Free school meals fight

The COVID Diaries – 199 25th October

There is a growing rebellion among Conservative MPs after a vote in Parliament last week rejected the extension of free school meals so that the provision would cover school holidays.

Senior Tory Sir Bernard Jenkin says the government doesn’t understand the strength of public feeling on the issue and the Labour opposition has threatened to force another vote on the issue if there is no change before Christmas.

Biden wins debate

The COVID Diaries – 198 23rd October

Less than two weeks before election day in the United States, Donald Trump and his challenger met for the final presidential debate. The consensus is that Biden won, although Trump was much more restrained than his disastrous and boorish performance in the first debate.

Trump found it difficult to respond to Biden’s strong case that over 222,000 Americans have died from coronavirus, in large part, because of the Trump administration’s response to the deadly disease.

Despite the revelation that Trump has a secret bank account in China and has paid far more tax there than in the United States, Trump continued to peddle unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. Perhaps the night’s most powerful moment came when Biden objected to Trump’s repeated claims that he and his son Hunter Biden improperly benefited from Biden’s previous tenure as Vice President. “It’s not about his family or my family. It’s about your family,” Mr Biden said, pointing directly at the camera. “They’re (families) in trouble. We should be talking about your families. But that’s the last thing he wants to talk about.”

Trump’s Chinese bank account

The COVID Diaries – 197 21st October

The BBC has reported:

“US President Donald Trump has a Chinese bank account and spent years pursuing business projects in the country, the New York Times has reported.

“The account is controlled by Trump International Hotels Management and paid local taxes between 2013 and 2015.

“It was set up “to explore the potential for hotel deals in Asia”, according to a Trump spokesman.

“Mr Trump has been critical of US firms doing business in China and sparked a trade war between the two countries.”

Welsh lockdown

The COVID Diaries – 195 19th October

Wales will be subject to a two week nationwide lockdown with the Welsh government announcing “sharp and deep” measures despite having the lowest rate of Covid-19 cases of the four UK nations.

First minister, Mark Drakeford, insisted the “firebreak” was needed to prevent thousands more deaths and the NHS being overwhelmed. Schools, shops, pubs and hotels will close and people will be told to stay at home

Last week it was revealed that the UK Government’s Sage advisory committee had advised of a need for a country-wide circuit breaker to avoid “catastrophic consequences”, but this had been ignored by UK ministers.

Are the polls right?

The COVID Diaries – 194 18th October

All the national polls show Joe Biden continuing to maintain a strong lead over Donald Trump in the US presidential election.

Many of the critical statewide polls in also show Biden in the lead, but some by tight margins

Predictions range from a Biden landslide through to Trump managing to sneak a narrow win through the electoral college. Early voting appears to be decisively in Biden’s favour.

But Democrats are concerned that something could still go wrong. No place for compacency. Is it too soon to hope that the Trump nightmare might be over?

400,000 new worldwide cases recorded in a single day

The COVID Diaries – 193 17th October

Global coronavirus cases rose by more than 400,000 for the first time yesterday, a record one-day increase as much of Europe enacts new restrictions to curb the outbreak.

Europe, which successfully damped down the first surge of infections, has now emerged as the new coronavirus epicentre and is reporting on average 140,000 cases a day.

Of every 100 infections reported around the world, 34 were from European countries, according to a Reuters analysis. Major European countries – the United Kingdom, France, Russia, the Netherlands and Spain – accounted for about half of Europe’s new cases this week

Biden’s ratings higher than Trump’s

The COVID Diaries – 192 16th October

Ratings obsessed Donald Trump is having to nurse his wounds after more people watched Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s town hall on Thursday night than watched the President’s, which took place at the same time. 

Following Trump’s refusal to debate with Biden after getting the coronavirus, Biden scheduled a town hall for that evening, Oct. 15, on ABC. Later, NBC News announced a town hall at the same time with Trump. 

Early data from ratings group Nielsen shows that Biden’s town hall, which aired on one network, captured about 13.9 million viewers. Meanwhile, Trump’s, which aired on three channels at once — NBC, CNBC and MSNBC  — achieved about 13.1 million.  

Canaries in the coalmine

The COVID Diaries – 191 15th October

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham says he will not accept his city being used “as canaries in the coalmine for an experimental regional lockdown strategy”. He went on to claim that the government’s own medical advisers did not think the policy would work.

Boris Johnson’s approach to tackling the coronavirus has descended into chaos after mayors and MPs from the north-west of the country emphatically rejected being moved into the highest lockdown level and accused ministers of treating the region with contempt.

Talks designed to broker an agreement ended with bitter and angry exchanges, deepening a north-south rift that has left the government’s strategy of tiered restrictions in turmoil.

Record numbers vote

The COVID Diaries – 190 14th October

American voters are turning out in record numbers to take advantage of early voting in the 2020 presidential election.

A record 14 million have already voted in the general election and in key swing states such as Florida more than 2 million voters have already cast their ballots.

“The numbers are pretty staggering for us and the return rates and the polling look good,” Steve Schale, a Democratic strategist in Florida was quoted as saying. “But there’s just a lot we don’t know.”

In Georgia, residents waited for as long as eight hours to exercise their democratic right. Many took to social media to share their experiences with early voting, noting lines of voters spanning several city blocks or school parking lots.