The Democrats in the US won control of the Senate, and Congress overall, by making history yesterday with two victories in the Georgia run-offs – including the state’s first Black Senator, Raphael Warnock. And Congress has now certified the presidential election result. But first, supporters of Donald Trump descended on the Capitol, encouraged by the President who later told the insurrectionists “we love you, you’re all very special”, to create violent scenes. Three died from “medical emergencies” and one woman died after being shot by police.
Keir Starmer reacted by saying these were “not protesters” and “this is a direct attack on democracy”, while Lisa Nandy commented that it was “the legacy of a politics of hate” and pledged to “stand firm” with legislators and Americans. Many of us watching could not help but wonder why the reaction was so muted relative to the violent police responses seen earlier this year and how the Trump supporters entered the building so easily. As Labour MP Chris Bryant tweeted: “It seems suspiciously extraordinary that there was such a minimal law enforcement presence.” And as the NAACP remarked: “They’ve killed us for less!”
At home, the House of Commons is in recess again until Monday. MPs overwhelmingly approved the new coronavirus restrictions in England yesterday, although 14 Tory MPs could not resist voting against the fresh lockdown. They did so despite full knowledge of the dire situation facing the country, which was highlighted yet further by an exclusive HSJ story published last night. London’s hospitals are less than two weeks from being overwhelmed by Covid – and that is under the best case scenario, according to an official briefing.
Delivering a Covid update in the chamber yesterday, Boris Johnson described the vaccines as “an available means of escape” from lockdown and said “every needle in every arm makes a difference”. Having challenged the Prime Minister to “establish a massive, immediate, and round-the-clock vaccination programme”, the Labour leadership has joined with the TUC to launch a ‘Let’s Vaccinate Britain’ campaign. They have a Mirror splash today and have written to supporters this morning with suggestions for how everyone can help the national effort – from signing up to NHS volunteer campaigns to promoting vaccinations in the local community.
We are delighted and relieved to learn that Jo Stevens is back home after being hospitalised with coronavirus, and send her our very best wishes. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.