Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 15 May 2022
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Ukraine wins Eurovision
Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra have won the Eurovision Song Contest after they were given special permission to leave the war-torn country. The rap-folk band crowned their performance in Turin with a plea: “Please help Ukraine, help Mariupol, help Azovstal right now.” Sam Ryder came second for the UK, the country’s best result since 1998. Ryder was top after the national jury vote with 283 points, but there was a huge surge of support for Ukraine in the public vote.
Racially-motivated shooting in NY
Ten people were killed in a racially motivated mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York State. CNN said the 18-year-old suspect was wearing tactical gear and livestreaming the attack. He is believed to have driven for several hours to reach the predominantly black area of the city. Thirteen people were shot in total and the majority of the victims were black, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said. US President Joe Biden condemned what he called an “abhorrent” attack.
Hunt says NHS is ‘rogue system’
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has described how the service he led for almost six years was a “rogue system” suffering from a cover-up culture that failed patients and staff. In his new book, Zero: Eliminating Unnecessary Deaths in a Post-Pandemic NHS, Hunt said the NHS’s fear of transparency and honesty about avoidable deaths and mistakes is a “major structural problem”. The book is published as one in nine of the population in England is on an NHS waiting list for routine surgery, a total of 6.4m people.
Ministers question Bank’s independence
Ministers have criticised Bank of England over rising inflation, with one saying that the Bank had been failing to “get things right” and another suggesting that it had failed a “big test”. In what the Sunday Telegraph described as a “highly unusual attack,” one of the ministers said of the Bank: “It has one job to do – to keep inflation at around two per cent – and it’s hard to remember the last time it achieved its target.” Amid Tory frustration over the Bank’s approach to inflation, the other minister said government figures were “questioning its independence”.
Mone faces new claims
Baroness Mone’s husband has a financial interest in a firm awarded £200m worth of public contracts after she recommended it to the government, according to a report. The Sunday Times revealed that the controversial Conservative peer put forward PPE Medpro apparently without telling ministers that her spouse, Douglas Barrowman, might benefit from the deal. The couple, who deny wrongdoing, have insisted for months that neither stood to profit from contracts for the supply of masks and sterilised gowns during the pandemic.
Gove tells Lords to leave London
The government has told peers to move outside London after it vetoed a proposal for the House of Lords to temporarily relocate to a building opposite Parliament. With extensive restoration works in the offing, peers wanted to use the Queen Elizabeth II Centre but, in a letter seen by the BBC, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said he “cannot endorse” a plan for peers to “decamp to a temporary home a mere 200 yards from the Palace of Westminster”. He told them to consider sites in the north of England, the Midlands, the South West, Scotland or Wales.
Crumbling schools a ‘risk to life’
Many school buildings are now in such a state that they are a “risk to life”, according to government documents leaked to The Observer. Messages sent by senior officials working for education secretary Nadhim Zahawi to Downing Street show them calling for the Treasury to make £13bn available to increase the number of school rebuilding projects from 50 a year to more than 300. Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said years of Tory cuts have led to problems ranging from dangerous roofs to asbestos.
Harrods sanctions Russian shoppers
Harrods has imposed sanctions on Russian customers in response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. An email sent by the London department store to one wealthy Russian stated that “UK authorities regulations seek to prohibit the supply of many categories of luxury goods over certain values (generally £300) to individuals who are either currently or ordinarily in Russia”. The Sunday Telegraph said the store’s decision to restrict purchases to impose the £300 limit is likely to spark accusations of discrimination from Russians affected.
Streeting denies leadership plan
Wes Streeting MP has denied preparing a bid to replace Keir Starmer as Labour leader. The Observer reported that Labour party donor Waheed Alli hosted a recent fundraising event for him and another MP at his central London home. The actors Ian McKellen and Michael Cashman were among 20 to 30 people present at the event in March. However, Streeting’s office strongly denied that the event had anything to do with leadership ambitions, saying: “Whoever briefed this nonsense should put their wooden spoon away.”
Super blood Moon due
A full lunar eclipse is set to bring a super blood Moon. In what the BBC describes as “one of our planet’s most stunning sights,” the Earth will come between the Sun and the Moon, and as the Moon falls fully into Earth’s shadow, it will slowly darken before turning dusky red. The episode will be visible with the naked eye before dawn on Monday in most of Europe. Astrologists say blood moons used to be considered bad omens in the past but this one will usher in positive changes.