It goes without saying that 2020 has so far been an extraordinary and saddening year. Devastating forest fires in Australia, and then we were hit with a deadly virus, Covid-19. As a UK citizen, its been upsetting to watch the tragedy of death and suffering unfold.  I have  profound sympathies to anyone affected by Coronavirus.

More recently, we have had the tragic murder of George Floyd which was a despicable crime. The murder has sparked wholly justified worldwide protests. I would always encourage people’s right to peacefully protest within the law. I am so glad to see the protests beginning to affect change, for example unneeded statues being removed. What were these statues even doing up in the first place?

I am very thankful to everyone who has helped keep the UK going throughout this ongoing national crisis, the NHS and other keyworkers. Indeed, thanks to all the citizens who have faithfully stuck to the lockdown rules and played their part in averting an even worse situation.

There appears to be some indications of the virus at least beginning to go into retreat, my own view is we need to be extremely careful to avoid complacency. Let’s all of us keep doing everything we can to avoid the spread of the virus. But at least, the daily mortality figures are currently on a downward trajectory.

At this time of national emergency, a bi-partisan constructive approach is important, but we also need to be realistic about problems with Conservative government policy that need to be remedied, and not be afraid to ask searching questions.

Why do we have 63 000 excess deaths in the UK so far this year? which is a higher amount than any other country in Europe? Why did we only have limited PPE stocks before the virus arrived, much of the  PPE equipment was out of date and had to be tested and issued with new use by dates before it could be used. Why was there a delay in the UK, before we locked down (as compared to other countries)? Whilst the Boris Johnson government  flirted with the idea of ‘herd immunity’ to manage the virus.

However in fairness, when the government did come on board with coronavirus, they put in place necessary financial programs to help protect the economy. What the virus has made clear, is that sometimes huge state intervention is necessary to avoid a national catastrophe.

When in the future Covid-19 disappears from the headlines, there is going to be a long and forensic enquiry into what went wrong and right during the crisis. But, even more importantly as a society we must learn from this. In the future we must be better prepared for a pandemic, with a robust NHS and enough PPE for everyone.

All of us, whichever political party we belong too, must now acknowledge that the ‘free market’ by itself, won’t magically provide for everyone.  We have to all work together, to build a fairer and kinder society, with a comprehensive NHS and a proper welfare safety net. We need decent and affordable housing for every citizen. Let’s build a strong mixed economy, and aim for equal opportunity for all.

James Bickle.

 

This blog article is the personal view of a member of the Meon Valley Labour constituency Labour Party (CLP) and may not represent the official policy or views of the Labour Party.

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