As from today, almost all mandatory Covid restrictions are being lifted in
England in what is a huge gamble with public health. The fact that this is
happening when there are more than 50,000 new infections a day is even more
alarming, and underscores how reckless this Government is being over Covid.
The Prime Minister and Health Secretary's rhetoric about "roadmaps to
freedom" ignores the fact that the freedom of those who are clinically
vulnerable or otherwise at risk is undermined by giving others the freedom
to abandon mask-wearing or other Covid measures. I have heard from
constituents who are fearful about visiting local shops or using public
transport because they are at risk. And during a session of the all-party
group on Coronavirus , I heard powerful and moving evidence from
families living with Long Covid and from medical experts who all warned
about the dangers of lifting of so many Covid restrictions.
Nor has the Government done anything to fix the failing test, trace &
isolate system, and too many people are still not self-isolating when they
have symptoms because they can't afford to. Too much reliance is being
placed on the vaccine rollout - even though a third of the adult population
have yet to be fully vaccinated. If this vaccine wall is undermined by the
third wave of the virus, it will be because of this Government's decision
to wash its hands of any responsibility and put ideological dogma ahead of
I challenged the Health Secretary  on the Government's strategy in
Parliament and wrote about it in my column for Metro. 
COVID IN BRIGHTON
High numbers of Covid cases in Brighton and Hove mean a number of measures
have had to be put in place to try to slow down the infection rate,
allowing more people to get vaccinated. There are additional testing sites
in the city at the Peace Statue in Hove and in Jubilee Square and Covid
marshalls from the Council will be out and about reminding people how to
keep safe (details here ). If you've not yet had a vaccination, please
get one so we can build on all the hard work that's been done to keep the
city safe and businesses open.
NATIONALITY & BORDERS BILL
This is a bill which lacks all compassion or fairness. It will criminalise
people who flee to the UK seeking asylum simply because of how they arrive
here, ignoring the war, persecution or terror they may have fled, or
whether they should be given refugee status. It will do nothing to repair a
broken system - in fact, it's likely to make it worse by driving desperate
people into the hands of criminal gangs because all legal and safe avenues
to asylum are being closed off. I wrote about my opposition to this bill in
the House magazine . I also tabled a so-called Reasoned Amendment
against the bill - you can see it here .
Even by the standards of privatised water companies, the actions of
Southern Water over a six year period were shocking - the repeated
pollution incidents, deliberate dumping of raw sewage in rivers and coastal
waters, the deliberate cover-up and the fact that it was done to line the
pockets of shareholders. It's not surprising that Southern Water is
repeatedly singled out as the worse performing water company. The
Government should acknowledge that privatisation has failed and bring water
companies back into public ownership.
CUT IN OVERSEAS AID
It was sickening to see Tory MPs line up to back the Government's cut in
overseas aid, and the conditions imposed by the Chancellor which make it
very unlikely it will return to 0.7% of GDP anytime soon. This cut breaks a
Conservative manifesto promise (as many Tory rebels pointed out) and is a
betrayal of the world's poorest. It is also another battering of the UK's
reputation and diminishing influence on the world stage, and bodes ill for
the credibility of the UK Government as hosts of the UN climate summit
COP26 in Glasgow in November.
Tory MPs also lined up to approve the Health and Care Bill, which is a
further attack on the principle of a publicly-owned and funded health
system. The bill further entrenches privatisation, allows corporate
take-overs of GP services, gives private health care companies a say on how
NHS money is spent and fails to address long-term underfunding and low pay.
I will be opposing it.
TRANSPORT AND CLIMATE CHANGE
We learned last week what the Government's plans are to decarbonise the
transport sector in order to help meet the target of net zero emissions by
2050. Any Transport Decarbonisation Plan worthy of the name would have
immediately cancelled the Government's £27bn road building plans. Instead,
the proposals focussed disproportionately on switching from petrol or
diesel to election vehicles. Sadly there was no real ambition when it came
to public transport (eg no plan like free buses - see below) and the idea
that aviation can be emissions-free within the next two decades is fantasy.
This transport strategy failed to grasp the scale of the change needed, nor
the opportunities that change offers in terms of moving away from
dependence on private cars in favour local transport networks and
re-imagining our towns and cities. I was interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Today
programme  about the plans.
FOOD, HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
The food system in our country is in urgent need of reform. We are locked
into a spiral of poor quality food, laden with sugar and salt, which is
ruining people's health while intensive farming is destroying the health of
the land. The second part of a Government-commissioned National Food
Strategy was published last week, filled with ideas on how to reshape the
food system in a way that works for consumers, public health, farmers and
the environment - I discussed some of the proposals with the author Henry
Dimbleby on Channel 4 News . It was really disappointing to hear the
Prime Minister reject one of the main recommendations before he'd even read
THE ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE COMMISSION
For the past 2 years, I have been working as a Co-chair of IPPR's
Environmental Justice Commission, alongside former Conservative MP Laura
Sandys and first Labour's Ed Miliband, and then Hilary Benn to put forward
proposals on how we transition in a fair way to net zero emissions and
restore nature. We published our report last week, based on four in-depth
Citizens' Juries which took place in parts of the UK which are on the front
line of environmental and social change. The report, and our discussions,
made clear that there must be a "fairness lock" on the changes to come as
this is key to winning public support. If governments take a people-first
approach with direct public involvement in decision-making, the shift to a
zero carbon future could deliver better transport, good new jobs and better
health and wellbeing. The Commission's report was covered by a number of
papers, including the Guardian .
LIMITS TO GROWTH
I chaired an online event addressing two of the biggest issues facing our
society: the social care crisis and an economic model that is letting down
people and destroying our planet. I'm backing a petition launched by a
Brighton resident for a parliamentary debate on how we should address this
by switching to a wellbeing economy. Please sign the petition  if
you've not done so already.
I'm a big supporter of the campaign to erect a statue in Brighton to Mary
Clarke, the Women's Social and Political Union Organiser for Brighton from
1909-1910, and the first suffragette to die in the struggle to win women
the right to vote. The Mary Clarke Statue Appeal was set up in late 2018
and plans to erect a bronze statue of Mary close to the Brighton Museum
entrance on the Royal Pavilion Estate in the heart of the City. The scheme
has Council and all-party political support and has charity status.
I had a chance to see a maquette of the proposed statue at the Jubilee
Library - it looks wonderful. If you'd like to support the campaign, you
can donate here .
If you are a local resident and need help with case work or to find out more about my activities locally please do contact me at the office of: Caroline Lucas MP, Brighton Media Centre 15-17 Middle Street, Brighton BN1 1AL.
Tel: 01273 201 130. Email: [email protected]
I hold regular surgeries across the constituency. If you would like to book an appointment at a forthcoming surgery please call Liz Collis on 01273 201130.
She coordinates my constituency office and is able to help with most local enquiries.
If you would like to know about my parliamentary work please get in touch at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.
Tel: 020 7219 7025. Email: [email protected]
You can also keep up to date with my news on:
My Website: www.carolinelucas.com
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