Today marks one year since our country entered the first lockdown. My heart goes out to everyone who has been affected by coronavirus and my thoughts, in particular, are with all those who have tragically lost loved ones. Every death has been devastating, and many of those grieving have been unable to properly say goodbye to their loved ones, comfort or even hug each other.
Because a decade of austerity weakened the foundations of our public services, we were not ready for this pandemic. And I’m sorry to say that, throughout the past twelve months, the Government has repeatedly failed the British public – failed to increase sick pay, failed to protect our health and social care staff with PPE, failed to act early enough with lockdowns, and failed to establish a decent test and trace system.
We owe it to those whose lives have been lost to learn the lessons from the pandemic and to build a stronger, more secure future for our country. Labour are getting behind bereaved families – and many others, including medics, scientists and ethnic minority leaders – in calling on the Government for a public inquiry into its handling of the pandemic.
By learning from this tragedy, by building a fairer society, and by understanding the strength and resilience we tapped into to get through this hardest of times, we can be better prepared for whatever challenges come next and can rebuild our country and public services so we do not leave people from ethnic minority backgrounds or deprived communities so exposed again in the future.