Published — 15 April, 2020

View from Westminster: Coronavirus

When I became the Conservative candidate for Harrogate & Knaresborough back in 2007 I hoped I would succeed the popular Phil Willis and represent the area where I live. At the General Election in 2010 local people did me the honour of electing me to do just that.

I could never though have predicted some of the huge shocks that have occurred since that date – the MP’s expense scandal of 2008, the economic crash again in 2008, a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government, the Olympics coming to London, Labour wiped out in Scotland, Brexit and the collapse of Labour’s ‘red wall’ last December.

These were all, whatever your view of them, historic events. But I believe that when the history books are written coronavirus will dwarf them all.

It has seen the world united against a common foe with our armies led by our clinicians. And it is right that we use every opportunity to thank those clinicians and their support teams – I pay particular tribute to our local teams who are also playing an instrumental role in the establishment of the new Nightingale Hospital at the Convention Centre.

In our united effort we have seen many unprecedented things happen.

Human beings are more at peace with one another than in decades. An unlikely truce is holding in Syria, gang crime in New York is at an all-time low, antagonistic countries are coming together to reduce oil production to support the global economy. There are many more examples.

The public sector and private sector are uniting to beat the virus. Private businesses small and large are being given grants and loans from the public sector administered by local councils to get them through.

Our food producers, distributors and retailers have increased capacity in the face of unprecedented demand for food products across the entire range. And our voluntary sector working with local authorities have been getting that food to those who cannot get it themselves.

Our manufacturers have been changing their production lines from cars, hoovers and clothes to ventilators and protective equipment. Our armed forces have been getting these to hospitals.

There are so many examples of people working together cooperatively for the greater good that I could fill an entire newspaper with them. My thanks, as our area’s MP, goes to everyone working in our health services, in our food supply chain, in our councils, our voluntary sector and all other businesses and services to make sure we get through this. But my thanks also goes to the vast majority who are following the clinical advice to stay at home.

This virus doesn’t discriminate between rich and poor, by race, by religion, by nationality, by gender or sexuality or by political allegiances. Anyone can be infected, anyone can die from it and anyone can spread it. When this is over I hope we will reflect that when faced with this ultimate of threats we were a better people working together more than we have almost in living memory for the greater good.

If anything good can come out of the tragedy that is coronavirus I hope it is that we apply our collective effort with similar urgency and vigour to the many other problems our society and our world faces.

Please stay safe, please stay home, protect our NHS and save lives.

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