Kier Starmer MP is one of the Labour candidates in the election for leadership of the Labour Party. This election was suspended a couple o weeks ago due to the Covid-19 crisis. In the (abridged) version below, he comments on the current difficult situation.
He said: We are living through a global emergency.
The COVID–19 crisis is forcing unprecedented changes on all of us, not just in the way that we live our own lives but in the way we consider the lives of those around us. It has also shone a light on the flaws in our system, and for many will mean things get harder, not easier.
I want to share with you some thoughts I had on this crisis; about hope, vulnerability and the amazing things we can achieve when we work together.
Vulnerability in this time can mean a number of things. For the immuno-compromised the vulnerability is obvious, and it is for them that we must all follow the government advice to self-isolate.
But we also have to think about people – often women – with abusive partners, who now face being locked in their homes with a perpetrator of domestic violence for an unknown amount of time.
It is vital that those in this situation get the support they need, and we don’t allow the wider crisis to overshadow their urgent need for help.
It is easy when faced with a crisis of this magnitude to feel hopeless, but we must resist the temptation to give in. I have been filled with hope after hearing stories from across the country of local communities working together to help those in need.
Heartwarming stories about our school pupils supporting others in the community represent a much wider picture of people across the world doing small things to improve the lives of those around them. It is my hope that when we reach the other side of this that spirit of caring is not lost.
For the last week a lot of politicians have rightly been focusing on the impact this will have on our economy, but those who lose their jobs in this crisis aren’t the only ones who will suffer. Poverty in Britain is a crisis of its own. One person without a home is one too many, and the same is true of those forced to use foodbanks to survive.
We do not yet know exactly how this crisis will exacerbate poverty in our country, but we do know that those doing the work to combat poverty are needed now more than ever.
And finally, a note on the national response to this crisis.
In the last two weeks we have called for a number of things to help people – like a National Income Guarantee Scheme and an enforced social distancing programme – much of which has already been acted on by the government.
One thing which is still seriously lacking, however, is a proper ban on evictions for those living in the private rental sector, so no one loses their home as a result of the crisis. Millions of people in the UK rent their homes, and it is simply not right that the protections afforded to homeowners are not extended to renters. The government must act on this now.
I just want to finish by saying that we owe our nurses and doctors working in the NHS a debt of gratitude. They are on the front lines of this fight, saving lives and putting themselves in harms way to help others. We should never forget this.
I am so proud of the way in which so many have responded to this crisis. Across the country there are leaflets being posted through neighbour’s doors, whatsapp groups being set up to support the elderly and the vulnerable, and just this week the Health Secretary announced that 670,000 people have signed up to become NHS volunteers.
Thank you for taking the time to read thes ecomments, and thank you for anything you are doing to help others in your community.
I hope you stay safe, and if you can, stay inside.
Keir Starmer MP.