Social care minister reveals just how offensive Tory coronavirus propaganda really is on BBCQT

Helen Whately
Support us and go ad-free

Helen Whately is a minister in the Department of Health and Social Care. And on 28 May’s Question Time, she revealed just how vile the government’s propaganda lines on the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic really are.


The UK currently has the fifth highest death toll per million population (at 562) in the world, according to incomplete government statistics. But expert estimates suggest there have actually been over 60,000 excess deaths with coronavirus links so far. And according to analysis by the Financial Times, these figures push the UK into second place for coronavirus deaths.

The government’s handling of the crisis has, therefore, rightly faced significant criticism.

At the end of April, however, prime minister Boris Johnson suggested his regime’s response had been a “success”. And this seems to be the propaganda message his government is still trying to push. Because Whately insisted on Question Time that “extraordinary things have happened. Extraordinary things have been achieved.” Even presenter Fiona Bruce had to interrupt to insist “we have got the second highest death toll in the world, in absolute numbers”.

She also argued that now is the time to “move on”, saying:

Every life lost is… somebody who we mourn… with sadness. But we also need to make sure that we are able to move on

No. We will not ‘move on’.

The government’s coronavirus response has indeed been “extraordinary” – in its fatal incompetence. And until there’s a vaccine, the pandemic will not end. So now is most certainly not the time to “move on”. It’s time to look at the mistakes the government has made, hold it to account, and make sure those mistakes don’t happen again.

As The Canary reported earlier this month, factors influencing the UK’s large death toll include:

being late in organising a lockdown whilst toying with the ‘herd immunity’ approach; problems regarding testing (including that of older citizens leaving hospitals for care homes) and samplesdelays in the provision of Personal Protective Equipment [PPE]; and problems regarding the tracking/tracing app.

Other scandals have come to light too. For example:

  • A leaked document showed that the government had a chance in 2016 to improve preparedness for a pandemic, but didn’t. Exercise Cygnus simulated a flu pandemic; and it concluded that the UK was insufficiently prepared for such a health crisis.
  • The BBC revealed at the end of April that the government was significantly misleading people on the dangerous lack of PPE supplies.
  • A recent report from campaign group We Own It and the University of Greenwich’s Prof David Hall showed how privatisation is at the core of the scandal surrounding coronavirus PPE shortages.

This is all on top of the years of ideological austerity from Conservative-led governments which had already left the NHS at breaking point when the pandemic hit.

We must not forget the government’s coronavirus response

The UK’s overall response to the pandemic seems to have been both slower and weaker than other countries. And it’s hard not to conclude that this has contributed to the country’s high death toll.

So no, Whately, we will not forget. And we will not ‘move on’.

Featured image via screenshot

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. To be sung to the tune of You’ll Never Walk Alone:

      When you’re struck by a bug
      that lays thousands low
      and your gran is wiped out all alone
      please don’t criticise those in charge because
      they’ve hidden behind a calm tone
      move on through the deaths
      move on through the tears
      though you’re broke and feeling down
      move on,move on with despair in your heart
      and save the Tory clown
      and save the Tory clown.

    2. Everything they have done has been consistent with the original “Herd Immunity” plan, just with a softening of the curve so, although we have the 2nd highest death rate in the world, it is kept down to a level the NHS can just about deal with, and now it’s slowed (and the nightingale hospitals are ready) they’re keen to let it rise again. I suspect Cummings outing was intentional (which is why when noone made a fuss, he went for an extra 50 mile outing to a popular spot), to distract from the numbers, and combined with shifting responsibility to the public, with their “stay Alert” message, will lead to more people taking risks.
      Of course the failings in testing were also failings of privatisation, as the NHS actually had testing facilities sitting unused, and staff spare (due to non Covid work dropping drastically), but the Govt decided that rather than let competent trained NHS staff do it, they would hand it over to their favourite privatisers, causing delays and incompetence.

    3. As someone who considers that Fiona Bruce is accorded far too much benefit of the doubt I appreciated the phrase ‘even Fiona Bruce…’ had to say something non-propagandist. Certainly my experiece of QT was that it shuld more properly called Propaganda Time.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.