“Not only did he fail, but he repeated that discrimination”
A hard-hitting report by the No Holding Back group of northern working-class figures accused Boris Johnson’s government of repeated contempt for struggling northern communities.
The report, released this morning, begins:
Boris Johnson has treated held back communities in northern England as second-class citizens. His decision to keep tough restrictions for the north for longer while neglecting to place London in tier three shows that he has no regard for the difficulties faced by our constituents. Placing London in tier two will ultimately cost unnecessary lives and prolong this second wave. With tier restrictions commencing on 3rd December, Boris Johnson had a chance to show he had learned from his blatant discrimination in trying to foist 67% furlough on Northern England while pivoting to 80% furlough when the lockdown was extended to the South of England. Not only did he fail, but he repeated that discrimination, again leaving us in no doubt of his disregard for held back communities. Like ours.
The report, published by MPs Ian Lavery and Jon Trickett and former MP Laura Smith, analyses the government’s methodology for deciding tiers – and the government’s decision to ignore high and rising infection rates in the south and falling infection rates in the north to impose higher tiers in hard-hit working-class communities. It also exposes the Tories’ decision to provide inadequate testing in London to hide the high levels of infection:
This decision, after the 2nd of December, to place London in tier two, whilst placing areas like Manchester, Yorkshire and Humber, and the North East of England in tier three is flawed. Infections in London are on the rise, especially among those aged sixty and over, the infection positivity rate is rising, as is the level of CV19 hospitalisations. Coronavirus is growing in London, and despite the much lower levels of testing in the capital city, it is recording 16,000 infections a week.
• London’s infection rate is rising.
• Much of northern England’s infection rate is falling.
• The spike of London’s hospitalisations shows no evidence it is crushing the curve, in fact all evidence is that it continues to grow.
• That infection levels in southern England more generally are on the rise, especially the South East of England whose authorities now occupy many of the top forty most infected places.
• That London has the lowest testing level of any region in England and if its testing levels matched Yorkshire or the North East that it would show London as having the greatest number of infections of any region over the last week
• Areas in London such as Havering & Redbridge have higher infection levels than Wakefield which is in tier three
• Areas in London such as Bexley, Dagenham, Hackney, Havering & Redbridge have infection levels higher than Northumberland which has been placed in tier three
• ONS show CV19 mortality impacts poor communities & Black and Asian communities worse. Thus, the decision to keep London out of tier three will cause many unnecessary deaths in London.
• Lives of poorer communities in London and ethnic minorities are being placed second in consideration to the financial capital, The City of London.
The report goes on to highlight the obvious bias in the Tories’ decision-making and the racism and class bias inherent in its choices – and calls for the government to protect the health and wealth of the nation:
London’s infection levels are climbing, especially among its over 60s. It’s hospital levels from CV19 patients is also on the rise. Despite low testing, its week on week levels show a marked increase in infection levels. We have shown that parts of London have worse infection levels than some held back communities who have been placed in a higher tier level. Given the worse health outcomes for more deprived communities, especially ethnic minorities, it is clear the government is putting the perceived wealth of the nation against the health of its citizens. This is a false choice. Health is wealth. The best thing the government can do for the economy is have blanket tier four restrictions for the entire country until the curve has been crushed.
The manner in which the government implemented its furlough system also provided a clue into its disregard for the North of England. 67% furlough for northerners, jumping to 80% when Londoners were included was blatant discrimination for all to see. We think that same bias is influencing the decision to keep London on lower restriction levels. This is a decision that will cost lives, especially those in London already suffering from structural racism and poverty.
Held back communities will have watched the government’s decision making. They will have seen the double standards in the implementation of restrictions and it the awarding of furlough payments. The promises to level up the north were quickly set to the side when the first hurdles arose. This government has shown it cannot be trusted to act in the interests of the northern working class communities.
Read the full report here.
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