This is a blog of liberal stance and independent mind
Tuesday 12 May 2020
Covid-19 - The Curse Of Dan Hodges
It had to happen: after the Mail on Sunday’s not even slightly celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges claimed in his latest lamentably poor column that the UK did not have the highest Coronavirus death toll in Europe, someone would inevitably be along soon afterwards to show he had made a dreadful mistake.
He's desperate, Dan
Hodges, after all, is the true successor to the now-retired Peter McKay as the World’s Worst Columnist, the pundit who claimed that Jeremy Corbyn would not win the Labour leadership contest in 2015, that Remain would win the 2016 EU referendum, and that Hillary Clinton would be elected the 45th President of the United States.
It took just 48 hours for The Curse Of Hodges to work its magic, and just what that magic had brought was hinted at by Leicester West MP Liz Kendall this morning, as she told of “Terrible new figures from [ONS]: 8312 #Covid_19 deaths in care homes up to week ending 1 May, up from 5890 last week. Over 40% of all #coronavirus deaths have been in care homes in recent days”. Sounds bad? There was more. And worse.
“Govt has failed to get to grips with epidemic in care homes: deaths are still rising, testing is in chaos & Govts own strategy says won’t be til 6 June that all care homes offered testing. This is unacceptable for care users and staff - and risks our wider recovery too”. Yet the Pundit Establishment was still claiming there was Nothing To See Here.
So it was that John Rentoul, the Blair fundamentalist’s Blair fundamentalist, cheerfully told his followers “Times chart of lockdowns: Spain & Italy locked down earlier and their death tolls [are] as bad as the UK’s”, linking to an article in the Murdoch Times.
But the Guardian had the actual figures: “The Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday that 35,044 deaths involving Covid-19 were registered in England and Wales up to 9 May. Adding the latest figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland and more up to date fatalities announced daily by the government that occurred in NHS settings, the total official UK death toll now stands at 40,011”. More than 40,000 deaths.
That is where Ms Kendall was looking. And that is The Curse Of Hodges in all its grim malevolence. It is why John Rentoul is plain flat wrong, and if that was the impression that Matt Chorley was trying to convey in his Times article to which Rentoul was linking, then he too is wrong. The UK has the largest Covid-19 death toll in Europe. By some distance.
To put that in a context that all those Brexiteer season ticket holders who don’t believe this virus malarkey is such a problem will more easily understand, Mike Landers has suggested “If you want to see what the #COVID-19 death toll looks like then how about comparing it to the capacity of Premier League grounds. Today we exceeded the capacity of Goodison Park”. And if the FT is right, we could have passed the Etihad Stadium.
So it was that Peter Jukes suggested to Rentoul “UK official death toll 40,111 as of today. Italy has recorded 30,739 deaths, Spain 26,744 and France 26,604, according to data collated by Johns Hopkins University (JHU). Germany has recorded 7,661 deaths. Perhaps delete or rephrase, John”. The Great Man has so far ignored that request.
When Dan Hodges says something is “factually wrong”, be afraid. Be very afraid.
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