Boris Johnson should say sorry for social care ‘ignorance’ – Tom Richmond

Boris Johnson spoke out about care homes during a visit to the Siemens rail plant in Goole on Monday.Boris Johnson spoke out about care homes during a visit to the Siemens rail plant in Goole on Monday.
Boris Johnson spoke out about care homes during a visit to the Siemens rail plant in Goole on Monday.
BORIS Johnson is clearly not going to apologise for his intemperate remarks about care homes – and their management – during the Coivd-19 pandemic.

Downing Street’s inner circle don’t want the Opposition or media to dictate terms, hence the absence of contrition over Dominic Cummings, Robert Jenrick and other scandals.

But Mr Johnson should, without doubt, be saying sorry for his complete ignorance over carers and how this 
army of 1.6 million people put their own health, and safety, risk to care for their residents.

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And he should be apologising for misleading the British public on the steps of 10 Downing Street on July 24 last year – the day that he became Prime Minister.

Boris Johnson promised to reform social care when he became PM. He's failed to do so.Boris Johnson promised to reform social care when he became PM. He's failed to do so.
Boris Johnson promised to reform social care when he became PM. He's failed to do so.

This is what he said: “I am announcing now...that we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared to give every older person the dignity and security they deserve.”

Now compare those words with what Mr Johnson said during his visit to the Siemens high-speed rail plant in Goole. “One of the things the crisis has shown is we need to think about how we organise our social care package better,” he said.

Note the PM made no reference whatsoever to the “clear plan” that he spoke about 12 months ago – what’s happened to it or did it, as I suspect, never exist?

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And then his comments on the Covid response: “We discovered too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures...”

Boris Johnson looked fatigued during his visit to the Siemens rail plant in Goole.Boris Johnson looked fatigued during his visit to the Siemens rail plant in Goole.
Boris Johnson looked fatigued during his visit to the Siemens rail plant in Goole.

What ‘procedures’? Alok Sharma, the Business Secretary, gave the game away when he said that no one knew what the “correct procedures” were.

All I know is that care home staff – and their managers – performed miracles without adequate PPE equipment (NHS hospitals took precedence). It was the same when Covid patients were discharged from hospitals into their care; they did not flinch.

Yet, while it will be for a subsequent public inquiry to apportion culpability, it does not excuse Mr Johnson’s contemptuous arrogance, and blundering buckpassing, when I suspect he has never stepped foot inside a care home since becoming PM and has no idea of the issues.

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If he’s to be taken more seriously, I suggest that he spends a week living and working in such a home and then he might be slightly better informed in the future. That is if he is up for the job. And I’ll be truly sorry if he’s not.

TALKING of social care, I recently reported Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s view that reform would require a cross-party consensus. Now Liz Kendall, Labour’s Shadow Care Minister, has suggested likewise.

Future accountability – and scrutiny – demands that her comments go on the record. “We cannot kick the issue of long-term reform of social care into the long grass any longer,” she said.

One question – who is ready, willing and able to bring the two parties together?

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THE passing of landmark legislation to recognise children as victims of domestic abuse shows parties can work together.

It also saw Labour front bencher Jess Phillips tell the story about the visit of Theresa May, the then Home Secretary, to a refuge where she was worked.

“I was allowed to work from home that day for shame that I might show up the organisation with the Home Secretary there,” she told MPs. “She visited where I used to work on a number of occasions and has always been, I would say, mostly in the right place around domestic abuse. We would not be here today had it not been for her efforts.”

If only more people saw Mrs May’s empathy when she became PM – I still believe history will be more kind to her.

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THE Shadow Chancellor always has a thankless task when they have to respond to a major economic statement – and Anneliese Dodds was no exception.

Yet she did herself few favours in the Commons, and subsequent interviews, when she acknowledged the merit of some of Rishi Sunak’s measures before adding caveats.

You can tell when they’re coming – they were invariably preceded by the word ‘but’ and left people doubting her sincerity, credibility or Labour’s ability to spend public money more wisely in the future. If Labour are to win back public confidence, and it is right that a politician as astute as Mr Sunak is held up to strong scrutiny by his opponents, Ms Dodds needs to up her game. No ifs or...

THE Yorkshire Post has long maintained that there needs to be a dedicated Minister for the Coast and Flooding to co-ordinate policy.

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This has been made even more prescient by the Government’s ineffective response to floods in the North and the Covid jobs crisis facing our resorts.

Now Maritime UK is on the case. At the outset of Seafarers Awareness Week, its chair Harry Theochari said: “A Minister for the Coastal Powerhouse would help turbo-charge our coastal communities.

“Coastal communities have been some of the hardest hit in this crisis, and we need accountability to ensure the ‘left behind’ are not left behind once more.”

Hear, hear.

FINALLY Rishi Sunak was criticised after being pictured with am Ember Travel Mug, which retails for up to £179.95 online as he finalised his economic statement.

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Evidently it helps keep tea – or coffee – warm. Given the number of brews I make which then go cold because of various distractions, it looks like an eminently sensible use of the Chancellor’s time.

Especially if Yorkshire Tea is his drink of choice.

Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

Almost certainly you are here because you value the quality and the integrity of the journalism produced by The Yorkshire Post’s journalists - almost all of which live alongside you in Yorkshire, spending the wages they earn with Yorkshire businesses - who last year took this title to the industry watchdog’s Most Trusted Newspaper in Britain accolade.

And that is why I must make an urgent request of you: as advertising revenue declines, your support becomes evermore crucial to the maintenance of the journalistic standards expected of The Yorkshire Post. If you can, safely, please buy a paper or take up a subscription. We want to continue to make you proud of Yorkshire’s National Newspaper but we are going to need your help.

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Sincerely. Thank you.

James Mitchinson


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