I was angry to see the Spanish state relax its coronavirus lockdown last week and workers in manufacturing and construction being told to return to work.
The decision is the result of pressure from big company bosses in the IBEX 35 group.
That the government in Madrid is a coalition of the moderate left PSOE party, and the seemingly more radical Podemos party, made it doubly hard to take.
The government was slow to react to Covid-19 when it was ravaging in China, South Korea and Italy. Even after many cases were reported in Madrid and Vitoria, a city in the Basque Country, experts advised only local lockdowns were needed—and the coalition agreed.
It took more than a month for Spain to announce a nationwide curfew.
And, because the main cities were not quarantined early, people with a second home or with family on the coast or countryside fled there, so spreading the virus.
When the central government tried to take control of health policy, which for more than 20 years has been managed by regional governments, it made terrible mistakes, including buying millions of faulty virus test kits from China.
It is true that some regional governments reacted far better, including those run by a coalitions of the left. In Valencia, for example, the authorities ordered tens of thousands of pieces of PPE protective equipment direct from China, and the tenth plane shipment has just arrived.
But the local state cannot implement policies that could have really helped the poor during the lockdown and the mass unemployment that followed.
That was the job of the “left wing” central government.
Despite huge pressure from social media, the coalition has refused to pass a law to guarantee a universal basic income.
Some say ministers could not agree on the amount it should be set at.
The coronavirus was a test for the left in the Spanish state, and it has failed.
The masses certainly expected much more of a left coalition of which Podemos is a key part.
Who’s to blame for the crisis?
The Tories are trying to deflect blame for the coronavirus crisis by encouraging us to blame each other.
It started with talk of “panic buying” which was overstated. For example, research showed that only 3 percent of those buying pasta, “have taken home extraordinary quantities”.
The attention to “poor behaviour” then moved on to public spaces.
So Brockwell Park in London gets closed because 3,000 people went there during the course of the whole day last Saturday.
But on any normal weekend there are some 10,000 visitors a day.
For people in cramped conditions with no outdoor space there is a simple solution. It is to open the 46,000 acres of golf courses and huge playing fields of private schools to the public.
Those really putting us at risk are those sending people to work without PPE.
ln times of crisis it’s good that some things remain constant, such as privileged Tory politicians who have never had to wear PPE in their lives lecturing NHS staff on when they need it.
The Tories have spent years attacking workers’ safety. Their lack of preparation for a pandemic is illustrated by their lack of testing and supplies. Hence they deploy any excuse for their failure, however patronising or offensive.
No Starmer, reopening schools is not the key
How disappointing to hear new Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer arguing that schools should be one of the first workplaces reopened when the lockdown is relaxed.
Let’s think about the situation we are in.
Hospitals are still being overwhelmed by the huge influx of coronavirus patients, many of whom quickly become critically ill.
Frontline health workers are still not given adequate PPE, are not tested and are dying. Elderly people are exposed to the virus in care homes and left to die unrecorded and their care workers ignored.
The idea of re-starting schools in this situation is outrageous.
It is asking for a huge upsurge in cases.
By stoking talk of ending the lockdown Starmer is backing the Tories and big business. He is looking out for their interests when he should be looking out for ours.
Crocodile tears for BME health workers
The huge number of BME health and care workers who have died from the coronavirus breaks my heart.
But the crocodile tears coming from the Tories and the media are making me feel sick.
Tory politicians, and the newspapers that support them, have spun endless stories saying that migrants were overrunning the NHS and had to be stopped.
They said we were responsible for the mess that they created with years of cuts. Yet now we’re supposed to believe them when they tells us how much they love us for the hard and dangerous work we are doing—bullshit!
I agreed with a lot of the article about why black and Asian people are more likely to get sick with the virus (Socialist Worker, 15 April).
But I’m not sure you’re right about diabetes and genes.
Isn’t it true that people from high status groups in India are more likely to get that disease than similar status Europeans?
If that really is the case, doesn’t it mean a genetic factor is involved, and that it can be passed on?
You can stick your medal
The Daily Mirror wants us to have medals, while health secretary Matt Hancock thinks an NHS equivalent of a Blue Peter badge will do.
But nurses don’t need or want medals for doing our jobs. We want to be safe with the appropriate PPE and number of staff.
Pay is also important. We know that health workers, from junior doctors to cleaners, podiatrists to porters, do important jobs—which are all poorly paid.
Nurses wages have fallen 17 percent since 2009. If Boris Johnson is so “grateful” the least he can do give us all a decent rise.
I’m working but petrified
Socialist Worker is right to flag up the dangers that people still working face (Socialist Worker, 8 April).
I’m a supermarket delivery driver, and the job is busier than ever.
Even though my employers have been good about changing rules to protect us, there are still big risks.
I feel nervous about doing the job because I don’t know how I’d cope if I caught it. I have serious mental health issues and my husband is my support network—without him I wouldn’t be able to cope.
But he has something wrong with his immune system. I’m petrified that if I caught it, I could give it to him.
Prison danger is life sentence
As I write some 13 prisoners have died after contracting the coronavirus in jail.
Hundreds more have symptoms and are in extreme danger.
The health regime in British jails is horrendous and often outsourced to the private sector. That’s putting prisoners with health issues in even more danger.
How is it that someone who has been convicted of a relatively minor crime can be handed what is a potential death sentence?