Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1082/30621
Going viral: Socialist comments and letters on the corona crisis
The Covid-19 pandemic is a world social crisis which touches every aspect of life. The iniquities and failings of the capitalist system are being exposed, and workers and communities are organising in response.
Send us your comments, reports, anecdotes and thoughts, in not more than 200 words (we reserve the right to shorten letters), to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We need PPE and tests not medals and lies
I honestly can't believe this. Health professionals are dying because there's no testing and a lack of PPE, and Keir Starmer wants to give out medals! Give me strength!
I also hate it when politicians roll their sleeves up like they're doing work - he's just visiting a hospital not volunteering.
Why hasn't he demanded the government use their emergency powers to take over textile and clothing companies to speed up the manufacture of gowns, masks and other protective clothing?
Why hasn't he demanded the government use its emergency powers to take over all the labs and research facilities, private or otherwise to ramp up the number of tests that can be carried out?
Why hasn't he demanded the government use its emergency powers to requisition manufacturers to produce ventilators instead of watch them mess about to see what percentage of the cartel they will get?
He's not a Labour leader, he's posturing. The worst thing you can do in a crisis where over 10,000 people have lost their lives.
We need the trade unions to demand the above from a government that comes on telly every day at 5pm to lie about how good they are! If the union leaders don't there are plenty of socialists out there willing to do just that!
Hugo Pierre, Unison national executive committee (personal capacity)
PPE: No more diversions
Every time Matt Hancock is asked about PPE, or the lack of it, or healthcare workers deaths, he always brings it back to staying in.
The lack of PPE is killing people now, not youths sitting in the park. It's a really crude diversionary tactic.
They had four years to prepare. They were told four years ago to stockpile PPE. They never.
They could have initiated a slow lockdown from January. They never.
It is not people going out now that has made this crisis so tragic, it's what was done before. And they don't want us to think about that.
Nancy Taaffe, Waltham Forest, London
PPE: Collective action needed
The Royal College of Nurses (RCN) says nurses should refuse to treat coronavirus patients, "as a last resort", if they don't have PPE.
This is just not good enough - leaving every nurse and NHS worker to individually refuse to work without proper safety.
The RCN and Unison should be organising action collectively until every NHS worker has the equipment they need to keep themselves and us safe.
Ross Saunders, Cardiff
Bristol councillors give themselves pay rise for sacking workers
Bristol councillors voted unanimously on 17 March to accept an independent remuneration panel's recommendation and award themselves, and the Labour Bristol mayor, eye-watering increases in expenses and pay.
This was just days before many workers learned that they would be made redundant, furloughed, or have their wages slashed for the duration of the Covid-19 emergency.
Elections scheduled for May have been postponed until 2021. Several of these greedy councillors might not be re-elected or decide to stand again.
Rather than displaying the merest shred of understanding, they decided not to postpone their increases until then, but to stuff their bank accounts now.
According to local press, the 'debate' took all of 37 seconds. Not one voice piped up to at least question the insensitivity of the timing.
This outrageous action will not be forgotten by Bristolians. The Socialist Party will publicise it widely and stand for election across the city next year, including going head to head against incumbent mayor, Marvin Rees.
To add salt to the wound, the council continues to demand that everyone pay their council tax, even though for people who pay through their local post office, this option is no longer possible.
Robin Clapp, Bristol
Refused Universal Credit from my hospital bed
After being furloughed, I was advised to claim Universal Credit (UC) by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which I did. I informed DWP that I was in hospital with Covid-19.
They then sent a note requesting half a ton of info, which was obviously at home. I gave them a piece of my mind, but their lack of humanity is literally breathtaking.
This awful approach must be made public. The PCS union needs to know what is happening.
This is a scandal, and must be happening to others.
Steve Nally, Lambeth, London
Capitalism has failed, never again
This pandemic has shown that we should never trust the market to take control of our lives.
The rundown and privatisation of the NHS, even without this virus, put lives at risk. Years of austerity left the country ill-prepared.
The rich still fly private planes and demand money from the state to save them, as they sunbathe in their Caribbean tax havens.
Just as workers after World War Two said 'no return to the thirties', socialists today say 'no return to austerity', because the capitalists want workers to pay for the rich's mistakes.
Some say 'wait before you criticise'. But if you don't criticise now, you are taking the side of the rich and powerful.
Sean Brogan, Devon
Contact tracing app? Another Tory smokescreen
The Tories are proposing a contact tracing app to battle coronavirus. This has only been affective in countries that get test results back within a couple of hours.
This is another smokescreen by the Tories - so it looks like they are doing something - instead of sorting PPE, testing and ventilators for the NHS.
Dave Moody, Bristol
Boris Johnson's hero
Boris Johnson is a fan of Winston Churchill. If Churchill had his way there would be no NHS.
Churchill's Tories voted against the formation of the NHS 21 times before the act was passed. Churchill believed that the NHS was a "first step to turn Britain into a National Socialist economy".
Derek McMillan, Worthing
New York governor Andrew Cuomo has expressed concern that the majority of deaths from Covid-19 in the USA are poor people. "We've got to learn the lessons why" he opined.
It seems the governor isn't a keen history student. If he was, he would have known that during the devastating 1918 influenza pandemic, those living in poor neighbourhoods were much more likely to die from the virus than the wealthy.
Perhaps the lesson is: 'end poverty'?
A rocket scientist
Tragic NHS worker death
On 18 March Dr Abdul Mabud Chowdhury wrote to Boris Johnson. He asked him to "urgently ensure PPE for each and every NHS worker in the UK."
Three weeks later, Dr Chowdhury, aged 53, died after 15 days in hospital with Covid-19. He had told the prime minister that healthcare workers "have a human right like others to live in this world disease-free with our families and children."
Dr Chowdhury was a locum urologist at my local hospital, Homerton Hospital, in Hackney, east London. It's our only major hospital following the closure of several in the surrounding area.
The same week that Dr Chowdhury's death hit the news, my neighbourhood WhatsApp group shared an appeal from Homerton Hospital. In desperation for PPE, the hospital was asking for donations of swimming goggles, visors and other equipment like baby monitors.
Within 24 hours local residents donated an estimated 400 items. An amazing achievement.
But how long will they last in this major hospital? And how effective will these second-hand items be compared to purpose-made PPE?
I suspect there are similar stories across Britain and the world. What an indictment this is of the failures of the rotten capitalist system and the politicians who ignored all the warnings.
Our neighbourhood WhatsApp group was started as an aid and support group, but the fear and goodwill are turning to anger. A few of us have shared articles and reports, including the amazing work by Moe, a Socialist Party member and union rep in Unite, who is forcing the issue of protection for bus drivers and cleaners.
This is a political issue, not an unfortunate act of nature. We have turned the passive hand-clapping Thursday into a shout out, with slogans like "test, test, test! PPE! Keep all workers virus-free!"
People are angry and getting angrier, and we must not allow the Tories and their media to use their distraction tactics of blaming us for government failures. They never take responsibility for the failures of their rotten system. Hillsborough - blame the fans. Grenfell - blame the tenants and the firefighters. If we are unemployed, sick, homeless - it's our fault.
Well, it's not! It's the fault and failure of a corrupt system, capitalism, that cannot provide for and protect us.
Alexis Edwards, Hackney
In The Socialist 15 April 2020:
What we think
Lessons from history