For the first time since it started, I am seriously wondering whether I should join the weekly ‘clap for carers’ at 8.00pm on a Thursday night. I’ll admit that I have had minor reservations from the start, not because so many Tory politicians, including the current prime minister, cheered when in 2017 they voted down a pay rise for nurses. I’ve tried to put it to the back of my mind but it won’t stay there.

The sight of Priti Patel yesterday addressing the House of Commons, wearing her best perma-smirk made me feel queasy. She said: “The bill before us today will play a vital role in our recovery plans for the future. It will end free movement and pave the way for our new point-based immigration system.” That’s nothing other than a kick in the teeth for so many people who have come to work in this country and provide care for the sick and the vulnerable. When Boris Johnson was treated for COVID-19, he was treated by ‘foreigners’, too. I don’t think their nationality bothered him too much as he fought for his life. But that was then, this is now.

From 1st January 2021, anyone likely to earn less than £25,600 a year will not be allowed to work in the UK. Can you tell me of any carers who earn anything like that amount? Nor me. But then Patel clearly doesn’t regard care workers as skilled or, on that basis, key workers. There was me thinking, erroneously it seems, that shop workers, refuse collectors, local government workers, benefit paying staff and so on were vital to the running of the country. Not to this government.

Not to all Labour MPs, either, 15 of whom, including – incredibly – Yvette Cooper, abstained, confirming the enormous job Keir Starmer still has in returning the party to anything vaguely resembling an alternative government.

So, I go to my door on Thursday night to applaud to applaud frontline care workers, alongside many people in the list below, including my toe rag of an MP, Giacomo ‘Jack’ Lopresti, who like me clearly doesn’t have a drop of ‘foreign’ blood in his system.

Perhaps, I am getting a little irrational? Perhaps, I should ignore the actions of our so-called leaders and clap our real heroes regardless? Or perhaps, this is the time for a change of emphasis, to move the campaign on to actually taking concrete steps to support and reward our care workers? A round of applause just a few days before the government dumps all over care workers whose only ‘crime’ will be where they are from.

Given that there are likely to be millions of people on the dole in the months and years ahead, it’s entirely conceivable that the government is banking on overseas workers being replaced by those displaced from their jobs as the recession deepens. And given how claiming benefits works, it would be very hard for anyone to turn down whatever work is offered to them, minimum wage or not. Imagine working for a good wage in manufacturing and then being told to work in domiciliary care for the minimum wage because if you refuse to work, your benefits will stop?

When I clap for carers, I clap for all carers, regardless of nationality. In my experience, they are not ‘coming over here and taking our jobs’: they’re coming over here to do the jobs they want to do and the jobs we don’t want to do.

Every time I think the government couldn’t sink any lower, along comes a Priti Patel to help it to sink even lower. And just when the tokenistic Mental Health Awareness Week comes along with it’s ‘Be kind’ message, hate wins again.

To clap or not to clap?

Footnote: here’s the list of MPs who in 2017 voted to block a 1% pay rise for nurses. Never forget.

Andrew Griffiths (Teller – counted the votes though did not formally vote)

Mrs Heather Wheeler (Teller – counted the votes though did not formally vote)

Adams Nigel

Afolami Bim

Afriyie Adam

Aldous Peter

Allan Lucy

Allen Heidi

Andrew Stuart

Argar Edward

Atkins Victoria

Bacon Mr Richard

Badenoch Mrs Kemi

Baker Mr Steve

Baldwin Harriett

Barclay Stephen

Baron Mr John

Bebb Guto

Bellingham Sir Henry

Benyon rh Richard

Beresford Sir Paul

Berry Jake

Blackman Bob

Blunt Crispin

Boles Nick

Bone Mr Peter

Bottomley Sir Peter

Bowie Andrew C.

Bradley Ben

Bradley rh Karen

Brady Mr Graham

Brereton Jack

Bridgen Andrew

Brine Steve

Brokenshire rh James

Bruce Fiona

Buckland Robert

Burghart Alex

Burns Conor

Burt rh Alistair

Cairns rh Alun

Cartlidge James

Cash Sir William

Caulfield Maria

Chalk Alex

Chishti Rehman

Chope Mr Christopher

Churchill Jo

Clark Colin

Clark rh Greg

Clarke Mr Simon

Clarke rh Mr Kenneth

Cleverly James

Clifton-Brown Geoffrey

Coffey Dr Thérèse

Collins Damian

Costa Alberto

Courts Robert

Cox Mr Geoffrey

Crabb rh Stephen

Crouch Tracey

Davies Chris

Davies David T. C.

Davies Glyn

Davies Mims

Davies Philip

Davis rh Mr David

Dinenage Caroline

Djanogly Mr Jonathan

Docherty Leo

Dockerill Julia

Donelan Michelle

Dorries Ms Nadine

Double Steve

Dowden Oliver

Doyle-Price Jackie

Drax Richard

Duddridge James

Duguid David

Duncan Smith rh Mr Iain

Duncan rh Sir Alan

Dunne Mr Philip

Ellis Michael

Ellwood rh Mr Tobias

Elphicke Charlie

Eustice George

Evans Mr Nigel

Evennett rh David

Fabricant Michael

Fallon rh Sir Michael

Fernandes Suella

Field rh Mark

Ford Vicky

Foster Kevin

Fox rh Dr Liam

Francois rh Mr Mark

Frazer Lucy

Freeman George

Freer Mike

Fysh Mr Marcus

Gale Sir Roger

Garnier Mark

Gauke rh Mr David

Ghani Ms Nusrat

Gibb rh Nick

Gillan rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen John

Goldsmith Zac

Goodwill Mr Robert

Gove rh Michael

Graham Luke

Graham Richard

Grant Bill

Grant Mrs Helen

Gray James

Grayling rh Chris

Green Chris

Green rh Damian

Greening rh Justine

Grieve rh Mr Dominic

Gyimah Mr Sam

Hair Kirstene

Halfon rh Robert

Hall Luke

Hammond rh Mr Philip

Hammond Stephen

Hancock rh Matt

Hands rh Greg

Harper rh Mr Mark

Harrington Richard

Harris Rebecca

Harrison Trudy

Hart Simon

Hayes rh Mr John

Heald rh Sir Oliver

Heappey James

Heaton-Harris Chris

Heaton-Jones Peter

Henderson Gordon

Herbert rh Nick

Hinds Damian

Hoare Simon

Hollingbery George

Hollinrake Kevin

Hollobone Mr Philip

Holloway Adam

Howell John

Huddleston Nigel

Hughes Eddie

Hunt rh Mr Jeremy

Hurd Mr Nick

Jack Mr Alister

James Margot

Javid rh Sajid

Jayawardena Mr Ranil

Jenkin Mr Bernard

Jenkyns Andrea

Jenrick Robert

Johnson Dr Caroline

Johnson Gareth

Johnson Joseph

Johnson rh Boris

Jones Andrew

Jones Mr Marcus

Jones rh Mr David

Kawczynski Daniel

Keegan Gillian

Kennedy Seema

Kerr Stephen

Knight Julian

Knight rh Sir Greg

Kwarteng Kwasi

Lamont John

Lancaster Mark

Latham Mrs Pauline

Leadsom rh Andrea

Lee Dr Phillip

Lefroy Jeremy

Leigh Sir Edward

Letwin rh Sir Oliver

Lewer Andrew

Lewis rh Brandon

Lewis rh Dr Julian

Liddell-Grainger Mr Ian

Lidington rh Mr David

Lopresti Jack

Lord Mr Jonathan

Loughton Tim

Mackinlay Craig

Maclean Rachel

Main Mrs Anne

Mak Alan

Malthouse Kit

Mann Scott

Masterton Paul

May rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard Paul

McLoughlin rh Sir Patrick

McPartland Stephen

McVey rh Ms Esther

Menzies Mark

Mercer Johnny

Merriman Huw

Metcalfe Stephen

Miller rh Mrs Maria

Milling Amanda

Mills Nigel

Milton rh Anne

Mitchell rh Mr Andrew

Moore Damien

Mordaunt Penny

Morgan rh Nicky

Morris Anne Marie

Morris David

Morris James

Morton Wendy

Mundell rh David

Murray Mrs Sheryll

Murrison Dr Andrew

Neill Robert

Newton Sarah

Nokes Caroline

Norman Jesse

O’Brien Neil

Offord Dr Matthew

Opperman Guy

Parish Neil

Patel rh Priti

Paterson rh Mr Owen

Pawsey Mark

Penning rh Mike

Penrose John

Percy Andrew

Perry Claire

Philp Chris

Pincher Christopher

Poulter Dr Dan

Pow Rebecca

Prentis Victoria

Prisk Mr Mark

Pritchard Mark

Pursglove Tom

Quin Jeremy

Quince Will

Raab Dominic

Redwood rh John

Rees-Mogg Mr Jacob

Robertson Mr Laurence

Robinson Mary

Rosindell Andrew

Ross Douglas

Rowley Lee

Rudd rh Amber

Rutley David

Sandbach Antoinette

Scully Paul

Seely Mr Bob

Selous Andrew

Shapps rh Grant

Sharma Alok

Shelbrooke Alec

Simpson rh Mr Keith

Skidmore Chris

Smith Chloe

Smith Henry

Smith Julian

Smith Royston

Soames rh Sir Nicholas

Soubry rh Anna

Spelman rh Dame Caroline

Spencer Mark

Stephenson Andrew

Stevenson John

Stewart Bob

Stewart Iain

Stewart Rory

Streeter Mr Gary

Stride rh Mel

Stuart Graham

Sturdy Julian

Sunak Rishi

Swayne rh Sir Desmond

Swire rh Sir Hugo

Syms Mr Robert

Thomas Derek

Thomson Ross

Throup Maggie

Tolhurst Kelly

Tomlinson Justin

Tomlinson Michael

Tracey Craig

Tredinnick David

Trevelyan Mrs Anne-Marie

Truss rh Elizabeth

Tugendhat Tom

Vaizey rh Mr Edward

Vara Mr Shailesh

Vickers Martin

Villiers rh Theresa

Walker Mr Charles

Walker Mr Robin

Wallace rh Mr Ben

Warburton David

Warman Matt

Watling Giles

Whately Helen

Whittaker Craig

Whittingdale rh Mr John

Wiggin Bill

Williamson rh Gavin

Wollaston Dr Sarah

Wood Mike

Wragg Mr William

Wright rh Jeremy

Zahawi Nadhim


Campbell Mr Gregory

Dodds rh Nigel

Donaldson rh Sir Jeffrey M.

Girvan Paul

Little Pengelly Emma

Paisley Ian

Robinson Gavin