As many of you will know, this week marked an important anniversary: the seventy-fifth anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, the day that the Second World War came to an end after many years of sacrifices.
Over the last few weeks and months, many comparisons have been made between the ‘wartime spirit’ that characterised those years of 1939 to 1945 and the present situation regarding Coronavirus. This reflects the sense of community and voluntary action that enabled the country to stick together. This feeling of national unity was aided by Winston Churchill’s famous and now historic wartime speeches, which spoke of determination, hope and courage. This year, I was humbled to lead a recital of one of those speeches with my fellow MPs, which you can listen to on my Facebook page; https://www.facebook.com/Stuart4WolvesSW/
“God bless you all. This is your victory! It is the victory of the cause of freedom in every land. In all our long history we have never seen a greater day than this. Everyone, man or woman, has done their best. Everyone has tried. Neither the long years, nor the dangers, nor the fierce attacks of the enemy, have in any way weakened the unbending resolve of the British nation. God bless you all.” - Sir Winston Churchill, May 1945.
During the outbreak of Coronavirus, I have been continually moved by the heroic ways in which groups and individuals have acted to help the elderly and medically vulnerable in our community – a reaction which the Queen in her own address to the nation said that the war generation would admire.
In response to Coronavirus, many organisations have switched their own ways of working to continue to provide important public services. To help in this effort, the Government has launched a variety of different initiatives, including a fund for technological solutions to common problems being faced. For example, I know tech companies have been working with care home providers to enable loved ones to keep in touch with those being cared for. I commend all those involved in crafting these solutions.
These technological solutions are also helping Parliament to continue its work. Last week, I become the first MP for Wolverhampton South West to speak and vote remotely in Parliament. This is part of the new, virtual Parliament that has been introduced to help parliamentary proceedings continue during these challenging times. Thanks to this, MPs can now take part in urgent questions and statements via video-link. I have already attended a Defence Select Committee meeting.
In addition to attending the Defence Select Committee, I have spoken twice in oral question sessions. These are opportunities available to MPs to quiz ministers on their work. The topics I have spoken about are ensuring that personal protective equipment is supplied to frontline services and making sure that informal carers get sufficient support during this time. I was reassured that a military-sized operation is underway to ensure that what PPE deliveries are promised arrives. I was also encouraged that the Government confirmed unpaid carers can continue to claim carer’s allowance if they have a temporary break because one of them has to self-isolate. It was also confirmed that rather than just more traditional forms of care, those who provide emotional support to disabled people will now count towards the carer’s allowance.
I hope that my ongoing work – both in Parliament and Wolverhampton – will help to demonstrate my real commitment to working for all constituents on every issue throughout – and indeed, after – the situation that we are all currently facing.