Unions, left MPs, media, scientists and mayors warned against haste to re-open schools and force people back to work – and MPs rushed ahead anyway
Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock, Rishi Sunak and their whole party, along with Keir Starmer and his pliant front-benchers are all covered in shame this evening after the government announced a renewed tightening of lockdown across a swathe of the north because of rising coronavirus rates.
Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and West Yorkshire will all be subject to increased restrictions from midnight, with Hancock feebly blaming the people for the consequences of political errors. But union leaders, left MPs and media and elected mayors and council leaders have all warned for months that the Tories’ undue haste would lead to a new surge in infections – and in avoidable deaths.
Leicester was a case study in the consequences, with Hancock forced to admit the school return had played a central part in creating the city’s hotspot. Yet Johnson and co continued to speed ahead anyway – and Starmer’s shame is not limited to a mere lack of resistance. The Labour leader played an active role in welcoming and promoting measures to ease the lockdown, particularly the rush to re-open schools. School outbreaks have rocketed, just as the so-called ‘leaders’ were warned:
Even though studies have shown how fast the coronavirus can spread in – and from – schools, only this morning Starmer’s education spokesperson was agreeing with the Tories that there is no need for masks for school staff or pupils.
Likewise, when Johnson rushed working people back to their workplaces with barely 12 hours notice, Starmer and his team were near-silent – and Starmer himself answered ‘We’d have to look at it’, when asked on radio whether he would support unions trying to protect workers from avoidable exposure.
So when Starmer wanted to make what passes for an attack in centrist minds on the Tories’ actions this evening, he could only focus on the lack of notice given of the changes. He could hardly attack much else when he has been all but in lock-step with Johnson on the substantive measures he and his health secretary have taken.
Now, as predicted, infections have risen – and people who needn’t have died will die, while the economy and family life of the north suffers compared to Tory heartlands.
Shame on all those who pushed for this and on those who enabled them. Shame on them all.
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