Tracy Brabin MP - 'As Covid vaccine arrives, we must plan for what’s next'

There was a collective sigh of relief when a Covid-19 vaccine was approved this week, writes West Yorkshire mayoral hopeful Tracy Brabin.

Friday, 4th December 2020, 11:39 am
Updated Friday, 4th December 2020, 11:40 am

I thought about my mum who still lives on the council estate I grew up on in Batley. I’ve been so worried for her, while trying to social distance at the same time as being desperate to see her. So many of us are missing parents and grandparents; we look at our grandkids, nieces and nephews and how much they’ve grown while we’ve read them bedtime stories over Zoom instead of in person.

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How we get this vaccine rolled out is obviously hugely important. A £22bn bodged test and trace system has taught us to be sceptical. A few weeks ago we were promised mass testing, which became community testing on a smaller scale, and we’re still not sure then that will actually happen.

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Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin hopes to be selected as the Labour Party's candidate for West Yorkshire mayor. Picture: Simon Hulme

The Government need to publish detailed plans of what is going to happen with the vaccine, where it will happen and when – that’s how people will stay calm, be confident in government and that the end truly is in sight.

So I’m being cautious in my optimism but hopeful as we head into the festive season, that 2021 will be better – let’s face it, it could hardly be worse, could it?

As the vaccine comes to fruition, we must plan for what’s next.

Our hope with the new vaccine is set against a backdrop of struggling public services and the decimation of our high street, pubs and hospitality industries. I feel for those Arcadia and Debenhams workers who now face such insecurity heading into the New Year, while Phillip Green sits on a multi-million pound yacht in Monaco. That sums it up – who has carried the burden so far and who will shoulder it in the months and years to come?

The mood music is already beginning from the Chancellor. The UK has borrowed a lot. It was – and remains – the right thing to do to protect lives, livelihood and people’s health. We will need to balance the books over time – other countries are in a similar boat – but there are many ways to do that.

We can get our economy back on its feet by investing to grow and increasing productivity, or the Government can yet again attempt to do it by making sweeping cuts and privatising services. The Prime Minister promised an end to austerity, that promise must be kept.

Making cut after cut is what left our services unprepared, our communities unprotected, and our carers and key workers undervalued, underpaid and overworked. Lack of resources, scarcity of housing, inability to get hospital and GP appointments, low wages, insecure work, exploiting migrant workers – that’s what became a reality for too many, and are huge factors as to why we’re leaving the EU (another impact we will have to bear).

I want to be Mayor of West Yorkshire because we desperately need to do things differently. We can’t repeat the mistakes of the past. As the economy changes, we must look to how we create secure jobs now and lead entire industries of the future – that’s jobs in new and growing sectors, creative industries, the green economy - as well as retrofitting homes and developing ultra low carbon gases.

I’ve also called on the Government to bring the National Infrastructure Bank to West Yorkshire. That’s how you put money in people’s pockets that they spend with local businesses that support local jobs.

Key workers have shouldered the burden of getting us through the pandemic, they cannot be made to shoulder the burden of another decade of austerity. I am confident we can build a better West Yorkshire – and if the Government is serious about devolution, they’ll give us the power and funds to so do.

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