Dominic Raab stands in for daily briefing, 9 April 2020. Photo: Number 10 via Youtube Dominic Raab stands in for daily briefing, 9 April 2020. Photo: Number 10 via Youtube

The tide is turning, with the public and even the press seeing through the Tory failings over Coronavirus, says Chrissy Brand

Even some of the mainstream media, the very organs that lied and smeared to create the conditions for a racist, homophobic Tory Party leader to come to power, are starting to question the actions and priorities of this incompetent government.

It was an LBC journalist who today asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to commit to a review of and an increase in wages for the NHS workers; the people the entire country is relying on at present, under pressure and conditions never endured before.

Just as with the daily questions demanding why adequate PPE and testing are still not in place, the smooth talking Raab sidestepped the question and effectively echoed his colleague, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, whose recent response was that “now is not the time” to be discussing an increase in wages for the country’s key workers.

Even while their leader is still in intensive care, his life being saved by a team of the overstretched and underfunded NHS, the government say this issue is still not open to discussion. Even on the day when Westminster awarded an additional £10,000 for each MP to cover their office expenses whilst working from home. The hypocrisy and gall is bad enough; the sheer immorality beggars belief.

At some point later this year, when life returns to more normal conditions, you can see the likes of Raab and Hancock preparing to say that because the economy was tanked by the pandemic and we are in recession, there is no money available to properly pay the key workers who have saved lives and put their own lives at risk.

Nurses who have had to fashion their own PPE out of clinical waster bags, and have contracted coronavirus in the process, as is the case with three nurses at Northwick Park Hospital in north-west London, it emerged yesterday.

Student nurses who are literally having to pay in order to look after us on the front line. When the Tories scrapped the NHS Bursary, nurses had to take out  student loans to pay university fees.  If they are too ill  to work or contract COVID-19, work they do not get sick pay, and have to make up any hours missed before they can qualify.

A poll carried out last week by Ipsos Mori on behalf of the Policy Institute at King’s College London showed that  Over two-thirds of the public think the government acted too slowly to control the spread of coronavirus. Another poll showed that a third of the UK public feel the police have gone too far in the way they have enforced lockdown.

We must build the movement and be prepared to fight, for every key worker, for every carer and every NHS worker, so many of whom have contracted coronavirus because the government was negligent in providing PPE.

Heavy Handed policing

The police are abusing their powers. While it is one thing to stop crowds gathering or the occasional couple who ill advisedly have a BBQ on a beach, it is not acceptable for them to be checking people’s shopping trolleys. Chief Constable Nick Adderley of Northamptonshire Police, stated that his force will commence this in a few days.

Neither is it acceptable to stop and question individuals who are obviously just going for a walk or to their place of work, as has been the case in parts of East Sussex this week.

With a sunny Easter weekend upon us, the police need to exercise common sense: people need green spaces, city centres are packed with dwellers who have no outside space.

In central Manchester there is little green space, so people need to go a little way to find a river or canal to walk besides, or a public park. In London there is a large population without gardens but there are plenty of green spaces that need to remain open and be used. Witness the petition this week to reopen the People’s Park, Victoria Park in east London.

A day after that petition was launched, Tower Hamlets Council announced that Victoria Park would reopen this weekend.  This victory, and the way that popular pressure led to shutting the schools, shows that when we organise we can win better protection.  This is important because these protections are not going to be granted willingly from above.

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