Jeremy Corbyn on George Floyd, Dominic Cummings and the Government’s Covid-19 ‘shambles’
- Credit: PA
Jeremy Corbyn claims the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has been a “shambles” – and says Dominic Cummings exerts a “strange” level of power over Boris Johnson.
The Islington North MP also expressed solidarity with Black Lives Matters protestors in wake of a police officer killing unarmed Black man George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.
The former Labour leader told the Gazette: “The killing of George Floyd was unbelievably shocking and sparked of a whole issue about treatment by the police of black people in the USA and discrimination worldwide.
“It’s now, interestingly, become a discussion about understanding of history and perceptions of black history.
“I have always advocated a completely different approach to the teaching of history, so we don’t just have black history month we have a much more inclusive curriculum that does include the reality of the slave trade.
“The reality of how much money was made out of the slave trade by a lot of very big organisations in Britain.”
Mr Corbyn and former Labour MP for Tottenham Bernie Grant were objecting to public institutions in Bristol being named after 17th and 18th century trader Edward Coulston as far back as 1978, arguing his statue in the city should also be removed.
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On June 7, protestors toppled the monument and threw it into the harbour.
There are more at least 41,481 confirmed coronavirus-linked deaths in the UK
“It was a shambles from the beginning to end by the Government,” Mr Corbyn added. “When I was leader of the opposition I was calling for a WHO demand of: ‘test, test, test’.
“They were still into the eugenics theory at that time. We had some completely bizarre meetings in the cabinet office when they’re talking about herd immunity and so on. [shadow health and social care secretary] John Ashworth and I kind of looked at each other and said: ‘What is herd immunity?’
“And then it was explained to us: enough people get infected and some people develop antibodies which means they’re not infected. And I thought: The only time we’ve heard of herd immunity before is in cattle. It’d a mad idea and way of approaching something when you’re talking about human lives.
“And we then discovered that not only do they ignore World Health Organisation advice, they didn’t ensure there was sufficient PPE equipment available because they’d run down the stocks from years before.
“It’s not as if there hasn’t been plenty of time to prepare for all this, and they simply didn’t do it and then were in denial for so long. We have the worst death rate in Europe.”
But he praised how Islington has responded to the pandemic, adding: “The Whittington has no Covid cases at all as of yesterday, I understand, and the council has done its very best to provide equipment to all the care homes.
“I think the big lessons from Covid are the ones I’ve said, but also that we start to value people that work in care homes, that work as cleaners, and we don’t ever again use these awful words: ‘Unskilled workers like cleaners’. They’re not they’re skilled people that protect us all – let’s have some respect for people instead.
“I think the number of people who have volunteered to help in Islington has been amazing, I’ve been to all of the food hubs and banks in my constituency and the people are fantastic.”
Boris Johnson’s top adviser Mr Cummings faced calls to resign after he drove 260 miles from London to County Durham with his wife coronavirus-infected wife Mary Wakefield and son, 4, on March 27.
Mr Corbyn added: “The arrogance of it is extraordinary. That you would drive all the way to Durham knowing that you have all the symptoms of Covid, with a child in the car, and then pretend it’s alright. And then to test your eyes, drive to Barnet Castle, it’s absurd beyond belief and it’s very strange the power Dominic Cummings seems to have over the prime minister.”
Mr Cummings denies breaking lockdown rules.
The government has been approached for comment.