'Coronavirus crisis shows killer Tory cuts must be a thing of the past'

In an exclusive article for the Sunday Mirror, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says it is the ordinary workers of Britain who are the unsung heroes of this crisis.

Mr Corbyn argues that if the Government can spend money in an emergency it can do so at other times, too.

Who are we least able to do without in a crisis – the cleaner or the billionaire hedge-fund manager?

The coronavirus outbreak is forcing us to rethink what we value. It’s giving us a new appreciation for unsung heroes keeping our society running – the shelf-stackers, posties, delivery drivers and refuse collectors.

But the tragedy is that a decade of cuts and austerity has made their job so much harder and left us all ill-prepared for the pandemic we now face.

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Our NHS is on its knees. We have fewer doctors and nurses per head than most other developed countries and only a quarter of the vital ICU beds per person that Germany has.

Even Jeremy Hunt, who imposed brutal austerity on our health service, now admits he regrets many of his cuts.

The very least we must do for brave NHS staff is give them vital protective kit.

“Test, test, test,” the World Health Organisation told us – but NHS staff are only now starting to be tested. Social care workers urgently need tests, too.

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is pushing for better worker protection

Stricter physical distancing is right. But it means that – from cabbies to childminders, actors to plumbers – ordinary people are being told to do something extraordinary – stop earning a living.

The Government has a big responsibility to make sure they don’t fall into hardship and there are too many holes in its plans.

Millions are facing financial hardship now, but payments for the self-employed won’t happen until June. Statutory sick pay must go up and rents should be suspended for those affected by the virus.

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Coronavirus outbreak

These extraordinary times make a nonsense of all those years we were told nothing could be done. Suddenly, money is being found to take action.

If we can find it in a crisis, we can find it at other times, too. So when this is over, we can’t fall back into the old way of thinking.

We must learn lessons and ensure that, in future, our society is defined by solidarity and compassion, not insecurity and fear.


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