In Leicester we have always felt left behind – this local lockdown proves it

In Leicester we have always felt left behind – this local lockdown proves it

On a traffic island to the west of Leicester, my adopted city, a small replica of the Statue of Liberty stands and guards our freedoms. A plaque explains that she was not placed there out of pro-American feelings, but as a gesture by the manufacturer of liberty bodices, which once had factories nearby. I walked past the statue this morning after hearing the news that Leicester would return to local lockdown as the rest of the UK opened up from Saturday. When I got home, I saw a post on Facebook suggesting that outbreaks of coronavirus in the city can be traced to the factories that sustain Leicester’s now diminished rag trade. And the Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire, Andrew Bridgen, has said the garment industry was partially to blame for the outbreak. Small, non-unionised, heavily staffed by non-English speakers: these factories make a good scapegoat, but few of us will ever know the truth about why Leicester became a hotspot for Covid-19. Still, with information in short supply, people invent their own. For the past few weeks, I’ve been awaiting news of when I’ll be allowed to visit my partner’s house. We live separately; during the lockdown, when we’ve relied on the company of housemates and have been deprived of much contact beyond a Regency-style constitutional walk, we’ve counted the days until home visits are permitted. When the government announced that old freedoms would return from 4 July, we exchanged ecstatic texts. A few mornings later, I ...
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