PM hopes this lockdown will be our last – but cannot guarantee it

Sienna Rodgers
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
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Boris Johnson hopes that this lockdown will be our last but cannot guarantee it. Now that 15 million people in the UK have been given a first dose and everyone in the top four priority groups has been offered the vaccine, the rollout enters its next stage. And it looks set to unfold more quickly than publicly predicted by ministers, as all over-50s could be offered a vaccine dose by the end of March rather than May. The Prime Minister will outline a timetable for unlocking on Monday, and he is adopting an optimistic but cautious tone, perhaps slowly learning lessons after consistently over-promising and under-delivering. He certainly doesn’t seem prepared to hand over control of the levers to the Covid Research Group of lockdown-sceptic Tory MPs.

Is everything coming up Millhouse? The success of the UK’s vaccine rollout is certainly cause for celebration. There are still areas of concern, however: there are more people in hospital with Covid now than there were in April; a third of social care workers in England have not been vaccinated; and uptake may be uneven in a way that could further entrench health inequalities. There is also plenty that the government has not done. News of coffee on a park bench was shared widely over the weekend, but little attention was given to reports that there have been thousands of workplace outbreaks yet enforcement activity is scant and no employers have been prosecuted for Covid safety failures. Somehow the virus is only a “significant”, not “serious”, risk to workers.

Scottish Labour’s leadership election saw ballots begin to drop a week ago, before the voting period closes on the 26th. I interviewed Anas Sarwar last week: he told me of his intention to “keep the radicalism of the previous leadership” and appeal to voters by making Scottish Labour “the grown-ups in the room”. I have now interviewed the other candidate in this two-horse race, Monica Lennon, who set out her answer to the constitutional question (with reference to Keir Starmer looking “a wee bit uncomfortable”) and thoughts on many other topics, from Gordon Brown to community organising. “I will be my own woman, and I’m really determined to show Scottish Labour in a new light,” she told me.

Our most recent comment pieces have been popular with readers: Compass director Neal Lawson has written a thoughtful piece on the Union Jack debate and how Labour can defeat nativism; Scottish candidate Keiran O’Neill has made the case for Labour being the party of constitutional reform, in response to John Spellar MP who said we’re too obsessed with such issues; Zarah Sultana, the former Labour community organiser who is now an MP, has defended the unit and argued against its abolition. Tonight, LabourList will be in conversation with Welsh Labour health minister Vaughan Gething. If you have any questions for him, pop them over to us in an email, before tuning into the live event from 5pm. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.

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