Walsall Labour Group and West Midlands Labour were privileged to welcome Labour Leader Keir Starmer and Shadow Mayor of the West Midlands Liam Byrne today (19th September 2020) alongside Valerie Vaz MP for Walsall South & Shadow Leader of the House of Commons.
Keir Starmer, Liam Byrne, and Valerie Vaz were accompanied by Walsall Labour Group Leader Councillor Aftab Nawaz and Walsall Labour Group Deputy Leader Councillor Khizar Hussain. They spent time at Walsall Football Club, before moving into Walsall Town Centre and visiting Walsall Market.
Keir Starmer told the local media:
“The Government has let people in the Black Country and Staffordshire down badly on a number of measures during the pandemic,”
“The exams fiasco hurt a lot of people, and now we have the situation with testing.
“One or two errors, you might expect, but we’ve had a string of U-turns, up to 12 now. I think many people will be looking at this as serial incompetence from a government that just can’t get it right.”
Keir also said that the failure of the Government’s testing, track and trace programme is causing a “build up of frustrations” that were growing week by week. He also said that while people were – like him – willing to give ministers and government the benefit of the doubt in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, the public’s patience was now wearing very thin.
Keir then spoke about schools, the economy and track and trace:
“It was very important we got our schools open and supported the economy, and we supported the Government on that,”.
“Their side of the bargain was to get an effective testing system up and running.
“The Prime Minister said it would be ‘world beating’. Well we don’t need that we just need one that works, and we haven’t got it. I don’t think that families who pick up a bug and have to get tested and self-isolate are going to accept that this was some unexpected happening. It was inevitable, it should have been planned for and it wasn’t.
“You look at schools. They should have the ability to get tests very quickly so they can get on with their business, but that’s not happening.
“There’s also a lack of clear guidance with what to do when you get positive tests in schools, so we have got different schools taking different approaches to deal with it.
“I can understand why people are frustrated and I think there has been a build up of frustrations. At the start of the pandemic people were willing to give the Government the benefit of the doubt.
“Seven months in and people would have expected something far better.”
Keir was visiting Walsall with Shadow Mayor of the West Midlands Liam Byrne ahead of the May 2021 Local Council; West Midlands Mayor and West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner elections.
Candidates will be elected in all 20 wards of Walsall to represent their communities. In May 2021 there will also be two by-elections in the ward of Pelsall. One the same day voters will be able to make their choice of who follows David Jamieson as West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, and who will be West Midlands Mayor to continue taking the West Midlands Combined Authority forward; oversee the delivery of the Commonwealth Games and stand up for everyone in the West Midlands.