Share this page

Small ads

Second National Lockdown

From J.Moore

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

In Parliament today there is to be a vote regarding a second national lockdown.  The M.P. for the Calder Valley is Craig Whittaker.  He has been elected to represent the wishes of the people who live here.  I encourage you to contact him to let him know how you feel about a second national lockdown.  My view is that it is a mistake.  

If the Government's stats are correct, then we need a different approach to handling a virus which is going to be present for some time to come.  Locking up healthy people in their home is not the way forward.  This will lead to dramatic increases in both depression and suicidal thoughts, as happened in the first national lockdown, as well as an increase in domestic violence incidents.  

I found Craig Whittaker's email address and telephone number online, and hope you will do the same to ensure that our M.P. represent's the views of those who live in Hebden Bridge and surrounding areas.

From Paul Weatherhead

Thursday, 5 November 2020

Well said, J. Moore. And I was surprised and delighted to see Craig Whittaker, whatever his other faults, was one of the few who voted against this cruel and inhumane lockdown. A lockdown against an illness with a near 100% survival rate.

I've always been on the left, but Labour's  capitulation to public health authoritarianism is shameful, hurting most those they are supposed to protect.

From Sally B

Thursday, 5 November 2020

The Government can be criticised for so much over the Covid19 crisis - not least the utter failure of the track and trace system.

However, as for Lockdown 2, the main criticism should be that they left it far far too late.

To quote Keir Starmer from the debate in Parliament yesterday:

"The country is at—indeed, we are several weeks past—the tipping point in the fight against the virus. We must never forget that on Monday, 397 people lost their lives to covid-19, more than 1,000 patients were on ventilators and there were over 20,000 positive cases.

"To anybody who disputes the trajectory of the virus or what the cost of inaction would be, I would point out that when SAGEwarned 44 days ago that if we did not act at that time there would be catastrophic consequences, there were then, six weeks or so ago, 11 deaths from covid-19, just over 4,000 infections and 181 people on ventilators. That is not graphs. That is not projections. That is the grim facts in the past few weeks, and we know that the figures double, then double and then double again.

"That direction of travel has been clear for some time, and I am afraid the reality is that the two pillars of the Government's strategy—the £12 billion track and trace and the regional restrictions—have been washed away by the second wave. If we are to have any chance of getting the virus back under control, to prevent many more people from falling ill or losing their loved ones and to protect the NHS, we need to take decisive action now."

And that was before we knew there were another 492 deaths yesterday, and 25177 new cases.

From Graham Barker

Thursday, 5 November 2020

All I'm going to say is that I have a close relative who is a hospital doctor. Her hospital is already full of covid patients, far more of them than first time round, and numbers are rising rapidly. She's currently doing 12-hour nights, working to exhaustion. 

In her mid-twenties she's dealing with more dead, dying and grieving people than bears thinking about and unless lockdown works, and works rapidly, this will only get worse.

Her hospital is not unique and is more likely to be typical - see for example this hospital in Wales. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-54815268.

I am not going to criticise government or endorse Keir Starmer. What's happening should be a million miles away from party politics.

From Paul Weatherhead

Thursday, 5 November 2020

Health services are often under pressure at this time of the year, though without the constant salacious body counts that we are subjected to in these times. Elderly people with multiple morbidities are frequently carried off by respiratory viruses. This is sad, but not new. So, do we give up everything that makes life worth living: friends, family, love, learning, fun, parties, holidays, music, art, play....and condemn countless people to poverty and unemployment to protect our health service? Shouldn't the health service be protecting us, not the other way around?

From Amy R

Thursday, 5 November 2020

From the BBC news website today:

"NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens, who appeared alongside the prime minister, said about 30,000 staff in the health service were either off with coronavirus or were having to self-isolate, and "that has an impact".

"This second wave of coronavirus is real and it's serious," he said."


For those who don't think another lockdown is the right way to relieve pressure on the NHS, and reduce unnecessary deaths ... what do you think we should be doing?  I can't see any better option, except that we should have gone into national lockdown in September, when it first started getting out of control - as recommended by a number of scientists at the time. How many deaths do we need before we should take extreme action like this?  Not to mention "long Covid" where people are still suffering nasty symptoms months after first being infected.  This disease is no joke, and our government, our dear, dear Tories, have already prioritised the economy over lives for too long in all this.

From Kevin S

Saturday, 7 November 2020

Hardly a lockdown in Hebden Bridge the square and pedestrian area are like a normal weekend. Everyone sat about eating and drinking and enjoying their takeouts.

The Piece Hall Halifax on BBC Look North. We are open for click and collect, come and get a takeaway and enjoy the ambiance / atmosphere.
Hardly a lockdown throughout Calderdale, more of an encouragement to get out and about. 

From Gary W

Saturday, 7 November 2020

What I find fascinating about the 'lockdown' debate is the correlation between how much expertise individuals have and how confident they are that their view is the correct one. The less expertise someone has, the higher their level of confidence. This is known as the illusion of explanatory depth. And, when this is combined with confirmation bias, well, we can see the results all around us. 

Those of us (like myself) that have relatively very little relevant in-depth knowledge, so as to be able to effectively assess whether or not lockdowns are the least damaging course of action, have to rely on the expertise of others.

The fact is that there is a scientific consensus that supports the use of lockdowns. This consensus opinion may in time turn out to have been wrong, and the small but significant number of anti-lockdown specialists in their field arguing against these measures, may be proven to have been right all along. But for those of us that have such large gaping holes and chasms in our knowledge and understanding in this area of expertise, a bit of humility and nuance would not go amiss, along with an acceptance that we have no intrinsic basis upon which to opine with extreme confidence as to the merits or otherwise of this particular policy.

From Michael Prior

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Well-written Gary. I think that we all know that limiting contact as well as wearing masks is the best way of beating this pandemic.

Like many others, the prospect of spending the next dark weeks without much social contact fills me with gloom, sadness and occasional depression.

But telephones, zoom and waves across the street will see us through, hopefully to some limited Christmas cheer.

Good luck.

From Jan N

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Are we really In lockdown?

Streets full of people looking in empty shop windows or checking out the house prices.

Groups of young men, families, dog walkers. Why are they all here?

Seems like no point in a lockdown if everyone is out like usual.

I work in a take-out venue so don't get me wrong, I'm happy with the trade but I recognised only a few customers  and we have hundreds of regulars!

So I'm thinking most of the people about were from out of town.

So my point is what's the point of this lockdown if nobody is complying with it?

From Gideon Foster

Monday, 9 November 2020

Gary, to an extent I agree but would also add that the theory of relativity was discovered by a little known civil servant working in a patent office in Switzerland who had an interest in Physics as a hobby. Science is very often wrong and this government and opposition have only followed one side of the science.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of a lockdown, and no I don't know the answers either , but what I do feel as I tend to follow my intuition rather than thinking is that we are staring so intently at this due to fear of the specific virus that we cannot see that there are far reaching consequences of the damage of lockdowns, not just in mental health now etc but in the economic damage.

The state in its financial form is nothing but the people who contribute to it and the harsh reality is that when people are forced to work longer and harder for less in order to pay back the borrowing, a direct and scientifically proven link exists between standard of living and mortality , there will be a death toll from that too. They will not have Covid on their death certificates. It will be heart attack, stroke, cancer etc and whilst that may be of comfort to politicians who can be absolved from any blame, it will make it no less a truth and they deserve a voice too.

From Graham Barker

Monday, 9 November 2020

Gideon - being alive kills us all in the end and adversity is not a recent invention. Pandemics need drastic measures because they kill rapidly and exponentially. That's all the science you need. The fourteenth century Black Death wiped out roughly half the populations of Europe and Asia. We're 'lucky' this time - so far - and that's largely thanks to lockdowns, crude and inequitable though they are. The economy will recover, as it did after 1945 when it was in a much worse state than it is now.

From Gary W

Monday, 9 November 2020

Thank you Michael for your kind comment. Hi Gideon (say hello to your mam). Albert Einstein did indeed work for a few years as a patent examiner but that was after he received his academic teaching diploma in Maths and Physics. He obviously had remarkable expertise in his field. 

The Government and their scientific advisors have publicly stated that they are well aware of all the harms that imposing a lockdown can do, both to people's mental and physical heath and to the economy, so am not sure why you say they are only following one side of the science. It is just that they take the considered view that even with all the harms associated with implementing a lockdown, it is still the least harmful cause of action. It may well be that the long delay in imposing a 2nd lockdown, as SAGE was recommending, may have led to additional avoidable deaths along with the resultant need for us to endure a longer lockdown.

Had the scientific consensus been against the use of lockdowns, they would not be advocating them. You say that "what I do feel as I tend to follow my intuition rather than thinking...". Whist instincts and intuition can be useful in the absence of science, they do not use the scientific method, and it would be reckless in the extreme for our policy makers to make life and death decisions by following their intuitions. Unlike science, instincts/intuition are remarkably resistant when it comes to adjusting to new information. Politicians will have to answer for their decisions at the next election. Some will say they went too far, some that they didn't go far enough. The history books will reveal what they got right and what, if anything they got badly wrong.

From Gideon Foster

Monday, 9 November 2020

Graham - The point I am making whilst not actually disagreeing with the lockdown is that the economic effects of this will also lead to a death toll, that's the nature of the world we live in , but do we just accept that as an adversity which must be accepted whilst doing everything to avoid this? What if we are throwing many more people under a future metaphorical bus? I just think that should be something we work to avoid also .

Gary - I will tell her thanks. I wondered if it was you. Hope you're well.
I actually believe like you do that we cannot tell at the moment , only time will tell , but it makes me uneasy as we tend to treat the economy as something separate from our health, when in fact they are related. I'm philosophising really not criticising as our health service can only cope with so much and we obviously have to deal with whatever is happening with the here and now. I do think, however, that we need to think further forwards, if we return to the same rules of austerity etc then that affects future health as a result of our actions taken now. I actually think both sets of people on either side of this debate are right, one lot fighting to save lives now and the other fighting to save lives in future.

The Einstein mention was a book I'm reading called "Quantum" by Ranjit Kumar about the grey areas where science merges with philosophy. Well worth looking up if anyone wants a good read whilst we have the time to do so. 

From Allen Keep

Monday, 9 November 2020

It's so disappointing to see someone like Paul Weatherhead who consider themselves to be on the left minimising and normalising (some, not Paul I would hope, denying) the impact of this pandemic and churning out the usual bogus survival rate nonsense.

Surely any socialist (and many who are not) would argue that we must look after the most vulnerable in our society and act together for the common good to fight the spread of this disease?

This doesn't mean accepting the privileged and powerful trying to make political and economic capital out of this crisis (what's new there?).

The harm that lockdown causes to well-being and economic welfare doesn't need to be stupidly and artificially exaggerated as so many opponents of restrictions do and we don't have to accept the inevitability of the negative consequences. Surely, part of the argument that we shouldn't give up on is that we demand resources to protect ourselves on all fronts and that the poor and disadvantaged don't have to pay the cost disproportionally.

The pandemic strengthens, not weakens the socialist case for a different sort of society. Sadly, some on the left have abandoned the socialist argument and placed themselves behind bogus calls for "freedom". They are finding themselves some distinctly anti-democratic bedfellows and strengthening anti-science and extremely harmful conspiracy theories as a result.

From Paul Weatherhead

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Allen Keep argues that people like me are “minimising and normalising” the death toll from the virus and “churning out the usual survival rate nonsense”.  I would counter that I’m being realistic. The latest meta-analysis from Stanford University puts the infection fatality rate at 0.24%: See this web page

The average age of death from the virus in the UK is about the same as the average life expectancy: 82. Elderly people with other life-threatening health conditions have always been carried away by respiratory viruses. Sad but true. Some flu pandemics in living memory have been just as devastating as Covid, if not more so, and yet we didn’t mask up and lock down for them. If any of the above is untrue, I’d be happy to be corrected.

Where I agree with Allen is in the need to protect people at risk. One way to do this is the focused protection model proposed by scientists from Oxford, Harvard and Stanford universities in their Great Barrington Declaration. Those that are vulnerable (such as care home residents) are protected. The rest can get on with living their lives because the virus carries little risk to them. 

I don’t see “freedom” to get on with your life as “bogus”, though. What's bogus about the freedom to meet with friends and family, enjoy music and the arts, travel, make a living? A “socialism” that doesn't recognise the importance of these and obsesses about risk, safety and micromanaging every aspect of our lives is a pretty grim prospect indeed. 

P.G. Wodehouse (I think) once said that no pleasure in life is worth giving up for the sake of an extra two weeks in a nursing home in Weston-super-Mare. He was right.

From Allen Keep

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Paul's response invokes a sense of despair and anger in equal measure. Poke a little at his argument and some very dangerous ideas and certainly not socialist ones emerge. 

I despair to find that people are still arguing that Covid is no more exceptional or dangerous than the Flu. Frankly, I can't be bothered arguing to the contrary, much less disproving this backward, unscientific view. A few minutes of research into credible sources around the world will show that the overwhelming majority of scientific and medical opinion tells us that Covid is not only more contagious but deadlier, by far, than the flu.

Most accounts I’ve seen that aren’t written on the back of a fag packet have the Case Fatality Rate at around 2.2% across all who contract the disease (we know it varies considerably across a range of important factors). That’s a “survival rate” of 97.8% to be charitable. Sounds good but it is monstrously high for a very contagious virus - maybe four times the fatality rate of flu. No one knows how many people this would wipe out before herd immunity short of immunisation via vaccine could be achieved (even if that were possible which is simply unknown). In a country like the US estimates often suggest at least a further many millions of deaths would be reached before that point is reached. Sobering.

But then we have the evidence to the contrary in the truly ground breaking, world renowned study from Yale (not Stanford) that Paul unearthed (it’s months out of date). It helpfully begins by informing us that it is not peer reviewed, and should not (their emphasis) be used for clinical practice. Nor critical thinking I'd suggest. Amusingly, the research is funded by Mark Zuckeberg who I thought was in on the conspiracy? The following argument about what we have done or not done regards previous flu epidemics is irrelevant - because it's not the Flu. I wonder however, whether Paul approves of flu vaccines or welcomes the prospect of a vaccine for Coivd?

Paul goes onto cite the Great Barrington declaration as the model for controlling the virus. Again, it's so discredited it's barely worth bothering with (many of the signatories were simply made up or not remotely qualified) but this is where the argument makes me angry. Essentially, it suggests somehow hermetically sealing off the vulnerable from the rest of society while we let the virus run free amongst the rest of the population to develop herd immunity (resting on the rather hopeful and certainly unknown assumption that having the disease makes people immune forever).

How would that look I wonder? How would these decisions be made and by whom? How would they be enforced? How would they be compatible with democracy and freedom which is Paul’s issue with our current “lockdown”. How long would these measures need to be in place for - until everyone who is not protected is either dead or immune? And who exactly are the vulnerable to the subject of “focused protection” - people who are exactly 82 and are sadly going to be taken by a respiratory disease anyway? The over 70’s? maybe the over 60s? In every country in the world?  

Where are the lines between those who will continue to enjoy freedom and those they are separated from and contained (something we used to call apartheid)? What do we do with the range of people who are clinically vulnerable to one degree or other – those whose underlying conditions which make them disproportionally susceptible to Covid and therefore death? They span all ages as do people who require intensive care when they contract the disease. Where do we put those eligible for “focused protection” and how do we care for them? Do we put the elderly in care homes en masse? How do we enforce this separation between those who will be “just fine” with Covid and those it will seriously harm or kill – house arrests, camps? How would this policy work in a country maybe with a right-wing administration and a fascist for President? 

The hypocrisy from people who object to the restrictions of lockdown (although it’s nowhere near lockdown actually). The declaration is also extremely politically reactionary and therefore a popular view on the far right in America, Trump likes it, A LOT. So too does the appropriately named Charles Koch a right-wing billionaire and climate crisis denier who has sponsored the declaration. I wonder why? Could it be because he, and the people he represents (the enemies of any notion of democratic socialism) want to continue to exploit the planet and its people no matter what the cost? That means keeping the American economy open and going no matter what - which means, at the moment, demonising restrictions to protect people’s health -describing them, ironically but very cleverly, as dictatorial and undemocratic. That’s enough to have the Covid deniers thinking these people are their friends and there it is - the joining of forces between the Covid minimisers/ denialists and the far right to the latter’s benefit.

In this country, we see it reflected in demonstrations and actions where denialists and open fascists are working together Dangerous stuff and, trust me, those who march with fascists today will be knifed by them tomorrow.

The quote Paul signs off with (Kingsley Amis by the way) is amusing in itself perhaps but I find it deeply unpleasant and inappropriate in the context of what happened in care homes earlier in the year. Both my parents died in care homes. You may not fancy two weeks in Weston-Super-Mare but my mum and dad would have liked that opportunity. You don’t get to choose what people near the end of their lives want.

From Amy R

Friday, 13 November 2020

Paul, there are various things you are not taking into account in your summary.  For example, from the beginning of this pandemic as it has gone in the UK, a lot of people have only survived Covid-19 because of hospital treatments, which have been improving all the time.  

And the knock on effect of that is strain on the NHS.  Indeed, as far as I can see the Tories only came up with the three tier system and then the second lockdown when some NHS trusts were pointing out that they were getting overwhelmed.  

Recent news articles inform us that in many areas surgeries considered minor (but likely life-changing for many individuals) are being postponed, and waits of a year or more are not unlikely.

And as per my post above, tens of thousands of NHS staff are themselves off work either with Covid infection themselves, or isolating to protect their patients and others when they know they've been exposed to the virus.

It's not just about death rates, and never has been, certainly for a Tory government.  It's about access to healthcare for all, and about looking after NHS staff and other carers, as well.

It's true we're not yet using the new Nightingale hospitals that were especially built for this crisis - but this does call into question whether we'd be able to staff them appropriately if we do need them.  I have retired friends who have agreed to return to NHS work if they're needed, but is it really a good idea to bring people out of retirement and onto the front line?  It may be the best option we have if we still manage to slip to that point, but it doesn't seem a good one.  If we can prevent that, we should, surely.

From Amy R

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

I was surprised Tuesday morning to see Yorkshire Water subcontractors again digging up Keighley Road. They had not moved any parked cars below their lights and few in the middle, creating a bottleneck whenever large or multiple vehicles pass. This is a problem the contractors and council never seem to solve before jumping in. 

Has anyone noticed how slowly the roadworks closing Albert Street are going? I have seen the workers congregating in the street, but little actual work.