The flaws of Boris Johnson, Britain’s jokey PM, have been highlighted through the Brexit saga, and he has many haters. Fine material you might think for Tom Bower, the UK’s pre-eminent investigative muckraker, notorious for coruscating biographies of Richard Branson, Robert Maxwell and Jeremy Corbyn.
But funnily enough he hasn’t made that much of a splash with Boris Johnson The Gambler published in the midst of the UK’s Covid epidemic at the end of last year.
It’s not that Bower shuns the negative. He scrupulously documents the driving ambition, rhetorical evasion, monumental self-centeredness, serial infidelity and inability to buy a round.
But these traits are not entirely absent from many leading politicians. And Johnson managed to emerge through the pages as a ferociously intelligent and curiously likeable character, who pulls off these stunts more colourfully and successfully than most.
Indeed, Boris’s enemies tend to suffer in the comparison. Former PM, Theresa May is portrayed as an over-promoted machiavel; while the head of the Foreign Office, Simon Macdonald, comes across as unctuous and incompetent. The next-door neighbours who snitched to the press on Boris’s domestic rows appear as uptight ideologues, determined to expose “the ugly edifice of capitalist heteropatriachy’”.
We are sure Tourism Minister Stuart Nash thought it was big deal, when he announced details of how businesses can apply for help under two initiatives from the $200 million Tourism Communities: Support, Recovery and Re-set Plan announced in May.
On the other side of the political divide, National’s tourism spokesman, Todd McClay, harrumphed that this was a “reannouncing” of a business support scheme for some South Island regions which provides nothing new for struggling tourism operators.
More particularly, McClay reminded the Minister that much of the country will be dropping to Alert Level Three late tonight. This does not mean a return to business as usual.
“Biden’s Debacle”: The Economist said it all with those words on its cover page headline last week. The Guardian Weekly chimed in with “So Long: The End of the American Century”.
In its editorial, The Economist said:
“If the propagandists of the Taliban had scripted the collapse of the 20-year mission to reshape Afghanistan , they could not have come up with more harrowing images….Afghans were left in such a horrifying bind that clinging to the wheels of a hurtling aircraft seemed their best option.
But it’s worth noting that the UK commentators seem to be excising the prefix ‘free’ from the ‘trade agreement’, perhaps reflecting better understanding that these days there is no free trade without a substantial regulatory component.
While NZ’s producers will no doubt be grateful if they get an Australian-style phased reduction of tariffs and quotas as has been briefed, the non-tariff/quota regulatory barriers will be just as important in the long run.
That at least would seem to be the view of the eminent organ, the Irish Farmers Journal, in its assessment of the currently-fraught implementation of free trade arrangements between the EU, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain (ie, the UK minus Northern Ireland).
We commend social issues commentator Lindsay Mitchell, who tirelessly digs up data that put a different perspective on matters reported by mainstream media or brings government policy and its implementation into question.
Two splendid examples have been posted on her blog in the past few days.
One post (using graphs to underscore the argument) contends the progress of Māori social and economic indicators that has occurred under the process of colonisation stands in stark contrast to the constant barrage of contrary claims
The latest Covid lockdown has delivered a sharp jab to many NZ businesses, but not what they had been encouraged to think our wellbeing-focused government was planning for them. It has taken the gloss off what might otherwise have been regarded as a strong reporting season for NZX-listed companies.
The spike in coronavirus cases has led to NZ falling 26 places in Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Rank.
We had been the longest-running first-ranked country on the Bloomberg watch-list, since the inception of the ranking in November 2020. The plunge follows the spread of the Delta variant in Auckland and Wellington, which (when we checked yesterday) has resulted in 347 people testing positive for the virus across Auckland and Wellington.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says lockdown is starting to work and she insists she is acting on the “best advice” in keeping the whole country locked down until Wednesday, when there will be a slight easing with the rest of the country south of Auckland moving to level 3.
One of two ministerial announcements posted on The Beehive website over the past two days was denounced by the SAFE animal rights group in a statement headed Mud farming continues in the South Island.
Federated farmers headed their press statement Pragmatism finally prevails on winter grazing.
The tone struck in the headline on the Government’s press statement was much more in harmony with the feds’ statement than the SAFE one. It read Proposed intensive winter grazing regulations updates are more practical for farmers.
It was posted on The Beehive website along with news about the end of NZ Defence Force evacuation flights from Kabul.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Defence Minister Peeni Henare said the last flight by a New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) C-130 Hercules evacuating people from Afghanistan’s capital Kabul landed back in the United Arab Emirates last night, prior to reports of explosions at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
The Ardern government is clinging to its Covid elimination strategy, even as the Ministry of Health is looking at the need for booster shots for those who were vaccinated six months ago.
A new study by researchers in Britain has found that protection offered by the Pfizer vaccine, which is 88% effective in the first month, begins to fade within five to six months of the second injection. By then it is only 74% effective The Astra-Zeneca vaccine is only 67% effective after about five months.
New Zealand’s Director-General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, today confirmed officials are considering booster injections for those who received their Pfizer vaccines in February, March and April.
Among NZ experts there has been debate on whether booster shots would be necessary. They agree the Pfizer vaccine is highly effective at preventing serious disease, hospitalisation and death.