I SOMETIMES wonder if this country will ever recover from Covid. It’s still gasping and wheezing and in need of a ventilator.
That pandemic — and our response to it — has damaged the nation beyond measure.
Take the vexed issue of sick leave.
We now have a remarkable 2.5million people in the country doing absolutely bugger all.
These are people classified as being long-term sick.
The interesting thing is that this number has absolutely skyrocketed since Covid.
An extra 400,000 people have suddenly found themselves quite unable to do any work.
I wonder why that could be?
The charities mutter about “long Covid”.
VERY long Covid, if that’s the case.
I wonder if it is more likely a case of “long furlough”.
You remember furlough. It was where people got paid quite a lot of money for staying at home doing absolutely nowt.
And, unsurprisingly, quite a large number came to rather like this arrangement. And have never gone back to work since then.
The Government has just announced it is going to change the rules a bit so that some of these people can work from home. And therefore contribute to the economy. At last.
This is a system which has been in need of overhaul for a very long time.
Mel Stride, the Work and Pensions Secretary, has said he plans to change the Work Capability Assessment, to take account of people who might work from home.
Already, charities are screaming blue murder. Suggesting that the Government is victimising “disabled” people.
One charity boss said the changes could “cause huge anxiety for disabled people up and down the country”.
She added: “We’re seriously concerned that if the Government does overhaul its assessment process without putting any additional support in place, then disabled people are just going to be put under more pressure to find work, without having the support they need to do so.”
Hmm. Given that one of the mental afflictions keeping people from earning a wage is “suffering anxiety in the work place”, a slightly stricter regime might be worth pursuing.
There are of course many, many genuinely disabled people in this country who cannot work.
But there are also a few hundred thousand who are doing little more than swinging the lead, so to speak.
The remarkable thing is that the UK is reportedly one of the few places in the world where this is happening.
During Covid, millions of people across the planet dropped out of their country’s workforce because of the pandemic.
But as Covid receded, they began to return to work.
Not here — not by a long chalk.
Incredibly, in the developed world the UK is one of the outliers which saw more and more people leaving the workforce AFTER the pandemic had passed.
The number not working has risen in almost every quarter since 2019.
Why? Well, chronic illness is one suggestion — but then why hasn’t Germany or France seen the same increase?
The suspicion has to be that we are a little bit lenient about letting people stay at home doing sod all.
Nothing galls hard-working families more than seeing people who are fit idling their time away on taxpayers’ money.
I hope Mel Stride’s proposals shift one or two very lazy a***s.
Yes, Minister for Men is Strictly necessary
RISHI SUNAK has been told that he must appoint a Minister for Men.
The backbench MP Nick Fletcher has said this might help to reduce the number of male suicides. And other such stuff.
I think this is an excellent idea.
A Minister for Men would fight for our right not to watch Strictly.
And would ban women from jabbering incessantly to their female friends about how utterly crap we are at everything.
That would be deemed a hate crime under new legislation.
So would chiding us for not taking the bins out or for cleaning the kitchen worktop with bleach.
A Minister for Men would make it a human right for our gender to eat pies at least once a week and regulate the number of times per year we were forced to eat either cous- cous or goat’s cheese.
Bring it on, Rishi.
Beard omen, guys
YIKES! If you find a rogue garden gnome in your front yard, it could mean you’re about to be burgled.
The police say thieves sometimes leave them there as markers to see if a house is empty.
One garden gnome, with a beard, means it’s just your normal, average burglar.
Two very thick-set garden gnomes holding hands means you’re being cased by the Kray Twins.
And a garden gnome which is kind of faintly glowing means you’re about to be done over by the Russian mafia.
THE Prime Minister is angry about the Office for National Statistics.
Quite rightly, too.
The Government’s official stats people hugely underestimated how quickly our economy would grow after Covid.
This let the Labour Party control the story about how we had a “low growth” government.
Now the ONS has been forced to ’fess up and change its predictions – 18 months too late.
Poor old Sunak. He should just accept that the entire civil service hates this government and will do everything it can to undermine it.
Brum ‘n’ Dumber
IT is always exciting to get a sneak preview of future events.
So, for a glimpse into what the next Labour government might look like – take a butcher’s at Birmingham City Council.
In case you’ve been getting all your news from the BBC, let me explain that the council is run by the local Labour Party.
It’s already been investigated for debt and equal pay violations. And now it’s bankrupt.
The financial mismanagement has to be seen to be believed.
BILLIONS of quid is to be spent on a new rail route so that people in Surrey, Berkshire and Hampshire can get to Heathrow a bit faster.
And yet our northern towns, especially in the North East, suffer from appalling transport facilities. Antiquated diesel trains. No direct links to other major northern cities.
That levelling up business was just a load of guff, wasn’t it?
It’s La Dodgy Vita Em
LEFTIE luvvie Emma Thompson is planning on leaving the UK.
Yes, yes, I know, dry your tears.
She seems to hate our country.
She thinks it’s miserable.
And way too right-wing and xenophobic – she was infuriated by Brexit.
So where’s she thinking of moving to?
Venice, in Italy . . . a country currently run by Giorgia Meloni of the far-Right Brothers of Italy party.
And Venice? That’s run by a very right-wing mayor called Luigi Brugnaro.
He has banned Gay Pride marches in the city.
And removed from school libraries any children’s books which mention homosexuality.
He also said that anyone who shouted, “Allahu akbar” in the city’s main square should be shot on sight.
Short of Moscow, I can’t think of a more right-wing place in Europe.
Enjoy it, Emma.
THE chaos which left 300,000 airline passengers stranded without flights was the consequence of a “one-in-15million” chance.
That’s according to the boss of our air traffic control system, Martin Rolfe. I suppose ol’ Rolfy intended that to be reassuring.
But when you dig into the stats, it really isn’t.
There are 2.4million take-offs and landings in the UK each year.
So if some rogue data is fed in among every 15million entries, does this suggest we’ll have the same sort of chaos every six years or so?
Over to you, Martin . . .
Load of hot air
NO sooner has summer made a brief, very late, appearance than the weather forecasters are yelling at us to stay in our homes in case we get burned to a crisp.
Or drop dead from heat exhaustion.
It seems that everybody these days is imbued with a weird sense of their own importance.
Weather forecasters no longer find it satisfying enough to tell us if it’s going to p*** down or not.
They have to warn us about the end of the world.
And chide us, like nannies, to stay indoors or put our wellies on.
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