Jolyon cannot actually think, can he?

Take the story of Kate Bingham. She is wife to a Treasury minister and cousin by marriage to Boris Johnson’s sister. Despite having – by her own admission – no vaccines experience, she was appointed by the prime minister, as far as we know without competition, to head up the “vaccines taskforce”.

With this role came responsibility for investing billions of pounds of public money, a task she performed while remaining managing director of a private equity firm specialising in health investments.

Someone who does investment in health companies for a living has no relevant experience to offer the government over investment in health companies.

Well, yes, I can see that I’ll be wanting Soapy Joe as my lawyer next time I need one then.

16 thoughts on “Jolyon cannot actually think, can he?”

  1. Not convinced Tim. You quote him as saying ‘no vaccines’ experience, not no relevant experience at all.
    Also, the chumminess of the appointment is highly suspicious and the potential for conflicts of interest enormous.

  2. Bloke in North Dorset

    Whilst I agree with MC on the chuminess angle, there can’t be that much difference between investing in drugs and pharmaceutical companies and vaccines and vaccine related companies. Most of the processes around development, trials, regulation, distribution must be similar and probably the same companies involved?

    Plus, there can’t be that many investment companies that specialise in vaccines.

  3. Of course, it was fucking chummy… people were dying, the numbers of cases were rising fast and the media was screeching at the government to get a grip.

    In this situation, do you

    (a) appoint someone you know from past experience is a safe pair of hands and who can start right away? or

    (b) set up an appointments panel, hold a meeting of the panel to draw up essential and desirable criteria for the ideal candidate, advertise the role in three national newspapers, wait a month for expressions of interest to come in, screen the candidates against the criteria, interview the best of the candidates to whittle it down to a list of three, then hold second interviews for the best candidates, negotiate over terms with the very best candidate, wait three months for them to become available, go back to number two because your preferred candidate now has Covid, wait another month or so…

    Seriously, I mean I know Maugham is capable of some serious errors of judgement, but is even he capable of believing his own shit here?

    Also, in relation to appointments made because they’re a mate rather than on merit, I’ll see Kate Bingham and raise you Lord Prem Sikka.

  4. Because the vaccine specialists, epidemiologists and Public Health ‘experts’ have covered themselves in glory this year, yes?

    But, at the same time, the whiff of The Chumocracy does hang over this.

  5. BiND,

    “Whilst I agree with MC on the chuminess angle, there can’t be that much difference between investing in drugs and pharmaceutical companies and vaccines and vaccine related companies. Most of the processes around development, trials, regulation, distribution must be similar and probably the same companies involved?”

    Precisely. It all goes into the same regulators, from the same companies, the same CROs running the actual trials for the drug companies. And the rules are pretty similar: randomise a drug, some get the drug, some get the placebo, see if drug outperforms the placebo.

    These people are really disingenuous about “expertise”. Like, they complain about Dido Harding running the testing, but the previous woman was in charge of a maternity hospital. Just because it’s medical doesn’t mean it’s the same thing. Running a hospital ward is a lot about the medical side. Running testing isn’t. It’s more about things like logistics: getting tests to various centres, making sure they’re running well and the tests are going to labs and being returned. Dido Harding’s experience in being director of stores at Sainsbury’s is probably more valuable.

  6. Maybe we should just be honest about what we really do: elect, directly or otherwise, a king/president/PM, who is free to place chums wherever, on condition that they may be dismissed at will, and all must lose their place when the monarch changes.

    PS. been a while since a a king lost his head, maybe try that again.

  7. I like this idea though. I can’t wait for Jolyone to recommend it for the entire Civil Service. The end for useless generalist Mandarins, the glimmer of a possibility of State programs being run by competent and qualified people.

  8. “Dido Harding’s experience in being director of stores at Sainsbury’s is probably more valuable.”
    Hoot!

  9. Of course, it was fucking chummy… people were dying, the numbers of cases were rising fast and the media was screeching at the government to get a grip.
    Only the government didn’t get a grip, did it? It just squandered hundreds of billions of pounds and is now going to force people to take a vaccine that 90% don’t need.
    Although I grant you, in that context, it probably doesn’t matter who the fuck they appoint to pick the vaccines.

  10. Umm.. you don’t have to know even a single thing about vaccines to organise the development and/or distribution of the stuff..
    The mentioned nepotism is a thing, but there’s absolutely no reason to need to know anything about vaccines that can’t be jotted down on a beer mat to get stuff Done.

    In fact … the Boffins that really know about vaccines and how to make them are notoriously bad in the organisation department… You don’t want people like that at that level.

  11. Given that Kate Bingham has a degree in Biochemistry, is on the boards of many pharmaceutical and biotech companies and manages investment in unquoted companies for International Biotech Fund and is a board member of the Francis Crick Institute, she seems to have the credentials for the job. Obviously there are potential conflicts of interest but I believe she took leave from IBT and is stepping down from the Vaccine task force after 7 months in the job. Does Soapy Joe know anyone with better credentials? At least she is not in the pay of Big Pharma unlike Patrick Vallance, who still holds share options in GSK

  12. And today it’s announced that U.K. is the best position of all countries in vaccine procurement and well ahead of the EU vaccine task force so maybe it wasn’t such a bad appointment

  13. Bloke in North Dorset

    I’m starting to have a grudging respect for Soapy Joe.

    In a discussion about a petition for a public inquiry in to government PPE contracts someone said I should look at the Good Law website. Apart from being mostly anti Tory/Boris/Brexit bullshit I hadn’t realised it was another of Soapy Joe’s crowd funding exercises.

    You’ve got to hand it to him, whipping up resentment to get people to crowd fund the lifestyle he’s become accustomed to is a good business plan.

    BTW that petition proposes the government levy everyone over £19k to pay for it. It’s a moderated forum so pointing out a levy is a tax so they can fuck off would have got me banned.

  14. Yeah, that “cousin by marriage to Boris Johnson’s sister” is distinctly peculiar.

    Anyway, I guess that the ideal situation would be to appoint yet actual Taskforce Head or Government Tsar from amongst those individuals that a) have appropriate knowledge and experience (including working bullshit detectors) and b) been elected by the voters.

    Since b) always seems to be missing these days, then we can safely conclude that when push comes to shove, and a Taskforce needs to be assembled and managed, then five nines of MPs are completely fucking useless in terms of a).

    But I suppose we knew that anyway.

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