independent– A glitzy No 10 film hailing the success of the UK’s vaccination programme has been attacked as “expensive propaganda”, with the taxpayer picking up the bill.
Labour demanded that the government “come clean” about the cost of the project, after Downing Street issued a 50-second trailer – with the words “Coming Soon”.
The film features the advisers who have become household names through the Covid-19 crisis, including Chris Whitty, Patrick Vallance and Jonathan Van-Tam, as well as Boris Johnson
“Extraordinary. Unexpected. Fantastic,” No 10 tweeted, “A Beacon of Hope: The UK Vaccine Story. Coming soon.”
The full 30-minute film is expected to be released later this week and is described as a “thank you” to all the people who played a part in the jabs success.
But Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, said: “The government must come clean about how much taxpayers’ money was spent making this ‘documentary’ and for what purpose.
“Surely the money would be better spent on pay rises for the NHS staff who have been saving lives throughout this pandemic and are now rolling out the vaccine?”
And Ed Davey, the liberal Democrat leader, said: “I’m sure that many people will wonder why the prime minister is more concerned about producing expensive government propaganda than paying nurses properly.”
The film comes amid a “vaccine bounce” for the Conservatives in the polls, as the rapid expansion of the jabs programme raises hopes that the pandemic can be beaten.
Voters appear to be rewarding the Tories for moving faster than almost all-other countries – despite the sky-high Covid death toll and the many blunders when the crisis struck last year.
But it has been released after criticism of Rishi Sunak for using the Treasury to issue a five-minute film about himself for last week’s Budget – widely seen as burnishing his leadership credentials.
Meanwhile, nurses and other NHS workers have condemned a government recommendation of just a 1 per cent pay rise, a real-terms pay cut.
Ms Rayner taunted: “Sorry for the spoiler, but we already know the plot twist will be the prime minister choosing to cut the pay of the same nurses delivering the vaccine to the British people, while handing out billions in contracts to Conservative Party donors and cronies.”
Downing Street has been asked to respond to criticism that taxpayers’ money has been spent on government “propaganda.”
In the trailer, Sir Patrick, the chief scientific adviser – who set up the vaccines task force – says: “Most vaccines don’t make it, they fall over at some point.
And Professor Whitty, the chief medical officer, warns: “We were not absolutely confident at all that any vaccine would be possible.”