SINCE Covid-19 took hold of the UK, there has been a rash of articles on how this terrible health crisis could change the way we live our lives in the future for the better.

Much of this desire for change and renewed calls for fairness and equality have focused on aspects of our society that have been fragmented and broken by Conservative ideology this past decade – austerity, food banks, welfare cuts, child poverty, employment inequality, the nasty hostile immigration environment and the slow and insidious dissection of our NHS.

Even certain ministers instrumental in this decay of vital support have voiced their concern. Former UK health secretary Jeremy Hunt has publicly admitted he shouldn’t have cut social care or failed to train enough nurses and doctors. He must also realise that back in 2017, whether he was personally part of it or not, the decision to ignore the recommendation that all frontline NHS staff be given protective equipment during a flu epidemic as it was deemed too costly was a terrible and deadly mistake.

This is the reality of balancing the books without understanding the bigger picture. For every governmental spreadsheet and pie chart explaining their reasoning and charting the result, there’s a family on the edge, a vulnerable person abandoned and alone, a child without hot meals and adequate shelter. Now there are doctors and nurses working without proper protection, without enough equipment or beds to keep the sick alive and comfort the dying.

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Of course, outside of the Westminster bubble, this has been obvious to huge swathes of the UK battling against these draconian austerity measures to help others in desperate need or those going without meals to make sure their children can be fed. For many, the reality of decisions brain-stormed in stately retreats or wrestled with in wood-panelled rooms is a far cry from ministerial blue-sky thinking.

The terrible divisions in society are their lived experience. Now cutbacks and savings have left key workers, the most important and vital workers in our society right now, exposed to illness and possible death.

With Covid-19, all has “changed utterly”, to paraphrase WB Yeats. What happens when all this is past, and we pick up the pieces of our lives will be a vital turning point in our history. We’re only all in it together now because the virus cares not for privilege or wealth, for advantage or vulnerability, for colour or creed. But – and this is the real question – will we still all be in it together once the horror has faded and the threat subsides? Nowhere is this more obvious than in what is happening to our doctors and nurses on the frontline of the battle against the coronavirus. Just this week, three doctors have died while caring for patients with Covid-19. Dr Habib Zaidi, Dr Amged El-Hawrani and Dr Adil El Tayar all tested positive for the virus. These selfless medics have given their lives in order to save others. They are real heroes in a world which has devalued the term. To mention that these men were all Muslims and all from immigrant families has brought down a battery of criticism on social media and in the written press about politicising their unnecessary deaths.

But this angry reaction has only come from certain corners of British society, the corners where prejudice and bigotry make their homes, the us-and-them armchair agitators who get their “facts” from the Murdoch media and ignore evidence-based research which shows just how much immigrants contribute to British society and the economy.

Because, in truth, race and prejudice are political matters, especially when the government of the day is led by a man who has form on whipping up intolerance of minorities and has knowingly used ethnicity and religion as scapegoats for problems in our society.

I believe it is important to highlight these deceased doctors’ religion and origin. Because it shows the vital and pivotal role ethnic minorities play in our society, despite all the odds stacked up against them. These include the threats of deportation; the spike in hate crimes after the Brexit referendum; the hostile environment policy pursued with vigour by Theresa May when she was home secretary; the petty and small-minded new immigration policy unveiled by Priti Patel just some weeks ago with its focus on so called “skilled workers”.

In light of where we are now, and the horrendous loss of life we are facing, we should be valuing their contribution, we should be celebrating their skills and talent, we should be glad that they are in it together with the rest of us.

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When all this is past, I hope and I pray things will indeed change and change utterly. That we never go back to the position to which we have been reduced in Brexit Britain. I hope we never return to such simplistic, subjective, knee-jerk, finger-pointing ignorance, the scapegoating and the fear.

I hope we give the divisive dissenters and racist rabble-rousers a run for their money, I hope we challenge every ignorant and stupid comment they make until their audience and reach dwindles to barely a whisper. I hope we never tolerate another UK government so divorced from reality, so cold and distant in its decision making, so opposed to community and helping the most vulnerable while prioritising the wealthy.

And I hope we rediscover the importance of shared values of common decency, co-operation, togetherness, honour, respect and responsibility.

Because with hope comes life.

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