‘This Tory government will face a heavy reckoning for its disastrous response to the COVID-19 crisis’, Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths told the party’s online executive committee meeting at the weekend. He pointed out that that Britain had the second highest death rate for the virus in the world – second only to Belgium which includes suspected as well as confirmed cases – and, micro-states aside, the ninth lowest testing rate. He also cited a recent survey published by the Economist Intelligence Unit which put Britain second from bottom of a league table of 21 OECD countries in their response to the crisis after taking account of populations risk factors such as obesity, age profile and international mobility.
‘Whether on travel bans, lock-downs, protective equipment for medical and care home staff, isolation, testing, tracking, ICU beds or the supply of ventilators, the government has failed people on every front’, Mr Griffiths accused. But he also held previous governments responsible for a ‘catastrophic’ lack of planning and preparation for a respiratory epidemic.
‘Ten years of austerity cuts to bail out the financial system meant that lessons from Cygnus and previous simulation exercises were not applied, PPE was not stockpiled, ICU beds were not quickly available, local civil emergency structures were allowed to decay and Britain had no immediate capacity to manufacture medical ventilators and testing kits on the scale needed’, the CP leader charged. Britain’s Communists called for public ownership of the whole health and elderly care system and of the pharmaceutical and medical equipment sectors.
‘China, Vietnam and Cuba have shown how socialist societies based on economic planning and social ownership of key industries and services will always put people’s health before private profit’, Mr Griffiths insisted, praising Communist governments for acting decisively to crush the coronavirus at home while sending supplies and specialists to assist other countries around the world including Britain. He contrasted this to Boris Johnson’s ‘reckless rush’ to curtail the lock-down in England even though there has been no significant downturn in COVID-19 infections and deaths in recent weeks.
The CP executive committee insisted that the right of British, Scottish and Welsh governments to adopt their own policies for state aid to industry and local preference in public sector procurement contracts should not be bargained away to secure access for the City of London to EU financial markets.
Britain’s Communists condemned Israeli plans to annex more Palestinian territory and the recent High Court decision to deny the Venezuelan government access to the country’s gold reserves in the Bank of England needed to fight COVID-19.
The Communist Party also warned against a ‘new Cold War’ against China, condemning Western military bases and manoeuvres across the South Asia-Pacific region and the barrage of anti-Chinese propaganda fabricated by bodies such as the US-based ‘World Uyghur Congress’.