Coronavirus: Dronfield Still Blathering Despite the Lockdown

HARRY BARNES reports from North Derbyshire, where the area’s former Labour MP is doing his bit to remain politically active in the face of Covid-19.

As my wife and I are elderly and suffer from a range of medical problems we have self-isolated virtually from the start of this country’s coronavirus problems, whilst obtaining invaluable support with food and medical supplies left outside our front door.

Like many others, we now pursue matters by phone and computer. Although I live in what is now a Tory parliamentary constituency I occasionally use the fact that I was the MP here from 1987 to 2005 to press some of my former colleagues on matters related to tackling coronavirus. Unfortunately, (as time has passed) only one Labour MP now remains who was part of my own 1987 intake, although there are others there I served alongside.

While there are a number of email and Facebook contacts I regularly pursue, there are two particularly important Facebook avenues I push in Dronfield, where I have now lived for more than 50 years.

A public group was quickly established here called Dronfield and District Coronavirus Support. I link into to it several times a day and invariably, each time I examine it, a fresh minimum of 20 people have linked in. A number of local Labour Party members can be spotted among the regulars.

It is an important self-help avenue, used, for instance, by the local Sainsbury’s (close to where I live) to provide information and advertise services that fit with current needs.

Online activism

Then there is a Facebook group for local Labour Party members, which is currently dominated by local and national Labour initiatives to tackle the current situation. Our local Conservative MP also runs a Facebook site where he and his government’s shortcomings over tackling the virus can (and are) taken on.

A matter I have been pursuing via various Labour avenues (including trying to reach the new Labour leader, Keir Starmer) has been for us to learn from the side effects of what has been happening in tackling the virus.

Since we have had dramatic cuts in the use of oil for road and air travel in many areas across the world, there has been a dramatic drop in pollution levels in the UK and many other areas.

We need to learn from what has happened. We (and especially Labour) need to see that significant moves away from the use of oil will also help us tackle a wider and even more serious issue – the dangers from climate change.

Traffic controls will, of course, only be a crucial start. I recently summarised a fuller range of requirements on my blog, Three Score Years and Ten.

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Harry Barnes is the former Labour MP for North East Derbyshire.

He blogs at ‘Three Score Years and Ten’ and is an active member of the Dronfield Labour Party discussion forum, ‘Dronfield Blather’.

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