Westminster Diary: Second lockdown is only buying us time

Daisy Cooper. Picture: St Albans Cathedral

Daisy Cooper. Picture: St Albans Cathedral - Credit: Archant

St Albans MP Daisy Cooper offers her take on a week in Westminster...

No one wanted us to return to a national lockdown and understandably many are feeling deflated and frustrated about it. Families across the UK have made huge sacrifices and have faced terrible hardships during this pandemic and I am deeply frustrated and horrified that we are in a position, again, where we have to endure another national lockdown. 

The vote was the hardest decision yet I have had to make as an MP and required much soul-searching. MPs were faced with two stark and horrible options. On the one hand, a second lockdown would inflict further damage on people’s lives, liberties and the economy; on the other, without a lockdown, our NHS could have become overwhelmed.  The latter would undoubtedly have resulted in further deaths from Covid, and from other conditions that our health service would no longer be in a position to treat. And for that reason, I voted for the lockdown.  

However, this lockdown was not inevitable. At every stage of this pandemic, the Government has dithered and delayed. There was an opportunity for us to have a shorter lockdown some weeks ago but this chance was squandered. Lessons from abroad show that these shorter, timely restrictions are more effective at tackling the virus and inflict much less long-term damage on the economy. 

Until we have a vaccine, the only way to manage the virus is through a comprehensive strategy to test, trace and isolate every single case of coronavirus but the system is in disarray. Whilst the Conservatives boast about testing capacity, test results are not getting turned around fast enough, contact tracing rates are at their lowest and self-isolation isn’t working.

Lockdowns are only helpful for one thing - to buy time. It is now absolutely critical that Ministers use the time during the second lockdown to get a grip on the broken test, trace and isolate system and ensure people have the practical and financial support to isolate when they need to. Failure to get this right will put even more people’s lives, livelihoods and liberties at stake.