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Editor’s Letter

This week in Tortoise: Halloween 2020

Monday 16 November 2020


A little Tortoise news first. We were shortlisted for seven British Journalism Awards at the end of last week.

Less than two years since we launched, we’re particularly proud that its Tortoise’s investigative reporting and data-driven journalism that’s been recognised: Jane Martinson’s investigation into the Barclay brothers; Matthew d’Ancona’s reporting behind the scenes of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street; Chris Cook’s in-depth analysis of local and national government; Ian Birrell’s examination of ‘Old Money’, the social care business; Chris and Ella Hill’s investigation into ‘A college with secrets’; Paul Caruana-Galizia’s investigation into his mother’s murder’; and Alexi Mostrous’ exploration of the Tech Nation that is Apple.

One other toot of the Tortoise horn: Paul Caruana-Galizia won the Association of International Broadcasters’ award for Best Factual Podcast 2020, for ‘My Mother’s Murder’.

Our journalism is made possible by you, our members. Thank you.

Matthew d’Ancona is back this week telling the story of what’s really been happening inside Number 10. The Tortoise File is called “Halloween 2020” because we have taken the time to examine one day – 31 October – and what it revealed about the divisions and dysfunction at the heart of the British government.

It was at a hurried and muddled press conference on Halloween when Boris Johnson announced that England would go into a second lockdown. And it was in the 24 hours before that Halloween announcement that the rifts between the health and wealth factions of the government deepened, the differences between the scientists and the politicians hardened, the divide between the women and men closest to Johnson widened, and the fate of Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain was set. Halloween was the day when England was locked down and Downing Street came apart.

On Friday, please join us for the first of three consecutive Fridays of the Tortoise Covid Inquiry. On this first day, we’ll be investigating questions such as “The UK – how did it fare?” and “The lost month – what happened in February?” as well as taking a look “Inside the NHS”. Generally, we’re trying to get beyond the politics and the PR of the pandemic to the truth of what has happened in Britain’s handling of Covid-19 in 2020.

Our next summit is Thursday: it’s on the Future of Cities and we’re holding it in partnership with Canada’s Globe and Mail. We open at 1pm with Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester.

Before then, we have a ThinkIn tonight on the role of scientists, with Jim Al-Khalili; and a breakfast ThinkIn tomorrow on business and biodiversity.

Please do join us.

James Harding,
Editor & co-founder