The coronavirus pandemic is a human tragedy and a public health crisis, but it is also a crisis of capitalism and our entire political system.
Across the world, ordinary people are doing extraordinary things – to help each other, and to demand stronger action and social protections from their governments and employers. All over the world, right wing nationalists are seeking to scapegoat and divide, while others are looking to profit at the expense of the health of millions.
The UK’s response to Covid-19 has been an outlier. Our government has spent ten years cutting back our health service. Now, it has ignored the warnings from across Europe and the world and moved slowly, and without clarity and conviction, to tackle the virus. It has offered very limited support for workers, renters and the self-employed. This is a political choice. It is informed by a desire to prioritise profits and the needs of business boardrooms, and compounded by a political class high on Brexit and British nationalism.
At Another Europe we will offer our solidarity and help with efforts to fight the virus, to get support to those who need it, and struggle for social justice. As an organisation focussed on Brexit and migrants’ rights, we will be concentrating our efforts on two major areas of campaigning.
- An internationalist response, where everyone benefits
This virus has laid bare the shallowness of national frontiers. Ultimately, no country will be free from the pandemic until all are. We need to vastly ramp up efforts to coordinate across borders, and to ensure that quality healthcare is available to everyone. We will campaign for:
- International coordination in across Europe and beyond to pool resources, collaborate on research and build capacity
- A vaccine which is free and available to everyone
- Fundamental change in the pharmaceutical industry, based on public funding and control
- An indefinite extension to the Brexit transition period, reassessed when a vaccine is widely available
- Continued British membership of the European Medicine Agency and the European Health Insurance Card scheme on a permanent basis
- The UK to follow globally instituted standards (i.e. WHO guidelines) on testing and containment
- Public money to be used for people, not Brexit vanity projects. For example, the Festival of Britain should be scrapped and the money used to support workers in the arts.
- A major effort at a European level to alleviate the humanitarian crisis on the continent and beyond, and for solidarity with refugees under attack by governments and the far right.
- An anti-racist response, fighting back against anti-migrant politics and the far right
Right wing nationalists and racists are already using this crisis to attack minorities and migrant communities. Pulling together means that no one must be allowed to fall through the cracks because of their immigration status, and the government must ditch its draconian anti-migrant policies.
- All social protection measures announced by the UK government to be applied to everyone in the UK during the crisis, without any citizenship or length of residency requirement. (There must be a guarantee of no data-sharing from any agency delivering such measures to immigration authorities).
- The replacement of the Settled Status application scheme with a Right to Stay, guaranteed in primary legislation
- An immediate end to immigration detention and moratorium on all deportations
- The immediate suspension of No Recourse to Public Funds measures, and a change in the law which would allow those seeking asylum (many of whom are medically qualified) to work
- A response which deals with existing racialised and class inequalities impacting Black and minority ethnic communities the hardest.
In the coming days and weeks, we will be launching these campaigns – online and with materials that can be used from home.
23rd March 2020