A Labour councillor has appeared to suggest that the government allowed old people to die by ordering their release from hospitals and into care homes without a Covid test.
Mus Khan, who is Labour’s Cabinet member for health on Kirklees Council, tore into the government’s record on the pandemic during a meeting of full council yesterday.
Conservatives have called on her to apologise.
Cllr Khan accused the government of behaving “recklessly” in ordering health trusts to discharge patients from hospital to care homes and said they amounted to up to a third of those who had perished during the pandemic.
She added: “Whether this was an oversight or a deliberate execution of Conservative philosophy of natural selection and survival of the fittest is open to debate.
“The evidence points to the latter, starting with Boris Johnson’s launch of his politically-motivated herd immunity approach at a time when other countries were prudently closing borders and taking measures to protect their citizens.”
Cllr Khan, who has previously said that some care homes in Kirklees are teetering on the brink of financial collapse as they struggle to cope with the ongoing health emergency, carried on her speech.
She was cut off by the mayor as Tory group leader David Hall intervened with a point of order.
He said: “I’m pretty horrified at what I’ve just heard, which is an accusation that the government would deliberately send people to
their deaths in order to get them out of hospitals because it is a point of philosophy.
“Please can that be withdrawn? I’m not bothered if that’s a point of order or not but it is an absolutely disgraceful allegation.”
Cllr Khan replied: “I said it’s debatable. I didn’t state a fact. “
She did not withdraw her comments and was allowed to finish her speech.
There was a speedy response on social media. Cllr Bernard McGuin tweeted that she had said Conservatives were “guilty of murder”.
Speaking after the meeting Cllr Hall said: “Cllr Khan quite clearly suggested it was the government’s philosophy knowingly to send old people to their deaths.
“That is an outrageous and insulting slur, and she should offer an immediate apology.
“I have never heard a more groundless and ignorant assertion at a council meeting.”
Cllr Hall said he would be writing to seek a formal apology.
Leader of the Lib Dem group, Cllr John Lawson, also took a dim view.
He said: “To suggest that government intentionally allowed people to die without proof, then say it was debatable is not the way I’d hope our members would behave.”
And Green group leader Cllr Andrew Cooper commented: “I like many have criticised the Conservative government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. I think they have made some very bad decisions that have cost lives.
“I was however disappointed to hear the Labour Cabinet Member responsible for public health suggesting that the government allowing elderly people return to care homes from hospitals was part of a deliberate ‘culling’ strategy.
“It is important that ministers are held to account for their actions but throwing accusations like that around doesn’t take us forward.
“Overstating your case – as she has done – undermines those of us who make reasoned criticisms of the government’s many failings.”
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