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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Look to socialism

AS THE Johnson Government introduces the new three-tier system to deal with the second wave of the coronavirus plague that is sweeping throughout Scotland and across swathes of northern England, Labour is calling for a “circuit breaker” national lockdown to bring the rising rate of COVID-19 infections under control.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for a short lockdown or “circuit-breaker” in England of two to three weeks to bring the rising rate of coronavirus under control. He says the current measures are not working and that a further two-to three-week sharp lock-down is needed to prevent a “sleepwalk into… a bleak winter”.

Dismissing Johnson as “an opportunist all his life”, Starmer told Parliament that the Government wasn’t doing enough to tackle the problem. What is needed is a short “circuit-break” like the draconian first lock-down that ran from late March to the beginning of August this year. This time schools and colleges would remain open, but “all pubs, bars and restaurants would be closed” and compensated “so that no business loses out because of the sacrifices we all need to make”.

“The government has not got a credible plan to slow infections. It has lost control of the virus and it’s no longer following scientific advice,” Sir Keir said, adding that it could fix some problems by handing over track and trace responsibilities to the local authorities.

Labour’s demands are popular on the street, particularly with the older and vulnerable sections of the community who suffered the most from the first wave of the coronavirus plague this year. Starmer now needs to step up the pressure on the Johnson government to maintain the same level of support to furloughed workers and extend the coverage of the job retention scheme when it is replaced at the end of the month.

Any new scheme should mirror the original job retention scheme and reimburse employers for 80 per cent of the wages of their workers. We need an enhanced local Job Support scheme for businesses in local lockdown areas that are affected by low demand but not required to close. There should be no requirement to work a minimum number of hours. And the government should cover 60 per cent of wages for non-working time, with the employer covering 20 per cent, in line with the existing furlough scheme.

Self-employed workers also need support, and this could be done by increasing the payments rate of the self-employment income support scheme from 20 per cent to 60 per cent of taxable monthly profits, for those affected by additional local restrictions.

The only alternative to lockdowns at the moment is the fascist mis-representation of the theory of “herd immunity” that would let the plague run its course regardless of the countless deaths of the old and infirmed that would inevitably follow. We’ve seen it happen in Brazil and Donald Trump’s America. We don’t want to see it here.

In fact, until we get a COVID-19 vaccine, lock-downs are the only way to deal with the crisis and we need to take even firmer measures to safeguard the health of the people. We only have to look at the stringent methods of the people’s democracies to see that they work. Not one case of COVID-19 has been reported in Democratic Korea, life has returned to normal in People’s China and Vietnam, Laos and Cuba have all effectively contained the coronavirus plague. This, once again, demonstrates the superiority of the socialist system.