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Weekly slams ministers as front page likens key workers to WWI troops

A weekly newspaper has warned applause for doctors and nurses is “not enough” after depicting them as First World War soldiers going over the top on its front page.

The Islington Tribune splashed on a cartoon showing “underequipped” key workers heading out of the trenches and past barbed wire fences as the paper set out its “case for the prosecution against the government” over its handling of the coronavirus crisis.

In a highly critical editorial, the Tribune accused Tory-led governments of having “effectively starved” the NHS over the past 10 years and said the “price is now being paid” by doctors, nurses and the public due to a lack of personal protective equipment being made available to those fighting the spread of COVID-19.

The cover, created by Tribune cartoonist John Sadler, was accompanied on the front of Friday’s edition by the headline ‘Don’t just clap them’, with the paper adding that “loud applause and being called brave is simply not enough” for key workers.

Islington clap

Deputy editor Richard Osley told HTFP: “The Islington Tribune’s front page started off with an idea by our weekly cartoonist John Sadler, making a comparison between underequipped key workers battling coronavirus on the front line – for all of us – to the so often underappreciated infantry ‘going over the top’ in World War I.

“This is because so many of the tragic stories we are writing about in this crisis come to the same theme: that people in professions we are relying on are going into this mountain of a task without the protection and support they deserve. We’ve had staff die in hospitals, in care homes, and on the buses. They’ve died trying to help us.

“Government figures and powerful people, who could make a difference, all join in the weekly clap on a Thursday evening but their announcements about PPE and the support all our key workers need are not matching up with the stories that people are coming to us with on the ground.

“It’s always a bit of a risk to use a cartoon on page one even though John is such an excellent artist, but this was our way of showing that we would use our role to speak up for the key workers, and demand better for them. Let’s clap them but also give them what they need, with no more empty promises.”

Richard added reader feedback so far had been “very kind”.

He added: “I think it has captured the mood of our community which remains united, but is also frightened and angry.

“This crisis has shown everybody who our key workers are. They are not very often the ones who get an honour at a New Year or those living in the most luxurious houses, but they are the ones everybody is turning to now, in this dark hour of need.

“So our message to ministers was kept simple: Don’t just clap them and call them brave, pay them properly and support them. Our paper’s view may not be unique, but we should all be demanding that shortages in testing and PPE are resolved immediately.”

HTFP has approached Downing Street for a comment.

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