Northumberland Labour say the anniversary of the Covid lock down reminds us, not only of the positives such as greater community spirit and the success of the vaccination programme, but also of the tragedy of needless lives lost.
Labour Group leader Susan Dungworth said: “It is amazing to see the Covid vaccination programme, led by the NHS, rolling out. It shows that, when the NHS is in charge, great things be achieved.
“Reflecting back on this year we have seen many positives; doorstep clapping for carers and key workers, amazing acts of kindness and generosity in our communities, home schooling and schools remaining open to look after key worker and vulnerable children and many people getting to grips with new technology to keep in touch with friends and families.
“But the anniversary has also been a sobering one. At the beginning of the pandemic, the government’s own chief scientific advisor said we’d be doing well if deaths peaked at around 20,000. Many people hearing that were shocked, so it is an absolutely tragedy that the UK death toll is at least eight times higher (150,000); one of the worst death rates per head of population anywhere in the world.
“We hear people saying ‘Boris is doing his best’. If this is his best it simply isn’t good enough. He was still shaking hands with people who had Covid and became a Covid victim himself. That is not leadership; that is arrogance and ignorance. It nearly cost him his life and it did cost other people theirs.
“Thousands of families are grieving because this government continuously acted too late and did too little. There are many examples of countries who did much better, so it’s no excuse to say people doubt he could have done any better.
“Northumberland people played their part and the vast majority stuck and are still sticking to the rules, but they were badly let down by the government.
“The NHS Track and Trace system has cost £22bn so far and is not effective. The government simply did not trust local public health departments, whose bread and butter is to carry out track and trace, to tackle it. The government went as far as preventing local public health departments having access to infection information which would have enabled them to trace infected people and get them to self isolate. They were wrong.
“The Tories argued that things must open up quickly to allow the economy to recover. The truth is if we had locked down earlier, when advised by the scientists, we would have been able to open the economy up sooner. At every step of the way the government has caused more problems than it has solved and, tragically, lives and livelihoods have been lost as a result.
“We in Northumberland Labour will be pressing for an inquiry so that the truth can come out, grieving people can get answers, lessons can be learned and we are ready for the next virus that comes along.”