A preview in an unpredictable world
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Dear lovely reader,

This email was supposed to be about party conferences.  A look at the ideologies behind each party. 

The plan was to give you a bit of insight into where each side of the party is coming from. The central arguments. All of that stuff.  Long term readers will know ideologies and competing visions for the future are my favourite things. 

This morning it all feels a little bit like rearranging the deck chairs. Only the biggest fans of the Labour Party would suggest that the conference replacement (unlike other parties, they've officially 'postponed'), 'Connected: Bringing our movement together' is the big news this weekend.

No, it's this virus. The one that has already killed somewhere around 60,000 people. That's making a comeback. That's... well, there's more on all of that below.

The headline news from 'Connected' is that Starmer will make Big Speech on Tuesday from 11am. 

Lovely reader - it's all a bit bleak today. I know we'll get through it. We're tough. We've got through it before.

My experience of talking to you in the various ways we do is that you're strong, resilient and creative.  This weekend, safely, let's get out and about. Let's find some joy. Smile.

Peace and love,


The virus. Always the virus.

 I'm re-writing this email.  I had written loads about what different people think about the measures (an infringement on our liberty v not going far enough to protect us), but I want to focus the rest of this section on an interview that Matt Hancock gave on Today at 8 this morning.

The headline news is that hospital admissions are now doubling every eight days. There was a theory that the new cases were all amongst young people, who don't get very ill.  The figures are big, but not all that important. A 'Don't kill grandma' campaign was discussed, but I don't think it saw the light of day.

No. People are now going to hospital. Not currently in huge numbers - on Wednesday it was 248 - but when things are doubling that can grow very fast.  On 30th August it was 76.  Hancock said he expected to see a sharp rise in deaths next week.

The cases continue to soar. In the past seven days there were 18,943 positive tests.  From 7th to 13th July, that figure was 4,131. Yes, there is more testing than before, but nothing like enough to make that difference.

It's also clear where we're contracting the virus. Track and trace gives quite good data on this.  We're not getting it at the supermarket, or at work (although we can and you def need to keep taking precautions, obvs).  We're getting it from friends and family. Socialising. Welcoming people into our homes and giving them a hug, because we so desperately want to hug our friends. We know it's naughty, but, goodness me we need that physical contact.

There is this idea that we get it from strangers brushing past us with their filthy disease.  It's not true.  Most of the time it's not true.

Which is why it's those social spaces that they look at closing down. Mixing with other households, hospitality venues (or pubs and restaurants if you're not being a bit officious). 

And that's where we all appear to be heading. There is a lot of talk today about a 'circuit break' for two weeks to reset this spread. As a nation. Schools and offices would remain open - the government are really keen on both those things. 

This is where we are this morning. Scientists and politicians agreeing that it's all a bit bleak.  That we need to take action really rather sharpish.

It's happened very quickly, all of a sudden.  For weeks we've had the drip, drip, drip of announcements, cases rising, creeping local lockdown expansion. If the whole 'circuit break' is being talked about so openly, it feels like a decision that has - or almost has - already been made.

Expect a big announcement at some point next week. 

The week ahead...


Not in Parliament

Sunday - Marr on BBC One. 9am. With everything that's going on right now it's essential viewing. 

You might also, if the mood takes you, enjoy Angela Rayner's 'Connected' speech at 11am. 

Monday - Annelise Dodds (Shadow Chancellor) is beamed onto your computer at 11am from 'Connected'.

Tuesday - Keir Starmer will address the nation from 11am.  

House of Commons

Monday - It's the Internal Markets Bill. That's the one about Northern Ireland post Brexit. The one the government says will break the law.  Today was planned to be the big bust up with lots of Conservative MPs voting against the government. Johnson has now compromised - promising a vote in the Commons before the government breaks the law - so all will be a little less exciting.  

Tuesday - The Internal Markets Bill is back. You've got to be a real purist to still be watching. 

Wednesday  - PMQs.  Starmer will be walking a tightrope. If we have had a big announcement by this point, he will almost certainly support it, while also saying it shouldn't be needed and it's the government's fault over testing. Johnson will reply that we're testing more than any other country in Europe. 

Thursday - Three very, very important debates today. MPs will talk about Yemen, Palestine and the Rohingya people. These are people and issues that get overlooked while we focus on our own hurt. They must not be forgotten. Unfortunately, as they are 'Backbench Debates', no action will arise - except to keep these vulnerable people in our hearts and minds. 

Friday - Private Members Bills day.  This is when regular MPs (as opposed to the government) can introduce a new bill. None of them will become law.  Today's batch include three from Sir Christopher Chope about strengthening the border. 

House of Lords

Monday - The bill to keep terrorist offenders in prison longer and watch them closer when they are out arrives in the Lords. They will study this one very carefully in time, but today it's the Second Reading, so a general debate and a vote on the principle of the thing. It will pass.

Tuesday - The Agriculture Bill keeps going. It lays the way for farms after Brexit, mostly.  The opposition want to insert a clause guaranteeing food standards.  The government want flexibility, but have verbally guaranteed those standards.

Wednesday  - Not much.

Thursday - More Agriculture Bill fun.

Friday - Really, really not much.

And finally...

These are hard times. We don't know what's coming, we don't know where we're going. It's no different for life at SP. Over the past few months, some wonderful people have been very generous with their support. We're not too far off a place where our future is looking more certain.  If you can support us with a few quid a month, it would really mean the world. Thank you.
I'll chip in.
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