Lloyd Russell-Moyle has quit his shadow ministerial role following a series of incidents that attracted criticism and press attention. According to his resignation statement, the position became “untenable” due to “a campaign by the right-wing media” that “unleashed a torrent of online hate and daily calls of harassment”. Most recently, the Brighton MP was criticised by the Jewish Labour Movement after an old social media post emerged in which he described Zionism as a “dangerous nationalist idea”. There was also much criticism over his JK Rowling comments, which minimised male violence against women. With Rebecca Long-Bailey sacked, there are now two fewer Socialist Campaign Group MPs on the Labour frontbench.
Meanwhile, the government is in a stunning mess over coronavirus, and it is getting worse. Sir Patrick Vallance told MPs yesterday that the work from home guidance should be kept in place, though Boris Johson is expected to drop the advice at a press conference this morning. The chief scientific adviser also revealed that the advisory group (SAGE) had expressed support for a lockdown starting on March 16th, rather than March 23rd. Matt Hancock’s response? He simply claimed that lockdown did start on the 16th. You can see why the Health Secretary would say that – the delay likely cost thousands of lives – but the audacity of telling such a blatant untruth is pretty astounding, even from this lot. We were all here, Matt, we know what happened!
To reassure the public, the Prime Minister will be announcing today an extra £3bn for the NHS in England in preparation for a possible second wave this winter. He will also set out two new objectives: keeping the Nightingale hospitals open until March, and increasing testing capacity to 500,000 a day. The NHS certainly needs a boost: workers are reporting greater mental health problems including increases in post-traumatic stress disorder; there could be a resurgence of the virus; the lockdown itself has had a health impact; and the service is pushed to the brink every winter anyway. But will it be enough? The government-commissioned report (which Johnson apparently couldn’t be bothered to read) warned that a “reasonable worst-case scenario” would be up to 120,000 more Covid hospital patient deaths.
Finally, I should mention that I’m going on holiday. This week-long break is going to be a proper one – no scrolling Twitter, no replying to emails, no sly sub-editing. LabourList will be left in the very capable hands of our reporter Elliot, so you won’t be missing out on any morning emails and there will be plenty of news and comment. I expect that the publication of the Russia report will generate interest – if only because the Tories are trying to deflect attention by dragging Jeremy Corbyn back into the fray. There may be no smoking gun in the report, but why has No 10 gone to such lengths to block its release? This is one of the threads LabourList will pull at. Have a great weekend. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.