Sheffield Tory MP branded “offensive and insensitive” after saying fight against Covid focused “far too narrowly on the longevity of older people”
A Sheffield MP has been called “offensive and insensitive” after she said the fight against Covid focused too much on the longevity of older people.
Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Miriam Cates said she was deeply concerned about the implications of postponing “Liberation Day” and hopes there will be a national debate which “removes the blinkers of Covid”.
Writing for the political website UnHerd, the Conservative MP says: “Constant media coverage has led us to become myopic in our approach to managing the pandemic, dazzled by an abundance of Covid data and blind to the wider implications of the measures we are taking.
“Our preoccupation with Covid has caused, or perhaps exposed, a significant shift in public attitudes towards life and death.
“We’ve come to see death as something that should be prevented even in old age, no matter the cost to our way of life, and held the Government responsible when it isn’t.
“We’ve placed insufficient emphasis on the long term impact of lockdowns on young peoples’ lives – poverty, lost opportunity, loneliness, online harms – and focused far too narrowly on the short term impact of Covid on the longevity of older people.
“We have compared the pandemic to fighting a war but we have sacrificed our collective freedom to save individual lives.”
She adds: “Death, especially in old age, is a normal part of life and, while every death is a sadness, it does not follow that we should sacrifice those things that make life worth living for the sake of a short increase in longevity.”
Ms Cates warns restricting freedom could set a dangerous precedent – even though her own Prime Minister Boris Johnson delayed his roadmap.
Olivia Blake, Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam, said MPs had a duty to protect and serve people of all ages.
“To describe the deaths of people from Covid-19 as a “normal part of life”, is deeply offensive and insensitive to everyone who has lost someone this past year.
“We aren’t talking about a couple of people passing away peacefully in their old age – we are talking about thousands of people losing 10, 20 or more years off their lives; partners losing loved ones years too early and 40-year-olds dying in hospital.
“The UK has the highest Covid death toll in Europe – there is nothing acceptable or inevitable about that.
“I understand the damaging effect of repeated lockdowns but the answer is more, better quality Government support – not throwing out the science and unlocking at any cost, risking thousands more lives.
“A proper support package, both now and as we recover from this crisis, is clearly the way to speak up for our businesses and young people.”
Francyne Johnson, Labour councillor for Stocksbridge, was also critical.
“Unlocking too quickly would be the worst course of action, risking a new wave of Covid that would cost lives and pressure the NHS again.
“For our Conservative MP to disagree with her government to reject the science and stoke siren calls for a Liberation Day is incredibly irresponsible.”