Socialist Worker

Tories’ lies mean thousands die of virus

Issue No. 2700

Top Tory liar Matt Hancock

Top Tory liar Matt Hancock


Tory lies over the coronavirus crisis mean many more people will die. And we are not all in it together—poor, black and vulnerable people will be the hardest hit.

Throughout the crisis, the Tories have wheeled out lie after lie to cover up their crimes. They set out by downplaying the scale of the problem.

In late February, the Tories were advised that half a million people in Britain could die from the virus. Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s adviser, reportedly brushed off the threat.

In public, they talk of ­protecting people and the NHS. In reality they fought to protect “business as usual” and bosses’ profits.

The Tories delayed lockdown measures such as closing schools.

In early March Boris Johnson said Britain was “very, very well prepared”.

“We have a fantastic NHS, fantastic testing systems and fantastic surveillance of the spread of disease,” he said.

It was rubbish. The NHS was not prepared for the ­outbreak. It was already at breaking point following a decade of Tory cuts and privatisation.

There are no ­“fantastic testing systems”. Unless you’re the daughter of a minister, the prime minister or a royal it’s hard to get a test.

Early in the crisis, worried people stocked up on goods. Tory health  secretary Matt Hancock claimed, “We are working with supermarkets to make sure that, if people are self-isolating, we will be able to get the food and supplies they need.”It was another lie.

One supermarket boss said, “Matt Hancock has totally made up what he said.”

Fury at the lack of PPE has brought repeated empty promises from the government.

On 26 March, Johnson told parliament that all staff in Britain’s 80,000 care homes would receive the PPE they needed “by the end of the week”. 

They still don’t have it.

On 19 March health secretary Matt Hancock claimed, “We’ve got all this in storage and there are literally lorries on the road right now.”

In the same week, business secretary Alok Sharma said 390 million items of PPE had been delivered in the previous fortnight. 

Yet some nurses wore bin bags because they didn’t have anything else—and contracted the virus.

Last week Hancock said, “I will stop at nothing to protect those on the frontline who are fighting this virus.” He then disgracefully suggested staff are over-using PPE.

On 25 March the government reassured us that a “­game-changer” test would be available within weeks. They hoped such a test could push people who tested as having already had the virus back to work.

He then disgracefully suggested staff are over-using PPE.

We don’t know how many weeks they had in mind. But the tests still aren’t here.

The Tories have also spent weeks promising more ventilators. The NHS is thought to need 30,000 more. 

Early on in the crisis, it was reported that Johnson had contacted Dyson to produce 10,000. The Tories then denied this. On 23 March, Hancock was asked whether any new ventilators had been made. He replied, “Yes. There’s now over 12,000.” Two weeks later, the NHS still had just 8,000.

At the start of April, they admitted that a delivery of just 30 would be arriving with the NHS. And this week a plan to buy thousands of ventilators from a group including Formula One teams was cancelled.

The Tories are gambling with our lives—and the official death figures underestimate the scale of the crisis they have caused.

Official figures include only deaths of people who have been hospitalised. This week two of the largest care home providers reported 521 deaths in their homes.

No wonder that a former regional director of Public Health England said much of the Tories’ daily briefings “is coming very close to lies”.

The coronavirus crisis has exposed the fact that those at the top of society see ordinary people’s lives as disposable.

We don’t need a return to “business as usual”—we need to get rid of it.


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