A newly-elected north-east MSP has used her first speech to claim that thousands of coronavirus victims were “sacrificed to neoliberalism”.
Maggie Chapman, a Scottish Green, said that Covid-19 was a result of “choices” that had been made in pursuit of the free market economic model, and suggested the pandemic would “look like a walk in the park” compared to the looming climate change crisis.
Ms Chapman is a former co-convener of her party and also served as rector of Aberdeen University, before becoming the first north-east Green MSP in more than a decade.
During a Holyrood debate on the pandemic on Thursday, she said: “The lives of thousands who died were sacrificed to neoliberalism, a system that was wrong, is wrong and will continue to be wrong however many more lives that we sacrifice to it.”
The lives of thousands who died were sacrificed to neoliberalism, a system that was wrong, is wrong and will continue to be wrong however many more lives that we sacrifice to it.”
Ms Chapman described Covid-19 as “one of the greatest challenges of our time”, that had “transformed our lives”.
The MSP said: “Over 1,000 lives have been lost in north-east Scotland alone, the region I have the huge honour and privilege of representing, and I want to remember them all now.
“But the pandemic is not some kind of accident. It is not a natural disaster that could not have been prevented.
“It is the result of series of choices, and a specific set of circumstances.”
Ms Chapman said the virus “came to leap the species barrier”, and then moved from a local outbreak to a global pandemic, because of the way the economy works.
“That chain of events is the result of a now dominant economic model that emerged in the 1970s,” she said.
“A model that seeks to drive free market relations into every interaction of our lives.
“A model that, as the north-east of Scotland knows only too well, doesn’t care about the impact of boom and bust.
“In short, that chain of events is the result of neoliberalism.”
Michael Marra, a newly-elected Labour MSP for the north-east, also made his first Holyrood speech during the debate.
“Our recovery will demand the fullest efforts of the entire nation,” he said.
“Lockdowns have worked, but are of course a product of failure. We did not act quickly enough, our public health system was weakened by years of cuts, we failed to contact trace, we did not shut the airports.
“And what followed were necessary acts of communal restraint until our scientists bailed out our governments.”