There's a lot they aren't telling you...

As always seems to be the way, the news is locking on to one specific topic. We saw it through the years-long aftermath of the Brexit referendum (no doubt we would still be seeing it if COVID-19 hadn't taken hold) and we're now seeing it during COVID-19 itself.

With that in mind, I thought I'd give you the update which the mainstream media doesn't think you deserve.

Infection Rates PLUMMET in London

Whilst the media continues to stir panic, they seem largely to have neglected to inform their following that the infection rates in London (according to Public Health England) are down to double figures, even hitting zero on one day last week.

Of course, we know why. It doesn't fit with their rhetoric.

Even more interestingly, our so-called unparalleled care home mismanagement doesn't seem to match the actual statistics. Neither do the unrealistic press expectations of our overall statistics. Of course, every death is a tragedy and my heart goes out to those who have lost family, friends and other loved ones, as I have, during this time of crisis.

Care Home Infections, and England's Superior Strategy

According to a recent report commissioned by no other than the EU, the UK is amongst the best performing nations in Europe when it comes to COVID deaths in care homes, far better than most of our EU counterparts.

The statistics also don't take into account population density, urban populations and population growth, individual habits, ways of life, and as such it is impossible to compare country by country outside of controlled settings such as care homes.

One thing we are able to compare, however, is COVID-per-Capita. Of the four nations in the UK, England consistently outperforms Scotland and Wales when measuring Coronavirus cases per 100,000 people, despite Labour-run Wales and SNP-run Scotland being far less densely-populated. England also leads the way on testing, with the rate of testing per 100,000 people massively outperforming the other nations in the UK - so much so that the UK government is coming to the rescue of the devolved administrations.

Dominic Cummings DID NOT Break Lockdown

Much has been made of the Vote Leave and GE2019 victory architect's visit to County Durham over the past day or so. It's important to note that the visit made to Durham was noted by County Durham Constabulary as "most unwise", but not illegal. Downing Street was also equally clear, stating explicitly that Mr Cummings "acted in line with government guidelines", which is even acknowledged in news articles supposedly disproving this point.

The Lib Dems are STILL looking for a new Leader

This is old news now. Although they seem to be looking for a new leader every few months, the same infighting still remains with Ed Davey criticising Layla Moran for concentrating on her leadership candidacy despite the pandemic still being ongoing.

I'm with you on this, Ed.

Public Bodies SLAMMED over School Re-opening Rebellions

A number of public bodies have made clear that they will not comply with the government's timetable to re-open schools on or around June 1st. Bury Council has joined Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson in telling its schools not to reopen, backing their own unclarified judgement over scientific guidance.

Bury's two Conservative MPs (a phrase which before December could not have been said since 1992), have issued a full rebuttal, reminding Bury Council that they do not have the power to order schools to stay shut and slamming the Labour administration's decision as "political grandstanding".

In a rare twist of fate, even Lord Adonis (remember him?) agrees with the government, going off his unprecedented Tweet.

Norway will RE-OPEN in June

"You have shown us patience, now it is our turn to give back." Strong words from Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, when she very recently announced that Norway will re-open most of what has been closed by 15th June. This is down to a successful lockdown, with the R rate predicted to be at 0.49 and the epidemic in significant decline.

Following our own roadmap, we hope to be able to follow our Norwegian counterparts in June.

The value of the lockdown should not be underestimated however. It has been difficult but on balance the right thing to do, which is a very difficult thing for a Libertarian such as myself to say. We only need to look at Sweden for proof of this. Touted by many anti-lockdowners as the success story of Europe, all is not what it seems to be from the outside.

With its test rate languishing, its death rate per-capita the highest in the world, a coup from its own experts and herd immunity still not even in sight, it is clear that copying Sweden in not enforcing a lockdown was definitely the wrong way to go.

Mainstream Media MISLEADS Public on Contributors

On a number of occasions recently, the mainstream media have been perfectly willful to pass of hard-left, anti-government activists as perfectly normal, impartial contributors. You may well remember the infamous BBC Panorama programme on PPE in hospitals, in which all of the contributors passed off as experts were hard left, historical pro-Labour activists.

For anyone who wants to argue, I would happily defend my accusation of bias in that fronting a programme with contributors who have gone on record to call all Conservatives "Privatising, War-Mongering, Immigrant-Hating Prats" and attacked the new Tory voters in the former Red Wall is a hard-left, pro-Labour position to take.

As recently as last Friday, it took five hours and multiple showings of the same interview with a contributor who was a "Primary School Teacher" for Sky News to helpfully change her description after what one imagines must have been a barrage of criticism to "Primary School Teacher and Momentum Activist" - an utterly outrageous abuse of journalistic responsibility.

Government STANDS FIRM Against Brexit Extension

Real progress has been made on this front very recently. The government has set out a comprehensive, full set of draft agreements for the EU to consider, and these can be found here. It is good to see the government sticking to its commitment to plough on and complete negotiations in time for the deadline in December, by setting out draft proposals in good time for the June deadline of assessing progress with a view to continuing to negotiate.

Equally re-assuring is the commitment to refuse to request or grant an extension to the transition period.

It has also been fantastic to see our chief negotiator standing firm in defending our interests, shown for all to see when he penned a vibrant statement to set out his assessment of the talks so far, and the talks to come.

All the while, Labour continue to fight internally over what to do, with their new leadership committing to Brexit (just about) and with the rest of the party still at war with each other over which part of Brexit they think is worse.

The Independent Group for Change DESTROYS Financial Documentation

Auditors have found that staff at the Independent Group for Change destroyed documentation in the form of financial records, in a worrying development over the past day or so. The party (rather unsuccessfully) spent over £780,000 on advertising during their brief existence, changing its name and logo multiple times.

The party was registered as a limited company in 2019, before being wound up after every single one of its MPs lost their seats in the landmark December 2019 election, "inappropriately" destroyed records whilst doing so.

Still, at least they managed a team lunch at Nandos.

It is difficult for me to imagine that history will remember them in a positive light, given what little they achieved, what not-so-little amount of money they spent to achieve it and what little support they had. Their little experiment was at best an ill-informed vanity project to offer some form of electoral alternative, at worst complete contempt for the British electorate.

Biden STUNG in Race Row

After enjoying a groundswell of support from the Democratic base and a ringing endorsement from the previous president, Joe Biden was starting to gain some traction in his campaign. He's enjoying record ratings amongst BAME voters, in the party which claims to be "the party of inclusion".

It was, therefore, worrying to see the Democrat stalwart make some very ill-advised comments over the weekend.

Donald Trump ran the last election on the premise of establishment assumption. One of the main messages was that the BAME vote was taken for granted by his Democrat opponents, and he was the best option to make a real difference. Indeed, this worked to an extent, and he returned one of the highest pro-Republican BAME figures in recent history.

With the BAME vote traditionally leaning heavily towards the Democrats, this is one group of people Joe Biden has to keep on side. Like Trump, he has a base which he has to empower, and on the whole BAME voters traditionally make up a significant part of the Democrat base.

Step forward former vice-president Biden, who said during the weekend that Black voters who consider voting for Trump over him "ain't black." It is worth noting that he has since, quite rightly apologised, but this raises more issues for him than he would like to admit.

With Black and Hispanic unemployment at record lows pre-COVID, and a strong feeling of economic capability from the US electorate, I wouldn't be surprised if Trump wins a second term later this year.

Football RETURNS across Europe

I couldn't end without mentioning this. Back is the German Bundesliga, albeit behind closed doors for now, and with it a sense of hope that we are at least starting to return to normal.

As more leagues announce plans to resume their fixtures over the coming weeks, I hope it won't be too long before we can go to our pubs, our stadiums and our friends' houses once again to bask in some elite sport and to at least partially return to our normal way of life.

Jack Rydeheard, Editor for Conservative Progress and Freelance Political Commentator and Consultant

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