Notable that all of the pressure is being piled specifically on Andy Burnham, not council leaders (notable one of them, Bolton's, is Tory). As I said earlier in the week, govt will direct this at *him*; his high profile is both a blessing and a curse.
Today's press conference isn't a bit of a subtweet of Greater Manchester, it's basically just about Greater Manchester.
I think if you zoom back out to where we were earlier in the summer in Greater Manchester - then look at where we are now - it's important to bear in mind the battles that local public health have been through along the journey to this point.
GM has never had the contact tracing capability/control that it needs, for a start. We didn't reach this point this week. We reached it over a long period of time.
Makes me a bit despairing that so many of us here feared this. This is the 'what is a local lockdown and how does it work' argument - which goes back to May - on steroids. That's not to argue in favour of what should be done now. But this situation did NOT come out of a vacuum.
So frankly, I wish someone would ask the counterpoint to what the government is saying: Why didn't you provide the contact tracing control and capacity that was being asked for by DPHs months ago (and was promised in August)?
There's a ton of things that can be levelled at GM's position; re the lack of consensus beneath the surface, about its position moving around triangulation, even. But summer recess, that was the time to prevent us getting to this point. And a lot of national mistakes were made.
And with that, I am: going to the pub.

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More from @JenWilliamsMEN

16 Oct
Boris Johnson opens with Tier 3: he thanks the leaders and mayors who've been working on this, 'in particular' those in Liverpool and Lancs, who have been working 'constructively'
These decisions 'were necessary' not only because of Covid infection rates, but admissions to ICU. Surgery would need to be cancelled if they didn't do this. This approach is backed up by 'significant' levels of financial support, he says.
'We have not yet reached an agreement with GM.' He completely understands the reluctance of the mayor and leaders. It will mean a 'difficult time' for people here. But: The situation in GM is 'grave and it worsens with each passing day'.
Read 10 tweets
15 Oct
Andy Burnham currently making a TV statement. He says GM was told by JVT last night that 'to bring the infection rates down any regional lockdown would require widespread closures way beyond pubs to stand any chance of working'
'and would have to be done in tandem with other neighbouring regions. And, even then, it would not be certain to work'.
'They are asking us to gamble our residents’ jobs, homes, and businesses - and a large chunk of our economy - on a strategy that their own experts tell them might not work.'
Read 27 tweets
15 Oct
Everyone now wondering what’s going to happen with GM. Strong, strong expectation govt will impose anyway. But, there’s near unanimous opposition from politicians here. Council leaders and Tory MPs are especially united in opposition.
One problem govt has is that if it grants GM extra £, it has to grant it everywhere headed into T3. Second problem: just because pols here are united in opposition, doesn’t mean they’re united on an alternative.
Third problem: im not sure granting extra £ would even be enough to bring some of them round anyway.
Read 5 tweets
15 Oct
Breaking: GM leaders told there will be no imminent decision announced to the house this morning in GM.
Here’s what I think is happening

- GM leaders in meeting with No 10
- No 10 briefing nationals that they’ve been told measures will be imposed
- not actually the case
- simultaneously a pissed off health department is briefing GM MPs no decision yet taken
I could be wrong on this, of course. But from someone in the leaders meeting:

"Ed Lister is saying it has to be sorted today but the decision is to made by others. And there will be no imminent decision or announcement made about GM in the house this morning."
Read 12 tweets
14 Oct
This has been one of the hardest days of covering this crisis, for several reasons. The scale of the political row is actually pretty stressful: trying to put it in context and provide all perspectives is so hard (not fishing for thanks btw - it’s my job. But it’s all so grim)
Everyone I know is so tired and increasingly anxious. I know that’ll be the case in other places too (not just in the northern places teetering on tier 3 - but especially here).
Christmas markets cancelled, bonfire night cancelled, pubs there or thereabouts. It’s not that we all want to go out on benders (apart from those of us that do). It’s the sense that the net is closing in after being unable to visit each other for two and a half months.
Read 5 tweets
14 Oct
If govt hadn’t (and clearly Keir Starmer hadn’t) clocked this earlier they certainly have now
Bolton leader is absolutely fuming.
Read 4 tweets

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