OPINION: Karin Smyth MP on the Government’s failings during the Coronavirus crisis

(Newspaper column as seen in The Pigeon in July 2020)

It’s been a few months since I last wrote a piece for the Pigeon and I know it’s been a challenging time for the team – like it has for many local businesses and families across the constituency.

And while we are slowly returning to work, school and seeing family and friends, this crisis is far from over and it won’t be a case of being ‘back to normal’. We find ourselves in a time of more uncertainty and change. Some of you will be grieving for loved ones – the shape of your family forever changed and, in the coming months, people will lose their jobs.

The challenges do not stop when the virus is under control, the impact of the Coronavirus response will be felt for many years. I have hope that some things will change for the better, but recognise that other will leave us much worse off. It’s my job as your MP to try and mitigate this as much as possible, holding the government to account and supporting Bristol South through this ongoing challenge.

I’ve been speaking to people across the constituency, including those heading up some of the brilliant community response.

It’s clear that there are big gaps in the support available – particularly for self-employed people – and much confusion over the government guidance. I’ve been writing to relevant government departments about this and raised my concerns in Parliament via video link.

Many constituents have shared with me desperately sad accounts of how their individual families have suffered whilst trying to do the right thing and obey the regulations and were understandably upset by government advisor Dominic Cummings flouting these rules. To continue to employ an individual who has not apologised or demonstrated any remorse for his actions show an absolute failure in the judgement of the Prime Minister.

Perhaps more worryingly, there seems to be a lack of clear strategy from the Government. Throughout the crisis, I’ve been pushing for a localised comprehensive approach to testing and tracing the virus to enable local authorities to manage further outbreaks successfully. I’m glad to see movement on this now, but it should’ve been in place sooner. It’s the only way we can safely ease lockdown. I’ll continue to work with my Labour colleagues to push for the action needed to support you through these difficult times. As always, you can reach me via the email: karin.smyth.mp@parliament.uk