Covid A Year On: St Albans MP Daisy Cooper looks back over a year in the shadow of coronavirus
- Credit: Daisy Cooper
St Albans MP Daisy Cooper reflects on the struggles we have faced over the course of the pandemic, and why the government must be held accountable for the lives lost to Covid.
"What a year. It’s been tough for everyone and none more so than for the staff of our NHS hospitals and care settings, who should be remembered – and properly rewarded – for putting their lives at risk to save others.
"In many ways, the pandemic has brought out the best in people, from Clap for Carers on Thursday nights to whole communities pulling together like never before, and the sheer number of volunteers – street champions – who stepped up to support their vulnerable neighbours.
"Also, I doubt there’s been another time in history that all the country’s rough sleepers have been offered secure accommodation and somewhere safe to go.
"That said, as an MP I’ve witnessed the struggle it’s been for many. One of my early tasks was to help rescue St Albans residents stranded overseas by pushing the Government to repatriate Brits as quickly as possible.
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"And I’ve been pushing the Government ever since. As we all know, they’ve been woefully slow and incompetent, from the lack of masks and gowns for NHS staff, to the billions thrown to Tory cronies to procure PPE and the farcical track and trace programme.
"It’s crazy it took so long to deliver financial support for individuals and businesses. Again, Government needed to be pushed. When belatedly they introduced grants for the self-employed, they left out millions of small company directors, freelancers and agency workers. Many have still not received a penny.
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"And in June, following the campaign by Marcus Rashford, I had to quiz the Prime Minister in Parliament about when he was going “to do the right thing” to provide free school meal vouchers over the holidays.
"But the Government’s biggest failing must be the sheer scale of the number of lives lost, that’s led to the highest death toll in Europe. They still need to explain why thousands of Covid patients were moved, untested, from hospitals into care homes. Liberal Democrats were the first to call for an inquiry and we will continue to do so.
"For now, on the anniversary of lockdown, we look to the future. Some are anxious about the easing of lockdown, and losing some of the current safety nets. Others are angry, fuelled by grief, frustration and financial insecurity.
"All of us, however, have hope – hope that soon we’ll be able to get a jab, embrace loved-ones again, sip pints in a pub garden, enjoy live music, and hold on to the community spirit and silver linings that saw us through."