Anti-racists oppose premature lifting of lockdown

By Robin Jackson

A number of Labour MPs, including Diane Abbott, John McDonnell and Dawn Butler, called on the government not to end the lockdown till it is safe and for a public inquiry into the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on BAME communities. They signed a statement, promoted by Stand Up To Racism, which is set out below.

On Tuesday 19 May, at 7pm, Stand Up To Racism is hosting an on-line meeting about the impact on BAME communities of the easing of the lockdown, with author and journalist Gary Younge, Diane Abbott MP and Bell Ribeiro Addy MP. Further details here.



We note with grave concern increasing pressure for an end to the coronavirus pandemic ‘lockdown.’ In the USA Donald Trump supported far-right demonstrations demanding the economy be reopened, despite around 2,000 dying every day in the US after contracting the virus. 

We condemn the numerous racist attacks on Chinese and other East Asian communities wrongly blamed for the coronavirus. 

We are particularly concerned about any premature end to the lockdown in Britain which spuriously seeks to prioritise the economy and profit before controlling the infection and saving lives. Covid-19 infections and deaths have disproportionately impacted Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities who will suffer even more from a premature end to lockdown. 

So far communities of such heritage make up:
• One third of Covid-19 patients in intensive care;
• Two thirds of NHS staff who have died;
• All but one of the doctors who have died after contracting Covid-19
• Double the average of households who have lost jobs/income.

94% of Doctors and Dentists, 71% of nurses and midwives, and 56% of healthcare support workers that have died despite BAME workers forming the minority of all these categories.

Such figures are particularly alarming given the Financial Times analysis based on Office of National Statistics figures, that the real death toll in Britain is around double the government’s official figures. 

We are also alarmed by the British Medical Association Survey that showed 64 per cent of BAME doctors expressed inadequate PPE, compared 33 per cent of white doctors, and reports that BAME nursing staff are feeling targeted to work on Covid-19 wards over and above their white counterparts. These communities are also disproportionately impacted by austerity and poverty. 

We support the TUC’s call for a judge-led public inquiry to investigate the grotesque failure to give frontline workers personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus pandemic.  

We also demand: 
• A public inquiry into the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on BAME communities; 
• The recording of the ethnic background of all Covid-19 patients as recommended by the British Medical Association; 
• No end to the lockdown until it is safe to do so. 

Signatories include:

Diane Abbott MP
Kate Osamor MP
Dawn Butler MP
Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP
Zarah Sultana MP
Claudia Webbe MP
Apsana Begum MP
John McDonnell MP
Richard Burgon MP
Kate Osborne MP
Kim Johnson MP
Adam Price MS, Leader of Plaid Cymru
Richard Leonard MSP, Leader of the Scottish Labour Party
Dr Shahrar Ali, Green Party Home affairs spokesperson
Rokhsana Fiaz, Mayor of Newham
Shazad Amin, Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) CEO
Jas Singh, Sikh Network
Jacqueline Mckenzie, Human Rights Lawyer
Patrick Vernon, Social Commentator & Windrush campaigner
Dr Julia Grace Patterson, EveryDoctor lead
Dr Siema Iqbal, AskDoc
The Jewish Socialists’ Group
Jo O’Grady UCU General Secretary
Manuel Cortes, TSSA General Secretary
Mick Whelan, ASLEF General Secretary
Sarah Wooley, BFaWU General Secretary
Ian Hodson, BFaWU National President
Zita Holbourne, PCS National Vice President
Jane Loftus, CWU Vice President
Harish Patel, Unite the Union National Officer for Equalities
Margaret Greer, Unison Race Equalities Officer
Mohammed Shafiq, PCS Black Members Committee
Winston Richard, CWU Vice Chair Equalities Committee
Glen Hart, RMT National Black and Ethnic Members Advisory
Fayrouz Kraish, Unite Scotland BAEM Committee
Mohammad Taj, former TUC President
Amarjite Singh, CWU South East Wales branch secretary
Kate Hudson, CND
Claude Moraes OBE
Lindsey German, Stop The War Coalition
Sabby Dhalu & Weyman Bennett, co convenors Stand Up To Racism

To sign the statement visit here.