Boris Johnson has said that the UK is “now seeing a second wave coming in”. The Prime Minister has described a second national lockdown as “the last thing anybody wants” – but the scientific advisers have warned that there is no real alternative to doing just that, as they expect to see hundreds of daily coronavirus deaths here within weeks. It seems under-acknowledged now that the whole point of the NHS Test and Trace system was to prevent another full lockdown. Yet there is little chance of avoiding one as the government has so badly squandered the opportunity to sort out the system and get it working over the summer.
As Labour’s Angela Rayner communicated very well on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, there are important measures that the government has not taken despite the levers being right there for the pulling. Not just in relation to Test and Trace, which could see improvements by prioritising local public health teams over outsourcing firms with terrible records, including literal fraud in previous work for the government. And they could stop awarding Covid contracts to their mates and top Covid jobs to their peers. There is also the very basic move of giving people enough financial support to enable them to self-isolate.
Speaking ahead of online conference ‘Connected’, Rayner has declared that the Labour Party is “offering the country the leadership it needs” and highlighted the need for key workers to be properly paid and respected. As public service union UNISON’s new campaign says: there should be no going back to normal. The deputy leader has written for The Guardian with a key message: our social care workers must be paid a living wage. It picks up on the theme adopted for her PMQs session earlier this week, which saw the Prime Minister unable to say – or unwilling to admit – that the average wage for a care worker is a little over £8 an hour.
On the subject of the care sector, which is of course dominated by women, Labour’s conference ‘Women Connected’ takes place today. The LabourList team will be covering the whole online series of events, so expect to receive these extra emails over the weekend and look out for lots of new content on the site. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.