COVID-19 demonstrates how local areas need more power


Ever since Parliament closed down 10 days ago a number of issues have arisen that suggests that our Government is not capable of dealing with the challenges that our nation and our local communities are facing. Of course given that Parliament is on its long summer break it seems unlikely that it will be able to address these problems as whilst MPs can call for a return to Parliament, it is the Government that gets to choose if that can take place. As the Prime Minister demonstrated last year, he is not willing to make such a radical idea. In the meantime he and his Ministerial colleagues are running our nation and indeed part of the challenge is that they are not currently being held to account. At the end of last week just after 9pm on Thursday night, the Health Minister made an urgent tweet directed to people living in parts of Northern England that were particularly impacted by COVID-19. His call was for residents to remain in their homes and not visit friends or relatives in their own places of residence. However whilst they cannot visit people at home, they can still go to Pubs, Cafes and outdoor spaces and now even theatres. If this sort of communication is not causing enough confusion and frustration to people in those areas, two of Matthew Hancock’s colleagues from his party in one of the areas spoke out to the media demanding that he change the geographical elements in his announcement. A bit later a Labour MP also raised her concerns on the same subject. I was born in North West England and several of my relatives still live there although thankfully at present they are not in any of the areas being restricted for visits. However they do live near Greater Manchester and it was three Manchester MPs who spoke out claiming their communities should not be damaged. One of them is Graham Brady who is the Chair of the 1922 Committee so if Parliament was open, he would have a lot of leverage towards the Government. Of course this sort of challenge could easily arise in Sussex in the future if our own numbers of COVID-19 conditions arose. If that happened would our 16 local MPs seek to support or challenge Matthew Hancock? Indeed would they speak out to the media or attempt to engage with their constituents? Certainly since my call a week ago for Sussex MPs to communicate with our residents using visual technology there has not been a single response or comment that I have spotted. Perhaps they are all on holiday and not interested in responding to such trivial issues?

Along with this challenge caused by Ministers over the COVID-19 arrangements there has been a recent emergence of how the Prime Minister has told lies or exaggerated to our nation and Parliament. This example relates to the numbers of children facing poverty and sadly the evidence of his lies did not emerge until after Parliament had closed down. However it was a Government agency called the Office for Statistics Regulation that confirmed the false claims in Parliament and at the General Election. Along with this, the report of how the Russian Government has interfered with our elections and referenda was published in the last week of Parliament, after many months of the Government placing barriers for it to happen. Since then the Home Secretary has claimed that the report was out of date and that the Russian interference into our nation is now far less damaging than it was two or more years ago. The irony is that her support for our departure from the European Union overlooks the fact that the referendum took place four years ago. It was one that also featured a wide range of dishonest claims by people like Boris Johnson. So the real issue that many of us face is what can we now do to ensure that future elections, referenda and indeed the running of the nation along with local communities is handled in a much more effective manner than at present. The need for local communities to be able to connect with all of their MPs is vital. In Greater Manchester the 27 MPs, elected Mayor and Council Leaders now need to all work together along with their 2.7million residents to demand that the Government makes good decisions and tells the truth. Here in Sussex we face our own range of challenges and we need our 16 MPs and all of the Councils to engage in an effective way with all 1.6m of us to ensure that our area is protected from issues such as too many South Coast visitors when the lockdown was first being relaxed and decisions over road and rail developments and family based poverty.

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Brighton & Hove, Parliament and Democracy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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