I cannot support another lockdown which divides us
I support the Prime Minister and I support the levelling up agenda, I just cannot support another lockdown which divides us, writes Stephen McPartland MP. | PA Images
The sacrifices made during the first lockdown were not easy. Instead of locking down again, we should try and make the tier system work and invest resources in tackling Covid outbreaks in small communities.
I support the Prime Minister and I believe he is doing the best he can in an impossible situation. He has rightly listened to the experts and tried to bring the country together on a number of occasions. It is clear the government have not got everything right, but we have protected the incomes of millions of families with the biggest economic bailout this country has ever seen.
In the 2008 financial crisis, the Labour government bailed out the banks. I am proud that in this health induced economic crisis, a Conservative government is bailing out families, businesses, charities, and the Arts.
Could the Government have done more? Of course, there is always more that can be done, but the Prime Minister and Chancellor have always listened. For example, I publicly campaigned for the self-employed grant to be extended from the original three months and the Government listened and took action.
In my area and across the whole of our United Kingdom, local people, businesses and charities came together back in March to help protect the NHS and save lives. My team and I worked from our homes and helped hundreds of constituents every day. We are back in our office, and still their first port of call when they have not been able to get the help and support they hoped from local authorities, public sector organisations, employers or companies they are in dispute with. We get back to everyone as quickly as possible, signposting and explaining the relevant guidance or taking their matter up directly with Ministers or the organisations they feel have let them down.
I continue working closely with my colleagues to help us come through this national crisis as safely as possible and in close contact with the chief executives of local stakeholders, especially the NHS, to ensure they have the resources they need.
Only this weekend, I attended an innovative drive through flu clinic launched by a group of local GPs. A local school provided the site, a local restaurant owner a hot lunch for the staff and army cadets marshalling traffic. It was yet another brilliant example of the community coming together. The rain was torrential, but it did not hold back the staff. The patients arrived in cars, rolled down their windows and had the jab given to them.
If I am such a fan of how well the government has responded to this national health crisis, then why am I voting against a second lockdown? The answer is simple, it is feedback from my constituents, charities and local businesses.
We cannot continue locking down the country when we need a strong economy to pay for first class public services
The first lockdown was incredibly tough for everyone and we all accepted that the NHS needed time to get systems in place. For example, the track and trace app to be developed, more robust supply chains for PPE, and develop new tests and treatments while learning how patients reacted to the virus. It was overwhelming, but everyone played their part and made sacrifices to protect the NHS and save lives.
These were not easy sacrifices. For example, the impact on mental health, families of care home residents, schools closed to children unless their parents were key workers, routine NHS screening and treatments, mothers in labour without their partners, the job losses and business closures. On top of this, millions of people still had to go to work if they could not work from home. The supermarket workers, delivery drivers, emergency services, NHS, carers, teachers, postmen and millions of low paid workers that were all forgotten. It became lockdown in name only.
We should be giving the tier system a chance to work and we should be investing resources in tackling outbreaks in small communities so they do not develop.
We cannot continue locking down the country when we need a strong economy to pay for first class public services. I support the Prime Minister and I support the levelling up agenda, I just cannot support another lockdown which divides us.
Stephen McParland is the Conservative MP for Stevenage.
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