Tories and Labour front bench have both pushed for schools and businesses to re-open in spite of obvious dangers and clear warnings from scientists and unions
The rate of new coronavirus infections in the UK has hit a 44-day high, with more than a thousand cases according to the government’s official figure – itself universally acknowledged to be a fraction of the real number of new sufferers.
But the breakdown of cases shows the disaster is driven by the spread of the virus in England – health is devolved to the Scottish, Welsh and Irish governments, who can decide their own public health measures – with Johnson and Hancock presiding over a rate of infection (shown in brackets as new cases per 100,000) double that of the UK’s other nations:
- England: 988 (1.76)
- Scotland: 48 (0.88)
- Wales: 26 (0.82)
Northern Ireland does not report on a weekend.
But the blame for this emerging new spike wears two rosettes. Johnson and Hancock have been a disaster that would have been worse had many people not chosen to ignore them on multiple occasions – and had the UK’s independent media not relentlessly exposed their lethal slowness and arrogance.
But Labour leader Keir Starmer and his front bench have done worse than simply fail to oppose Johnson’s insanity and willingness to sacrifice lives. They have frequently and actively pushed for a faster return to schools and reinforced Johnson’s long unwillingness to recommend masks in public – ignoring or often undermining the efforts of unions to resist Johnson’s haste and protect workers from the dangers clearly posed by pushing millions back into classrooms, workplaces and public transport.
The exception to this was Rebecca Long-Bailey in Shadow Education – and Starmer kicked her out on a pretext after a huge row about his eagerness to push children and teachers back into schools.
Unions and even the government’s own scientific advisers have been warning for months that this haste would lead to new infections and needless deaths, while international studies have demonstrated the dangers. Even Hancock eventually had to admit it was driving the Leicester hotspot.
Now we are seeing the consequences as those warnings come true.
The Tories knew their actions were going to cause this – why else would they triple England’s mortuary capacity – and the same information was available to Labour’s front bench.
As the media will often say (without actually holding anyone to account for it), the primary responsibility of a government is to protect the lives of the people it governs. The same applies to the Opposition.
Even if avoiding actual opposition was a viable electoral strategy, there is no excuse for not opposing measures that were clearly going to kill our people – let alone for actively pushing and supporting them.
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