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16 June

In the headlines

Boris Johnson called Matt Hancock “totally f***ing hopeless” in a WhatsApp message sent in March 2020. It was published today by his former adviser Dominic Cummings. The PM also suggested the PPE effort was “a disaster”, Cummings says in his Substack newsletter. Covid vaccinations are to become mandatory for staff at care homes for the elderly. “I think persuasion rather than coercion is the way to deal with it,” Mike Padgham, chairman of the Independent Care Group, told BBC Radio 4 this morning. Rising fuel, clothing and meal prices have pushed up UK inflation to 2.1%, higher than economists expected, says the FT. 

Comment of the day

Climate change

Greenpeace must have its wings clipped

Last night a Greenpeace protestor injured two people when he crash-landed a paraglider in the Munich stadium where the German football team were playing France. It could have been even worse, and it shows this giant of environmental lobbying will do anything in “the economy of attention” to get new members and donations, says Ulf Poschardt in Die Welt. As a result its members have turned into secular Calvinists, “a sin-free elite” who think they can do no wrong.



If Waitrose sold art, it would look something like a David Hockney painting, says an anonymous writer in The Critic. His gentle landscapes and domestic scenes are “very colourful, very affirming, but also very artistically unremarkable”. But none of that matters to gallery-goers. Hockney’s Tate Britain retrospective was the gallery’s most popular show for a living artist, and in 2018 his painting Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) sold for $90m. Cheeriness pays. As Cézanne once said of Monet: “Monet is only an eye, but my God, what an eye!”


Arts Council England has handed £36,325 to Klub Verboten, an east London sex club where guests can watch naked women being flogged.  The cash comes from the Covid Culture Recovery Fund and the council says the company is making a “valuable contribution to the night-time economy”. It admits that some things “won’t be for everyone”, but wants to stick up for organisations that “cater to all tastes and interests”.


The 1977 disco song Yes Sir, I Can Boogie, by the Spanish duo Baccara, has become Scottish football’s unofficial anthem. It’s thanks to the Aberdeen defender Andrew Considine, who dressed up in drag and filmed a video to the song on his stag do in 2015. After Scotland qualified for the Euros last year, he and the rest of the squad were filmed riotously dancing to the tune in their changing room. It has since become a match-day staple and returned to the UK charts in November. Baccara’s Maria Mendiola says she is supporting Scotland rather than Spain during the tournament. 


Quoted 16-06

“I would rather be an opportunist and float than go to the bottom with my principles round my neck.”

Stanley Baldwin


A letter to The Times from Patricia Scott of Folsom, California: “Sir, It is not only railway clerks that have disappeared (letter, June 11): doctors’ receptionists have too. I recently phoned for an appointment with my doctor and was greeted with the message: ‘Please hold. Your personal patient advocate will be with you shortly.’”