until all of us are safe. Even in countries with high rates of vaccination, allowing other countries to be ravaged by disease just permits more variants to pop up and it seems inevitable that there will eventually be a mutation that isn’t quelled by the vaccines we have. Neglecting the needs of other nations is, therefore, entirely myopic.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We’ve managed, collectively, to put morally and intellectually bankrupt politicians in office in so many countries that they (or we, since they’re allegedly speaking and acting for us, then we) are next to incapable of doing the right things. It’s so frustrating.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is. That is why I am involved in grass roots movements that encourage more community- and equity-minded people to get into politics. The idea is to start at the local level (because of funding barriers) and then hopefully move onward and upwards from there. We need better people who are more representative to be in elected office.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Agreed. But the system itself needs to be changed, because it’s so easy for people–especially if they’re there in ones and twos rather than as a group–to get sucked in by the force of the system. Get the big money out of politics and get a sane taxation system so that those who can afford to pay, pay, and government has enough money to work with.

          Nothing to it, right? Sorry, I get carried away. I’m impressed that you’re doing that.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Absolutely! I feel like I tell people again and again that the biggest problem with politics in the US is with campaign finance. We need strict curbs on funding streams coming in – and from who – and also on spending. Doing so would eradicate a lot of the power of lobbying groups and other special interests, eliminate a lot of corruption, and also start to level the playing field a bit.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Nothing like a little political scandal to spice up new variants of Covid, I always say.
    Oh, but maybe not always, since the Covid pandemic has been a once in a lifetime event for me while political scandals have multiplied in the US more rapidly than the Delta variant.
    Apparently we Americans never had an effective vaccination against the unspeakable horror of MAGA supporters who see no evil, hear no evil and certainly speak no evil of their fantasy commander in chief.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I vaguely remember hearing of a shocking political scandal in Britain when I was much younger – was it Christine Keeler ? Once again proving that those who will not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Unfortunately, all the innocent bystanders are forced to sit through the reruns.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your addition to the old saying is entirely too true–and pretty funny. And yes, it was Christine Keeler. I wasn’t sure of the spelling on her last name, but you got it right.

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  6. Ellen, here’s what I found.
    Minnesota reports Covid-19 breakthrough infections in 0.1 % of vaccinated people.
    These breakthrough infections represent 0.1% of the nearly 2.3 million people who have been fully vaccinated in Minnesota, indicating to state health officials that the vaccine is protective. Fully vaccinated means that 14 days have elapsed since people received their final shot in the one- or two-dose series.

    This pertains to nearly all deaths in the United States—of the Covid recorded deaths in May, 0.8 % were among people who’d been fully vaccinated. Only about 150 of the more than 18,000 Covid deaths.

    That might clear up the numbers. Now, what’s this about Delta & Lambda variants? Back to research that. It never stops. Take the mask off or not??? 📚🎶Christine

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for that. The 0.1% is far fewer than I expected–really an amazing result in an imperfect world.

      The Lambda variant, at the moment, sounds less frightening than the Delta, but I wouldn’t want to bet a lot of money on that. It’s only what I’ve seen so far. I still have my mask at hand so I can put it on when I’m in an indoor public space, and seeing someone without one still shocks me.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So all those covid-deaths (esp in the nursing homes) and the corruption srrounding PPE contracts and the British media says very little. But snogging your mistress in doors and breaking the rules – that’s a different matter. It’s a huge scandal and the doorstepping of poor Mrs Hancock (who is suffering from long-covid after catching covid from her husband). I wonder what is this “dead cat” distracting us from, then?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t really think anyone’s coordinated enough to plan this as a distraction (maybe that’s naive, but still–), but yeah, when you put one set of scandals on one side of the scale and the other set on the other side, the insanity of it all is clear.

      I didn’t know his wife had long Covid. As if being married to Hancock wasn’t bad enough.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m on alert following the Delta variant. If I hear anything of interest, I’ll pass it on. It’s appalling that we have not done a better job getting vaccines out where they’re needed, but what else is new? As for the UK health minister…I’m just speechless at the stupidity…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Start again!! We will miss his honesty, his integrity and Rhys Moggie practically called him superman the other day! What a shit shower they all are. Another variant on its way eh? I wonder which alphabet we will use when we finish the Greek one?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d suggest the Russian or Arabic alphabets, since we can count on very few people in the country knowing them (on a world scale, that doesn’t work, sadly), but if we used Chinese characters instead they’re almost inexhaustible. It’s true that they all mean something, so people would be looking for meaning in them (“Why’d they call this one winter hat?”), and I don’t know that they come in any fixed order, but gee, think of the fun we could have with that many choices.

      Like

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