Sir Keir Starmer’s election as Labour party leader marks a new chapter for our party. He has begun his tenure well, setting out a pragmatic course of critical cooperation with the Government to further the national interest. At times of national emergency such as this, working across party lines is an absolute necessity. On a local level, the people of Cheltenham have pulled together to help those in need, with groups such as Cheltenham Mutual Aid (whose website is, phone number 0800 009 6927) offering support on a volunteer basis. Such working together is equally the correct course for our political leaders.

Sir Keir has set out a number of constructive criticisms of the Government’s approach, which merit repeating here. First, why has it taken so long for testing of our frontline NHS staff, who work tirelessly for all our benefit, to be rolled out? Why have these same staff been left without the appropriate protective equipment? When will mass population testing, of the kind recommended by the WHO, be implemented? What steps are the government taking to resolve these issues?  What is the government’s strategy for exiting the current lockdown? Finally, will the government consider extending the Brexit negotiations beyond the end of this year owing to the extraordinary circumstances currently prevailing?

Alongside these questions, our party also offers suggestions to the Government. Chief among these is the designation and, where necessary, construction of “vaccination centres” throughout the UK to ensure that the vaccine may be distributed as efficiently as possible once it is available.

By questioning the government, asking them to look twice at important decisions, we can ensure this country’s response to Covid-19 is as effective as it can be. We as a party shall continue in this spirit; supporting the good of the country by offering not opposition for opposition’s sake, but a scrutinising check upon the Government’s decisions during this time of crisis.

George Penny,

Chairman Cheltenham Labour Party

This letter appeared in the Gloucestershire Echo on April 16th 2020


Echo article Keir Starmer
Echo article Keir Starmer
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