YCL: “fight against Tories & SNP goes hand in hand with the fight against COVID-19”

The Young Communist League has issued an updated statement on the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic in response to the massive increase in deaths and new infections and the government’s total failure to battle the crisis.

It has been a year since COVID-19 arrived on the shores of our island. The story since then has been one of ruling class incompetence, overseen by Boris Johnson’s Tory Party and Sturgeon’s SNP. The victims at every stage have been working people, the youth and the most vulnerable in our society.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that the Tories vigorously resisted calls for a early lockdown in 2020 and the SNP covered up a superspreading event in Edinburgh. This was all in order to keep the economy functioning ‘normally’ for as long as possible.

It was nothing short of gambling with the lives of working people to protect private profits and the value of shares in the City of London.

Instead of using what little respite we had in the summer months, hard won by the sacrifice and bravery of frontline workers and the first lockdown, the Tories squandered it with confusing rules and irresponsible and misguided attempts to reopen parts of the economy.

For corrupt private sector firms and especially Tory donors it has been time to cash in, supplying dodgy PPE at inflated prices, a test and trace system that doesn’t work and starvation rations to school children have just been a few of the better known examples. The culprits? A friend of Dominic Cummings, Serco and the Compass Group. What do they all have in common? They’re all Tory Party donors.

The new tiered system which was introduced by the Tory, SNP and Welsh governments over the winter was characterised by the same ludicrous confusion and incompetence. Despite being long promised the opportunity to celebrate the festive period with a temporary relaxation of restrictions, this was reversed with less than a week’s notice, resulting in chaos for working people.

Since then, COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed up and down the country. Working people now face a more dangerous situation than in the Spring of 2020. Based on the government’s own dubious figures, which mask the scale of the problem, well over 90,000 people have now died in Britain, the 5th highest globally. 1,000 have died from COVID-19 almost every day since the 6th of January 2021.  

The roll out of the vaccine should have been a lifeline to working people across Britain. Instead, it has been hampered by the same incompetence, delay and mismanagement that has affected the government’s response to the pandemic at every stage.

This hasn’t been a case of bad luck or inevitability. The socialist countries China, Vietnam and Cuba have effectively battled and contained the virus because they put human life before profit. The vast majority of the deaths in Britain were unnecessary and completely avoidable. Tory and SNP governments have to be held to account.

We need a real strategy now to beat and contain the virus.

We need to guarantee a post-COVID recovery that prioritises jobs, housing, health and education.

Britain’s communists are calling for:

A genuine zero COVID strategy

  • Continuing a full Britain-wide lockdown until new cases in the community have been reduced close to zero.
  • The introduction of an efficient find, test, trace, isolate and support system, operated locally in the public sector and NHS to stamp out further outbreaks.
  • COVID-19 screening, and where necessary quarantine, at all points of entry to Britain.

Support for the youth and working people

  • A nationwide ban on all layoffs and redundancies.
  • Full pay protection for all employees and no requirement to use annual leave during self isolation.
  • Guaranteed reinstatement for all employees already laid off or made redundant.
  • Fines for employers who fail to comply and damages for affected employees.
  • A guaranteed minimum income for the self-employed affected by the crisis.
  • Emergency legislation abolishing Universal Credit and providing full benefits to all unemployed, substantially increasing statutory sick pay and child benefit.
  • Free childcare and creche services to those in frontline healthcare and essential occupations.
  • Increased financial support for small businesses closed due to the crisis.
  • Emergency legislation to force insurers to cover lost income due to the crisis backdated to 11 March 2020.

A real strategy for schools

  • Continued closure of all schools (except for key worker and vulnerable pupils) until there has been a significant reduction in COVID-19 infections and transmission rates.
  • Guarantees that British and devolved Governments will consult and obtain agreement with education trade unions and independent scientific advisors before moving to reopen schools – and only doing so when and where it is safe to do so.
  • Online learning to be implemented for all students across Britain immediately with Government funding and support to be put in place to ensure all students have access to IT resources and free broadband and school staff are able to implement this.
  • Guaranteed meals across Britain for all children affected by closures who request them, without means testing.
  • Guaranteed fair assessments for students across Britain affected by lockdown and school closures agreed in consultation with education trade unions.

An end to the scandal facing university and college students

  • Tuition fee cancellations and refunds for all students.
  • Rent refunds for students and an option to have a penalty free cancellation of all rental contracts, inclusive of university halls and private lets.
  • Government financial support for students who have been forced to lockdown and for those students who choose to return home for the semester.
  • Funded extensions for all postgraduate research affected by the pandemic.
  • Guaranteed fair assessments for students across Britain affected by lockdown and school closures agreed in consultation with education trade unions and student unions.

A reckoning for privateers and corrupt Tory donors

  • A public inquiry and criminal investigation into government contracts which have been issued during the pandemic to firms with clear links to government politicians.

We won’t have a return to a ‘normal’ any time soon if the Tories and devolved administrations are not forced to tackle the crisis. But their ‘normal’ wasn’t working for working people. We can’t allow them to continue to use the crisis to attack worker’s rights and living standards and to transfer hundreds of billions of our money to privateers.

The fight against this government goes hand in hand with the fight against COVID-19.

We need a concerted struggle by working people and the youth to beat the pandemic and to win a recovery that works for working people.

Executive Committee
Young Communist League

18 January 2021
London, Britain

Challenge News Desk

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