back to article Brit MPs blast Baroness Dido Harding's performance as head of NHS Test and Trace

Baroness Dido Harding's tenure as head of NHS Test and Trace – a vital plank of the UK's COVID-19 pandemic response – has been given a damning verdict by a committee of MPs. The former CEO of TalkTalk – dubbed by El Reg as Queen of Carnage for her role in the company's 2015 mega-breach – was responsible for NHS Test and Trace …

  1. Naselus

    The ultimate poster-girl for failing upwards does it again

    1. Halfmad
      Coffee/keyboard

      Plenty of poster boys like that in politics too.

      Sh!t floats.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Trollface

      "It clearly failed on its own terms"

      And now she'll be able to sing : I did it myyyyyy waaaaaaayyyyy !

    3. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Wouldn't it be equally appropriate to blame the 2,300 consultants and contractors who were unable to deliver a usefully functioning system?

      1. Hogbert

        You may not expect a lot from your fellow countrymen, and you probably know better than I, but a certain percentage of them should have at least accidentally achieved something.

        Health IT continues to absorb the most astonishing budgets while appearing to produce nothing it. News headlines at 6.

        1. John Jennings Silver badge

          give me enough monkeys and enough type writers.....

      2. Naselus

        No, I don't think it's equally appropriate. They deserve some blame, but the idiot who hired them is ultimately responsible for pissing a vast amount of money up the wall hiring a group of people who couldn't deliver. Literally the whole point of her position was to be responsible for finding, hiring and managing people who could deliver it.

        The only people more deserving of blame for the fiasco are Matt Hancock, for deciding that the correct person to handle a vital effort for responding to a life-threatening national disaster was 'my chum from the jockey club', and Boris Johnson for appointing Matt Hancock to a position where he could make that decision.

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          re: Matt Hancock

          The aforementioned Matt Hancock has now been appointed UN spacial envoy to help African countries recover from Covid:

          https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/oct/12/matt-hancock-appointed-un-special-envoy-to-help-covid-recovery-in-africa

          "Matt Hancock has announced he has been appointed a special representative to the United Nations. The former health secretary will focus on helping African countries recover from Covid-19."

      3. Chris G Silver badge

        That depends on what the consultants were asked to do.

        Typically when hiring any kind of expert, there are a set of parameters to describe what is required and some kind of guidance.

        In this instance, having a 'boss' who has no experience in the realm of track and trace I suspect the parameters were along the lines of 'Build me a track and trace system' .

        What really bothers me, is where is the accountability for such a vast sum spent so quickly?

  2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

    The report says that the government shouldn't have listened to the scientists.

    I'm not sure how neutral this document really is.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Scientists in general or a particular group?

      1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge
        Facepalm

        “In the first three months the strategy reflected official scientific advice to the Government which was accepted and implemented. When the Government moved from the ‘contain’ stage to the ‘delay’ stage, that approach involved trying to manage the spread of covid through the population rather than to stop it spreading altogether […] The fact that the UK approach reflected a consensus between official scientific advisers and the Government indicates a degree of groupthink that was present at the time which meant we were not as open to approaches being taken elsewhere as we should have been.”

        “We accept that it is difficult to challenge a widely held scientific consensus. But accountability in a democracy depends on elected decision-makers taking advice, but examining, questioning and challenging it before making their own decisions.”

        ie: Government is at fault because the experts were wrong.

        1. codejunky Silver badge
          Devil

          @Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

          "ie: Government is at fault because the experts were wrong."

          Are they saying we shouldnt trust the experts?

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: @Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

            Not experts that have been put on the committee because they agree with the government plan

            1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

              Re: @Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

              SAGE is chock full of people who actively want the government to fail.

              There's literally a (former?) member of the communist party of GB on SAGE.

              They weren't hand picked for their loyalty.

              1. Warm Braw Silver badge

                Re: @Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

                There's literally a (former?) member of the communist party of GB on SAGE.

                There's literally a former member of the Revolutionary Communist Party and publisher of Living Marxism who was ennobled by Boris Johnson for her services to Brexit and hence can now shape our laws.

                1. Mike Richards Silver badge

                  Re: @Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

                  And another LM alumnus working as an advisor inside Number 10.

                  1. Warm Braw Silver badge

                    Re: @Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

                    Indeed. It seems that the communists who aren't actively seeking the downfall of the government by opposing it are actually conspiring in its downfall by enthusiastically inciting it to further idiocy. It's a cunning plan.

                2. Lars Silver badge
                  Happy

                  Re: @Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

                  There is also former "Red Rupert" in the background.

                  "Murdoch studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Worcester College, Oxford in England, where he kept a bust of Lenin in his rooms and came to be known as "Red Rupert". He was a member of the Oxford University Labour Party,[20]: 34 [25] stood for Secretary of the Labour Club."

            2. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: @Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

              @Yet Another Anonymous coward

              "Not experts that have been put on the committee because they agree with the government plan"

              Yet those were the 'experts' Gove railed against hence the quote.

              1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

                Re: @Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

                Gove claimed that people were tired of "experts who are wrong". At which point I wanted the interviewer/chairperson to ask him "Are you an expert on anything, Mr Gove?"

                1. codejunky Silver badge

                  Re: @Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

                  @Eclectic Man

                  The full quote being: I think the people in this country have had enough of experts from organisations with acronyms saying that they know what is best and getting it consistently wrong.

                  We went from complaining 'experts' wernt listened to for brexit to complaining the wrong experts were listened to over Covid.

          2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

            Re: @Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

            The experts you're talking about - economists - exists to make horoscope writers look good.

            If you can't trust epidemiologists on epidemiology and behaviouralists on public behaviour ( ie: will they do lockdown if told, how long for ), then your next best option is to roll a dice.

            The report is just nonsense.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

              "The report is just nonsense."

              Err ... no. The high-level outline/list of failings seems to be about what I'd expect, based upon what I'd been saying and had seen in the media over the last 18 months (e.g. experts on Newsnight, etc).

              There have been very definite failings (e.g. doctors working in PPE made from bin-liners), and they all seem to be listed ...

              1. Lon24 Silver badge

                Re: @Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

                Expertise is a diverse field. We had the data (from Italy and elsewhere). We had the epidemiologists who were trying to fit this data into their models which 'understood' how known virus' spread. Then there were the stochastic modellers who hadn't a clue about epidemiology only what the raw data was showing and that was surprisingly consistent across countries despite different measuring systems.

                The difference was 2 weeks and 4 weeks before the crunch came to the UK. That's because the virus inconveniently didn't behave as it should so many of the epidemiologists' assumptions were wrong (asymptotic v symptomatic symptoms spread - airborne v surface). Hence they got their forecasts wrong - whereas the stochastic forecasters got it right (because they were not making any assumptions) at the beginning. Of course things switch round as we learnt more about the behaviour.

                The issue is those making the decisions are not especially numerate and able to see who is more likely to be right when. SAGE probably needed a few more expert mavericks too but the nature of appointment and process is likely to lead to committee-ised groupthink.

                Experts are going to make mistakes and politicians will dump on those. But in the long run experts are more likely to get more right. Oh, and are more open to accepting failure and learning from it. Actually that is how you become an 'expert'!

                1. Lon24 Silver badge

                  Re: @Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

                  I should add before I get eaten by the epidemiolgists here - that when an innumerate politician is being told 2 or 4 weeks by different people to the crunch they should probably settle for 3. Instead they went for 5 turning what would have been bad into an unnecessary and forseeable catastrophy.

                  Praise to epidemiologist Ferguson's breaking ranks to publish famous paper which finally shamed the government into even that very late shutdown.

        2. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

          Alternative translation: we want to blame the government so here's how we do that.

          I wonder if these are the same people who accept the climate change scientific consensus totally and without question?

          1. Mooseman Silver badge

            "I wonder if these are the same people who accept the climate change scientific consensus totally and without question?"

            Are you suggesting that climate change (accepted by 99% of the world's scientific community) is somehow not real?

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              "Are you suggesting that climate change (accepted by 99% of the world's scientific community) is somehow not real?"

              Interestingly, in another post on the topic of rockets, specifically the Challenger disaster, someone posted that real engineers will only say they are certain if it's 100%. 99.5% only mean "probably". The poster was roundly upvoted for that comment.

              FWIW I'm not denying climate change here, just pointing out the similarity in the numbers in two quite different situations and the different response to those numbers :-)

          2. Lon24 Silver badge

            Of course even if 99% say it's real you should still question it. If 99% are decent scientists then they will have questioned it too and failed to show it is untrue.

            You may be that one brilliant person who can show the 99% are wrong.

            But you have to show it. So far, no one has (scientifically). But if you believe in proof by assertion then we can maybe usefully re-purpose scientists as telephone sanitisers.

      2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Scientists and Science

        The issue here is the understanding of Science and the scientific method.

        There is a popular misconception that Science is absolute. It's not.

        Science is about trying to come up with theories and hypotheses that explain observed behavior, and then to try and knock each theory down. If a theory survives, then it is accepted to be the best description of what is happening (or maybe if more than one theory still stands, that we don't yet fully understand the situation). As additional experiments and observations are gathered, then a theory may fall, and be replaced by another. But it needs time and data for a theory to be accepted or rejected.

        In the case of Covid, the Scientists were being asked to come up with theories based on almost no data or information. There was a wide set of theories that were put forward by different members of the scientific community, some of which favored an early lock down, and some of which didn't. IIRC, this division included members of SAGE.

        A lot of the limited data they were working from was for other infections that we already knew about, particularly about large-scale flu outbreaks, for which plans were already in place. It turns out that Covid is/was a different beast.

        I suspect that the members of the Government cherry-picked the theories that supported their preferred course of action. and put the Chief Scientific Advisor on the spot to explain the decisions.

        It is inconceivable that someone who knows about the Scientific Method would blame the scientists who were working in an information vacuum, but we are talking about a report written by a committee made up largely of politicians, many of whom may have an axe to grind with the current government. But then again. the statement "following the science" which was trotted out by many mouth-pieces was a pretty much meaningless statement in the circumstances for anybody who listened to what was going on.

        With hindsight, we may be able to come up with more accurate theories about Covid, but hindsight is no help when trying to work out a problem as it happens.

        1. Allonymous Coward

          Re: Scientists and Science

          One reason given for New Zealand's more successful approach to locking down is that they were a few weeks behind and had at least some evidence from the rest of the world about the best approach.

          1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

            Re: Scientists and Science

            And they didn't have millions of lorries coming across the English Channel every day.

            Britain in practice isn't much of an island like New Zealand and Australia are.

            1. Lars Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: Scientists and Science

              "Britain in practice isn't much of an island ".

              Very true, it's indeed the English Channel not the English Sea, then again what about the people.

              The first proposal for a tunnel was French, the first proposal for a bridge was English.

        2. da39a3ee5e6b4b0d3255bfef95601890afd80709
          Mushroom

          Re: Scientists and Science

          Really sorry, but when Sprocket and Clunk (Whitty and Vallance) put that "exponential graph" up during a 6pm briefing with the PM, they took ownership of the fear and doubt that has been deliberately spread across our population. It has also eroded to dangerous levels our trust in government. We are seeing it in the vaccination numbers in England for 12-15 yo children, who do not need the vaccine. This is supported by the data, which puts the incidence of adverse effects of the vaccine higher than the incidence of adverse effects of contracting and dealing with COVID-19 in that age group. Gubbermint needs to stop nannying us, and start sharing real data, without interpretation. They're at it again with "60,000 will die from flu because we made you lockdown" - Prof Van Tam, not his wording, obviously. It saddens me that Dido still gets asked to manage anything requiring a secure operating model. In the private sector, wouldn't happen.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Scientists and Science

            YOU WANT THE DATA. YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE DATA!

            The problem is that most people really can't handle the raw data. The population in general have never been given the statistical tools to take meaningful information from the data, and many of those that did study maths in sufficient detail have forgotten it.

            Take my wife (please take her away, she's driving me crazy!) She looks at the day-to-day figures for infections, hospitalizations and deaths, and makes ridiculous statements. I had to explain to her the meaning and purpose of the rolling seven day average several times before she understood it. And she doesn't understand what exponential vs. linear growth is, or how it can be either a good or a bad thing depending on how the growth reflects other figures

            I'm not saying that the presentation of the data was good. It wasn't. They engaged in my biggest bugbear of truncated axies on graphs, when they bothered to put labels on the graphs at all. And if you try to check, the figures published on the gov.uk websites, if you could find it, was often different from the headline figures that they put in the briefings, with no explanation why they were different. And they rarely left the graphs up for long enough to work out what they meant, and often put important information where it would be obscured by the speaker, or by the information that was added to the screen by the BBC.

            There was some nudge behavior manipulation. Before the vaccines came along, it paid them to indicate things to try to get the people to stay indoors. When the vaccines were around, it also paid them to emphasize data that showed the positive effect of the vaccines, and to try to get people to come forward for it. When the vaccination rate started falling, it again paid them to emphasize the infection rates in the groups that were slowest to take it up.

            But all this is expected. They have an agenda, and it's one that they're not trying to hide, to get as much of the population vaccinated as possible.

            When it comes to the under 18's, the purely scientific advice was marginal. The non-scientists then applied economic arguments, and that is was what persuaded them to start vaccinating young people.

            And I think that the figures showed that that was the right decision, as while they were considering what was happening, young people were almost certainly one of the vectors for infections being taken into families. It matches the "pingdemic" period, which was preventing people from working because members of their household caught it, and businesses started closing down because of lack of staff. It wasn't the effect of the young people suffering from it, but their effect on other people.

            By just looking at the young people themselves, you're ignoring the part of the argument that tipped the decision away from the purely scientific advice.

            I am one of the people harmed by the AZ vaccine, and I still say that everybody should be vaccinated where possible.

          2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

            Re: Scientists and Science

            @da39atinfoilhatravingloon

            Selective interpretation of the facts mark you out as a rabid anti-vaxxer and I claim my £5. Can't you go back to weather forecasting Piers?

            It's a matter of public record that for 12-15 yo's the clinical outcomes are finely balanced, and hence why the recommendation by the JCVI said the benefits were marginal (not what you are saying at all).

            The 4 CMO's took into account that kids would miss school and also tend to pass the virus on. This was what swung it into "single jab" territory.

            Facts rather than your sub-facebook internet bullshit below.

            https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/sep/14/uk-covid-vaccinations-for-children-aged-12-15-what-you-need-to-know

        3. Eclectic Man Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Scientists and Science - Hindsight

          Peter Gathercole: "With hindsight, we may be able to come up with more accurate theories about Covid, but hindsight is no help when trying to work out a problem as it happens."

          The response of the government to the select committees' report seems to be that it is all 'hindsight' and HMG could not have done any better, so no need for any apology. Amol Rajan on the BBC Radio 4 'Today' program pointed out that the second lockdown was delayed by 6 weeks from when first proposed by SAGE in September to finally being started in November. The Tory minister simply would not have it and could not answer the question, so just waffled on about 'hindsight'.

          I have rarely been more disappointed by a government minister (of any party) failing to address plain facts. Even Nick Clegg (remember him?) did apologise for raising university tuition fees, but after well over 100,000 deaths (and counting) and innumerable long-Covid cases this government finds admitting any failure or mistakes impossible.

          1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Re: Scientists and Science - Hindsight

            You and Amil Rajan are engaging in hindsight even in what you have said.

            If deaths are all that were important, you may be completely right, but SAGE rarely consider the economic arguments. It may be the case that the number of deaths would have been reduced, but it may also be the case that many, many more businesses may have been unable to weather the storm.

            It's still the case, now that loans have to be paid back and VAT must be paid, that significant numbers of businesses will fold over the winter, because they've spent all their reserves surviving this far, but haven't got the money to invest in the Christmas stock that they need to get to Easter next year. Expect the number of businesses to fail to increase after Christmas.

            This whole thing is not over yet by a long way, and we won't be able to study the complete picture until it is either over, or becomes a new normal state.

            1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

              Re: Scientists and Science - Hindsight

              @Peter Gathercole

              My complaint was that the minister failed to address the issue as raised by Amol Rajan, and complained that the select committees' report criticisms were all hindsight. Rajan pointed out that HMG did not seem to have learnt anything form the delay to the first lockdown that informed their thinking and action regarding the second lockdown. So, in essence 'in hindsight, HMG should have learnt from the experience of the first lockdown so that the second lockdown was done at an appropriate time.'

              The fact that the second lockdown happened and lasted so long was in part due to the delay of 6 weeks from being advised to have an early, short, lockdown to break the transmission of the virus in September 2020, but waiting until November 2020. The longer lockdown caused business much more problems than a shorter lockdown would have done.

              SAGE specifically comprises scientific experts on epidemics and disease, their remit excludes consideration of economic effects, so SAGE is not meant to consider economic arguments. See https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/scientific-advisory-group-for-emergencies/about for more details.

              Oh and as for:

              "It may be the case that the number of deaths would have been reduced, but it may also be the case that many, many more businesses may have been unable to weather the storm."

              Are you volunteering to die to save someone else's business? If not, who are you prepared to sacrifice?

    2. Julian 8

      I don't Boris did as he missed the first 5 COBRA meetings on Covid

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      It was written by 2 tory ex ministers. We're lucky it got published - if only to delay a public enquiry.

      1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

        Remember that you typed "ex" there.

        Hunt isn't a fan of Boris. I can't remember who the other chap was.

        1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

          He may not be a fan of Boris, but he was famous for his incompetence long before Boris.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I'm not sure how neutral this document really is."

      The two committees authoring it were chaired by former Conservative MPs, so it's not like it was written by Labour.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Don't forget that Boris split the Tories in order to get Brexit through the commons.

        What he did was a mockery of democracy, forcing constituency parties to deselect the Tory MPs who were voting against the Brexit plans. He made a lot of enemies, and it's going to come back and bite him at some point (as the Northern Ireland Protocol shows - it was never, ever going to work as it was written).

        I think that come the next election, we're either going to see a spin-off Tory group get organised, or some of the previously deselected candidates will come back into the party.

        I actually don't see Boris as Prime Minister after the next election.

  3. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese
    Facepalm

    Share the blame

    I think some of the blame needs to be levelled at whoever thought it was a good idea to appoint her to the role. The fact that T&T was under the watch of someone who had been in charge during such a monumental data breach in a previous position, and had handled it so badly, was the key factor in me deciding not to use the T&T app.

    1. Fazal Majid

      Re: Share the blame

      Wasn't it Matt Hancock, who also wanted to promote her to be the head of the NHS, until he was sacked for philandering rather than gross incompetence?

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Share the blame

        until he was sacked for philandering rather than gross incompetence?

        He wasn't sacked for philandering; he was sacked for hypocritically breaking the social distancing rule his department was espousing. Someone so vocally dedicated to the introduction of apps for everything should have realised the potential for someone else's app to be watching him.

        1. Red Ted Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Share the blame

          Matt Hancock had got him self in to a nice position, because he couldn't be fired by BJ (who seems not to be good at firing people in the first place), because BJ would then be agreeing what Dominic Cummings had said.

          Mysteriously, a few weeks later, a leak of internal security camera footage occurs that shows MH to not be following the social distancing rules he so thoroughly espoused and he has to resign.

          1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

            Re: Share the blame

            The other way of looking at it was that Hancock was performing badly in public ( eg: the fake crying weirdness ), but Boris couldn't sack him because that would say "our handling of the NHS has been poor".

            And then the video leaks, Boris gets to get rid of Hancock without the opposition being able to present it as an admission of failure.

            My theory was always that Boris loyalists leaked it.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Share the blame

              Too bad that theory is wrong. Clown Boris wanted to keep Hancock in post so he could be sacked and carry the can for Boris's many failings once the Covid inquiry reports. However the video of Hancock's rumpy-pumpy made his position untenable. Which meant he's been replaced with another useless duffer that Boris can throw under the bus when the time comes.

              1. Claverhouse Silver badge

                Re: Share the blame

                It is also possible that a prime minister of unimpeachable moral probity was utterly shocked by wanton sexual escapades of someone he had appointed --- which could also reflect on his own world-beating good judgement.

              2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

                Re: Share the blame

                That's clearly nonsense.

                If Boris fires Hancock for being bad at his job, that is an admission that government did a bad job. That sticks to Boris.

                If Hancock gets fired for something other than that, then Boris gets to get rid of him, and the stick he was making with his public performances, without consequence.

          2. Rich 11 Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Share the blame

            fired by BJ

            I've been fired by letter and by text but thankfully never by BJ. That would be at best a bittersweet moment.

            1. Kane Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: Share the blame

              "I've been fired by letter and by text but thankfully never by BJ. That would be at best a bittersweet moment."

              Depends what you had for dinner the night before.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Share the blame

            I am so sorry, I could not read past paragraph 1

            I was thinking of Hancock (pfwharr Pfnarr) 'in a nice position {leterally!} with 'fired by BJ' (phwharr Pfnarr) and Cummings (Pfwharr Pfnarr) in the same sentence!!!!

            I miss Vizz

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: he was sacked for hypocritically breaking

          I doubt this hypocrisy ever was / is / will be high on Boris' agenda (or any politician's for that matter), I suspect it was just an excuse to get rid of him , probably some internal in-fighting.

      2. 2+2=5 Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Share the blame

        > Wasn't it Matt Hancock, who also wanted to promote her to be the head of the NHS, until he was sacked for philandering rather than gross incompetence?

        From what I recall it was more manhandling than philandering!

    2. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Share the blame

      The fundamental problem is that bureaucrats barge ahead on these programmes without either exercising the scientific method or asking scientists to validate what they propose. It's perfectly possible that the good baroness had no notion either that the data were outdated or that their being outdated mattered.

      The scientific method is little more than a rigorous approach to thinking, that should be exercised by anyone making strategic decisions or far-reaching plans, not just by folks in white coats. It's so important that it should be part of the general school curriculum. Sadly, it isn't, so the results are quite predictable..

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Re: Share the blame

        Right assessment but you missed out several actors.

        It was also Private sector (Tory donating) Management Consultants re-inventing wheels that the NHS already had simply because the Govt wanted to transfer public funds to the Private sector, regardless of whether there were any benefits for the public.

        Managment consultants are ok - provided they are directed and steered correctly. Once you start letting them steer the conversation your are f*cked. Which is exactly what happened - a cynic might say by design given idiot was in charge.

        1. Andy 73

          Re: Share the blame

          The NHS itself did not (as far as I'm aware) have a centre of excellence for developing public facing apps of this kind. Suggesting that it was an evil Tory plot to divert money to their mates rather misses out the long history of failure of government IT projects in general and NHS projects in particular.

          No-one in the NHS was ready for this requirement, and external contractors and consultants were pretty much inevitable at that stage. That it was handled badly came as no surprise whatsoever, and whilst Harding deserves the harshest of criticism, it would be a failure to learn to suggest that no-one else in the NHS and Whitehall shared any responsibility for the cock-up.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Share the blame

            The public sector in the form of local government already had a remit for test and trace. Either it's not central government therefore had to be replaced because controlling things is what central government likes to do or, possibly, its very existence was overlooked.

            As to app development, Google and Apple had got together (and how often can that be said) to provide the necessary underpinnings but HMG wants a Homegrown Unbeatable BRItish System because that's the nature of the current HMG.

            Just more blundering in both cases.

            1. hoola Silver badge

              Re: Share the blame

              Whilst I agree with you I think there are caveats.

              The existing Council/NHS Tracing system simply could not cope with Covid due to the scale of the problem.

              There was a desire to use "technology" to try and improve the speed or coverage of the tracing.

              There was a mis-guided attempt at creating their own App that if I understand correctly, had the potential to be more accurate than the API being developed by Apple & Google.

              The trouble was that in order to be more useful it then fell foul of privacy issues that both platforms didn't like.

              What we don't know is when development on the first App was started. If this was in a similar timeframe to the API and the developers believed their approach was better, would continue to do what they did. I am not excusing them because once the API became available it should have been adopted as it was almost a certainty that any other approach would be blocked. This is what then happened.

              1. Spanners Silver badge
                Big Brother

                Re: Share the blame

                There was a mis-guided attempt at creating their own App that if I understand correctly, had the potential to be more accurate than the API being developed by Apple & Google.

                It also had the potential to slurp a lot more personal data than the one from Apple and Google.

              2. iron Silver badge

                Re: Share the blame

                > What we don't know is when development on the first App was started.

                It was (maybe still is?) on GitHub so we know exactly when and what work was done on it.

                I'm a mobile app developer, the original UKGOV proposed app would not work. I knew that first time I heard abbout it. There is no "it would have been better" - that is Tory propaganda and about as accurate as the words of Rule Britannia. The Google & Apple approach is the only one that would work - technically, practically and realistically.

                I said at the start the UKGOV app would not work. I also said I could develop and app for Android and iOS using the approved technique in a week and I stand by that. Add an extra week for the backend and a couple of weeks for testing. Call it a month all in. And, unlike any app from UKGOV it would not have collected any information beyond that required for T&T.

            2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

              Re: Share the blame

              Pity they're not very good at the 'unbeatable' part, then.

          2. anothercynic Silver badge

            Re: Share the blame

            @Andy73, have to disagree. NHS Digital (not NHS X, which is what this falls under) is very capable, T&T would have worked if they had involved the local authorities (and the LAs showed how well T&T worked when they got involved).

            The Robert Koch Institut (RKI) in Germany spun up an app in record time, the Irish Republic, Scotland (I think) and the Northern Ireland (to be compatible with the republic) health people all used it, it was open source, it was open to all, people could have downloaded the source and used it. NHS X chose not to, God forbid they would rely on something someone else did somewhere else! They p***ed about with their version, found it didn't work with the updated Apple and Google APIs, and then had to spend another 3 months rewriting theirs to work.

            So yes, a *LOT* of time and energy was wasted chasing after a 'world leading app that'll be the envy of all the world, specially those EU folks who we waved goodbye to in December'. It was petty, it was political, it was wasteful.

            That said, people have to remember that not all of T&T was wasteful. I have it on good authority from someone I know at the Treasury that the vast majority of the costs that everyone likes to claim is the cost of the tens, if not hundreds of millions of PCR tests that were provided *FOR FREE* on the T&T dime. They are not cheap (but not as cheap as LFTs), and the cost of the reagents to make PCR tests work were in short supply as everyone ramped up testing.

            So... while the management of T&T was woefully bad under Harding's hands, the bits that worked well were PCR testing. The politics involved in T&T was unnecessary, and any neutral party (i.e. *not* a Tory/Labour donor/functionary) would have made a success of the bits that didn't work (the Trace part of it).

            1. Andy 73

              Re: Share the blame

              It's still the case that the existing bodies within the NHS did not "step up to the mark" and provide a coherent plan that could have been adopted by Harding and the other ringleaders.

              If NHS X is duplicating functionality, then NHS Digital should have at least been able to make a case for their own capabilities and services. Whitehall and the NHS cannot hide behind the idea that thousands of capable workers were completely unable to present meaningful options just because a 'nasty lady' was at the helm.

              Clearly the entire structure and organisation was poorly managed - but there should be some collective responsibility and an attempt to learn from this, rather than the usual revolving door attempt to place all blame on one person. As with so many other government IT project failures, this is a systemic problem that the civil service and professional services within the NHS are meant to be protecting against, not repeating endlessly.

              Harding and NHS X have been a disaster, no question, but long after they have (hopefully) gone, there will still be a need to see rapid and effective projects delivered to order, and I don't see any desire to make changes within the service to help that happen.

              1. Allonymous Coward

                Re: Share the blame

                If NHS X is duplicating functionality, then NHS Digital should have at least been able to make a case for their own capabilities and services.

                Well, quite. Why does NHSX even exist?

                Oh that’s right, it’s Matt Hancock’s IT boondoggle. It’s interesting how the same names and problems keep coming up over and over.

              2. anothercynic Silver badge

                Re: Share the blame

                Oh, believe me, there are many who ask exactly the same question. When NHS X was announced, people went "Why? We have NHS Digital already! What do we need *them* for" - But we all know it was Matt Hancock's little bit on the side.

                Either way, I hope it goes the way of the dodo rather rapidly in the near future.

            2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

              Re: Share the blame

              The Robert Koch Institut (RKI) in Germany spun up an app in record time

              Not really, development was outsourced to Deutsche Telekom and SAP and the app had to be redeveloped due to justifiable privacy concerns. Still, while it cost far too much, it cost a lot less than the UK one.

              More importantly, no one has been talking about the app for months, because, unsurprisingly it had negligible effect on reducing the spread of infection, largely due to some dodgy assumptions in the first place. The only intervention, apart from vaccination, that can be shown to correlate well with a sustained reduction in infections, was the introduction of free lateral flow tests. The scientists are still arguing about the details of the efficacy but the quid pro quo approach allowed business and commerce to resume. It's a pity that they're no longer free for most people.

      2. JT_3K

        Re: Share the blame

        It's rare I'll stick up for the school curriculum but the scientific method *is* taught. The problem lies that its set up to push a student's ability to parrot facts above testing their ability to demonstrate critical thinking and improve their "comprehension" of data from multiple sources (that they may have had to find themselves).

        The issue here is that muppets employ muppets and politicians have no competence or accountability sufficient to drive them to achieve long term improvement in the seats they hold for such a brief period. An education secretary has little if any exposure to the real world of challenges facing education despite holding the sole most impactful role in the country. The same can be said for any of the posts, such as Health, Transport, Culture or Home Secretary.

        The only criteria to get in to such a post is: to be sufficiently likeable that an electorate chooses you above their traditional candidate from their favoured party; or to be sufficiently likeable that a party places you for election in a traditionally successful area. If you meet either of these and are subsequently sufficiently likeable to someone who gets in charge, you too may find yourself demonstrating a staggering lack of competence and running something in to the ground at a national level.

        1. Mike 137 Silver badge

          Re: Share the blame

          "the scientific method *is* taught. The problem lies that its set up to push a student's ability to parrot facts"

          Sorry, but that isn't the scientific method - it's the complete antithesis of it. The scientific method is a way of thinking about problems, not a process of remembering stuff. The educationalists may call what the teach "the scientific method" but what's delivered is something quite else. It's only the real thing if the capacity to exercise it is acquired. The first thing I was told when I was taught to teach was "you've only taught it when your students can use it independently".

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Share the blame

      being married to a conservative MP may be the answer to your question.

      1. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: Share the blame

        That was the primary problem.

        You won't believe how many people were desperately crossing their fingers that Harding was *not* going to end up in charge of the NHS again (remember when she was being mentioned?) and were absolutely relieved when it turned out that it was one of their own (from inside the NHS) who was chosen to lead the service.

        Harding has an awful reputation...

        1. Youngone Silver badge

          Re: Share the blame

          I don't see what the problem is.

          I sounds like jealousy to me. Just because she chose her parents better than you did, you think she doesn't deserve all the success she's been handed.

          I bet your stupid parents told you that you would do well if you worked hard when they clearly should have sent you to better schools.

          1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: Share the blame

            Now I think about it, my Mum assured me, when I was little, that if I drank my milk I'd grow up to be a big strong chap. Well, I drank my milk, still waiting for the 'big strong chap' part of the deal some 55 ears later...

    4. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Share the blame

      thought it was a good idea

      It could be a good idea if one worked for our adversaries. If T&T fiasco knocked few bn out of the economy, then it will slightly narrow the gap between the UK and e.g. China.

      Multiple that by failures in all other areas and you may start to think whether this government is actually working for us.

      1. Fonant

        Re: Share the blame

        Exactly.

        Perhaps it's a coincidence that major donors to government have been Russian Oligarchs and Disaster Capitalists. Both groups benefit hugely from a collapsing UK economy, society, rule of law, etc.

        I fear we've lost a war that we didn't even know we were involved in.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It could be a good idea if one worked for our adversaries

        I have a vague idea this has already been implemented in some sort of sci-fi short story, about a guy born with a 'bad luck' chromosone, or such (unexplained) trait. They finally sent him to work for competition, if I remember correctly. Arguably, the incompetence in this particular case has been won, long and hard way, rather than inherited...

      3. Youngone Silver badge

        Re: Share the blame

        Working for you?

        Well, that depends. Were you at Eton, or Harrow? Do you work in the City? What Title does your Father have?

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Share the blame

          I reckon we can expect to see Josh Widdecombe appointed to a well-paid senior position any day now. After all:

          SPOILER ALERT

          he is a direct descendant of King Edward I, Mary Boleyn (Anne Boleyn's sister), the Earl of Holland (master of the King's Stool to Charles I), and French Royalty.* OK, so his ancestor Mr Barings (of the actual Barings Bank) was so inept he was excluded from the family fortune, but hey, what's a little indiscretion between friends?

          END SPOILER ALERT

          All he has to do is suck up to Boris and he's got it made. After all, you don't need competence these days, it is all about connections.

          *https://inews.co.uk/culture/television/who-do-you-think-you-are-bbc1-review-josh-widdicombe-discovers-a-royal-family-tree-to-rival-danny-dyers-1245637

    5. Naselus

      Re: Share the blame

      Yes, it definitely contributed to me choosing to avoid it too. I wouldn't trust her with my dog's medical information, and I don't have a dog.

      But even if you ignore the data breach, Harding's record at TalkTalk was one of utter incompetence; she lost 10% market share in 5 years, mis-allocated resources on a grand scale, and then responded to the financial mess she had created through aggressive 'cost cutting' of her already underfunded infosec team. The data breach and ensuing PR disaster was just the crowning glory of Dido's career path of being lavishly rewarded for totally failing to manage the most basic aspects of her job.

      Even if she wasn't the modern face of data insecurity, she'd have been an extremely poor appointee to run anything more complex than a corner shop.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Share the blame

        "more complex than"

        Surely that should have been "as complex as"

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: Share the blame

          Well thank you captain syntax!

          ... checks username...

          oh. Fair enough.

      2. Spanners Silver badge
        Go

        Re: Share the blame

        than a corner shop

        I believe that the old parliamentary phrase was "a whelk stall" but I am not sure they still exist.

      3. Mike Richards Silver badge

        Re: Share the blame

        Harding also previously sat on the boards of both Woolworths and Thomas Cook - is she infectious?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Share the blame

          Typhoid Dido?

  4. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    I think you'll find it doesn't matter how crap they are, fat cats always land feet first. Nothing to do with friends, family, money or, God forbid, competency ...

  5. adam 40 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    There's a missing 'L'

    ... according to Paris....

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's on £37 BILLION.

    That's just under 2 years worth of weekly Brexit benefit. Bargain.

    BTW anyone want any protective equipment you can catch me down Priti Patel's local. Or contact me through my Las Vegas works number: 555-YOU-MUGS. That's 555-YOU-MUGS.

    1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: It's on £37 BILLION.

      That figure was the amount allocated, not spent.

      And the amount spent was mostly ( and I mean the vast majority ) spent on testing. Ie: performing tests. The costs of buying and distributing tests. The cost of processing PCR tests.

      Anybody who claims that £37bn was spent on whatever it is that you are suggesting is lying.

      The Trace part of T&T ( ie: the bit that went to SERCO ) was less than £1bn.

      1. Fonant

        Re: It's on £37 BILLION.

        Ah, OK, so only a thousand million pounds was wasted. Nothing compared to the dodgy "VIP lane" deals done for PPE, where friends of Tories managed to make millions of pounds each.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's on £37 BILLION.

        "Anybody who claims that £37bn was spent on whatever it is that you are suggesting is lying."

        Hairy muff. You are right. It has only cost £13.5 billion to April 2021.

        So only ¾ of a year's worth of Brexit dividend.

        or 1.35 NPfITs. Much better value.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's on £37 BILLION.

        The Trace part of T&T ( ie: the bit that went to SERCO ) was less than £1bn.

        So that's all right then. Nothing to see here.

        Whatever got spunked away on Serco was still a collossal waste of public money. The only good thing about this was the contract didn't go to Crapita.

        At least one of the big accounting firms was raking in £1-2K/day for T&T call centre droids who sat around doing nothing. Deloitte made £1M/day+ for T&T - a nice little earner for accountants who knew fuck all about testing or tracing. All that greed must have accounted for a big chunk of the testing bit of the £37B.

        1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

          Re: It's on £37 BILLION.

          The problem is you need manpower fast, you need to call one of the outsourcers.

          Manpower was needed fast. So the outsourcers got a call. Nothing else was viable.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It's on £37 BILLION.

            Or maybe if you actually wanted manpower fast you could have called on the many hundreds of thousands of civil servants who had to scale back their activity because of lock down, the millions of people who volunteered to help, the academics who specialize in mapping, the local public health teams that do this kind of thing for a living...

            But obviously the skill of 'outsourcers' is needed because we need the contacts with individuals in the Philippines who provide those essential tax avoidance man management skills.

      4. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: It's on £37 BILLION.

        Correct. The majority was the cost of tests, reagents, postage, packaging, resourcing.

        The Trace part, despite being under a billion, would've probably cost less if the LAs had been involved from the start. Yes, there would have been contractors and consultants, but they would have been better instructed, better resourced, and better directed than by Serco and their ilk.

        1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

          Re: It's on £37 BILLION.

          Perhaps you're right. That's entirely reasonable.

          But the people claiming that it was £37bn are either lying or they are repeating a lie.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: It's on £37 BILLION.

            Maybe they saw it on the side of a bus? Must be true if so :-)

            1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: It's on £37 BILLION.

              An unhelpful comment. What a surprise.

              Although as you know, the ONS said that the side of the bus was a perfectly acceptable figure to use.

              Also as you know, if it had said the net figure rather than the gross figure, it wouldn't have changed anything. To normal people, £350m/week and £250m/week are effectively the same number.

              When your "side" is fabricating Russian conspiracies and Carole Cadwalladr has dropped the "truth" defence in her libel case you'd think you'd wind your necks in.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: It's on £37 BILLION.

                The point I was making, a bit obtusely for some, is that people see, hear or read information that is often inaccurate, incorrect or an outright lie, yet they still believe it because they think it's from some sort of authoritative source, even when just a few seconds of critical thinking would suggest that it's very unlikely to be true.

                As for the "your side"comment, that's simply wrong. I wasn't coming from any "side" with my comment and I've never promoted or invented any conspiracy theories. I had to look up Carole Cadwalladr because although the name sounded vaguely familierr, I had no idea what you were referring to. What was your point there?

                1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

                  Re: It's on £37 BILLION.

                  Fair enough, since El Reg sacked all their right leaning staff in 2017, the comments have come to represent Twitter rather than adults discussing things, so I assumed that your post was whataboutery.

                  > What was your point there?

                  The lies during the referendum campaign ( treasury predictions, freedom of movement doesn't suppress wages, we'll have ww3, punishment budget, there won't be an EU army, we'll have an immediate recession just from voting to leave - not leaving itself but just voting to do so, etc ) and then the lies afterwards ( eg: Cadwalladr / Guardian's lies about Russian involvement of which she is currently losing a lawsuit over ) where almost exclusively on the remain side.

                  The "side of the bus" figure was given the OK by the ONS as it was the gross figure. The "Turkey is going to join the EU" wasn't a lie - they were on the ascension track. Since Erdogan went mental they've fallen off that, but it wasn't a lie.

                  At best it could be said that the remain side lied egregiously and repeatedly while spending far more than the legal limits due to the £9m government leafletting campaign, and the leave side occasionally pushed the boundaries of truth to the line.

  7. WanderingHaggis

    Please don't call it NHS track and trace

    It was a third party track and trace not NHS -- vaccine roll out which was NHS has worked well for the most part and I understand the NHS had its own trace and trace (primarily for STDs) that was ignored during the set up in spite of their competence. https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-why-did-england-ignore-an-army-of-existing-contact-tracers-140825 This was a major failing from day one.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Please don't call it NHS track and trace

      The important point is that NHS track and trace failed and we can all come together in blaming the NHS and leveraging synergies with the dynamic private sector.

      1. M. Poolman

        Re: Please don't call it NHS track and trace

        Be careful what you say, if only in jest, grasshopper.

  8. Empire of the Pussycat

    If only there'd been some evidence of past performance to assess her on before appointment

    I propose that lessons will be learned, game changing, best in class lessons.

    Build back blether.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan

      Re: If only there'd been some evidence of past performance to assess her on before appointment

      Well - she'd managed to go to the right schools and make the right friends..

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Brit MPs blast Baroness Dido Harding's performance

    Baroness Dido Harding gets promoted, because there's no better reward for repeated failures. Lesson to be taught to kids of all ages, I suppose. With a small * for *as long as you know the right people.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Brit MPs blast Baroness Dido Harding's performance

      She is a wonderful role model for kids.

      Children - work hard, stay in school, achieve mastery of a subject and you can be sure you won't become Baroness Dido (also beware of middle aged men with weird hair making strange offers to you)

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  10. seanj
    Trollface

    Just saying...

    Wrong department, same fuck ups... I called this back in 2017.

    https://forums.theregister.com/forum/all/2017/02/01/dido_of_carnage_steps_down_from_talktalk/#c_3091293

  11. Rich 2 Silver badge

    How much????

    Is the cost of the test and trace mess that I don’t understand - thirty-something BILLION!!!

    How the f%#?$¥€+=?%# do you spend this much on developing and failing to deploy a piece of software? Especially over such a short time period. It’s utterly staggering.

    I would love to see the cost breakdown

    1. mark4155

      Re: How much????

      The chances of a cost breakdown? Me winning the Euromillions in tonight's jackpot. Also, more chance of being struck by lightning. Toodle Pip!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How much????

      How the f%#?$¥€+=?%# do you spend this much on developing and failing to deploy a piece of software?

      You don't. Most of that was spent on the "test" bit, i.e.all those "free" tests that are being handed out in your local Boots.

    3. hoola Silver badge

      Re: How much????

      Try this as a start,

      https://fullfact.org/health/nhs-test-and-trace-cost/

      If you click through on many of the links you get more detailed information.

      Yes they could be more and I am sure it can be found if you are prepared to spend the time.

  12. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    The Plank

    Forget about Baroness Plank - at least for 40 minutes or so

    Here are some talented individuals...

    The Plank

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1YAG6A833o

  13. ColinPa

    do we have a good model now?

    After the initial data spreading model - which gave inconsistent results when used with the same data) do we now have a model which works, is consistent, and has scientific credibility. I remember the cleaned up python code was still a bit dicky even after it was cleaned up.

    You need solid data to be able to make reliable predictions.

    Or do we still have the haruspex model. (In the religion of ancient Rome, a haruspex was a person trained to practise a form of divination called haruspicy (haruspicina), the inspection of the entrails.

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: do we have a good model now?

      > Or do we still have the haruspex model. (In the religion of ancient Rome, a haruspex was a person trained to practise a form of divination called haruspicy (haruspicina), the inspection of the entrails.

      A cheaper model is available from haruspex-savers.

      [Thank-you, I'm here all week - according to my reading!]

  14. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Flame

    The whole

    covid story is'nt just about Dido and her lack of ability , but a staggering lack of ability , knowledge and decisiveness among the upper ranks of government, especially since its known that government departments reherse some scenarios and have made plans to cope with them.

    We knew at the end of Jan 2020 that we had a covid virus on the loose, it was rated at 3-4 times worse than a regular flu virus (the sort of thing that causes the NHS fits every winter) and that there was no natural immunity to it, and that there was no vaccine for it.

    By mid-feb it was known to be here. via people bringing it in directly from China, or via 3rd countries such as Italy, Austria, France.

    By March 1st lockdown should have been brought in to slow down the spread and give everyone a fighting chance at being able to cope with the surge in cases

    yes it would have spread, but without access to sporting events, tube trains, train, offices, factories etc the virus could not have spread so fast, thus 'flattening the curve'

    The travel ban would have been a no-brainer too, or at least quarantine for 7 days to make sure someone with the disease does not spread it.

    Instead of which bozo the clown and his buddies decided that 'herd immunity' was the way to go....... with only bringing lockdown in just before April.

    The lack of PPE in the NHS cant really be blamed on bozo(no matter how nice that feels) but due to the way the NHS operates in obtaining supplies (usually on a monthly J.I.T. type contract) with the result that if a hospital used 1000 operating gowns in a month, and then suddenly wanted 2000, they'd pay through the nose for the extra 1000... multiply that by masks etc, and then consider that manufacturers only have a limited ability to make the stuff (one company I know involved in making ventilator valve gear went from five 10 hour shifts per week to 24 hr running 6 days a week.)

    The only success has been the vaccine program, largely I believe due that the government finally took their grubby hands off and let the adults run it.

    Covid has been a disaster.... and would have been a disaster anyway, but it was made worse by a government that did'nt have a clue what to do, as was happy to throw money at the problem without looking where it was going

    Hence a pub landlord getting a huge contract to supply PPE...........

  15. R Soul
    Holmes

    And this is news?

    So, it finally dawns on an MP that Dildo Harding is fucking useless.

    I look forward to his insights into the religious beliefs of the pope and what bears do in the woods.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: And this is news?

      Do bears take confession?

      If you go down to the confessional today, you're sure of a big surprise

  16. Jason Hindle Silver badge

    And they’re sill riding high in the polls

    They’re trying their best. Apparently.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: And they’re sill riding high in the polls

      Yes, well, Starmer. His strategy so far seems to be a "death by a 1000 cuts" with his small but surgical attacks on minor points of Government. He doesn't seem able to come up with an publish a plan or strategy for Labour. The infighting inside Labour doesn't help much either.

  17. chivo243 Silver badge
    FAIL

    turning up like a bad penny

    at every turn, you just can't get away. Wouldn't it be cheaper and safer for the public to pay her to do nothing at all?

    1. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: turning up like a bad penny

      She’s a Conservative peer in the House of Lords who picks up expenses for towing the line - so that’s pretty much what they’re doing.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: turning up like a bad penny

        UK peers get £300 per day for turning up at the House of Lords (tax free) and free (first class) rail travel in the UK. That is without toeing any line.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: turning up like a bad penny

          "UK peers get £300 per day for turning up at the House of Lords"

          That probably barely covers the bar bill, never mind the London accommodation :-)

          1. teebie

            Re: turning up like a bad penny

            The bar is subsidised.

  18. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Alert

    Hancock rides again

    "UN special representative on financial innovation and climate change for the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa".

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-58890485

    The Under Secretary General of the UN, Vera Songwe, praised his "success" in tackling the UK's pandemic response.

    In a letter posted online by Mr Hancock, Ms Songwe said the "acceleration of vaccines that has led the UK move faster towards economic recovery is one testament to the strengths that you will bring to this role, together with your fiscal and monetary experience".

  19. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

    Tech cluelessness? Must be something going around

    An American senior/star politician has just tweeted that her Twitter account has been erased.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/RepMaxineWaters/status/1447954016793595907

    Well worth reading the comments. Not sure what's funnier, her supporters offering support and sympathy and jaw dropping stupidity, or others taking the piss.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tories

    Beyond parody

  21. Potemkine! Silver badge

    I'm always uncomfortable with people blaming others afterwards, especially if they are politicians, unless they promoted to do things at the time what appears now as the right things to do. Did those ones?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes Boris isn't the perfect PM but...

    We had an election. The fundamental choice was between a buffoon and a moron. Boris won (despite not having the benefit of my vote). I'd like you to consider how the other main contender in that election would have fared (despite being a trade union member I didn't vote for him as either party leader or PM). Sure if you're a member of Momentum you can bathe in the certainty of any idealogue that Corbyn couldn't possibly put a foot wrong. As for Starmer, I'm looking forward to a long essay from him on the topic of "what we would have done" with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight and the luxury of being judged on fine words not real-world actions.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yes Boris isn't the perfect PM but...

      Well we will never know because it didn't happen. Maybe a socialist approach would have worked better? Maybe Jonathan Ashworth's pub landlady is actually a real PPE procurement specialist. Maybe Jeremy would have listened to his brother and it would have been a disaster. Are their specific qualities of Corbyn that you feel would have made him and his team perform worse? (I'll give you that Dianne Abbot would have not been good in the 'cases today' briefings...).

      'My guy is a total f**k up, but your guy might have been worse' is definitely a good campaign slogan. Maybe put it on the side of a bus?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        'My guy is a total f**k up, but your guy might have been worse'

        The incumbents fell some way short of ideal but, based on no evidence whatsoever, my guys _might_ have done better.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 'My guy is a total f**k up, but your guy might have been worse'

          might_have_done better might_have_done worse, that's the point, we have no evidence

      2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        Re: Yes Boris isn't the perfect PM but...

        > 'My guy is a total f**k up, but your guy might have been worse' is definitely a good campaign slogan. Maybe put it on the side of a bus?

        Worked for Biden.

    2. Allonymous Coward

      Re: Yes Boris isn't the perfect PM but...

      Proportional representation would be a wonderful thing.

      1. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: Yes Boris isn't the perfect PM but...

        No, propotional representation leads to unstable governments. See French Third Republic or Italian First Republic.

        A two-round ballot is IMNSHO the best solution.

        1. Allonymous Coward

          Re: Yes Boris isn't the perfect PM but...

          You’re welcome to your opinion. I completely disagree. PR works well.

          Source: I’m a citizen of a country widely agreed to have a better-functioning, more diverse & more accountable government than the shower in Westminster, at least some of which is attributable to use of PR. I also vote in the UK, in a safe seat where my vote is mostly wasted.

    3. teebie

      Re: Yes Boris isn't the perfect PM but...

      Corbyn's has a tendency to prevaricate, and to listen to everyone - including experts. He'd be more inclined to trust the response to the NHS (the body behind the vaccination program, which worked) than outsourcing companies (track and trace, or accepting millions in exchange for no PPE, which didn't)

      So I would imagine there would have been thousands of people around the country spending their time complaining about his dithering, whereas under Boris Johnson's leadership they are, instead, mourning their grandparents.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How much did Dido get paid?

    You may wonder how much of the £37bn flowed into Dido's bank account. This was the response to an FOI request to find out "The request was refused by Department of Health and Social Care." I infer that it was so eye-wateringly high that disclosure would result in outrage.

    Perhaps the recent report tells us but I can't be arsed to read it.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: How much did Dido get paid?

      I understand that Baroness Harding did it all 'for free', out of 'the goodness' of her heart.

  24. This post has been deleted by its author

  25. Trollslayer
    Facepalm

    She is consistent

    But so is manure.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan

      Re: She is consistent

      But so is manure.

      and that stuff eventually (given a suitable rotting period) becomes very useful..

  26. adam payne

    Baroness Harding went on to become interim chief of the newly established National Institute for Health Protection, the agency being created by the government to replace Public Health England.

    and she just moves on with no accountability?

    During the committee hearings, it was revealed that as of November 2020, the programme had hired more than 2,300 consultants and contractors working for 73 different suppliers at a total cost of approximately £375m.

    Surely this amount of people could have accidentally made something that worked.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      2299 people to sort out invoicing, attend meetings and request and process daily progress updates or arrange mandatory training in how to rewire a 3 pin plug. 1 poor sod to do the work.

  27. CrazyOldCatMan

    Ah yes..

    The beloved T&T..

    As a recent adherent of the SARS-COV-19 virus (yes, - I'm double-jabbed. Yes, I wear a mask when out and about.. But still, going to a Genesis concert proved to be (pandemically-speaking[1]) a really, really bad idea. Or so it proved about 6 days later..

    Anyway, national T&T phoned me. It didn't start well when the first words out of the young sprout's mouth were "you must complete our phone survey". Given that, at that point, my temperature was still about 2.5 C above my usual base temp, I wasn't the most polite to him (I wasn't actively rude but wasn't my usual polite self. I knew where I had got it, I'd only had contact with two people (both of whom had clear PCR tests later) but it was abundantly clear (from that call and subsequent follow-on attempts) that he really, really only cared about completing the survey. And, when I blocked them on my mobile, they started ringing my home phone - a number I had never given them.

    Eventually I got a call from a different number (my local T&T team) that was exactly opposite. She was polite, happy to chat and sympathetic. Over the next 45 minutes we got the survey done almost as a chat. I made sure that she knew how refreshing and pleasant the call had been in comparison to the national team.

    Conclusions? National T&T was an utter waste of time and, not only did they repeatedly try to contact me, they then moved onto a phone number that I had never supplied them. The local T&T team were everything the national team had not been - warm, professional and good at their job.

    [1] I'm sure some people turn their noses up at Genesis but, from the mid-70's onwards they have been the band that pretty much informed and directed my musical taste. I have a somewhat-large prog rock music library and, even better, I've corrupted^W led my nephew into appreciating prog music.

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