Two long-term victories over the weekend
Firstly, after several weeks trying to unlock the supermarket delivery system, we finally succeeded, thanks to a government scheme that actually seems to be working. The scheme goes like this:
- The NHS circulates GP surgeries for information on patients who might be vulnerable not to infection as such, but to developing severe conditions once infected.
- It writes to a million and half patients, including my household, telling them that they are exceptionally vulnerable and instructing them to stay at home under all circumstances, except medical appointments that cannot be conducted remotely.
- Those receiving the letter are urged to log in to the Gov UK site, and enter details of their residence and their circumstances.
- Gov UK then contacts the nearest supermarket at which the vulnerable individual is registered, asking it to make delivery slots available.
- The supermarket (in my case Tesco) writes to the customer informing them of their special status.
- The customer, to their astonishment, discovers that whereas the unavailable slots had stretched away to the edge of doom in all the major supermarkets, now there are delivery times open all next week.
Thanks to local farm shops, and friends adding our needs to their shopping lists, we weren’t hungry nor were likely to be. But the prospect of regular deliveries takes away a significant degree of worry and effort. We have submitted our list. Due for delivery on Friday.
Secondly, Keir Starmer has been elected leader of the Labour Party. I had re-joined the Labour Party specifically to vote for this outcome (as had many others). It is the first time since 2005 that I have cast my vote on the winning side in a public election. In the words of Polly Toynbee in The Guardian, ‘a trusted, tried and tested, big-brained grown-up arrives’. It is too soon to know how he will turn out. During the election he had to tread very carefully as he took on the Corbynistas who had spent the last four years trying to ensure that they would never again lose control of the party. He comes to the position not as a life-long politician, but as a professional who has run a complex, value-driven organisation. Those of us who have been involved in managing universities know that it requires a different skill set than being a political advisor or, for that matter, an academic historian. And unlike Corbyn, a failed public schoolboy whose tertiary education lasted one week at North London Polytechnic, who, according to his recent biographer, thereafter never read a book in his life, Starmer has an applied intelligence. Helena Kennedy, who was a colleague in a human rights law chambers, said ‘he was the smartest by far, and we need clever’. At this moment, we do indeed.