Senior Head's Blog: In The News

I spent quite a long time in the car yesterday, on my way to and from an HMC meeting at Twickenham.  This meant that I got to listen to quite a lot of news on what turned out to be quite a significant day.

In the morning, the first programme was reflecting on the remarkable story of MP Craig Mackinlay.  Mackinlay is a quadruple amputee after suffering from sepsis, and returned to parliament yesterday morning for the first time since he underwent the operations to remove all four of his limbs.  The programme continued with a number of callers telling their own extraordinary stories about amputations, and while it was gruelling at times, it was actually incredibly uplifting to hear each of them talk about how their way forward in life had forced them to think about the positives, rather than focusing on the negatives of their situation.  Mackinlay rightly received a standing ovation from the House of Commons on his return.

The next story was equally gruelling, but this time in no way uplifting, as live coverage was given of Paula Vennells' evidence at the Post Office Horizon IT enquiry.  Following hard on the heels of the report into the Infected Blood scandal, this was another day on which trust in public institutions took a significant knock.  While Vennells was apologetic and tearful, the story that unfolded during the first day (of three) of her evidence was probably as bad as she would have feared that it might be.  It felt that the only decision that the judge would have to make was whether this was a lack of competence or a deliberate cover up, and it is hard to imagine what those affected must be feeling at this point.

Then, just as my journey back was nearing its end, a rumour in Westminster became a possible story, before confirmation came with the announcement from Number 10 that a General Election will be held on Thursday 4 July.  I know that we have had quite a few General Elections in the last few years, but this one seems more significant than other recent ones.  The view was that it was a gamble from Sunak to call this date, based on positive news about inflation, but not a lot else that suggests that he can turn things around.  I don't know whether we should see it as symbolic that Sunak delivered the news while being soaked by rain, to the tune of Labour's election anthem from Tony Blair's days (D:Ream - Things Can Only Get Better), but Starmer followed with a well rehearsed message in response, which made it feel as though he had been the one planning today for the announcement rather than the current Prime Minister.

If a week is a long time in politics, six weeks must be an eternity.