A Labour Party mayor has said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson “completely deserves” to be admitted to intensive care after contracting the debilitating and deadly Chinese coronavirus.
Mayor of Heanor in Derbyshire and Labour district councillor Sheila Oakes had responded to a Facebook post in a party group asking people to say a “little prayer” to Prime Minister Johnson who was admitted to the intensive care unit of St Thomas’ hospital in London on Monday after his condition had worsened.
Miss Oakes had written on the social media platform: “Sorry, he completely deserves this, and he is one of the worst PMs we’ve ever had.”
After backlash on social media, the Amber Valley Labour Group withdrew the party whip from Oakes, and she is no longer a Labour member. The group’s leader, Chris Emmas-Williams, said that there would be a party investigation into the mayor’s conduct.
On Tuesday, Miss Oakes “apologised for upsetting people and saying it”.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 7, 2020
Appearing astounded that so many people could have been offended by her remarks, she told the BBC: “I didn’t think what I said would upset so many people. It came across as not a nice thing to say.
“I’m concerned about nurses and doctors who don’t have protective equipment. I said something when I was angry without thinking about the prime minister or his family.”
While no longer a Labour member, she can sit as an independent politician and will keep her role until the next mayoral election.
Others reacted more compassionately to the news that the British Prime Minister was unwell. Those wishing Mr Johnson well saw #ClapForBoris trending on Twitter on Tuesday, and overworked NHS staff even took the time to post a message of support to the prime minister.
— @GEHNHSnews (@GEHNHSnews) April 7, 2020
Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth was one of several Labour MPs to put party politics aside to send wishes of good health to the prime minister. He told the BBC: “He is our nation’s leader and we are rooting for him to come through this because we want him back fit and healthy, leading the fight against this awful, awful, virus.”
“Today, this isn’t about politics. It doesn’t matter whether you voted for him or not: the whole country will be wishing him their very best and wanting him to swiftly recover,” Mr Ashworth added.
Some in Labour have, however, sought to use the pandemic for political gain.
Last month, Labour chairman Ian Lavery told party activists during a Zoom video-conferencing call that the pandemic was a “great opportunity” to advance their agenda through “community organising”.
While admitting that “we’re going to see lots of our own dying as a consequence” of coronavirus, he continued: “But, you know apart from that, it’s going to give the fantastic battalion of Labour Party members, community champions out there a great opportunity of showing how Labour, and why Labour, is best when it gets on the front foot and best when it gets people together.”
Days later, former leadership contender Rebecca Long-Bailey was also caught on a Zoom chat saying that the pandemic was the perfect opportunity to sell socialism to the UK.
Ms Long-Bailey said: “The case in this crisis is being made very strongly for socialism and we need to make sure that people don’t forget that all of the support that we’re pushing for, it is socialism. ”
Labour’s Nandy: UK ‘Must’ Extend Brexit Transition Period Because of Coronavirus https://t.co/sMVtTFSXdQ
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 10, 2020