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Okay Priti, read the script, then answer the questions - got that ?

No. 10 press conference, Saturday 11/4. The format is familiar now. A senior politician flanked by one or two experts.

Unfortunately the senior politician was Priti Patel. Whoever thought it was a good idea to put her out must be kicking themselves now.  

Reading from a script she got off to a bad start, the summary of the key numbers went badly wrong. These are important numbers but this is what we got: "as of 9am today three hundred thousand and thirty four, nine hundred and seventy four thousand tests have been carried out across the UK excluding Northern Ireland". No hesitation, just carried on. Just like in February when she vowed (at least four times) to tackle "counter terrorism". Did that crazy number on Saturday sound right ?  Not to us, but apparently it was fine to the Home Sec. !! Onwards and upwards....

So that's three hundred thousand and thirty four, nine hundred and seventy four thousand according to Priti. I haven't seen the script, but it's possible that it just had the numbers like this 334,974, that's the number. Three hundred and thirty four thousand, nine hundred and seventy four if you like. Not hard is it ? 
But there again we're not the Home Secretary.

Back in the room, things didn't get any better.

The script came to an end and it was time for questions from the journalists (sited at various remote locations). 

A chance for Priti to stretch out and ad lib with her extensive lexicon of evasive crap. 

First up, for the BBC, David Shukman,  he wanted to know whether she (on behalf of of the government) could commit to a date when all the PPE required at the frontline would actually be delivered ?

Three or four minutes of guff: Strategy...plan...Secretary of State for Health....absolutely the government is across multi agencies, Police, Fire, Prisons ... and we've absolutely secured our supply chain...

The BBC correspondent bravely tried again - asking for a date. More guff: I can't speak for every strand...... the plan has been outlined... Bolster...Boost....Unprecedented...can I move on to the next question please ?

No date then, not even close, not even talking about the right subject for much of this so called answer. If the BBC correspondent answered "No" to her "Can I move on ?" we didn't hear him. Nor could we see him, but he was probably seeking solace by repeatedly head-butting his well appointed bookcase.

Next up,  in this increasingly pointless charade of question non-answering: 

Inigo Gilmore, Channel 4. "Home Secretary, will you apologise to NHS staff and their families who've told us it's the lack of PPE that's led to preventable mass infections and many deaths ?"

Another poignant and concise question.

Turbo guff from the Home Sec., word for word this is what she said: "Well I think it's, I mean look, absolutely we are focussed as a government across all departments to make sure that everyone in the NHS has everything they need in terms of resources and equipment and PPE is at the heart of that, obviously it is absolutely the heart of protecting everybody who is working night and day, right now, to save lives, to save lives and prevent further deaths. Now as you've already heard from Stephen, you've heard from the Secretary of State for Health as well and over a number of occasions and just standing here yesterday, that there is a clear plan when it comes to PPE in the NHS, there have been distribution issues, those issues have now been addressed through working with the military, who are absolutely triaging and getting the supplies out to the front line, but at the same time there is an enormous effort, a Herculuan (sic) effort, right now, in terms of bolstering up our manufacturing capability and capacity, we've already heard Stephen refer to some big companies like Rolls Royce and also Burberry who are upping their own production and stepping into this area, so our priority is absolutely to make sure they are equipped, they are resourced at the front line of the NHS and what I would say to you is that this government and all colleagues are committed to doing that and we are working day and night, we're bring in new resources, new support staff, the MoD, other government departments working with new businesses and other partners to make sure that not only can we get the supply out to people but that we're also boosting our own supplies in the UK."

Inigo, Channel 4 correspondent tried again: "But no apology Home Secretary for these failings which NHS staff and their families blame on the government ?"

So here she goes - word for word again: "Well I'm sorry if people feel that there have been failings, I'll be very, very clear about that, but at the same time we are in an unprecedented global health pandemic, right now, it is inevitable that the demand and pressures on PPE and the demand for PPE are going to be exponential, they're going to be incredibly high and of course we are trying to address that as a government and I think that is right, that is our priority, Matt Hancock as Secretary of State for Health has spoken about this repeatedly through the plan that he has outlined and obviously the ways in which we want to do much more to manufacture our own PPE in this country while we also boost our own supplies from overseas partners and countries where more PPE is coming into the country but also ensuring that the distribution which is unprecedented, right now, in terms of healthcare settings whether it's hospitals, GP surgeries, care homes, everyone needs that PPE on the front line and everyone is working to achieve just that, whether it's through the Department of Health, through the Cabinet Office, through Public Health England, through Health and Safety, through the guidance and resources we're trying to get out there."

Inigo, doggedly sticking to his task (and no relief in bookcase form anywhere in sight): "...to be clear you are apologising for the lack of PPE which has led to mass infections and deaths of several nurses and doctors ?"

P.P. verbatim again: "I have been very clear in what I have just said and d'you know I'm sorry people feel that way but I do want to say at the same time that we are doing everything within our power and our means when it comes to PPE and to make sure that we can get capacity, PPE out to the frontline in the NHS. Thank you." 

So in summary...

The first question asked for a date when the NHS frontline would have all the appropriate PPE. Answer: No date was given.

In the second question asked for an apology for a lack of PPE which has caused preventable infections and deaths.
Answers: Well I'm sorry that people feel that there have been failings and d'you know I'm sorry people feel that way.

Is that a proper apology ? No, nowhere near, OK it's got the word sorry in it, but misses the point completely. Being sorry for the people feeling there have been failings is not the same as apologising for the failings (and subsequent infections and deaths). That's what's needed.

I didn't think I'd ever say this: "Come back soon Boris and take control"





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