South west London GLA candidates were divided on the government reaction to coronavirus as they debated health policy in a hustings debate hosted by Riverside Radio this evening.
Candidates were asked about how they would move forward health policy with a backdrop of Covid misinformation and their own lack of clinical background.
When pressed on how each party can be entrusted to make the right decisions about coronavirus and health provisions in the city, Hina Bokhari, list candidate for the Lib Dems, opened by referencing allegations made against the Prime Minister that he would rather ‘let the bodies pile high’ than enforce another lockdown.
She said: “It’s awful. At the end of the day, all thanks to the nurse and doctors, not the government.”
Bokhari, the first BAME councillor in her ward, was also critical of plans for a vaccine passport.
She said: “It’s unfair, it’s discriminatory, and it goes against civil liberties.”
She was keen to praise the NHS for their response to coronavirus and called for a public enquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic.
“Let’s find out where things went wrong because they did.”
Hannah Graham, a Green Party list candidate, took a similar view calling for a ‘full public and judge led enquiry’.
She said: “Coronavirus has exposed some of the worst gaps in our systems.
“A green recovery means making London a city best prepared for the future.”
Conservative candidate for Merton and Wandsworth Louise Calland responded by talking about her own background in health policy, saying that it influences her decision making.
Calland works as a government affairs manager for pharmaceutical company Novartis.
She said: “One of the things that really became clear in the pandemic is how much we rely on both biotechs and the pharmaceutical sector.
“That’s why one of the pledges from Shaun is to increase the funding in MedCity by five times.”
Calland also praised the success of the vaccine rollout which has vaccinated over 40 million people.
“That is amazing by any standards,” she said.
Labour incumbent for Merton and Wandsworth Leonie Cooper also highlighted the success of the vaccine rollout but instead attributed its positive outcome to the NHS.
Referencing the surge in cases in India and Brazil, Cooper warned how difficult things could become if Londoners failed to follow updated government guidelines.
She said: “It’s been really really tough on so many of us, so difficult.”
Despite this, she said: “We have a bright future.”
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