Jeremy Corbyn sends a bold letter to Boris Johnson, demanding better for frontline workers

Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson
Ed Sykes

On 4 April, a new Labour Party leader will replace Jeremy Corbyn. But far from leaving quietly, Corbyn has remained a true leader to the very end.

On 31 March, Corbyn wrote to Boris Johnson about his coronavirus response. He called for much greater support for workers, especially those on the frontline. Some critics have called the government’s response so far a “national scandal”, with NHS workers in particular seriously concerned about the lack of protective equipment (PPE).

Protect those “risking their lives to save lives”

Corbyn called for the government to “immediately” provide “full PPE… for health and social care workers”, saying of NHS staff:

These dedicated public servants are risking their lives to save lives. They deserve the best protection possible.

He also stressed:

Care workers are scandalously poorly paid. Now is the moment to recognise their true value to our society and provide them with the protection they need.

He added:

Testing and tracing for coronavirus has to be expanded immediately. The World Health Organisation told us to “test, test, test”. I have seen reports that up to a quarter of NHS staff are having to self-isolate. They must be urgently tested so that those who do not have the virus can return to work. The lack of testing and tracing for social care workers is risking their health and that of those they care for, who are the most vulnerable to the virus.

Stronger action necessary

Corbyn also expressed serious concern “about the capacity and resilience of the social care system”, saying:

Given the staff shortages that existed even before the coronavirus pandemic, it is essential that we encourage former or recently retired care workers to return to the profession.

We have concerns about the resources available for social care and the provisions within the emergency legislation to reduce care standards. Please can you set out what extra resources have been provided to each local council for social care since the coronavirus crisis began?

He then called for the closure of “non-essential construction, factories, warehouse facilities and other large-scale workplaces”. And he highlighted that many employers were “failing to implement social distancing”, calling for “a multi-agency approach to enforce it”. He also asked the government to “act decisively to suspend lay-offs”, while questioning “substantial gaps” in support for self-employed people and people struggling with housing costs. He stressed:

We need a strengthened safety net for workers who have been laid off. Benefits in the UK are low compared to those of other European states. Key benefits should be immediately and substantially increased, including Carer’s Allowance and Child Benefit. Statutory sick pay must be raised without delay, especially given the Health Secretary’s admission that he could not survive on it.

Finally, he called for greater global coordination of efforts to fight coronavirus.

Stop this from happening again

Corbyn concluded that “the coronavirus crisis is highlighting the extent of our dependence on each other”, adding crucially that:

we can no longer tolerate the inequality and insecurity that has left all of us weaker than we should have been in the face of this pandemic.

The response to this crisis has highlighted that it was always possible for the government to inject money into the economy to protect lives. It just chose not to, choosing instead to call people like Corbyn ‘radical‘ for demanding such action.

The legacy Corbyn leaves is one where we should never be afraid to question the establishment again. He empowered Labour members who knew that change was possible. But many on the party’s parliamentary right did their best to undermine him; and as film director Ken Loach recently said, members’ “strength was not mobilised” sufficiently to stop this sabotage. Now, Labour centrist Keir Starmer is the favourite to succeed Corbyn as leader; and there’s already talk of a likely purge of left-wingers if he wins. But the left has most certainly not lost the argument.

So far in the coronavirus crisis, Starmer has faced accusations of failing to push for meaningful support for workers. Corbyn, meanwhile, has been a true leader to the very end. If Starmer succeeds him, he’ll have massive shoes to fill.

Featured image via Wikimedia – Sophie Brown / YouTube – BBC News

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  • Show Comments
    1. The Tories don’t want to improve the conditions of front-line medical staff. They want to lose a lot of them because of their privatisation plans, where they’re not going to need as many doctors, nurses and other health specialists. They want them first to undercut each other for the fewer positions that are available in the private health sector, thereby saving BUPA, VirginCare etc lots of money in salaries; then they want them to drive the wages lower for the unskilled when they apply for jobs outside their own skills sets.

      Imagine how low they can drive wages for ordinary people when they’re in competition for jobs with nurses and even doctors, as well as other professionals (ex-policemen, firemen) already chasing low-paid insecure jobs.

      1. Jeeeeez JohnnyTurk!, not another pointless antagonistic post? YOU are hopeless to the bitter end, and unlike you, Jeremy Corbyn writes to people that can do something about this situation, whereas your posts help no one at all … well except maybe to register your ignorance, and disdain of Jeremy Corbyn, Cuba, Socialism, Public Healthcare, and care-workers, but who the hell are you? You are a nobody, with nowhere even close to Jeremy Corbyn’s skill and intellect.

        It’s dumb people like you, and your destructive habits, that are driving this country into the dirt. … what have you done to try and alleviate the suffering of a large portion of the UK? Oh yeah, … you came on here to post your revelatory thoughts … whoop, whoop!

        Why you comment on a news website you don’t like is obviously to be a troll for your parliamentary paymasters, or because you are already too bored with your own existence. No point denying it, you are so fixated on your hatred towards Jeremy, that you cannot possibly hold any socialist values, but are in fact head-over-heels in love with Neo-liberal Tory/Tory-Lite policies, and a lover of Authoritarianism.

        You behave like you know so much more, and can do far better than Jeremy Corbyn, so why not prove it, and rescue this nation, go on, prove you can do SO much better … you can’t can you? You have no power, and you have a tentative grasp of reality, you don’t even have a solution that makes Jeremy’s last letter look as bad as you desperately want/need it to be.

        That was just a pointless and mean post that serves no good purpose for anybody. He’s fucking left already, or were you too blinded by your own narcissism to notice? Perhaps you though he was making another play for power, and your Tory/Tory-Lite ass puckered up in fear at the thought of Socialistic values gaining traction?

        Yes this is a nasty post, for a nasty person that cannot take the shit they dish out.

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