Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London, Luisa Porritt, and Liberal Democrat Leader, Sir Ed Davey, have called for an independent inquiry into why London has been so badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a letter addressed to candidates in the London Mayoral election, they noted London was one the first to be hit badly and is now seeing some of the highest rates of infection once again in the current wave.
The London-focused inquiry call is “not just about accountability” but also to ensure the capital is “ready for the challenges it will face in future” such as future pandemics.
Luisa Porritt, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London said:
"London was the first UK region to be badly hit by Covid-19 back in March last year, and it is devastating that nine months later we are in an even worse situation.
“It didn't have to be this way. Londoners deserve answers on how things have turned out so badly. How we ended up with our hospitals overwhelmed, the highest infection rate in the country, and most job losses.
“Any future Mayor of London will need to learn the lessons from this appalling set of events and make sure this never happens to our capital again. That's why I'm calling on all Mayoral candidates to back a London-focused inquiry into the handling of the pandemic response in our capital."
Full letter text below:
London was the first UK region to be hit badly by the Covid-19 pandemic in March last year. As many looked on with horror at the pictures coming from Lombardy, the Government refused to lockdown the capital. This decision is likely to have cost many lives, and was just the first of hundreds of Government decisions, both big and small, that will have cost both lives and jobs.
From a failed test, trace, and isolate system; to lack of PPE; cronyism; lack of support for hundreds of thousands of excluded self-employed, and tepid support for the hospitality sector; Boris Johnson’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis has been an utter fiasco.
Last Friday, a ‘major incident’ was declared in London with the virus now completely out of control. As many as one in 30 people in the capital have Covid-19 and hospitals are at breaking point. Meanwhile, jobs and livelihoods hang by a thread as businesses feel the impact of a third national lockdown following the collapse of a tier system that already impacted it badly.
The spinners at Number 10 like to say “it’s this bad all over Europe,” but we know full well that is not the case. We have among the highest number of deaths, the worst recession, and the highest mortality rate of health and care workers. The British Government has spent more money on fighting the virus than most other European countries, yet our outcomes have been poorer.
That is why we are writing to candidates in the London Mayoral election to ask:
Will you join our campaign for a national independent inquiry into the Government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic?
Do you agree with us that the Mayor should use their full authority to undertake an independent inquiry into the handling of the pandemic in London?
An inquiry is not just about accountability, though that is unquestionably an important element. We need to make sure that if there is ever another pandemic, our country and our capital are properly prepared. We simply cannot allow any crisis to be handled this badly again.
By all candidates pledging to back a national inquiry, and committing to commence a London-focused inquiry, we can ensure our capital is on the right side of history and ready for the challenges it will face in future. Families who have lost loved ones must not be forced to wait decades for justice, and our country cannot become a sitting duck waiting for the next pandemic.
Moreover, it will send a strong message from politicians to Londoners that we stand with them against the incompetence and failure of this Government, that we will fight for justice on their behalf and never let London be so ill-prepared again.
Thank you and best wishes,
Luisa Porritt, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London
Sir Ed Davey, Leader of the Liberal Democrats