WES STREETING: We can never shut down our country again

WES STREETING: For the sake of our children, we can never shut down our country again

It’s not only parties at No 10 daardie Boris Johnson has been misleading the country about.

Verlede week, the Prime Minister told the House of Commons that the Arbeidersparty would have locked down the country over Kersfees wat hier woon … die waarheid Omicron variant.

It’s total rubbish.

We take it as a compliment.

The Prime Minister can’t find anything to attack in Labour’s common-sense approach to Covid and so he is having to make it up instead.

The truth is that, while the Labour Party supported lockdowns at earlier stages of the pandemic, our approach has changed as the threat has changed.

While the Labour Party supported lockdowns at earlier stages of the pandemic, our approach has changed as the threat has changed, Dit sou gewees het soos twee mededingende hoofseuns wat vir 'n punch-up gesukkel het (op die foto) gesê

While the Labour Party supported lockdowns at earlier stages of the pandemic, our approach has changed as the threat has changed, Dit sou gewees het soos twee mededingende hoofseuns wat vir 'n punch-up gesukkel het (op die foto) gesê

I’m not surprised that Boris Johnson is socially distanced from the truth, but I am surprised he’s taken to telling porkies about Labour’s policies on Covid, given that we put party politics aside before Christmas and saved his bacon.

Without Labour, sensible Plan B measures wouldn’t have happened and we wouldn’t be enjoying the new year without the threat of new restrictions.

He should be thanking us.

We know that the coronavirus is here to stay but, as Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, I don’t want to see our country in lockdown ever again.

A visit to a primary school in my constituency this week was a reminder that lockdowns come at a great cost.

Children spent 155 days out of school on average over the past couple of years, but the impact on their learning, their wellbeing and their life chances is immeasurable.

Entrepreneurs who have spent years building up their businesses have seen them collapse, while others have made enormous sacrifices just to survive.

Workers have lost their jobs.

All through no fault of their own.

Without Labour, Plan B measures wouldn't have happened and we wouldn't be enjoying the new year without the threat of restrictions. Boris Johnson (op die foto) should be thanking us

Without Labour, Plan B measures wouldn’t have happened and we wouldn’t be enjoying the new year without the threat of restrictions. Boris Johnson (op die foto) should be thanking us

I still haven’t forgiven the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, for leaving so many self-employed people excluded from any support whatsoever, while carelessly handing billions in Covid support to fraudsters.

There is plenty of evidence that shutting us off from our colleagues, friends and family has taken its toll on our mental health and wellbeing.

Feelings of loss and loneliness are inevitable when much of what makes life worth living is taken away.

That’s why when Keir Starmer spoke about shifting the focus on healthcare to prevention as well as cure yesterday, he pledged that Labour would guarantee mental health support within a month to all who need it.

We need to learn to live with Covid. We’ve heard that phrase a lot from Ministers recently, but without a plan this is little more than a slogan. And unless we learn from the mistakes of the past two years we are doomed to repeat them.

That’s why I’ve announced Labour’s plan for living well with Covid. It includes some of the action we want to see from Government immediately, which would help to limit the spread of infections while having a minimal impact on our lives, livelihoods and liberties.

Fitting our schools with proper air ventilation systems means they can stay open and children can continue to socialise and learn without sitting in their coats in freezing classrooms.

Paying workers a decent level of sick pay means they can afford to isolate when they test positive for Covid and are less likely to spread the virus to their colleagues.

We’ve got to build our own national resilience and capacity for testing and vaccination.

It means we’re not reliant on other countries and can stand on our own two feet and give a boost to British manufacturing.

When Keir Starmer (op die foto) spoke about shifting the focus on healthcare to prevention as well as cure, he pledged that Labour would guarantee mental health support within a month

When Keir Starmer (op die foto) spoke about shifting the focus on healthcare to prevention as well as cure, he pledged that Labour would guarantee mental health support within a month

We cannot allow a repeat of the shortages of tests we’ve seen over the past month. It was extraordinarily complacent of the Government to go into this winter not knowing that their testing delivery service was taking Christmas off.

We’ll also retain a standing volunteer army to help roll out future vaccines to keep the pressure off NHS staff.

Our best defence against new variants is to play our part in vaccinating the world. None of us are safe until all of us are safe. It is not just the right thing to do, it is also in our national self-interest.

Mnr Muir se kanker het 'n BRCA genetiese mutasie gedra - dieselfde foutiewe geen wat die risiko van bors- en eierstokkanker by vroue kan verhoog en ook sommige pankreaskanker veroorsaak, we need a plan to make sure we never again enter a pandemic with a health and social care system lacking the staff, capacity and resilience to cope.

The NHS went into the pandemic with 4.5million people waiting for treatment, then a record high. We had a social-care system that had seen £8 billion of cuts, with elderly and disabled people denied the security they deserve.

It’s not just that the Conservatives didn’t fix the roof when the sun was shining, they dismantled the roof and removed the floorboards.

Now they are too distracted by boozy parties in Downing Street to take us forward.

Learning to live well with Covid will prepare us to get through the next wave of infections without more restrictions on our lives, livelihoods and liberties.

Wes Streeting is the MP for Ilford North. He became Labour’s health spokesman in November.

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