What our expectations should be of the Government in relation to entering Tier Five Covid-19 Pandemic in 2021
On the evening of the 4th of January, Prime Minister Johnson, went on television to confirm what most of the nation had anticipated, many had called for, but for the entire Christmas period the government had been in denial over; a new lockdown was necessary. It had been clear for some time that the pandemic was very real, and with the new variant it is also extremely dangerous. Despite this, the response from Johnson’s Government continued to be terrible and complacent; but to make the situation worse, the Labour Party under Starmer has shown itself completely incapable of holding the Government to account. It was not the two main parties that voiced concerns about the return of pupils and students after the break; but parents, teachers and their unions who were raising concerns about the safety of the community. We express our full solidarity with the NEU which was at the forefront of this struggle and we support its National Recovery Plan for Education.
Simply hoping that by going into a nation-wide Tier Five lockdown and initiating a vaccination programme will slow down, contain, and eradicate the virus is totally irresponsible. Firmer action is needed, right now! Left Unity believes it is grossly irresponsible to portray the Government as bumbling fools; it is vital to address the reality of the situation from the political understanding that within its ranks are strategists who are out to serve their own monetary and political interests. The Government are out-and-out disaster capitalists and it is in their monetary interest, not the interests of the vast majority of people in this country, to shipwreck the NHS and pretend the private sector will ride to the rescue. It is also within their monetary interests to make people despair and to feel that there is nothing they can do. The government has been criminally negligent in not pursuing the essential ‘Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support approach that would be be central to a serious Zero Covid strategy.
With an uncaring Government that has already pursued policies that have contributed towards millions of deaths, it is crucial to organise to protect our people, especially those who are at the greatest risk. Left Unity in this statement are outlining what we believe our expectations should be of the Government in relation to entering Tier Five and to issue a rallying call around them.
Our expectations centre around developing a national strategy that can be delivered locally.
The first priority must be to put people before profit and this requires us to demand:
There are many groups of people who have already been in isolation and support for those isolating needs to be improved with the new situation.
Everyone isolating or ill at home must be checked up on to ensure they are safe and get what treatment is available. Support needs to be available for those who are ill, but have caring responsibilities.
We are seeing millions facing stress and anxiety due to their financial situation and we believe instant financial support ought to be made available. Offering businesses a one-off £9,000 is a sick joke.
Accommodation must be readily available for those who cannot isolate at home and it must be free of charge. There are plenty of empty hotel rooms.
Now there is a national lockdown, university students must be encouraged not to move from where they are living now. Pressure should be put on the big Wi-Fi companies to ensure that every home has accessible Wi-Fi . In addition, we believe every child must have a laptop or tablet. The BBC should devote at least one channel to educational programmes, targeted to different ages.
Finally, Local Authorities must be fully funded and austerity cuts respected to allow the local people who know their areas to operate effectively.
Our expectations arise from understanding the current social and situation. The pandemic has laid bare the terrible extent of child poverty in this country. Most children in poverty have at least one parent working. Neither wages not benefits are sufficient to protect these children.
We therefore call for benefits to be immediately increased. We should demand that food be provided for everyone in need of it because no-one can fight off the virus whilst they are malnourished. Local food plans must be developed.
It is a scandal that a full on reorganisation towards a US , for profit model, politically financially and ideologically driven is under way during this pandemic. NHS reorganisation must be halted now. The full focus of the NHS must be to protect the patients. Full financial support must be given to all trusts. Bullying from management must stop. Unions must be consulted. Greater efforts must be made to improve protection from infection within the hospitals.
Every migrant currently denied the right to work in the UK must be given those rights so qualified doctors nurses and pharmacists are not sat idle and unable to work when they are desperately needed. No one is safe until we are each safe; so the hostile environment and migrant charges must be abolished, so every human can access testing and treatment.
The recruitment and training of extra staff for the NHS has priority. Some of this will not be in time for this pandemic but will strengthen the NHS capacity in the long run. The pandemic has laid bare the crisis within the Social Care sector and campaigning for a new national care, support and independent living service must be urgently stepped up. Disabled adults are among the most affected groups hit by the pandemic and Government’s policies, resulting in an erosion of their civil and human rights.
The swift development of vaccines must be acknowledged as an achievement, but they will not control this second wave of the virus. We have to therefore use traditional methods of denying the virus access to people. We are now facing the consequences of the virus being allowed to rip through our schools and our young people. A virus unimpeded will inevitably mutate, and we see the effects of this. One that runs through a particular social or age group will adapt to suit that group.
The situation for people living in residential and care homes, for their families and friends, and for the care workers is grim and heart breaking. Some have not seen their loved ones for many months. It is unacceptable for residents to be denied access to medical help.
Left Unity calls for the waiting period for Universal Credit must be removed and debts waived.
People behind with paying rent must supported to avoid anxiety and being evited. Lifetime tenancies made available to stop homelessness. All vacant or unoccupied accommodation must be brought into use with compensation being made through long term government bonds
Home heating bills must be subsidised for all affected by the pandemic. Ventilation systems must be developed.
When the virus is under control and the school’s reopen the plans from independent Sage and the trade unions must be in place to keep the children and staff safe.
A green new deal is urgently required to create good useful and sustainable jobs. The virus is a terrible threat but climate catastrophe out matches it.
All workplaces of essential workers must be made safe from the virus in conjunction with the unions. Equipment like ventilation and PPE should be made available.
There are the expectations and demands we make of the Government. However, in the absence of effective government action, the trade unions must themselves step up and help wherever they can. People are looking for ways to work together to save lives and to change the world that led to this crisis. We must seize the time. Local unions can call emergency online assemblies to help put pressure on the government and to coordinate recruitment to the unions.
By adopting this kind of approach, the crisis can be well managed, and contribute to the long term increase in the well-being and wealth of the people. The alternative, the current approach, is grim indeed.
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