Opinion: Craig Mackinlay MP -National lockdown continues

Craig Mackinlay

Difficult to believe that two weeks have flown by as the national lockdown continues. With so much data available it is difficult to know, with complete certainty, where we are.

International comparisons are not always helpful because of the lack of global standardisation of recording and differences in the quality of overseas healthcare and governments’ ability to collect information. The key for the UK is to keep the ‘R’ index – the rate of infection by somebody infected well below 1. If above 1 this means that the infected population infects more than 1 person each. Continue on that path and the entire population, over time, will become infected. The more over 1 the number is, the faster the infection curve grows. Under 1 and the number of new infections falls.

Of all the data, the number in hospital with Covid-19 is, to me, highly relevant. This figure is now showing a decline across the South East: good news, which indicates that the UK’s figure is now below R1. The strict measures have worked.

What is important is what happens next, particularly in East Kent. It is how we move from strict lockdown to loosening. Too fast and too loose then the rate of infection will grow gain (R figure above 1). Too slow, then we permanently damage the economy, jobs and the fundamentals of society.

I can only imagine the mental health problems accumulating, pressures within families and the worry faced by our entrepreneurs who have often staked everything over many years to create a business and employment. We must never forget that neither the government nor local authorities have any money – it all comes from productive capitalism creating profits and employment which are taxed in one way or another. Spend more than is collected and we have debt which future generations have to service and pay back.

I am hugely aware that a higher than national or regional average of our local economy is reliant on tourism, language schools and hospitality. Whilst over £30m has now been distributed locally to businesses under the Business Support Grants Fund and the Retail  Hospitality & Leisure Grant Fund and payments to support employment under the ‘Furlough’ scheme will be paid this week, this cannot continue forever.

I am particularly mindful of smaller businesses who have remained closed whilst bigger retailers, often selling the same products but with an additional range of ‘essentials’, food and the like have been able to continue trading. The added worry is that the shift during this period to online shopping, which has broadly continued unhindered, will continue once normality returns to the further detriment of our already pressured High Streets.

One loosening that is urgently required is the re-opening in a sensible way of the Household Waste Recycling Centres. Many will have had an overdue clear out, done some DIY, sorted the garden and such like. We’re already seeing more fly-tipping and there is only so much extra rubbish that can be stored domestically. Myself and other Kent MPs are pushing KCC to get our tips re-opened.

I’m sure readers will be as delighted as I am to see our Prime Minister’s health much improved and him back in control in Downing Street. Another week for me of ‘Zoom’ and similar virtual meetings. They’re nothing like the real thing but are infinitely better than nothing.

A nation’s thanks go to all those working so hard on the frontline within the NHS, care homes, emergency services, retail, distribution and many more.

Keep well.


  1. No mention of shortages of PPE or deaths in care homes and Craig seems to be prioritising the economy over health – this is the message I’m picking up from this column. Am I wrong if I say it seems a bit callous?

  2. Morning Kathy and Team.

    Yes but your colleague said super markets are back to normal. In what capacity?
    Morrisons… No potatoes no eggs no flour no baking products.
    Meat free range empty
    Bread empty
    The small shops are great and I like to thank the owner of Premier in Cliftonville… He might be small scale but has some of our essentials. As I travel out to buy fresh veg in Broadstairs.
    What will happen to charity shops though?
    Will they close. Will you buy clothes or goods from infected people or not infected ever again.
    I saw Carol Peters had closed down in Westgate.
    I don’t really enjoy having to go far to find that main super markets cannot though keep up with demand.

  3. Another ‘curates egg’ from Craig. Good in parts but seriously lacking elsewhere.
    Good – push KCC into opening up the waste sites.
    Good – that he recognises the plight of the East Kent economy.and
    Good – that he recognises the plight of small businesses.
    But nothing about what Thanet is doing for itself, nothing about what present day capitalism relies on, which is the hard work of the many who are often in servitude to the few.
    Complacent, business as usual, returning to the status quo,policy making is not good enough and many may not tolerate it.
    Many have rallied round the flag, me included; do not believe that means approval of returning to the bad old ways.Even the OAP vote may not be guaranteed, now that they have seen the care home sector thrown to the wolves.

  4. Thanks craig for raising the issue of fly tipping, the kcc Labour group have been raising this issue for weeks with your conservative colleagues in kcc to no avail. Thanks for belatedly supporting our concerns about the closure of household waste disposal sites in Thanet.

  5. This is what an extra £10,000 got us…

    Health workers relying on members of the public making homemade masks for them.

    Self employed waiting till June at the earliest to receive any financial help with many not fitting government criteria or have combination of self employment and zero hours contracts so get nothing.

    Still no SPECIFIC support for renters other than “discuss it with your landlord” even when said landlords have had government support, often not passed on to tenants.

    But still a £10k bonus while staying at home writing a couple of Op Eds and a handful of generic email responses.

    Can’t be bad eh?

  6. Umm, while MP’s are offered £10,000 for working from home, sole traders like myself have to content ourselves with a round robin letter from Mr. MacKinley (sorry not attached) and told to tighten our belts until June when the HMRC will inform us of eligibility or not… As usual one rule for them and another for us. I could really do with an offer of 10k to work from home at the moment, what about you?

    • Yeah £10k would be lovely, especially if it was on top of an already healthy salary and income from a property management company…

      In the meantime I’m getting a month £753 UC with zero opportunity to work. Whoopee.

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