It’s sometimes difficult to distil the reality from the spin in these strangest of times. I’ve taken a keen interest in the data available in order to take my own view about what it means, rather than relying on what politicians tell us.

A good example was yesterday’s pretty useless Government press conference with Priti Vacant churning out vacuous stock phrases while singularly failing to answer the questions that were put to her. It’s astonishing that she is our Home Secretary and that Gavin Williamson is our Education Secretary. It really is an aggregation of the singularly inept, but we shouldn’t be that surprised, given that the “essential criterion” for their appointment as members of the Cabinet was that they must be die-hard Brexiteers, thereby demonstrating their ignorant fixation with ideology ahead of practicality. Think, for a moment, who our next Prime Minister might be – generally it’s one of the holders of high offices. Dominic Raab? Rishi “Help Out To Eat Out” Sunak? Priti Patel?

Many aspects of our international trade are facing a catastrophic meltdown which is, perhaps conveniently, being lost in the supervening crisis. Ask the fishermen in Peterhead what is happening. Ask truckers how it’s going in Kent (from the Daily Mail!!). Ask agricultural businesses how they are getting on (if you’re in any doubt in that respect, listen to Farming Today). Ask consumers how they are getting on with international orders and deliveries, including what were simple online orders. Quietly, in the background, incalculable harm is being done.

As if that was not enough, what is the current state of play with coronavirus? The truth? It will be with us FOREVER (as acknowledged by Sir Patrick Vallance this evening in the most overlooked observation of all time!). The virus will mutate with a mission to evade challenges to it, including vaccines. That’s what SARS viruses do and that’s why we have to have flu vaccines every year. So, will it settle down so that’s OK then? – NO!! COVID-19 is FAR more dangerous than flu and, as we’ve had acknowledged today, it will lead to higher not lower mortality as it evolves.

Yes, this is a grim analysis, but it’s realistic. Anyone who is thinking of an international holiday any time in 2021 is deluded. 2021 will be characterised by innumerable and increasingly virulent mutations. The only possible strategy will be a complete bar on international travel. There is no other option.

Will we go back to normal? NO – masks, different working arrangements and massive restrictions on international travel are here to stay.

Politicians can’t tell you this because of the personal and political repercussions, but I strongly suspect that they know it. Nationally, it’s all about expectation and political management.

It’s a tough old situation but please don’t think that we’ll be “back to normal” by Easter or summer – we won’t be. These extraordinary changes to society are here to stay.

A little local news

You may have heard that infection rates are dropping. As an example, the rate for where I live, as at the latest data, 17 January, (using the standard rate per 100,000) is 1005.6. That’s an extraordinary rate bearing in mind that the rate for closing “travel corridors” was 20/100,000. For those who might be reading this the rate for Barnston is 411.4 and for Calderstones is 746.5. Wirral is currently 26th of 315 local authorities with a current aggregate rate of 725.0 as at 17 January. Knowsley is the highest in England at 1069.2.

Based on the latest epidemiological evidence, the very hard truth is that lots of these people, across all adult ages, are going to die. Sorry, but that’s the truth.