World

Diane Abbott’s Zero Covid crusade

28 December 2021

3:40 AM

28 December 2021

3:40 AM

With Christmas over, the turkey consumed and Maughamtide been and gone, the eyes of an anxious nation have turned once more to No.10. Boris Johnson deferred the re-introduction of restrictions last week but met with Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance today to discuss the latest Covid data. Fortunately, current indications are that no such measures will be announced in England at the current time.

But while most will celebrate the absence of yet more interminable mask-wearing, social distancing and indoor mixing bans, there are some who crave a Covid curb comeback. Among them include the zealots of the ‘Zero Covid Coalition’, whose activities are partly run out of the taxpayer-funded office of Diane Abbott. The former shadow Home Secretary has again demonstrated her much-fabled feel for public sentiment by backing a group which just eight days ago called for a circuit-breaker and the cancellation of Christmas. Festive!

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For emails seen by Mr S show Abbott’s parliamentary office regularly sending out reminders for ‘Zero Covid Coalition’ events. One sent on 3 December said ‘we must continue to fight for a change of direct[ion], working with everyone who wants even the smallest measures adopted that can prevent infection and save lives. And continuing to argue for a complete change of direction and #ZeroCovid.’ Another on 29 October said ‘the government has a vaccine-only policy and it clearly is not working.’ Other emails come from the official Zero Covid email account, highlighting the lack of distinction between the two entities.

Now, such a group has every right to call for restrictions – even if official advice suggests they, er, are not even necessary. But a brief look at the coalition’s website gives some indication as to how the campaigners don’t actually appear to be ‘following the science,’ instead allowing ideology to triumph over facts. For the group claims that ‘Zero Covid is best for the economy because it allows us to reopen fully in safety’ as ‘the economy isn’t separate from society: the economy is us, at its best when we are’ and ‘there’s no “balance” between health and wealth – health is wealth.’

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Naturally, the Morning Star is closely involved in promoting such a campaign. Coming from the same newspaper which splashed on ‘GDR unveils reforms package’ the day after the Berlin Wall fell, what else can you expect but the same tired-old propaganda being pumped out long after the moment has passed? Indeed Abbott’s campaign seems to have given up in recent months on trying to be cross-party in any way. Just witness organiser Joan Twelves posting in the ‘Zero Covid London’ group chat back in August, desperately asking for a ‘list of the main lefty fringe’ meetings at Labour conference so she could organise one too. Needless to say, no such efforts went into providing a presence at the Lib Dem or Tory ones.

Still, given the past success rate of Abbott and her good comrades, it’s perhaps unsurprising to see you another partisan campaign come to nought. Amid the successful vaccine rollout and the data holding firm, no wonders the calls for another lockdown are confined to the few, not the many.

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