Why is England’s Covid messaging so all over the place?

I was in a local shop a couple of days ago and the chap in front of me asked, when he got to the front of the queue, whether he should be wearing a mask (he did have one on) in that particular shop. The answer was that whilst the Government says you don’t have to we really do want all our customers to wear masks to help protect each other and the staff. The chap agreed but then went on to make a more general comment. He said that he could not get his head around government messaging on the subject as it seemed all over the place to him.

That comment made me think back to something I’d seen or heard, only a few days prior, on a media platform (can’t recall which) where a journalist had been tracking what differing Ministers had been saying about Covid and the ‘freedoms’ we were supposed to be getting. The conclusion was that the messaging was in fact all over the place and Ministers were in effect contradicting each other by giving out sometimes significantly different information/opinions. When you add into that the deliberate misinformation that can be circulated on social media, is there any wonder folks struggle to know what the powers that be are actually saying to us?

On many matters, the bad information, the misinformation, and even the deliberate lies don’t actually cost lives but with Covid they do! So why can’t our leaders at least sing from the same hymn sheet? To me, the answer is that Government Ministers don’t actually have an agreed message to give out; they really are just doing their own thing, giving personal opinions, or pieces of propaganda based on what their own political sect thinks. It’s like Brexit all over again but this time people’s lives are at stake! I really am beginning to wonder if the Conservative Party is slowly but surely turning itself into a political force akin to the US Republican Party where real facts mean nothing but opinion, no matter how ill-informed or off the wall, is treaded as fact.

I really can’t think of a previous UK Government, of any colour, that would have treated this Covid crisis as the present one has been doing. I would go so far as to suggest that incoherent chaos has been dominating Government thinking. Can you seriously imagine Tony Blair, John Major, Ted Heath, or Harold Wilson running a government so badly through such a massive national crisis? No, neither can I especially when you look at the more sober and considered messaging coming out of the Welsh and Scottish Governments. I might not personally agree with the Welsh or Scots leaders but I can credit them with being pretty consistent and clear in what they have been doing and saying during this crisis.

Liverpool – World Heritage status lost

The ‘3 Graces’ on Liverpool waterfront taken from the new Museum of Liverpool

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link below –

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/liverpool-stripped-world-heritage-status-21104465

Well, as being struck off has been flagged up for quite some years now, the actual removal of World Heritage status almost comes as no surprise. However, I don’t think this backwards step for Liverpool and indeed the whole City Region can be looked at as an isolated matter because for me the governance of Liverpool, which has been so criticised of late, must be a factor (if not a significant factor) in how the city has found itself on the naughty step.

Paul McCartney Concert at Anfield 2008

The heady days of the 2008 European Capital of Culture seem to be a lifetime away, yet it was only 13 years ago! My feeling is that the leadership of Liverpool City Council during recent years is at the heart of this matter. Inward investment is of course crucial for any major city but has Liverpool made the right choices at the right time and with the right investors? I suspect not and the recent governance report (Caller Report) on the City Council may well be a pointer to the failings.

Also, as a regular reader of Peter Kilfoyle’s blog – KILFOYLEONPOLITICS, which has been predicting for some years the mess Liverpool was getting into, has been and indeed still is a sobering experience for me. And I say that as someone who is not of the same politics as Kylfole yet realises that what he has been shouting from the rooftops for a very long time has been all but ignored until turning a blind eye and a deaf ear was no longer possible for the powers that be.

No, looking at the loss of World Heritage status in isolation will lead to the wrong conclusions in my view. Getting the prestigious award back needs to be part of solving the far wider troubles in which the City Council finds itself.

RAF Woodvale – A history talk and some great memories

The other day I spotted that The Atkinson in Southport was advertising an online talk all about the history of our local airfield and thought it would be interesting to know more about it. The talk was at 1 pm today.

My connection with it came during my time as Leader of Sefton Council (2004 – 2011) when I attended the yearly Battle of Britain event held there by the Station Commander. In fact, the great thrill of going to this event was taking along my very good friend Charles (Uncle Albert) Walker who had served with the RAF during WWII as an aircraft electrician, mostly in Gibraltar.

Here’s how The Atkinson advertised the online talk by Military Historian and ex Formby resident Aldon Ferguson:-

‘RAF Woodvale opened in 1941. It was designated to provide fighter cover to protect Merseyside but was too late for the blitz. It did, however, continue to house fighter squadrons for general protection against the Luftwaffe and was a Sector Control Station with responsibility for northwest England. At the end of the war, it became a Royal Navy Air Station prior to a failed attempt by Southport to claim it as Southport Airport. Post-war it housed a large number of support and training squadrons and achieved fame in being the last RAF base to operate Spitfires on routine RAF duty. Still active, RAF Woodvale is currently home to three training units and a Royal Auxiliary Air Force unit.’

And an excellent talk it was too, really enjoyable.

Now back to Uncle Albert at RAF Woodvale, where he must have visited with me half a dozen times. He loved it as the Cadets made such a fuss of him. Having a wartime veteran in their midst was clearly a treat for them as much as it was for Charles who had a new audience for his war exploits. I look back now and smile about those events which made my old friend so happy with this RAF tie proudly on display. Charles died 4 years ago so you can guess that listening to the excellent talk brought back memories for me of a Maghull chap whom I admired so much.

Thank you RAF Woodvale you did him proud.

Maghull – New Damfield Ln/A59 junction under pedestrian fire

I commented on this newly traffic-lighted junction back in April referencing it to Maghull’s ‘Berlin Wall’ i.e. the A59 which splits the town in half and makes getting from one side to the other on foot or on a cycle hard going. Here’s a link back to that previous posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2021/04/11/cycling-and-crossing-maghulls-berlin-wall/

And here’s a photo I took back in April whilst the new junction was being constructed:-

Firstly, let me say that that this junction really did need upgrading as there have been some really bad accidents associated with it. After completion, I tried crossing it from the western side by bike and I found it OK as the pedestrian phase accommodates cyclists too and unlike the newish ‘Alt’ junction the route is direct.

I thought no more of it until I approached the junction from the south by car wanting to take the Damfield Road slip road to Liverpool Road North. What immediately struck me was that the traffic lights guarding the pedestrian crossing over this slip road have a shroud/filter over them so that drivers don’t confuse them with the new junction traffic lights. The trouble is you can’t see what these shrouded lights are showing until you are quite close to them. Couple this with vehicles leaving the A59 at high speed and I wondered if things were set up safely. Those thoughts lay there until the other day a Maghull resident raised the very same issues with me and indeed other local councillors.

It is the red outlined traffic lights which are difficult to see until drivers are on top of them.

So there you have it. Beware of the pedestrian crossing over the slip Road at this junction as it certainly concerns both myself and another local resident who has told me that ‘In my own case I have now opted to resume taking my grandchildren to school over the footbridge as a safer albeit more time-consuming option.’ Let’s hope Sefton Council reviews the set-up of this new junction as a matter of urgency.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

UK politics is presently all about the right wing, white working class vote

Well, it is for the Labour and Conservative parties anyway as they desperately try to respectively regain or cling onto this particular section of voters who are, by a majority, backing the Tories in recent years.

For Labour, this is a conundrum to which they seem to have few if any answers and it may well be why Starmer and Labour tend to be keeping their heads down when it comes to acting like an opposition. My feeling is that they fear alienating the white working-class vote even more so until it starts to slip from the Tory’s grip best to keep Mum. Of course, this is a wait and see strategy but if this section of voters stays with the Tories it could be a very long wait indeed.

The messaging from our Tory government and Offical Labour opposition is therefore nearly always aimed at this section of the electorate or has their views significantly in mind as they are the power behind Johnson’s throne, whilst they are also helping to keep Starmer out of power. For Labour, which aspires to be a left of centre progressive party, chasing the right wing voters who used to be in their camp is both problematic and crucial to Labour’s future. If Starmer takes Labour too far right in an attempt to bring the white working-class voters back to his party then he stands to lose his progressives to the Lib Dems and Greens. However, if he doesn’t bring the white working-class voters back he will fail to get anywhere near a majority at the next general election. Remember Labour have virtually no seats left in Scotland, as the SNP has all but destroyed Labour north of the border, and there seems little if any prospect of Starmer reversing those losses. So the reality is that forming any kind of majority is probably well beyond Labour’s capabilities even if they claw back their lost right-wingers. Starmer and Labour are facing a grim electoral scenario whichever way they turn.

And what about that Batley & Spen by-election which bizarrely prominent Labour right-winger Rachel Reeves has been trying to pass off as a victory for Kier Starmer! Oh come on, get real, Labour all but lost it except for the fact that they had a very local candidate with a direct connection to murdered MP Jo Cox. Kim Leadbeater presented herself, at least in style, like a Liberal community politics campaigner/candidate and significantly as one of an independent mind who was not going to be a slave to her party. It’s highly likely that this was why Labour just about clung on to a seat they would otherwise have lost. Trouble is having an independently minded MP in Labour’s ranks who has in effect pledged to put her community first is hardly what a significantly authoritarian Labour Party really wants. If she carries through with her independence then Labour has to prepare for her becoming a thorn in their side. My every experience with the Labour Party has been one of them stifling independent thought in their ranks and demanding loyalty to the party at every turn. If Kim Leadbetter can’t stomach such control where will it end? No, Batley and Spen was a close squeak win for progressive politics but it was the connection with Jo Cox and a community/independent-minded candidate which actually won it. Sadly, this by-election actually confirmed that otherwise the white, working-class right-wing is still the only section of the electorate both Tories and Labour are actually interested in.

Note – I took against Rachel Reeves back in 2013 when the Guardian newspaper said this of her – ‘Labour will be tougher than the Tories when it comes to slashing the benefits bill, Rachel Reeves, the new shadow work and pensions secretary, has insisted in her first interview since winning promotion in Ed Miliband’s frontbench reshuffle.’ To me, her position was very far from being one of a progressive and I’ve not changed my mind.

Lydiate – Rosehill Gardens a more gradual graduation

Rosehill Gardens is the new housing estate in Lydiate which, by road, can only be reached via Maghull’s Turnbridge Road. However, it now has pedestrian and cycle access into the rest of Lydiate. The link from the estate is onto the Leeds Liverpool Canal towpath not far from the Bells Lane swing bridge.

Rosehill Gardens Leeds Liverpool Canal link as seen on 2nd July 2021 during construction.

I was recently asked why this link had seemingly moved from where it was originally planned to be i.e. slightly nearer towards Bells Lane? A look at the works to provide the link brought me to the personal conclusion that it had been moved due to the need to have a shallower gradient and so it turned out when I exchanged e-mails with a Sefton Council Planning Officer.

My understanding is that some form of bollards are to be placed at either end of the link to try to dissuade motorbikes from using it and that if this does not prove to be successful then other obstacles to motorbikes will be considered.

As readers of this blogsite may recall, the Canal and River Trust have gained what is called a Section 106 contribution, via this new housing development, towards resurfacing the section of towpath which runs from Green Lane Maghull to Bells Lane Lydiate. It may also be recalled that Lydiate Parish Council has been trying to engage with both Sefton Council and the Canal & River Trust to see if some of that S106 money could be spent on sections of the towpath north of Bells Lane swing bridge where it is in far worse condition. That dialogue has, as far as I am aware, not brought about any changes to date.