Hemsworth Labour MP Jon Trickett says pandemic is 'attacking poverty' as he hits out at Government

A Yorkshire MP has said Covid-19 "attacks" the kind of poverty that he believes successive Tory Governments have created.
Jon Trickett MP. Picture: JPIMedia.Jon Trickett MP. Picture: JPIMedia.
Jon Trickett MP. Picture: JPIMedia.

Jon Trickett, Labour MP for Hemsworth yesterday spoke in a Parliamentary debate about the disease.

Mr Trickett told the House of Commons that at the The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, there are 2,000 fewer beds in the health and care sector than there were when Labour left office in 2010.

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Mr Trickett added that the Trust's chief executive, Martin Barkley, has told him and Conservative Dewsbury MP, Mark Eastwood, that there are now 240 cases of Covid-19 in the hospitals they share, whereas there were 170 at the height of the pandemic.

The chief executive also told both of them that the trusts are now closing operating theatres, putting off operations and not allowing relatives of patients to visit, said Mr Trickett.

He said: "In the former mining villages that I represent, the number of people infected has increased almost threefold in the last three and a half weeks because covid attacks deprivation—that is what it does.

"It is no use avoiding the central issue of the character of society that the Tories have built over the last 10 years — the cuts, the austerity, the hunger, the poverty, the polluted air that we breathe, the poor housing and so on.

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"Here are some facts for the House to consider. The covid mortality rate among the most deprived communities is 128 per 100,000 people infected. In the least deprived communities, it is 58.

"This disease is attacking poverty—poverty that the Tories created, in a system subjected to the cuts that they imposed.

"They cannot say that they were not aware of this. Sir Michael Marmot, a leading physiologist, wrote a report in February this year, before covid had begun to ​really affect us. In that report, he said to the Government that the more deprived an area, the shorter the life expectancy. What a scandal that that should be the case in Britain in 2020."

He went on: "The Government were aware—they knew what they were doing.

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"They knew that poverty, ill health and early death were connected.

"Covid has revealed that in terrifying ways. The cuts, the austerity and the poverty that has been inflicted reduced not only human resilience in physiological terms; it also reduced the resilience of communities to fight this battle."

Penny Mordaunt MP, the Paymaster General, responded for the Government and noted "the fact that covid has stamped on the fault lines of inequality in our country".

She said that the Hemsworth MP was right to mention the "Marmot curve".

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"However, although we have had a lot of cross-party co-operation, it is quite wrong for people to revert to the default setting of claiming that the motives of Government Members are a result of their being either evil or stupid," she said.

"Those are ridiculous stereotypes, but they still persist in our politics.

"The idea that people who were on free school meals as children or who grew up in deprivation or in the care system suddenly become a bunch of rotters when they get their Conservative party membership card is ridiculous."