This past weekend saw hundreds – possibly thousands – of Mancunians take to the streets of the city centre to protest against the renewed national lockdown.
This is the latest in a string of covid-related protests across the country. Many – in fact, most – are just ordinary people, scared of the changes to our communities and distrustful of our pathetic excuse for a government.
These people are right not to trust our government. The Tories – as well as a decent portion of the other parties and the ruling class they represent – have nothing but hate and disregard for working people, and they do not care if Covid ravages our communities, so long as the profits of the rich are impacted as little as possible. The north in particular has not been treated fairly. When the London government wanted just our city to lock down, 60% furloughed wages were to be paid. Now the Tory south is included it that lockdown, it’s back up to 80%.
But we must be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking that there is no danger in this pandemic, or that some of the organisers of this protest are just looking out for people. Covid 19 is very real, and very dangerous. It has killed thousands of people who would otherwise not have died, and tens of thousands of elderly, sick and vulnerable people who are already heading into the coldest part of the year. Not only this, but many of the anti-lockdown protests are being infiltrated and sometimes organised by the far right, who are using people’s fear as a way to stay relevant.
We must ensure that these fascists do not use lockdown as an excuse to further divide and attack working class communities.
Being suspicious of the government’s motives is entirely justified, particularly this government. But we can not and should not allow that suspicion to trick us into hurting our families, colleagues and friends by pretending the virus isn’t a problem. We do need to practice safe social distancing and we do need to wear masks if it’s safe for you to do so.
We are very proud of the Mancunian tradition of standing up to authority. But we must do so in a way that does not come back to bite us.