Our youth officer, Howard Green, wrote the following article. It is his personal view.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused somewhat of a blip in the world. Every country is definitely making measures to prevent the spread of this virus. It seems like everyone has a universal objective and is dealing with it. However this is far from the truth.
Our government has issued warnings to people who suffer symptoms of COVID-19 to ‘self-isolate’, wash their hands more frequently and avoid large gatherings. Many sports events have been cancelled, but we are unsure whether this is through government advice or common decency from sporting organisations. These measures are not unwelcome, but are incredibly passive. More importantly, they are not being challenged to the extent an opposition party should!
One reason for this is that the Labour party lacks a formal leader at the moment – efectivley an interregnum. We cannot (in principle) set out a view on tackling COVID-19 that our future leader may not agree with. Our party situation is not beneficial to the wider disaster that is currently going on at the moment.
But the second (and more concerning) reason is that it appears that the Labour Party is being less critical of the Governments response because it is an emergency situation. This is not how the Labour Party should respond to such a drastic issue.
It is agreeable that we should not be a purposeful thorn in the governments side in them making any measures, but we should be honest about their approach. Their approach has been a disaster and this country have failed to respond at the pace of countries in Europe. The only critique that has come out in the PLP of the government has been the budget, which avoided the issue of COVID-19 for the most part.
There is enough anger from Labour Party members, trade unions and working class people on social media on how the lazy government response has affected them. No economic adjustments for those at the lowest economic threshold have been made during the outbreak. Yet our party superiors stand silent for the most part.
There is most certainly argument and noise to be made. This outbreak goes the show the true fundamental and operative nature that the NHS provides to our citizens. Seizure of private hospital beds have been suggested formally in parliament but traction hasn’t been made on the suggestion. This is because politicians are being both silent on social media and in parliament.
Silence in an emergency is violence in it self. If our politicians share our beliefs, then they should make as much noise as possible without delaying serious measures being implemented.
This has also been a time in which Labour has been silent on international matters. We are suffering the pandemic after China which means we can take good example from them. China are certainly not immune to criticism but their response to the virus should be admired. Temporary hospitals were built in a matter of days, cities were shut down at the expense of foreign business but lives were saved. China has gone from 15,000 cases being reported in one day in mid-February to 15 being reported. We should show solidarity and take example from their response, even if we get labelled as ‘communists’.
Solidarity should be shown with European neighbours such as Denmark, who closed down most institutions including schools even before they had a confirmed case. According to many, this would not be possible under a non-authoritarian capitalist state.
Although it might seem egoist of me to suggest that Labour can make a case for our movement during a time of great emergency if we genuinely believe that our movement can save lives at a time like this. As previously mentioned, people within our party are disgusted by the response our government has made. I believe candidates should unite for a piece of material that is against the passive measures that have been put in place by our government and explain what we would have done and what we possibly can do. If candidates do not agree on measures we can take, then I fear for our party.
Our lack of noise is understandable, but is not radical. Blood will be on the hands of our party if we do not put immediate formal pressure on our government.