At this weekend the call by Boris Johnson for our nation to enter into our second lockdown from the 5th November came nearly 3 weeks after Keir Starmer had called for that to happen. Starmer’s call came almost as soon as he was aware that several weeks earlier the SAGE group had called for the Government to lockdown our nation. Whatever the right or wrong of those elements it was very disturbing that the basis for Johnsons call was not something that he bothered to communicate with the members of his own party or indeed people like Keir Starmer in the following days, while the nation and agencies such as the Police, Fire and Rescue and NHS were all preparing for what they had been told would happen. The same was true in places such as Pubs and Restaurants and many other businesses yet the MPs chose not to find out or were denied the opportunity to find out what was persuading Johnson to close us down for a month. Indeed the basis of the lockdown was poorly communicated. Many people believed it was at the end of the 5th November when in fact it was the end of the 4th November. Hence my own blog on Sunday referred to the lockdown happening at the end of the 5th November. Yet the businesses and agencies such as the Police all received instructions long before the debate and vote that took place last night in the House of Commons.
It was very clear that some people are very unhappy about the lockdown, yet many others are very pleased that at last the Government is locking down the nation. What is clear is that the Government and indeed Parliament need to work together because this is not a trivial matter. Indeed it is clear from the behaviour of many people in our nation, that agreement was needed and communication was needed and so the MPs needed to behave much more carefully. Not only has there been conflict in our nation because of the lockdown that took place late last night, after a vote at 3.50pm, but there have been a number of other causes of conflict. One element is the fact that we were supposed to lockdown the day before Fireworks night, another is that there has been fear from the violence taking place in other parts of Europe. Then there is the tension over the votes from America. So there are a number of challenges which we are all facing and this is why we need leadership at this time, even if the politicians are not happy with the leader of their nation or the leader of their party. Several Labour MPs did not vote and several Conservative MPs did not vote. However the vast majority of both groups did vote, but tragically 37 MPs voted against it and in Sussex while 12 of our MPs voted to lockdown the nation, which was a good decision and demonstrated leadership, 3 MPs poorly voted against it. They are Huw Merriman, Tim Loughton and Henry Smith. The other MP who did not vote was Jeremy Quin, although we have no way of knowing if he did not vote because he was partnering with another MP who voted in a different way, or because he was abstaining.
Three of the Sussex MPs spoke about this. Huw Merriman and Tim Loughton did so to explain why they opposed Boris Johnson. One MP who voted to lock down the nation was Nusrat Ghani and she very clearly stated the following which was part of her speech and this seems to be a very positive statement and her vote is positive.
As for most hon. Members, this has been an agonising decision, and it has not been made easier by the Government and those on the Front Bench putting forward data that contains inconsistencies or inflated projections. In constituencies such as mine, which only rarely gets near the R rate of 1, it has been hard to explain why we need to go into a national lockdown. Many of us fought for the right to have this debate and vote, and those on the Front Bench should have shared with us the data that enabled them to make those decisions. We could have used that data to argue in our constituencies up and down the country, instead of spending time arguing with the Government and trying to get hold of it in the first place…..I will be reluctantly supporting the Government tonight, but with a caveat. I am putting the Secretary of State and the Government on 28 days’ notice. They have had many months, but over this short period, they need to put in place a public health strategy that works for the whole country
We clearly need a few MPs to improve their response to an issue that is impacting all of us very deeply!