The impact on our nation from COVID-19 and many other worldwide issues clearly requires all of us to try to understand the causes or the symptoms and to support the people who have been most affected by these experiences. Clearly the people who lead our nation and local areas need to be informed and where necessary challenged to ensure that their decisions are appropriate for our land and more widely. At the end of last week the A Level and BTEC results was one set of issues that now need to be resolved, given how badly they have affected some families. Another element in this area is how the students who are about to move to Universities will be impacted having lost the opportunity to sit through a number of intense exams in a very short period. It may take some time to find out how this will impact the courses that are about to start with their own COVID-19 challenges at Universities, some of which are facing severe financial challenges. The return to Schools for the rest of pupils and the arrival of the new generation who have just started in schools in Scotland and will start in England next month will bring challenges to the pupils, their parents and the teachers. Although these examples have impacted the whole of our nation, they clearly don’t apply to everyone. It is difficult for people who don’t have children or whose families are all older than students, and who don’t know teachers or lecturers to fully understand the intense pain that is being experienced. Another example is the impact of COVID on our Health Service which makes it very hard for some of us to fully grasp what the impact is like for the NHS. Then there is the impact on our travel industries and the radical change that quarantining is introducing which again impacts the whole nation but does not involve us all.
The need to inform our MPs and the Governmental Ministers on these subjects and on other matters, given that they make many of the decisions is clear. We can pick out examples and it would be easy to expect them to understand them, but sadly their decisions seem to demonstrate that their grasp is not sufficient. Clearly Maria Caulfield the Lewes MP who has also been working in the NHS recently will have some understanding. Then Grant Shapps who is not local but is the transport Minister visited Spain just before it got closed down in quarantine terms. Ideally these levels of understanding would improve the Governments policy making. Sadly that does not appear to be the case and so our need to communicate with MPs on such themes is vital. Another local MP who is an educational Minister is Nick Gibb and his last minute changes to the A level results needs to be challenged.
Along with COVID there are other matters that impact the whole of our world and which we need to deal with in an appropriate way in our nation. Last year before COVID-19 arose, about 1% of the people in the world who were seeking asylum sought to do so in the UK. This group of less than 36,000 people represents about 0.05% of our population. Nearly all of these people have come from locations where war or major levels of violence against such people are taking place. The reality is that many of these locations are places where our military actions or our sold weapons are being involved in and so our nation’s actions are part of the cause. Of all these people who sought asylum last year around 5% arrived by boat across the English Channel. This year so far there has been twice as many people arriving by boat as arrived in the whole of last year and so there are clearly issues to be resolved. However several people in our Government have very clear migrant backgrounds, just as many of us have friends or contacts that have come from similar backgrounds. I recall a number of years ago when there was a call to local authorities regarding refugees how quickly and significant the response from Brighton and Hove residents was and the Government was much slower to respond. It was very sad to read how in the last few days how the Hastings MP responded to the most recent statements from our Home Secretary who is from a migrant background herself. It is clearly disappointing how our Government has responded to some elements of COVID-19 which they have not caused and which is a new experience, but our Governments lack of support for Refugees and Asylum Seekers given how our weapon sales and military actions have added to the conflict in their nations is clearly much more mistaken.