Anglesey WPB: Welsh lockdown is a political game that brings profits to a few and severe hardships to many

Wales social distancing

Anglesey workers are increasingly angry at the situation that has been forced on them by the two-week lockdown in Wales, which is neither fair nor effective and threatens many with extreme hardship.

Mark Drakeford, for most of the pandemic, has been beyond reproach in the estimation of the general public, for his and Welsh Labour’s efforts to control the virus … until now.

The tide is now turning on Drakeford, and Labour’s popularity in Wales is facing its first serious test of this crisis. Drakeford has been playing up to Welsh nationalist sentiments, and the ‘Yes Cymru’ movement by closing the border for ‘non-essential travel’, the not-so-implicit suggestion has throughout this crisis been that the virus has been brought to Wales by the English.

Drakeford previously tweeted that Welsh independence could be an option if communications with Westminster didn’t improve. This posturing is no longer enough to keep the Welsh people happy.

Many are now becoming increasingly fed up and angry about the ridiculous ‘essentials only’ policy brought in for the two-week lockdown. Only in Wales can you buy tins but no tin opener, cream cakes but not books or paper, alcohol but not children’s clothing.

The Welsh first minister and his party claim this is for “fair trade”, but it is seen by many that the only people gaining from these moves are capitalists like Jeff Bezos and companies like Amazon, which are making huge profits through online sales.

Many people are now losing patience and there have been a number of protests in stores by customers. These protests are ineffectual, only inconveniencing other workers, but the animosity against this fire-break lockdown is growing.

After speaking to a number of people about their situation during the ‘fire-breaker’, they have told Anglesey branch of the WPB about the lack of clear, concise information available regarding financial support. With many workers reliant upon tourism, thousands have already had a hard year financially, and the latest lockdown is bringing with it serious economic hardship for an already beleaguered people.

Many people do not qualify for furlough and will have to wait until 1 November to get 77% of their weekly wage. That means a week with no income! People have children to support and bills to pay.

Many workers are living pay packet to pay packet and a week of zero income will have devastating financial consequences for families across the country.

If Drakeford really felt a two-week lockdown was paramount, then it was just as important that financial support for those who have to shut up shop and for their workers was made clear and available.

Welsh Labour’s political game, playing with a two-week lockdown originally thought up as Keir Starmer’s ‘circuit breaker’, is an iron fist crushing the workers and breaking small businesses that were already on a knife edge and will do little to achieve anything but more misery. 

WPB Ynys Mon and Gwynedd