A Tory MP exposed himself and his party live on Question Time

Question Time on Thursday 21 January
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A Tory minister’s response to a Labour MP’s criticism of his government’s handling of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic was damning. Because he inadvertently exposed the problem at the heart of his government’s approach over the last ten months. And he did it on BBC Question Time.

Question Time: flailing?

The programme saw its viewing figures plummet last year. But even so, there are sometimes important moments that Question Time throws up. Parliamentary under-secretary Vicky Ford’s controversial comments about free school meals on 14 January was one such occasion. And the show on Thursday 21 January was another.

Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Louise Haigh was criticising the government’s handling of the pandemic. She said:

I’m afraid to say that the measures that they’ve taken, the slowness in going into lockdown and the speed at which they’ve lifted some of these restrictions have caused avoidable deaths, and it was foreseeable – and throughout this pandemic it’s been completely foreseen.

Secretary of state for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis defended the government. But one important phrase stood out.

‘Led by the science’?

He said:

All the decisions that we have made, all the way through this, have been led by the scientific and medical advice we have had.

Read on...

Question Time host Fiona Bruce interrupted, saying:

Well, sometimes they’ve called for lockdowns earlier than you’ve done it.

Lewis continued to infer that it was the scientists driving the Tories’ approach:

We’ve made the decisions based on the medical and scientific advice the government has had.

So, apparently, the Tories have been led by the “scientific and medical advice”. Problem is, that’s not what another senior minister said just over a month ago.

Or ‘informed by the science’?

As The Canary previously reported, on 9 December 2020 Good Morning Britain (GMB) host Piers Morgan skewered Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove. It was over so-called herd immunity. Back in March that year, the government’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance repeatedly said in the media that the government was aiming for herd immunity. But on GMB in December, Gove denied this. Morgan put it to him that, given Vallance’s comments and his denial:

You were following the science, but ignoring the science?

Gove said in response:

Er, er, I was, er, we were, our policy is informed by the science

Morgan interrupted, saying:

you said at the time you were following the science. You can’t be informed and following it, and then ignoring it. It’s either one or the other. You’re either following it, or you’re not.

Fast-forward to Question Time, and Lewis is now saying something different entirely.

Not just a question of words

Words are important. The Cambridge dictionary definition of “informed” is:

having a lot of knowledge or information about something: an informed choice/opinion

It says “led” is the past participle of “lead”, meaning:

to control a group of people, a country, or a situation: I think we’ve chosen the right person to lead the expedition.

So, at the start of the pandemic, the Tories claimed they were led by the science. Then Gove said that scientists were giving the government information, which then gave it knowledge to make decisions.

Now Lewis has returned to the earlier position that the scientists and medical professionals’ advice is controlling the government’s decision making.

Which is it? Because these are two different scenarios, each with potentially different outcomes in terms of accountability. Gove’s “informed” statement places the burden of responsibility for the mess of the pandemic onto the government. But Lewis’ Question Time comment would place any blame at the government adviser’s door. Given the trend of Tory minister’s washing their hands of responsibility for one of the highest coronavirus death rates on the planet, as well as the economic carnage, Lewis deflecting blame is probably the reality of the situation.

Featured image via BBC iPlayer – screengrab

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  • Show Comments
    1. A Tory MP exposed himself and his party live on Question Time.
      To Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis Tory unless Minister
      Just some point here for you plus residents + voters of U.K. areas
      Including Question for Ms Petal including Boris as well.
      How many more people will Tory Govt kill OFF because of bad rules in place.
      enforced by them L-Down.-Tier 1-2-3-4-5- rules that do not work.
      How many more N.H.S. staff will be leaving the serves after Tory Govt.
      slash & trashing of it?? leaving workers under pressers at work.
      When will their parking fees be SCRAPPED fully at all N.H.S. Hospital sites?
      and all N.H.S. staff paid a good wage?-Boris.
      To Boris why do you put your mate’s men + women alike in Minister job?
      that are incompetent and know pee all about the job they are in or give.
      a darn about us public or the U.K. country we voters that pays their wages.
      plus, expenses every week our country + taxpayer + voters come second.
      place to all your Minister now WHY?
      Boris Brandon Lewis and all your Govt Minister need to stop the propergander.
      C**p now we voter are sick of every day from all you party useless Ministers.
      live on T.V. or radio interviews.
      Boris, I wish clarity from Ms Petal form her live T.V. statement she said if people had parties and they is over 15 people at the address you will be fined a new amount of by police Officer.
      FACT, we are in L-Down Boris should not they be No one else partying in our homes again this show the statement from your Minister show us voter the mess Tory Govt is in you are telling us one thing them changing your minds when interviewed live on T.V. + live Radio shows.

      To Ms Petal the wedding party held by the rich in LONDON area with a large amount of people congregating plus breaking the rules of law will they all be fined, and I mean all not just a select few at the part braking Tory Govt laws /rules you set in places Ms Petal you can use the track and trace to find out who was at the party or did the rich people running the wedding not take names or contact number ?? like we in other area of U.K. do. Or is it again one rule for your rich Tory party funder you in Govt turn a blind eye to braking L-Down rules and another like us less well-off voters get fined –I wish all involved at the wedding fined not just a few Ms Petal that possibly fund your party was any Tory M.P.s or Minister at the wedding reception collecting the funding money yes or no? If so name them all, please now Ms Petal.

    2. When politicians take control of science to steer agendas magic happens. Or rather, lots of lies, but the explanations given suggest magic has just happened – because the only things that can defy science are miracles and magic. And what are miracles if not magic?

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