COVID spike post ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests will still be No.10’s fault – A Labour Article
Any political stances holding black people and their allies accountable if there is a spike in COVID deaths following Black Lives Matter protests are wrong. Accountability for the lives of black people has long been misheld by the Tory government.
Hesitance to agree with this will be laced with a feeling that fighting for black lives is not a necessary cause right now. Yet protecting and fighting for this has never been more necessary. The BAME COVID report released two weeks ago (around the time Madeleine McCann made headlines again) revealed disproportionate numbers of black people dying of COVID compared to white people. This report lays bare inherent racism within the U.K.’s structure.
Public health has always been a political issue in the U.K. The conditions of which have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The Guardian reported that the British BAME population had between 10 per cent and 50 per cent higher risk of death when compared to white British.
Link this with the U.K. currently selling riot gear, tear gas and rubber bullets to the U.S, it’s clear the Tory government fails to protect black lives. Racial inequality in the U.K. has never been more pervasive or present. It is our duty, not just because of the pandemic, to fight against it.
On paper, lockdown provides perfect conditions to contest Black Lives Matter protests, and to mildly ignore the very real situation unfolding before us. Disagreeing with protests in the interest of public health can be justified by enforced confinement, banning of mass gatherings or a fear of the R-rate rising, to state a few examples. Yet, the government have proved time and time again that they don’t care about lockdown, nor black lives. Concern about the R rate rising because of Black Lives Matter protests is a falsehood. Just compare it to how the UK press glamourised VE Day celebrations.
Economic concern and the glamour of national identity is blinding this government. With what the impact of halting riot-gear trade with the U.S., and a full-scale lockdown with actual, clear procedures and specific advice (stay alert for less and less of this) would mean for the economy. So, the message is clear: do herd immunity, but not like that. Buy some cakes for VE Day and go to Dorset for a swim. But, please God, don’t ask us for human rights! Human rights don’t work for this economic model.
So, yes, we should be protesting for Black Lives Matter. Why are we breaking lockdown in the first place? The very existence of protesting for human rights in the middle of a pandemic shows we do not live in an equal society. We must make them listen. The revolution will not be petitioned, or peaceful, or defined by a series of black squares. It will be on the streets.
And to the inevitable Tory MP apologisers who allow them to slither away from accountability – like Dominic Cummings’ snake tail trailing out of the picture- I wonder if the way you humanise politicians were applied to lives, like George Floyd’s, we’d stand a better chance of knowing who the real villains are. Anyone who speaks a compassionate language should know.
Written by Labour Writer Mollie Simpson
Point of Information
I agree with the sentiment – Liberal Response
I would like to start with commending Mollie for not shying away from a tough topic for her first article! It is great to have you in the POI team.
This article provides a strong argument against those saying protests should stop due to a potential COVID spike.
One area, although rather semantic, I would like to pick up on is the use of the term ‘accountability’. Protesters shouldn’t be ascribed blame, in the sense that this means being responsible for some wrongdoing. But accountability is not the same as blame. Accountability is just being responsible for something, without bringing morality into it.
Protestors, along with those attending illegal raves or VE day celebrations, for example, are all accountable for a potential second COVID cases spike. Purely by the fact that they have met in mass groups. And we know this is a way COVID spreads. But the difference lies in blameworthiness. Mass gatherings for Black Lives Matter are legitimate, reasonable, and commendable. The others are none of those things.
As I said a semantic, but an important area. Accountability and blameworthiness are similar but different. No blame should be placed on Black lives Matter protestors. Their actions are completely justifiable.
With Black Lives Matter continuing to gain momentum we must not allow racists using Covid-19 as a covert way of continuing to oppress black people and POC in this country, and across the world.
Written by Chief Liberal Writer, Olivia Margaroli
No government or system is perfect – Conservative Response
I commend Mollie for bringing up the BAME COVID Report which could have been handled in a much better manner by the government. It didn’t help that Parliament wasn’t told the full truth when pages were omitted about safeguarding BAME communities. Now, there could have been many reasons for this. The government had not thought through a comprehensive plan when faced by the country’s first pandemic, and they were not adequately prepared to have the best data collection methods.
We must commend the government for what they have achieved so far fighting Covid-19. “No government or system is perfect”, this is the message I would like to convey. Racism is a huge issue which has been hidden in institutions for too long. It must be combatted; the government does know that. But a stronger message does need to be conveyed. I would not have gone to any protest during a pandemic because of the health warnings, and because I am a frontline worker at a tennis centre. I praise those brave enough to go and protest for such an important cause. But guidelines have been put there for a reason. This is such a difficult subject to discuss for so many reasons, and people’s voices must be heard.
The UK government does indeed export riot gear and guns to the US and has been doing so since 2010. Yet, the UK’s licensing criteria for these exports state they shouldn’t be authorised if there is a “clear risk that items might be used for internal repression”. The government also has the power to revoke these trades. The UK government must impose some warnings on the US for the use of riot gear and guns. Still, the UK must not dwindle such a powerful partnership with the US, as they would “put us to the front of the line” regarding trade. I do think the UK needs to update its exports criteria and perhaps start imposing warnings when it comes to utilising these exports.
As to analysing the media’s response to Covid-19 and analysing the UK government’s response, this will be explored in my first article.
Written by Conservative Writer, Max Jablonowski