Matthew Thompson Profile picture
Senior Reporter @LBC. Ex @BBCNewsnight. Norn Irish, gym rat, linguist. Email: DMs open
14 Jan
Baffling. London is 6th out of 7 English regions in terms of the numbers of vaccines given out.

Yet it has the highest infection rates in the country, and is one of the most populous regions.

The Midlands has given out nearly twice as many doses.

Also, the @standardnews has reported on City Hall's concerns that London is getting fewer jabs than it should here:…
Statement from @SadiqKhan on London’s vaccine shortage:
Read 5 tweets
14 Jan
These two things can be true:

1) The DUP might have forseen that Brexit would be challenging in the context of Ireland. Not like they weren't warned.

2) They were still betrayed by Johnson, who literally stood up at DUP conference and said he would never create a sea border.
The DUP's great mistake was arguably not to support Brexit in the first place, as many Remainers are gloating today, but not to support Theresa May's compromise.

That would have left NI in a much better place from a Unionist perspective than Johnson's deal.
Although that of course is only in hindsight, post-betrayal. Harder to see at the time that May's imperfect deal was better.

You could make a kinder argument that the DUP took Johnson at his word, and that was actually the mistake.
Read 5 tweets
13 Jan
Vaccine minister @nadhimzahawi now in front of the Science Committee. I will be watching so you don't have to ;)
Vaccine minister @nadhimzahawi tells the Science Committee that the Govt is not releasing the number of doses it expects every week, because of the way each batch of vaccine has to be checked, so the numbers "move around".
Chair Greg Clark asks if Zahawi is confident the Govt's target of 14m vaccinated by mid-Feb will be met.

Zahawi: "I'm confident we will absolutely meet our target, though there will be daily fluctuations”
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24 Sep 20
NEW: Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces a new "Jobs Support Scheme".

The Government will support the wages of people in work, for those working at least a third of their normal hours, paid as normal

The Govt will increase those wages to cover 2/3 of their pay.

VAT cut is extended for the hospitality industry.

5% VAT will apply until the end of March, rather than January.
This is an important clarification. The Govt will pay 22% of the extra wages. Effectively splitting the cost of the top up with the employer.

Employers will pay over half the salary of any workers on the scheme. Image
Read 5 tweets
21 Sep 20
So, are we all hugely overreacting? Some thoughts after chats with epidemiologists and statisticians this morning.

I can perhaps best sum it up in the words of one SAGE member who told me: "It's not that we're panicking now. It's that last time we didn't panic enough"

Yes, deaths and hospitalisations are low. But there are signs that they are rising.

And the key thing to remember is that there is a delay. There are roughly 21 days between infection and death.

So if you're seeing a large increase in deaths, then you're already too late.
Looking at the number of deaths relative to cases is also a misleading game, because we are now testing so much more, and catching so many more cases.

So it is not correct to say "look how much lower deaths are relative to cases than back in March"

You cannot compare the two.
Read 10 tweets
11 Sep 20
So fed up of the Good Friday Agreement being completely misunderstood and used as a political football by both sides.

Take it from somebody who keeps a copy of the thing in his living room.

It has precisely nothing to say about a hard border. Zip. Nada.

The only mention of border infrastructure is in a passage on removing Troubles-era “security installations”.

It has nothing else to say. So the argument becomes one not about the letter of the agreement, but the “spirit”

So what on earth is the “spirit” of the agreement?
Well. It is primarily about consensus. And also about creating a space in which Irish people in NI are able to feel connected to Ireland, and British people to the UK.

Thus, so the argument goes, erecting barriers on the island North and South would risk that fragile consensus.
Read 6 tweets
10 Sep 20
Statement from @mhclg on COVID secure marshals:

"Local authorities are best placed to determine the model of deployment and responsibilities of marshals in their areas."

Local authorities to me this morning:

I'm also told that "numbers, recruitment, and remuneration" for these COVID marshals are for local authorities to decide.

And yet local authorities have not been given any information on extra funding for these roles, if any.

Suffice to say without extra money, no marshals.
Latest from No. 10 on COVID marshals:

- No extra money for them
- Up to councils to recruit them and decide what they do
- No powers to issue fines or any enforcement

Sounds awfully like it was a nice line in a speech, & any details are just being outsourced to councils.

Read 5 tweets
9 Sep 20
Boris Johnson makes it plain: two households can't meet if they exceed the 6 person limit.

So that means Christmas is cancelled if the restrictions are still in place by then.
Johnson says Govt will need to "review" the intention to return audiences to stadiums by October.

He says it's not necessarily being scrapped, but will have to be looked at.
Boris Johnson just said the new plan for rapid mass testing could be widespread by the Spring.

Vaccines will also most likely not be ready until 2021.

So essentially, it will be next year some time before we can go back to anything like normal.
Read 5 tweets
7 Sep 20
An alarming rise. And it’s also worth pointing out that the current trajectory is not explained simply by more testing.

The latest data (for week ending 26th August) shows the no. of people tested decreased by 1% even as positive tests increased by 6%…
But. Here’s the better news. The alarming rise in cases is not being matched by a rise in hospitalisations and deaths. Yet.

We must remember there is a delay as the virus incubates. But look at the graphs below. Cases climbing. Deaths not. So far so good. ImageImage
Of course, if it is younger people driving the spread, we wouldn’t expect to see hospitalisations and deaths rise.

But we also now have therapeutics. Drugs like dexamethasone. And a greater understanding of the virus.

You are now much less likely to die than in April.
Read 4 tweets
2 Sep 20
NEW: Police in England and Wales could be given more tasers, body armour and spit hoods following the biggest police safety survey in history.

85% of police surveyed supported front line officers being given a taser.

Chief Constables will be in charge of assessing the local need for such equipment, based on a risk assessment.

Evidence shows assaults on police were significantly reduced when officers drew their tasers, but increased in incidents where the taser was actually fired.
The study from the @PoliceChiefs recognised that there is evidence that tasers are disproportionately used on people from BAME backgrounds. The NPCC and College of Policing will conduct research into why this is and ways to mitigate it.
Read 5 tweets
28 Aug 20
Seriously though. Aside from confected outrage, what is the proposed alternative here?

The provision of legal assistance to people who may have done bad things is the most fundamental aspect of our justice system.

Should we just skip the fair trial part in future? Image
If your ability to put up an effective defence in court is based solely on the depth of your pockets, then we are not living in a civilised society.
Naturally, @BarristerSecret puts it much more comprehensively and eloquently than me. Not sure why I even bother 😉

Read 5 tweets
26 Aug 20
On the latest U-turn from the Dept of Education, Gavin Williamson tells @LBC the Government has always said the issue of face masks would be "constantly under review"
Gavin Williamson: "We don't want to see children wearing masks in schools up and down the country, but in certain areas, where it's necessary, where we're in local lockdown."

On the resignation of the Chief Regulator of Ofqual after the exam fiasco, @NickFerrariLBC asks: "Was Sally Collier part of the problem?"

Williamson: "What Ofqual focused on, what we're focused on is making sure we deliver for this years youngsters."

Well, that clears that up.
Read 4 tweets
18 Aug 20
On exam results, Gavin Williamson tells @LBC: "When Ofqual came to me recognising the fact there were flaws, and the fixes that would need to be put in place to address those, I didn’t believe it would be feasible that we’d have time to put those fixes into place."
Under repeated questioning from @NickFerrariLBC, Gavin Williamson refuses several times to say unequivocally that he has confidence in Ofqual, and Sally Collier, the chief regulator.

Nick Ferrari: "Have you offered to resign?"

Gavin Williamson: "My focus is three fold: make sure students get grades they deserve, make sure students are in schools in September, and make sure we continue the revolution in education."

Read 4 tweets
30 Jul 20
What the actual flaming hell is this drivel?

A full article asking whether Wiley’s vile racism has any “salient points”.

“Maybe this is a discussion that needs to be had” says the author.

Are you effing serious?
Why the need to continue to interview this man? David Starkey wasn’t given column inches or Sky News interviews to justify his racism.

The inescapable conclusion is that antisemitism isn’t beyond the pale.

“Yes, he was racist,” they imply. “But you know, maybe he had a point”
It must be terrifying to be Jewish, frankly.

Even in a climate that is hyper-sensitive to racism. When people are being cancelled left, right and centre, some for questionable reasons.

Yet a deeply antisemitic tirade doesn’t get you cancelled, it gets you more interviews.
Read 5 tweets
22 Jul 20
On the arrest of sprinter Bianca Williams, Cressida Dick tells @LBC that she doesn’t believe the video reveals racism.

“I would say any officer worth their salt would have stopped that car being driven in that matter.”

She said she only apologied for distress caused.
On the video of a man in Islington seemingly being detained with a knee on his neck, Cressida Dick tells @LBC that “techniques that you saw are not taught in training.”

She says the IOPC are investigating, so she can’t release the body worn camera footage of the incident yet.
Will the Met enforce the wearing of masks in shops when it becomes compulsory this week?

Cressida Dick tells @LBC enforcement is last resort, but:

“If somebody is concerned about what’s going on in their store of course they should call the police and we will try to assist”
Read 4 tweets
21 Jul 20
Prof Chris Whitty in front of the Health Select Committee. He's asked if the Government really did "follow the science" in relation to lockdown in March.

He says yes, broadly. Ministers followed the advice of SAGE "with a delay that was no more than you would reasonably expect"
Hunt asks why SAGE advice didn't follow South Korean example of test and trace?

Whitty says "we had no capacity to do it on scale that would have been needed."

Hunt says but we got capacity in a month in April. If SAGE had advised in Jan, could have had capacity by February.
On COVID transmission in hospitals, Prof Whitty says there is "reasonable evidence" that a lot of transmission was from care staff and health staff to one another. As much as between staff and patients.

So there is "just as much risk to staff in the break room as on wards."
Read 6 tweets
21 Jul 20
Russia report: The Government "had not seen or sought evidence of successful interference" in UK elections.

That does NOT mean that there wasn't any, as some of this morning's newspapers may have had you believe. Image
In fact, the Committee explicitly calls for an assessment of Russian influence on the Brexit referendum by the security services.

It says the lack of such an assessment is in "stark contrast" to the response of US intelligence to the 2016 Presidential election. Image
On money and influence, the Russia report doesn't single out any political parties, but it does raise concerns that a number of members of the House of Lords have Russian business interests.

It says such relationships should be "carefully scrutinised"

@LBC Image
Read 4 tweets
8 Jul 20
Rishi Sunak tells the Commons the furlough scheme “cannot and will not go on forever”

He says keeping it going too long would give people “false hope” they can return to work.

NEW: Rishi Sunak announces a “job retention bonus”

If companies bring employees back from furlough, and keep them through to January, they will get £1,000 per employee.

He says the scheme will be as big as necessary- if companies bring back all 9 million people currently on furlough the scheme could cost up to £9 billion.
Read 8 tweets
6 Jul 20
Head of NHS Test and Trace Dido Harding tells Lords Science Committee that in 1st month:

73.9% of those testing positive have been reached by NHS Test and Trace.

They've given 153,442 contacts, 86.5% of whom have then been reached.
The target set by SAGE is to isolate 80% of contacts within 48-72 hours.

Dido Harding says they aren't there yet but they are "close enough that they can see the path".
.@didoharding tells Lords Science Committee that people are being asked, rather forced to isolate by NHS Test and Trace because of fears that more draconian measures would discourage people from coming forward for tests and then handing over their contacts.
Read 5 tweets
6 Jul 20
.@Keir_Starmer responds to a challenge from @BorisJohnson, telling @LBC: “Schools are safe for some children to go back to... and I want all children to go back to school by September.”

He says it’s not Unions causing the problem, it’s the lack of leadership from Downing Street.
Keir Starmer on taking the knee in support of #BlackLivesMatter:

“It’s got to be an individual choice. I made the choice to do it and I’m pleased and proud about that. But we’ve got to recognise this is a turning point. We need to deal with discrimination.”

Confronted with the recent allegations that his shadow Communities Minister Steve Reed tweeted an anti-Semitic trope, Keir Starmer says he “hasn’t seen it, but will take a look at it”

Full story here:…

Read 4 tweets
3 Jul 20
Asked what the Government’s response would be if the US authorities asked to interview Prince Andrew, @BorisJohnson tells @LBC:

“that would obviously be a matter for the British Government”

He is, of course, in charge of the British Government.
Boris Johnson avoids answering what he calls a hypothetical on the matter of Prince Andrew, saying for now it is a matter for the Royal Family, but he eventually concedes that “the law would have to take its course”
Nick Ferrari asks @BorisJohnson if he would take the knee, a gesture of solidarity with #blacklivesmatter

“I don’t want people to be bullied into doing things that they don’t want to do.”

He cites example of police officers being pressured into doing it.

Read 6 tweets