The Young Communist League has issued an updated statement on the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis and the criminal failure of Boris Johnson’s Tory government to protect working people in Britain.

The response of Boris Johnson’s Tory government to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be criminally negligent. It has now been a month since lockdown measures were belatedly introduced in Britain. This delay was despite repeated warnings from NHS experts and the World Health Organisation and similar measures being taken sooner across Europe and the world.

Since then the situation for working people in Britain has deteriorated sharply. Around 130,000 cases of the virus have been confirmed however this excludes all those who have contracted the virus but who the government has failed to test. Almost 18,000 have now died from the disease. Although even these grim statistics do not reveal the full picture.

The government’s complete failure to implement a proper testing regime makes it impossible to determine the true spread of the virus and at the same time endangers millions of lives. The government has failed to include the thousands of deaths which have occurred in care homes and in the community. This is a deliberate effort by the government to conceal the true extent of the outbreak and their failure to protect the public.

The BBC and the mainstream media have assisted Boris Johnson’s government in this propaganda exercise. The statistics indicate the UK being affected by the crisis to the same extent as, if not worse than, Italy or Spain who are at a later stage in the outbreak. These countries are portrayed in our media as incompetent in responding whereas Boris Johnson and his government are presented as responsible and effective, despite their hand in producing this crisis.

Keir Starmer’s Labour Party have abdicated any responsibility as the official opposition and have declined to criticise the government’s criminal response. This class collaboration provides a whitewash for Tory negligence which Starmer and his Shadow Cabinet must now share a hand in.

The government’s failures are widespread. NHS and other frontline services are continuously running out of PPE, placing workers at risk. Even taking into account today’s announcement of more testing for frontline workers, we are now months into this crisis and the government has still failed to implement a widespread and rigorous testing regime, a measure which has proved effective in other countries.

The government’s economic measures have been focused solely on protecting profits and big business. The furlough and job retention scheme do not go far enough. Hundreds of thousands have already been made redundant or laid off. Millions are now forced to rely on Universal Credit. There is scope for hundreds of thousands of redundancies as time progresses and the scheme is withdrawn.

Britain’s communists have been clear about the solution to this crisis. We need decisive public health measures which prioritise the health and safety of working people. We need economic measures which put workers first, not corporate bailouts and taxpayer funded cash handouts.

The COVID-19 crisis demonstrates the nature of this Tory government and the capitalist system. They are unable and unwilling to safeguard working people. They will try to make us pay for the anti-pandemic measures being taken after the crisis ends through austerity and attacks on living standards.

It is working people who can and must save ourselves from this crisis.

We extend our condolences to all victims of the COVID-19 in every country and to their relatives and friends. We salute the continuing courage and dedication of our NHS staff and of medical and other front-line workers everywhere.

We reiterate the call of the Communist Party to the labour movement and the working class of Britain:

‘Fight together now for all measures necessary to protect the people! Be vigilant in the defence of our democratic freedoms and of our right to struggle for a better society and socialism!’

Executive Committee
Young Communist League

23 April 2020
London, Britain