Parliament broke up for the summer recess last night. I’d been looking forward to getting home, and having time to be out and about with constituents.
Instead, I’m stuck in London for the weekend, having been pinged by the NHS app because I’d been in contact with someone who’s tested positive – the second time it’s happened to me this month. It’s frustrating and disappointing, and I understand how people feel when it happens, but please, please don’t delete or switch off the app. We need to do all we can to halt the spread of covid.
And in the North West we have been doing well. A few weeks ago, our rates and the speed at which the virus was spreading were the worst in the country. Now, we have slowed the rate considerably, with our performance much more in line with other areas. This is thanks to the efforts and good sense of people locally, and I can’t thank you all enough for playing your part.
Schools, colleges and universities have broken up for the summer too, but it was good to sneak in a few last minute visits last week, to Manchester Metropolitan University to hear about the preparations that are being made to welcome students safely back in September, and with Lynsey, who heads up Trafford’s virtual school. We had a very interesting conversation about the way in which she and her team support young people for whom traditional school settings aren’t right. I wish Lynsey, and all staff and students in our education system, a very enjoyable summer – you really deserve it after the year you’ve experienced.
But I’m also outraged that the government’s way of thanking many of the key workers who’ve kept things going is to impose a meagre pay rise on NHS workers, and a pay freeze on other public sector staff such as teachers and the police. The same frontline workers Boris Johnson clapped on his doorstep are being asked to pick up the tab for his crony contracts and wasted money. It’s a disgrace.
And I was also infuriated all over again by the prime minister’s repeated failures in his management of the pandemic when I went to visit an exhibition opposite parliament on Wednesday of 650 photographs of people who we have lost to covid, one for each constituency. It was beautiful and moving, and I was honoured to speak to some of the bereaved relatives. I stand with them in their call for an immediate public inquiry so we can learn the lessons of this pandemic as swiftly as possible and avoid repeating mistakes.