Jon Ashworth grilled on Labour’s support during covid pandemic
BBC’s Radio 4 Today Programme host Justin Webb lashed out at Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth and the Labour Party for their behaviour during the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Webb insisted the Labour Party would only support Covid measures when they already knew they were going to come into place. He added the party was often critical of decisions made in hindsight rather than in the moment, like with the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
Mr Webb said: “The suggestion is from people, who are still critical of the Government, is that at every stage, right up to today in the question of quarantine, you have pushed for things only when you thought they were already obviously going to happen.”
Mr Ashworth replied: “No, I don’t think that is fair.
“In the autumn, as soon as we saw the virus was rising at huge levels we called for a circuit breaker lockdown.
“Boris Johnson ridiculed us and said no you can’t do that but was then forced into it.
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“In the summer when a lot of epidemiologists and medical scientists were saying yes we have managed to push down infections but there are warning signs we have got to get the testing and tracing and the isolation regime fixed this summer.
“This was to prepare us for the second wave in the winter and we were pointing this out.
“But instead the Government-subsidised people to go for meals out.
“This is ironic given that today people are being asked to go hungry or isolate themselves to stop the spread.”
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Mr Webb then questioned while the Labour Party is now critical of the eat out to help out scheme now, were they as critical at the time.
He asked: “Did you oppose the meals out scheme?”
While stuttering, Mr Ashworth replied: “You don’t oppose it because there wasn’t a vote in the House of Commons.”
The BBC host interrupted to say: “No, but did you oppose it, can you point to somewhere where you said it was a bad scheme, it should not happen it is dangerous?”
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Mr Ashworth answered: “No, but we were focussing on test, trace and isolation.
“That was our priority because we said if you can fix this now, use these summer months were the virus levels are lower to prepare us for the winter.”
Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer has faced similar criticism for his hindsight approach to the pandemic.
Sir Keir has often faced a backlash from the public after making statements following the Government’s covid briefings with many insisting the Labour leader was offering nothing new or worthwhile to the discussion.
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