Tougher Covid rules, radical federalism, an education programme and union win

Sienna Rodgers
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It is worth taking a moment to pause and reflect on the latest death toll. 1,564 was the recorded figure yesterday, which means 1,564 people with lives, family, friends, neighbours are no longer here. There have now been more deaths in the second wave than the first, and we’ve still got quite a lot of the second to go. Any feeling of numbness in response to these numbers should be fought.

After reminding everyone of how Boris Johnson’s judgment has been proved fatally wrong since the last Prime Minister’s Questions session before Christmas, Keir Starmer called for tougher coronavirus restrictions yesterday. The Prime Minister did not rule out taking such action. But the question is: what kind of tighter rules? The Labour leader is referring to nurseries, non-essential workplaces and estate agents, as well as face masks in supermarkets. Johnson, on the other hand, may be looking at the cheapest ways of locking down. This distinction is a crucial one.

There are two launches we are featuring on LabourList today. The first is a report on ‘radical federalism’, which Welsh parliament member Mick Antoniw has explored in a piece urging Labour to develop an agenda for a federal UK. Merely creating parliaments in the devolved nations as “mirror image versions of Westminster” will not be enough to prevent the break-up of the UK, the MS warns. Starmer has already started this work with the recent launch of a constitutional convention, but Antoniw suggests Wales must have “our own convention to decide what the people of Wales want to see in a new reformed federal UK, if that is our choice”.

Labour itself is also today launching the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement education programme, as outlined by Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Louise Haigh on LabourList. The initiative aims to signal the party’s pride in the agreement and its ongoing commitment to safeguarding it, as well as allow members to learn more via a series of seminars featuring people involved in the negotiations. Haigh says it is “the responsibility of all of us in Labour to understand the agreement, how it must be protected and what still remains to be done to fulfil the promise of peace for the people of Northern Ireland”.

And if you needed more evidence that there is power in a union, check out Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner’s piece on the Battle for Barnoldswick. Collective action against the threat to move work offshore has resulted in a deal saving 350 jobs and a guaranteed future for the UK site. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.

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