The vulgarity of power

Power in the UK is becomming incrasingly crude and unpleasant in its naked and brash self-confidence. It is rampant. It knows it has won. (The last battle has been againt ‘authority’ and it has won that battle soundly). It no longer needs to make itself sound decent.

This is an example. A Oxford Professor, Sir John Bell, who is an immuologist was quoted by the Guardian as saying:

The NHS has the theoretical capacity to immunise everybody in five days if they want to, but I don’t get the sense they are really motivated. … Did you see the list of things you have to do to volunteer to help the inoculation programme? To impose it on people who are just sticking a needle in an arm is bonkers. [1]

The Guardian felt duty-bound (‘balanced journalism’) to get a reponse from NHS England, that is the managment of the NHS. Someone (employed on a public salarly) said:

Prof Bell’s reported comments suggest he may not know that at the current time there are not actually that number of vaccines available to the NHS to deploy. It’s best to stick to the facts, and they are that vaccine supply will be progressively increasing over the coming weeks, allowing rapidly expanding vaccinations.

So. ‘Prof’ Bell has got his facts wrong. He’s an idiot and everything is all going swimmingly. The ‘Prof’ Bell is a device. By using this familar term, rather than ‘Professor’, they seek to undermine the credibility of their critic. Anyway the ‘Prof’ (appeal to a populist tendancy to treat ‘boffins’ with a little bit of derision) has got his ‘facts’ wrong. The new left loves referring to ‘facts’. There are probably more references to “Trump falsely claimed” in the Guardian than there are stars in the sky. The thing is by relying on ‘facts’ they can avoid anything that looks like argument. They sound like Bolsheviks.

Well; I wondered; Professor Bell does look a little old; maybe he really has got the facts wrong. I did some research and the reasons why the vaccine rollout in the UK is so slow seems to be the result of various factors. These include:

manufacturing bottlenecks (related to stock problems – no spare stock)

logistical problems caused especially by the requirement to store the Pfizer vaccine at -70°C

Complexities in the MHRA vaccine approval regime

and yes, it turns out, staff problems. See the following:

Martin Marshall, head of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: “Right now, the capacity of the service to deliver [vaccinations] is pretty well aligned to the availability of the vaccine . . . but there is not a big enough workforce in primary care or mass vaccination centres come three weeks’ time, when we start seeing the AstraZeneca vaccine coming through at volume.” The RCGP had been lobbying Mr Hancock to cut the red tape that had been hampering recruitment of tens of thousands of recently retired doctors, nurses and pharmacists who were having to fill in a 20-plus page form and produce exam certificates to be accepted.  Mr Hancock told the BBC that the amount of bureaucracy would be reduced, including no longer requiring vaccinators to undergo training on the need to tackle terrorism. [2]

It turns out then that Professor Bell’s comments were very likely based on information from the Royal College of General Practitioners. (Either that or this reference simply corroborates what he was saying).

Not only does NHS England feel free to disrespect ‘Prof’ Bell and, in effect, call him an idiot but they are also lying through their teeth. As matters currently stand red-tape is blocking hiring sufficient volunteers and this will become a blockage. Such is modern power; the key points are 1) the willingness with which they abuse people who used to be treated with respect – in this case an Oxford Professor and 2) the obviousness of their lies. This is the kind of vulgar power which Josie Appleton so accurately described as being exercised by petty officials hired by local authorities to boss the public around. But now it is not limited to these busybodies in hi-vis jackets. It is used routinely by officials at the highest levels.

(As a footnote we can note that one of the red tape factors blocking the recruitment of volunteers is the requirement to undergo ‘Prevent’ anti-terrorist training. This detail appears in the FT report but is not mentioned in the Guardian report. The Guardian generally gives power an easy ride).



Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer