Dr Paul O’Brien blamed Labour’s failure to oppose as well as Johnson’s failure to lead – and still points at reality of Starmer’s non-opposition as tens of thousands upon tens of thousands died needlessly
Labour leader Keir Starmer has been accused by a local doctor – and delegate to Starmer’s CLP – of plagiarising a letter to a local newspaper covering Starmer’s constituency for an article Starmer wrote for today’s Observer.
Dr Paul O’Brien, a medical doctor and Unite delegate to Starmer’s constituency Labour party (CLP), wrote in March to the Camden New Journal highlighting the failures of Boris Johnson’s government during the pandemic – and the thousands of lives needlessly lost as a result – and he believes that his letter forms the basis of Starmer’s article in the Guardian‘s sister publication today.
But O’Brien also laid into Keir Starmer’s failure to oppose or provide the direction that was lacking.
His letter reads:
It did not have to be like this.
As with syphilis and global warming, pandemics are social. Covid-19 is a social disease of very short duration. But unlike syphilis it does not lie dormant and can be eliminated by strict isolation and support so we could all go back to work and larking about.
Labour colluded in the lie that the pandemic was a force of nature and called it “constructive opposition”, reserving its ire for the left.
As a medical doctor I know the pandemic is no more a force of nature than poverty or golf.
We are not the victims of the virus, as Boris Johnson would have it. We are the victims of the failure to suppress the virus.
Let’s call it what it is: the great failure.
We knew by summer that the virus could not be fought from call centres; that it had to be managed with a huge injection of cash to local public health for personalised isolation and social support.
Failure is on Johnson for failing to prepare for winter. The failure is on Labour for not showing us how.
For a possible hit in the polls in the summer, Labour could have emerged with credibility. Now nobody is listening.
The gods did not put Johnson 10 points ahead in polls, Labour did.
Labour’s constructive opposition was a strategic error and failed the British people. The vaccine may come to the Tories’ rescue, but not to Labour’s.
Yes, there was incompetence and delay, but the decisive error was one of direction.
The key policy error was the centralised test-and-trace, £26billion to the friends of the Tories and next to nothing to local public health.
We were left without a voice. A failure of democracy.
We will come out of the pandemic not as victors, but as something endured, not a collective sense of celebration but of relief.
It is not that we don’t have heroes – we have a multitude of them. The shelf-stacker, bus driver, hospital porter. And so so many more.
The millions who did small and big acts of kindness. They cared for our elderly, our poor and lonely.
In this pandemic we need solidarity and anger; anger at the tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths; and a healthy psychological response to our catastrophic handling of the virus that will assist our recovery from this trauma.
So let’s have a great time when this is over. But if our political leaders show up at our street parties, let’s run them off.Dr O’Brien’s March letter to the CNJ – sections in bold are examples of similarities with Starmer’s artiicle
O’Brien feels that key parts of his letter are reflected in Starmer’s article today and that Starmer should have credited him for their use. Below is a passage from Starmer’s article:
Decision-making was undoubtedly difficult. Mistakes were inevitable… But by the summer we knew much more about the virus. The prime minister was warned to prepare for a second wave. He did not do so. And over twice as many people died in the second wave than in the first. That was avoidable and unforgivable.
The failure to fix contact tracing and self-isolation support? Avoidable. The weak border policy which reimported the virus? Avoidable. The delays to lockdown – not once, not twice, but three times? Avoidable.
That was a failure of leadership. A failure to take the tough decisions needed to keep people safe. That failure lies with the prime minster. It goes to the heart of his character and fitness for office. As the second wave grew, his refusal to take advice or recognise past mistakes had devastating consequences.
But of course, there is a key difference. Where Starmer attempts to put all the blame on the Tories, O’Brien’s letter points out that the guilt is shared by Starmer and his so-called leadership for their collusion and complicity – and O’Brien went further in a comment to Skwawkbox, pointing out that – unlike Starmer’s revisionist article today – at the height of the pandemic death toll last year, he and fellow locals left Keir Starmer a very clear message about his lack of opposition and the ongoing consequences:
This is what we told him in August last year:
In a letter to his local Momentum group commenting on Starmer’s article, O’Brien went on:
It’s too f***ing late now, Keir.
This is not the first time Starmer has tried to rewrite history after backing Boris Johnson or even pushing the Tory PM to go further. After telling Johnson last summer that schools must re-open in September regardless of the consequences – ‘no ifs, no buts, no equivocation’ – Starmer later tried to claim that he had been all caution on the issue of schools, after the rate of new infections rocketed.
Keir Starmer was contacted directly for comment on Dr O’Brien’s allegations and acknowledged receipt of the text message but did not provide any futher response.
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