The Central Committee of the Young Communist League has issued the following statement in response to the record increases in COVID infections and the government’s total incompetence battling the pandemic.
The fact that after almost two years of pandemic working people in Britain face the very real prospect of yet another lockdown is a damning indictment of the failure of the Tory government and the devolved administrations to combat COVID.
The number of new daily cases of infection reached over 100,000 in a single day for the first time this week. Well over 150,000 people have now died from COVID. The vast majority of these deaths were completely preventable.
From the offset Britain’s ruling class has been happy to gamble with the lives of working people to protect private profits and the value of shares in the City of London.
They resisted calls for an early lockdown in 2020, all in order to keep the economy functioning ‘normally’ for as long as possible. Valuable lessons could and should have been learned and applied in the months that have followed.
The Tories and the SNP will tell you the latest wave is simply due to the freak occurrence of a new variant. However, the reality is that this eventuality, in a pandemic scenario, knowing what we know about this virus already, was entirely predictable.
We’ve seen that a number of other countries have been effective at containing and suppressing the spread of the new variant. They’ve done this by taking effective precautionary measures, before infections numbers have started to mushroom – not once the horse has already bolted. This was the clearest lesson from the first waves the country endured and yet it hasn’t been learned.
Who pays for this failure of the Britain’s ruling class and their politicians? As ever its working people and the youth.
Working people getting infected, dying, losing livelihoods, having our education, lives and plans endlessly disrupted.
All the while corrupt profiteering continues to be the main priority of the ruling class and their politicians. The list is endless, from selling unusable PPE at inflated prices, awarding contracts worth billions to Tory donors to paying billions for a test and trace system that didn’t work.
While working people have been dying, battling the pandemic and having our lives endlessly disrupted – the ruling class have had their snout in the trough.
At the same time, Boris Johnson and his Party have been shamelessly flouting the very rules they implemented and laughing about it. While working people were dying alone, unable to say goodbye to their loved ones, Tory bureaucrats were joking about being caught in mock press conferences in Downing Street.
This latest wave hasn’t been a case of bad luck or inevitability. The socialist countries such as Cuba, China and Vietnam have effectively battled and contained the virus because they put human life before profit. The vast majority of the deaths in Britain were unnecessary and completely avoidable. Tory and SNP governments have to be held to account.
We still need a real strategy to beat and contain the virus.
We need to fight for a post-COVID recovery that prioritises jobs, housing, health and education.
Britain’s communists are calling for:
A genuine zero COVID strategy
- Order compulsory home working for all workers able to do so.
- Introduce online learning wherever possible for pupils and students.
- Increase the speed of vaccine roll out, including by providing additional funding for vaccine take up among minority groups with low up take.
- Implement scientifically supported restrictions until new cases in the community have been reduced close to zero.
- Tighten COVID screening and quarantine times at all points of entry to Britain.
Support for the youth and working people
- The introduction of a new furlough scheme that guarantees full pay for all workers.
- A nationwide ban on all layoffs and redundancies.
- Full pay protection for all employees and no requirement to use annual leave during self isolation.
- Guaranteed reinstatement for all employees already laid off or made redundant.
- Fines for employers who fail to comply and damages for affected employees.
- A guaranteed minimum income for the self-employed affected by the crisis.
- Emergency legislation abolishing Universal Credit and providing full benefits to all unemployed, substantially increasing statutory sick pay and child benefit.
- Free childcare and creche services to those in frontline healthcare and essential occupations.
- Increased financial support for small businesses closed due to the crisis.
- Emergency legislation to force insurers to cover lost income due to the crisis backdated to 11 March 2020.
A real strategy for schools
- Closure of all schools (except for the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils) until there has been a significant reduction in COVID infections and transmission rates.
- Guarantees that British and devolved Governments will consult and obtain agreement with education trade unions and independent scientific advisors on reopening schools – and only doing so when and where it is safe to do so.
- Government funding and support to be put in place to ensure all students have access to IT resources and free broadband to enable online learning.
- Guaranteed meals across Britain for all children affected by closures who request them, without means testing.
- Guaranteed fair assessments for students across Britain affected by lockdown and school closures agreed in consultation with education trade unions.
An end to the scandal facing university and college students
- Tuition fee cancellations and refunds for all students affected by COVID.
- Rent refunds for students and an option to have a penalty free cancellation of all rental contracts, inclusive of university halls and private lets.
- Government financial support for students who have been forced to isolate.
- Funded extensions for all postgraduate research affected by the pandemic.
- Guaranteed fair assessments for students across Britain affected by lockdown and school closures agreed in consultation with education trade unions and student unions.
A reckoning for the politicians, privateers and corrupt donors
- A public inquiry and criminal investigation into the incompetent response of the Tory government and the devolved administrations to the pandemic.
- A public inquiry and criminal investigation into Tory and SNP government contracts which have been issued during the pandemic to firms with clear links to government politicians.
The duty once again falls to the left, the labour movement and the youth to lead the fight for the necessary measures to save lives and beat the pandemic. But we also have the opportunity to broaden the battle lines, to unite working people and win a post-pandemic recovery that works for working people.
2022 will be a crucial year and we can’t squander this chance.
Young Communist League
24 December 2021